A list of some of the Greatest Martial Arts Books


A list of some of the Greatest Martial Arts Books

By: Dale Norfolk

A list of some of the Greatest Martial Arts Books

Martial Arts Books – Practical 1

So, as you may remember from my previous Blog (Inspiration) I said I was going to talk about some books, to maybe give to a way into something maybe you don’t understand, to see something you haven’t seen before or just indeed to gather more knowledge for yourself.

So anyway, enough of the prevaricating, lets get down to brass tacks. The books I have given below, are ones that I have read an consider useful in some aspect. This is my opinion and it is ok if you don’t get what I do, if you chose to read the same things. The important thing is you went that bit further and read that bit more, maybe even learned a little. I am also looking not to give you a blow by blow, chapter and verse of each book. What I will give you is the pros and cons to each and indicate where these may be useful. I will also give you general information around the book and where you can find copes of them.

Again, if you find something good, let me know. If you find a book on your own, or a movie, podcast, vlog. Let me know, I’m always on the look out for new material.

Book 1


Title: Karate Techniques & Tactics

Author: Hickey, Patrick M.


Publisher: Human Kinetics

ISBN: 0-88011-594-7

Available at: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Karate-Techniques-Tactics-Martial-Arts/dp/0880115947


  • Good well-rounded book
  • Covers aspects from history, self-defence, technique, sparring
  • Good easy style to read
  • Clear photos and diagrams
  • Nicely referenced and indexed
  • Good explanation of traditional terms and language
  • Part of a series, in various styles
  • Small anatomy section


  • ×Very traditional karate.
  • ×Very Americanised in some places.
  • ×Stances are traditional and not used in freestyle.
  • ×Rules for competition may vary in the UK
  • ×Does not cover any kickboxing elements

Book 2


Title: Dynamic Stretching & Kicking

Author: Wallace, Bill “Superfoot”

Year: 1982

Publisher: Unique Publications

ISBN: 0-86568-018-3

Available at: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dynamic-Stretching-Kicking-Bill-Wallace/dp/0865680183


  • Good stretching tips and diagrams
  • Assured technique work from professional fighter
  • Good kick explanations
  • Lots of pictures
  • Easy style to read
  • Very kickboxing focused (Shocking 😊)


  • ×More stretching, less kicking
  • ×Possibly dated
  • ×Assumed level of ‘I’m right’
  • ×Rather thin as books go
  • ×Trading on name
  • ×No rounded advice
  • ×No indexing or referencing

Book 3


Title: Combat Kick Boxing – Realistic Self Defence

Author: Pat O’Keeffe

Year: 2002

Publisher: Summersdale

ISBN: 1-84024-195-0

Available at: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Combat-Kick-Boxing-Realistic-Defence/dp/1840241950


  • Concerned with self defence
  • Goes through stances
  • Talks about physical training
  • Simplistic
  • Goes into throws as well as strikes
  • Deals with armed opponents
  • Easy read
  • Deals with some ground work
  • Gets you to consider real life scenarios
  • Importance placed on using all your sense
  • Deals with groups


  • ×Pictures are quite basic
  • ×I would never recommend using high kick in self-defence (my opinion)
  • ×There is no sport element here
  • ×Mainly for street fighting scenarios
  • ×Not a lot of material on line on Pat O’Keeffe

Book 4


Title: Palgue 4-5-6 Of Tae Kwon Do Hyung

Author: Kim Pyung Soo

Year: 1975

Publisher: Ohara Publications

ISBN: None

Available at: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Palgue-Tae-Kwon-Do-Hyung/dp/089750013X


  • Good build up, historical and practical
  • Good section on warm up exercises
  • Simple yet effective photos
  • Less words more diagrams and pictures
  • Particularly good are the feet patterns that explain implicitly
  • Very formal
  • Very practical
  • One in a series


  • ×May be dated
  • ×Hard to find in some cases
  • ×Rest of series could be hard to find
  • ×Very rigid in its approach
  • ×Very Tae Kwon Do rooted

Book 5


Title: Complete Krav Maga

Author: Darren Levine and John Whitman

Year: 2007

Publisher: Ulysses Publishing

ISBN: 978-1-61243-558-9

Available at: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Complete-Krav-Maga-Self-Defense-Techniques/dp/1612435580/ref=pd_lpo_sbs_14_t_0?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=N5AFX4EHWR4YYFJCGEQM


  • Massive book, encyclopaedic
  • Loads of pictures
  • Goes through techniques belt by belt
  • Covers all conceivable angles
  • Covers various weapons
  • Foreword by Bas Rutten
  • Simple step by step guide
  • Very based in street fighting/self-defence


  • ×Could be daunting
  • ×Speaks little of form or technique
  • ×Not useful from a sporting stance
  • ×Would have to be followed carefully to prevent mis-use
  • ×Americanised