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5 Must-Read Sporting Success Books Recommended by Neil Adams, Nik Fairbrother, Kate Howey and other Olympic Champions.

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Success Books picked by champions

Five recommendations for success books from five judo champions to help you choose your next read – one that will give you the winning edge.

Are you reading more? You are not alone, if you are. Reading has surged in the UK, with most people reading at least double what they normally do, since lockdown began. No surprise really. Reading is one of the way to get through lockdown and come out the other side in better shape – mentally at least.

But how to pick the right book? Books can entertain, teach, even improve your life, but choosing the right one isn’t always so easy. A good tip is to follow recommendations from like-minded people.


Book Recommendations from Experts does just that providing book recommendations from sporting experts, world class coaches and olympic champions.

When you visit the website, you can elect your area of interest, by choosing categories ranging from leadership, skill acquisition and coaching, to fitness, mindset and success books.

There are of course plenty of recommendations on judo books, ranging from judo books for kids to rare collector’s items, and a section on Japanese authors.

Or take your pick from the panel’s chosen 10 best sporting biographies of all time.



Five Sporting Success Must-Reads

1. Recommendation by Kate Howey (Double Olympic medallist, World Champion, Team GB Flag Bearer at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens and Head GB Judo Coach) – Pig Wrestling by Pete Lindsay.

Tackle sticky situations in life and sport

Pig Wrestling is a simple story with a powerful message. Read it in under an hour, and you’ll be ready to tackle any type of sticky situation in work or life. Developed out of the authors’ work in elite sports and business – including Manchester City, Olympic champion Jessica Ennis-Hill and the England Cricket team – this instantly memorable story will help you thrive in complex and messy times.

2. Recommendation by Neil Adams (World Champion, double Olympic Silver, Olympic Coach for Great Britain and Belgium) – Taming Tigers by Jim Lawless

Achieve your dreams and potential

Do things you never thought you could. In Taming Tiger Jim Lawless shares his inspirational training programme to help you achieve your dreams and our potential by overcoming fears and limiting beliefs.

3. Recommendation by by Nik Fairbrother (Olympic Silver, World Champion) – My Fight Your Fight: The Official Ronda Rousey autobiography by Ronda Rousey.

Mental toughness and success from a judoka in the UFC

Whether you’re into sports or not, you need to know about Ronda Rousey. The biggest names in UFC, Ronda re-wrote the history books with her record attendance levels and astonishing knockout victories. In this honest and inspiring book shares her secrets for success and mental toughness. It will leave you ready to face your own challenges in life, whatever they may be.

4. Recommendation by Euan Burton (Double Olympian, JudoScotland National High Performance Coach)- Legacy by James Kerr

Leadership and sustained success under pressure

Legacy is a unique, inspiring handbook for leaders in all fields, and asks: What are the secrets of success sustained success? How do you achieve world-class standards, day after day, week after week, year after year? How do you handle pressure? How do you train to win at the highest level? What do you leave behind you after you re gone? What will be your legacy?

5. Recommendation by Darren Warner (Performance Coach for the London 2012 Olympic Games, CEO Welsh Judo) – The Energy Plan: Eat Smart, Feel Strong, Perform at Your Peak by James Collins

Successful Performances through improved nutrition

World-leading sports nutritionist James Collins shapes the eating habits of Olympic athletes and Premier League footballers, so they are on peak form when it counts. After a decade of working with the likes of Arsenal FC, England Football and Team GB, now he’s distilling his elite sports success into simple food principles that any of us can follow to feel at our best in our daily lives. The Energy Plan is a whole new mindset that will forever change your relationship with food, exercise and your body, giving you a winning edge in everything that you do.

See the Koka Kids range of children’s judo books.

Now available through the Judo Shop or on amazon.

85 Japanese Judo Words for Lockdown

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Best Sports Books chosen by Experts

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Best Sports Books
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10 Best Sports Biographies Recommended by Judo Champions

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10 Best Sports Biographies Recommended by Judo Champions

Ten of the best biographies written by sporting legends and highlighted by our team of judo champions and experts as must-reads.

Click cover to see book on amazon

The Fight

Norman Mailer's The Fight focuses on the 1974 World Heavyweight Boxing Championship in Kinshasa, Zaire. Muhammad Ali met George Foreman in the ring. Foreman's genius employed silence, serenity and cunning. He had never been defeated. His hands were his instrument, and 'he kept them in his pockets the way a hunter lays his rifle back into its velvet case'. Together the two men made boxing history in an explosive meeting of two great minds, two iron wills and monumental egos.

Recommended by Euan Burton

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Driven from within

Michael Jordan

This is a book about the power of collaberation and teamwork, the awe-inspiring energy generated when people combine their creativity and passion, and a fearless desire to lead. Whether waking at 6 A.M. to work out as a high school junior, or spending hours with legendary designer Tinker Hatfield on the intricacies f state-of-the-art shoe design, Michael Jordan has never wavered in his desire to be the best. ""It all started with an appetite to prove. Whether it was competing with my siblings or trying to get attention from myparents, I wanted to show what I could do, what I was capable of accomplishing. I wanted results, and I was driven to find out the best way to get them."" Everyone knows the results. In "Driven from Within," Michael Jordan and those in his inner circle reveal the philosophy that makes it all happen.

Recommended by Peter Gardiner

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No Nonsense: The Autobiography

Joey Barton

So, you think you know Joey Barton. Think again. No Nonsense is a game-changing autobiography which will redefine the most fascinating figure in British football. It is the raw yet redemptive story of a man shaped by rejection and the consequences of his mistakes. He has represented England, and been a pivotal player for Manchester City, Newcastle United, Queens Park Rangers, Marseille, Burnley and Glasgow Rangers, but his career has featured recurring controversy. The low point of being sent to prison for assault in 2008 proved to be the catalyst for the re-evaluation of his life.

Recommended by Chloe Cowen

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Mao’s Last Dancer

Li Cunxin

Raised in a desperately poor village during the height of China's Cultural Revolution, Li Cunxin's childhood revolved around the commune, his family and Chairman Mao's Little Red Book.

Until, that is, Madame Mao's cultural delegates came in search of young peasants to study ballet at the academy in Beijing and he was thrust into a completely unfamiliar world.

When a trip to Texas as part of a rare cultural exchange opened his eyes to life and love beyond China's borders, he defected to the United States in an extraordinary and dramatic tale of Cold War intrigue.

Told in his own distinctive voice, this is Li's inspirational story of how he came to be Mao's last dancer, and one of the world's greatest ballet dancers.

Recommended by Kate Howey

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My Fight Your Fight: The Official Ronda Rousey autobiography

Ronda Rousey

The journey to the top for the most dominant mixed-martial-arts fighter in history has been filled with challenges. From a childhood marked by speech problems to the painful loss of her father, she grew up repeatedly pushing her mind and body to the limit in order to win. She battled prejudice to become the first female fighter in UFC. Now she is the biggest name in the sport, breaking attendance levels and re-writing the history books with her astonishing knockout victories, most in under a minute. She has also forged a successful Hollywood career as an actor.

In this honest and inspiring book, Rousey relives her greatest fights and shares her secrets for success and mental toughness. She reveals how we can all be at our best, even on our worst days, and how we can turn our limitations into opportunities. It will leave you ready to face your own challenges in life, whatever they may be.

Recommended by Nik Fairbrother

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Clive Woodward

Winning! tells a remarkable story - an unforgettable journey that began in September 1997 and took the English Rugby Team team from the lower ranks of international first-class rugby to the top as World Cup Champions.

WINNING! talks about the team's journey of innovation and discovery and will reveal exactly how it happened, the fundamentals of their success and how these principles can be applied to any human endeavour. Bringing his business management skills to the game, Woodward simplified the entire approach to the structure of the team and created new management systems both on and off the pitch.

Recommended by Darren Warner

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Leading: Lessons in leadership

Alex Ferguson

LEADING is structured around the key skills that Sir Alex values most highly. It includes subjects we immediately associate with his managerial style: Discipline, Control, Teamwork and Motivation. But it also addresses subjects that are less obvious but no less important when seeking success: Delegation, Data Analysis and Dealing with Failure. Written with the investor Sir Michael Moritz, a longstanding friend of Sir Alex, LEADING is packed with insight, wisdom, humour and honesty. The individual stories inevitably concern themselves with football, and the phenomenal success that came along the way, but the lessons can be applied by anyone. Whether you run a business, teach in a classroom, or work in a small team, LEADING will help you become a better leader.

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The Greatest: My Own Story

Muhammad Ali

Everybody knows the record the stuff of almanacs, trade magazines and clipping services. A handful know the man. But only Muhammad Ali knows his life as he lived it.
The Greatest is Ali's own story. For six years he worked, traveled and talked with Richard Durham, a writer with a stunning talent, and the result is mesmerizing in its brilliance, drama, humanity and sheer entertainment. This is no documented scrapbook of wins and losses strung together with anecdotes; nor is it a thin potpourri of locker room gags. This book, like Ali who has incited every reaction except indifference goes straight to the place where responses to him have always been the gut. When the history of the twentieth century is finally recorded, it must include Muhammad Ali. He is "The Greatest."

Recommended by Paul Ajala

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Neil Adams MBE autobiography: A Game of Throws

Neil Adams

At 24 Neil Adams was at the top of his game. He was on the Olympic team, had almost every Judo championship title in the world under his belt and had recently been awarded an MBE. This is not his Olympic Story. This is not a 'good old, glory days' kind of tale. This is about what happens after, when the sponsors have disappeared, when the shine of the medal has dulled into the public's distant memory. When you are left alone to deal with bills and life decisions that suddenly have nothing to do with Judo, BBC Superstars or Glory. This is the story of a man rebuilding his life on and off the mats.

Recommended by Neil Adams

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Judo Champion Karen Briggs

Karen Briggs

Recommended by Kate Howey

10 Best Judo Books for Technique

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10 Best Judo Books for Technique

Ten of the best judo technique books you will find, written by judo's finest technicians including Jigoro Kano, Yasuhiro Yamashita, Katsuhiko Kashiwaza, Neil Adams, Alexander Iatskevich, Hidetoshi Nakanishi and Toshiro Daigo.

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40 Judo Throws

Nik Fairbrother

40 Judo Throws is an illustrated junior guide to all the throws of the Gokyo (judo syllabus), written by world champion Nik Fairbrother, 7th Dan. There are step by step tutorials for each technique, and learning is visual, clear and easy. There are also tips from the author on improving your throwing skills.

Recommended by Nik Fairbrother

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Osaekomi (Masterclass Techniques)

Katsuhiko Kashiwazaki

Katsuhiko Kashiwazaki is widely regarded as one of the greatest exponents of osaekomi of the last decades of the 20th century. This is the first book ever to concentrate purely on osaekomi and as such presents a considerable challenge. The range of the classic holds is relatively small--less that a dozen--but the numbers of variations and methods of application are enormous; and they are changing and developing all the time. In this extremely clear explanation Kashiwazaki deals with the basic holds, the variations, the weaknesses and the escapes. Then--in what is perhaps the most revealing aspect of the book--he presents the applications, the turnovers that enable the judoka to apply the holds.

Recommended by Nik Fairbrother

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Mind over muscle

Jigoro Kano

In 1882 Jigoro Kano (1860-1938) founded Kodokan Judo at Eishoji Temple in Tokyo. It was the culmination of a lifelong devotion to the jujutsu of the past, which he reorganized while taking great care to retain its classical traditions. Historically, martial arts were practiced only by the elite in Japan. Kano, a renowned educator as well as a sportsman, is credited with popularizing the martial arts, and in particular, judo, among people in all levels of society.

Recommended by Darren Warner, Euan Burton

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Neil Adams

The armlock is one of the most successful groundwork skills of modern judo. This "Masterclass Techniques" study by Neil Adams, one of the finest exponents of the technique of the last twenty years, will ensure its continued dominance. The book provides a detailed study of variations--including ude-gatame and the spectacular flying armlock--which have been developed and successfully used in competition by leading names from the world of judo such as Iaskevitch, Divisenko, Seisenbacher and Great Britain's Karen Briggs.

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Neil Adams

This is the first book ever to be written on the crucial aspect of judo gripping techniques. Adams was widely recognized for his masterly understanding of grips even though his favored grip was eminently classical. In this pioneering volume, he looks at orthodox and unorthodox gripping, attack and defense, gripping strategies, and gripping skills.

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Fighting Spirit of Judo

Yasuhiro Yamashita

This book although having some autobiographical content, is essentially a detailed analysis of Yamashita's favourite techniques as described by the great man himself, with a short biography including some of the author's thoughts on some aspects of judo and detailed description of Yamashita's favourite techniques.

Recommended by Euan Burton

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The A-Z of Judo

Syd Hoare

o compile this authoritative volume, Syd Hoare, 7th Dan, has drawn on more than three decades of judo experience at the highest level, and an extensive knowledge of the Japanese language and Japanese judo literature. He catalogues and describes more than 100 throwing techniques, 20 holds, 30 armlocks and 40 strangles. Also included are a further 20 techniques which, though now forbidden by modern judo rules for being too dangerous, were originally part of the combat systems as it emerged from its origins in Ju-jitsu.

Recommended by Jo Crowley

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Russian Judo

Alexander Iatskevich

In this ground-breaking book, five-times European champion Alexander Iatskevich brings his extensive knowledge to this comprehensive account. Russian Judo considers the history of the style, how it grew out of the varying wrestling traditions of the Soviet Union and its national style, sambo. Iatskevich notes the main techniques which Russian Judo have made so effective in the last decades and which are now accepted as part of the central fabric of judo

Recommended by Chloe Cowen

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Attacking Judo: A Guide to Combinations and Counters

Katsuhiko Kashiwazaki and Hidetoshi Nakanishi

Positive attacking in throwing and ground work is at the heart of all the best judo. This is a fundamental attitude of world champions Katsuhihiko Kashiwazaki and Hidetoshi Nakanishi, who are now among the foremost teachers in Japan. But this boldness must be based on a sound technical understanding. Attacking Judo is a new concept in judo publishing based on simple drawings rather than long complex explanations.

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Fighting Judo

Katsuhiko Kashiwazaki, Terence Donovan

The quality of the Fighting Judo Kashiwazaki book in terms of its aesthetic beauty is unmatched. The author, a world champion demonstrates throws, holds, pins, turnovers, grabs, and entanglements, and discusses the finer points of mat work. The black and white photography of Terence Donovan makes a huge impact.

Christmas Judo Gifts for Judoka

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Christmas Judo Gifts

Looking for Christmas Judo Gifts?

We have the perfect judo toy for your Christmas stocking – buy a judo monkey!

Visit the Koka Kids shop where there are judo tshirts, judo hoodies and one of the best kids judo suits.

Or buy a gift that challenges inspires with one of our judo books (available through amazon as paperback)

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