Jason Bourne is known as Robert Ludlam’s greatest every literary creation and is probably the closest thing to James Bond in terms of action heroes. Interestingly, part of what made the Bourne movies was the realism and gritty imagery which was sometimes missing from James Bond movies at the time.

One thing that the audience take notice of was the realistic fight scenes which had a high level of thought and choreography behind them. As a result, the legacy of Jason Bourne isn’t just a number of successful films, but also in setting the bar for martial arts in action movies. Read on for what martial arts were used in the Bourne flicks and the original novels.

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Jason Bourne uses Krav Maga

Apparently, Matt Damon wasn’t actually taught Krav Maga for his Bourne movies, however if you watch the fight scenes closely, you can see some styles that certainly resemble the Israeli martial art. As mentioned, the Bourne films are known for their gritty fight scenes which is where Krav Maga comes in. This would allow Bourne to win a fight by any means necessary. Krav Maga attacks involve neck twists and pistol disarmament too.

Part of Krav Maga also involves the use of grappling too and escaping from bad situations. In one scene, Bourne has his back taken and has to struggle his way out of a rear naked choke. Arguably, these methods were taught to Bourne by training Krav Maga as he doesn’t have that much grappling experience elsewhere.

Jason Bourne uses Aikido

Wrist manipulation leading into throws and takedowns whilst standing? This sounds very much like Aikido, which is what Jason Bourne does in some of his fight scenes. Whilst this may not be the most practical martial art ever in terms of realism, it actually makes for great action scenes.


Arguably, this style is Bourne’s most unrealistic style of fighting, but it’s still featured. As seen in the picture above, Bourne manages to control his attacker by grabbing his wrist and twisting it. According to the theory of Aikido, this will also manipulate the entire arm to stop the wrist from getting broken. In reality, doing this would be very difficult.

Jason Bourne uses Eskrima

Whilst filming, Matt Damon was trained in Eskrima by Jeff Imada who was a known Hollywood stuntman and Eskrima specialist. Eskrima would be used to disarm weapons such as knives from close. As well, in one peculiar fight scene, you can see Bourne’s Esikrma skills shine through. Here, Bourne manages to fend off an attacker by using a rolled up magazine. He also has another scene where he turns a pen into a deadly weapon which shows his improvision skills.

Whilst this may not be particularly realistic, it was still cool to see and used the main fundamentals of Eskrima to avoid losing. Obviously, as someone who would encounter lots of knife and gunfights, it would be important for an agent such as Jason Bourne to be well trained in Eskrima, and this martial art saved his life more than once.

Jason Bourne uses Jeet Kune Do

Jeff Imada was also known as a Jeet Kune Do expert, so it makes sense to see Matt Damon incorporating his fighting style into the film’s fight scenes. Here, Bourne can be seen adopting a Jeet Kune Do stance at times, with his feet wide and hands lowered. A lot of Jeet Kune Do also comes from Wing Chun which is useful for fighting in confined spaces and up close.

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As some scenes are set in urban areas, it makes sense that Bourne would know JKD. Like Krav Maga, JKD is also not averse to fighting dirty and this also has certain dirty moves that were meant for street fighting.

Jason Bourne uses boxing

In his 2016 movie, Jason Bourne has a boxing match in the desert. This is done without gloves, so it’s technically bare knuckle and he manages to land a big left hook on his opponent. Whilst the above-mentioned martial arts are all useful, you still need to learn boxing. The reason for this is that boxing is one of the most commonly known fighting styles for good reason. This is because it works, is basic, and can get you out of trouble. It’s presumed that Bourne learned this during his training as a CIA agent.


Jason Bourne’s martial arts skills are all fairly modern and this tells us a lot about the environment that he works in. This is based on unscrupulous enemies who are eager to kill him, so he needs to survive by any means necessary. Whether this means relying on dirty tricks seen in Krav Maga or Jeet Kune Do or relying on weapons found in Eskrima. In short, there’s no time for him to be honorable and safety is his number one priority.

Whilst Bourne could also learn a few grappling arts such as Judo or Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and these wouldn’t hurt, he’s still very safe with what he does know. This involves being highly skilled with weapons and effective modern combat. As a result, for most of the time Jason Bourne is more than capable of handling himself and is very much your modern day martial artist.