ByRyan Matsunaga, writer at
MMA fan, BJJ enthusiast, and Executive Publisher at Creators Media.
Ryan Matsunaga

The first trailer for the new Bourne movie (simply titled Jason Bourne) arrived today, and in between all of the car crashes and explosions, we got a few brief but tantalizing glimpses at the film's fight choreography.

When The Bourne Identity was released in 2002, it felt like a new and exciting development in fight choreography. The action was kinetic, fluid, and chaotic, but also demonstrated a great deal of intelligence and logic that made it feel grounded in the real world. Further installments in the series built upon this gritty, realistic style, creating a distinct look and feel to how Jason Bourne approached fighting.

Despite Bourne's superhuman fighting ability though, the techniques seen in those movies are deeply rooted in actual, real-life martial arts. However, contrary to popular belief, that martial art is not Krav Maga. Instead, Bourne's style is inspired by a combination of the Filipino martial art Kali, and the combat philosophy pioneered by Bruce Lee while developing Jeet Kune Do.

To prepare for the films, Matt Damon trained under Kali/Jeet Kune Do expert Jeff Imada. Imada meanwhile learned from Dan Inosanto, who was a student of the legendary Bruce Lee. Additionally, two of the films' fight coordinators, Damon Caro and Jonathan Eusebio, are both well-known Kali practitioners .

So what is Kali?

Kali (sometimes grouped in with Eskrima or Arnis, the distinction is not always clear) encompasses a variety of martial arts disciplines and styles that were born in the Philippines. These techniques were developed by the various indigenous tribes to fight each other, and later, to protect themselves from the Spanish Conquistadores. Over time, these styles became more systemized, and were organized under the umbrella of "Filipino Martial Arts."

Kali in particular places a heavy focus on transitioning from unarmed to armed combat, and back again, which you can see demonstrated in Jason Bourne's use of improvised weaponry.

Common weapons training also includes single and double stick fighting, swords, knives, and combinations of all three. In terms of unarmed combat, the martial art features a wide range of striking, clinch, and grappling techniques.

Kali was introduced to the wider world during World War II, when American forces stationed in the region learned about it, and brought some of the techniques back home with them. It later rose to prominence in the United States due in large part to the efforts of Dan Inosanto, a student and training partner of Bruce Lee.

Today, its techniques are now incorporated into the training routines of the Filipino police force, as well as many law enforcement and military organizations around the world.

What is Jeet Kune Do?

Jeet Kune Do, sometimes abbreviated as "JKD," is a martial arts style created and developed by Bruce Lee. While originally inspired by traditional Kung Fu training, Lee's philosophy was "no style," a martial art with no strict doctrine or ways of doing things.

Because of that, JKD has continued to evolve over the years, incorporating many concepts from other martial arts disciplines. That makes it difficult to pin down specific "JKD moves" that Jason Bourne uses in the movies, as JKD is more of a ideology rather than a distinct set of techniques.

That being said, the one thing that has remained consistent in JKD is the idea of achieving maximum effect with minimal effort. Bourne is definitely a fan of that strategy, finding the most effective and direct ways to strike at any range.

Matt Damon will return as Jason Bourne in the newest film in the series, out on July 29, 2016.

From the looks of it, the film will be continuing to incorporate the fighting style developed for the previous entries, and hopefully, evolving it in some interesting ways.


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