What Martial Art Does Jason Bourne Use?

The Bourne movies, based on Robert Ludlum’s novels, have been a blockbuster hit, film after film. There’s nothing like a good old action movie filled with stunts and fight sequences to keep the audience wanting more. In fact, a lot of people who have seen the films often go out and ask the question “What martial art does Jason Bourne use?” either out of sheer curiosity or out of wanting to learn more about the art. Many martial art enthusiasts are inspired by fighting styles that are featured in Hollywood movies or TV shows.

In the Bourne movies, Jason Bourne actually uses three distinct martial arts – the Kali, Krav Maga, and Eskrima in attacking his opponents and defending himself.


Kali originates from the Philippines. It is one of the highly regarded Filipino Martial Arts (FMA). Basically, kali is the execution of a series or sets of movements together with a particular weapon or object. The principles applied in kali teach the fighter to use regular, everyday objects like a pen or a book in the very same way that you would use a real weapon, like a stick or a dagger. The resourcefulness of the skill stems down to the inherent creativity of the Filipino fighters in the absence of sophisticated weaponry.

The key concept of kali is the fluidity and the uninterrupted state of the fighter’s motions. Here, a fighter depends greatly on his reflexes, which are later appropriately tuned to work with weapons – or with nothing except hands during empty-hand combat. The basic idea is to defeat, disarm, or finish the opponent as fast as you can – this is a principle similar to the Krav game (explained later). This is very evident in the movement of Jason Bourne during many of his fight sequences.


Also known as “Escrima” in some places, this martial art has been seen in various frames in the Bourne films. Like the kali, eskrima is also Filipino martial art, although it places a heavier dependence on weaponry than kali does. Sure enough, martial art stays true to its roots. It comes from the Spanish word esgrima which means to engage in combat or to skirmish. It is basically the Philippine version of Spanish fencing, only with wooden sticks (usually made of rattan) rather than fencing swords. Filipinos often call it “Arnis” or “Arnis de Mano.” The fighting style has grown popular in western territories such as the United States and Europe.

Eskrima focuses on the use of fighting sticks or other bladed weapons to inflict damage to the opponent. In the movies, Jason Bourne makes use of other similar objects as weapons. Apart from hand-to-hand combating, it also places a high degree of urgency in disarming the enemy.

Krav Maga

This is a martial art that originates from Israel. Krav Maga may not be as evident as kali or eskrima in the Bourne movies, but it did play a part. As the audience will notice, Jason Bourne makes use of the basic principles of Krav Maga – to eliminate the opponent as quickly as he can, using limbs that are nearest to the body of the enemy. The most natural reflexes are encouraged in disarming the enemy. Using objects available in the immediate environment is a part of martial art, although manual combat is its main core principle.

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