I have previously posted half a dozen judo books I consider to be absolute must-read material. If you are looking for great judo books, I highly recommend starting with those six books. However, you can find more information in the least likely of places if you look.
If I were going to avoid a book or two about judo based purely on stupid, cheesy titles, I'd pick Watanabe&Avakian's The Secrets of Judo (I avoid most things that claim to teach you the 'secret knowledge') and I'd also avoid Syd Hoare's Teach Yourself Judo (What a retarded concept – as if you could teach yourself judo from a book).
Well, as it turns out, my instinct with regards to these two books would be mistaken. These are both really pretty good judo texts. I wouldn't put them on the level with the six absolutely necessary judo books I posted earlier, but you can certainly get a different and valuable perspective from these two books as well as a little bit of incremental information.
I'd call The Secrets of Judo a 'scientific judo' text. It is written with the intent of explaining the physiology and physics behind the art. There is a lot of material in the book, and it goes far beyond the previous six books in scientific detail about the leverage, momentum, forces, and that sort of thing related to a wide variety of throws as well as ground grappling moves. If you have ever experienced a judo technique that gives the appearance of being magical (as we all have) then this book is worth reading because it will take all the magic out of the moves.
Teach Yourself Judo is an introductory-level overview with far less technical detail than the previous books, but in many ways it is far more useful general info for beginners, explaining the ideals and goals and practice methods of the art and sport. Illustrated with plenty of line drawings, TY Judo gives a big-picture overview of a variety of throws, counters, holds, escapes, chokes, and armbars. It even has overviews of kata, randori, and self-defense judo. I think it's out of print currently, so if you don't get it while you can you might not find it later.
If you are interested in building your judo library or finding something new to read to get a little incremental knowledge about judo, here's what I'd do...
- Find a good judo instructor and participate regularly in classes. You can't learn judo worth a darn from a book and it's ridiculous to think you can (though books are an indispensable help to your learning process.)
- Purchase the six must-read judo books I've hyped earlier. Those six contain virtually all the book knowledge you'll ever need and those books will form the core of your judo reference library.
- Then, pick up copies of Hoare's Judo (Teach Yourself)
and Watanabe&Avakian's The Secrets of Judo: A Text for Instructors and Students
I don't think you'll be disappointed .