Can you learn the martial arts from a book?
Certainly the quality of martial arts books has increased in terms of quality and material covered, and there are a few books published from martial arts masters and historical figures- judo and karate come to mind that are considered classics in the martial arts community.
But what place do these have?
Reference books and reminders for those studying the martial arts, or an actual teaching tool?
Books, and videos, martial arts media should serve as a supplement- either as reminders for the art that one studies, or as a way to explore the movements of your martial art from the perspective of another art.
That background fundamentals of the martial arts need to be there.
One can’t self-learn or initiate from a book.
There are many fine points to the martial arts, micro corrections, verbal transmissions, which can and are literal life and death of the movements- in a situation that will be life and death.
One needs an instructor, or support system of a gym or school for instruction- backed by massive action, in terms of self training, practice, and personal study to learn the martial arts.