Jason Bourne’s fighting skills in the bourne movies are vast, with Bourne wielding a number of different martial arts in his fight scenes. The Matt Damon cinematic universe branched out in 2002 with Damon becoming an action hero in The Bourne Identity, based upon the 1980 novel by Robert Ludlum, and the movie becoming one of the biggest hits of the year. The bourne series would go on to great box office success with its subsequent installments, with its fifth installment Jason Bourne arriving in 2016.
While Jason Bourne (whose real name is David Webb) has a wide range of deadly skills as an assassin, he is especially well-known for his extreme formidability in a fight. For the most part, the fight scenes in the bourne movies are over in a flash, with Bourne taking one or more opponents out of commission with a quick succession of strikes. Still, a staple of the bourne franchise is the one opponent with fighting skills equal to Bourne’s own, which leads to the main martial arts fight of each bourne movie.
After Matt Damon’s casting as Jason Bourne, he went through extensive training in both weapons and fighting to truly capture the deadly assassin’s skills on the big-screen. Damon performs many of his own stunts through the bourne films, and while the franchise’s shaky cam is known to get a little wild at times, Damon’s training also crafted Bourne into a martial artist who most opponents don’t stand a chance against. Here is every martial art Jason Bourne shows skill in and uses techniques from throughout the bourne movies.
Jason Bourne’s fighting skills, like many modern martial artists, incorporate boxing as a key element. Bourne is a very adept boxer more than capable of knocking out an opponent with a single punch, as seen in numerous bourne movie fight scenes. Bourne also put his boxing skills to use in underground fights in Greece in Jason Bourne while in hiding after The Bourne Ultimatum.
While Bourne’s fights with agents of the Treadstone organization tend to put him at a shorter range than most boxers, he knows how to handle being a clinch and can adjust his punching style to accommodate opponents able to maintain their range more easily. With the kinds of enemies he faces, Bourne knows how to implement boxing punches well in his fights, and a strong left hook from him can leave an opponent on his back never knowing what hit him.
Originating in the Philippines, Kali (alternately referred to as Arnis or Eskrima) is a weapons-oriented martial art that Bourne makes efficient use of throughout the series. Kali is known well for its use of knives and sticks known as “sticks.“Kali also trains his student to be able to apply the art’s stick and blade-based attacks to fighting unarmed, both of which Bourne is adept at.
While the movies of the bourne franchise never show Bourne using the more exotic weapons of Kali, his skill at turning seemingly harmless objects into tools of offense and defense are where his Kali skills really show themselves. The Bourne Identity‘s big one-on-one fight scene sees Bourne wielding a pen like a dagger against his enemy, while he uses a rolled-up magazine in the major fight scene of The Bourne Supremacy as a Kali practitioner would use a baston. Bourne uses an assortment of other tools like police lipsticks, handguns, and even books as striking tools in the bourne movies, taking the strikes and principles of Kali and extending them to both contemporary weapons objects he re-purposes as such.
The ip man martial arts movie series made Wing Chun kung fu famous around the world, and Jason Bourne’s talent for trapping and in-fighting applies the art’s core elements against his opponents. While the founder of Wing Chun is a matter of some debate, Ng Mui, known as one of the Five Elders of Shaolin, tends to be mentioned in discussions of the creation of the art, which is well-known for its focus on close- quarters fighting. Wing Chun specializes in trapping and short-range vertical fist punching techniques, with the fists frequently traveling over each other in a technique known as “chain punching” in order to overpower the opponent.
While Bourne never fully delves into chain-punching in the bourne movies, he shows a very distinct skill at in-fighting and trapping, frequently redirecting his opponent’s attacks and countering with his own short-range vertical fist strikes. Given how often Bourne finds himself on the run, especially by the time of Damon’s third Bourne performance in The Bourne Ultimatum, it is natural that he would want to seek to overwhelm his opponents with a barrage of strikes as quickly as possible. Bourne applying such Wing Chun elements as trapping and rapid-fire punches at an in-fighting range more often than not does the trick for that objective.
Jeet Kune Do
The most famous off-shoot of Wing Chun without a doubt is Jeet Kune Do, created by the one and only Bruce Lee himself. As a student of Wing Chun under Ip Man, Lee came to believe that martial arts training in his time was too reliant on singularly focused approaches to combat from one discipline to the next. This led him to research many different martial arts forms, with Bruce Lee eventually developing Jeet Kune Do and Lee often resultantly being credited as leading the charge of modern mixed martial arts or MMA. Jason Bourne has taken Bruce Lee’s fighting principles of Jeet Kune Do to heart, one particular aspect of it visible in Bourne’s fight scenes.
With Jeet Kune Do translating as “The Way of the Intercepting Fist”, in contrast to a strategy of blocking and counter-attacking an incoming hit, Lee placed great emphasis on literally beating an opponent to the punch with a strike of one’s own. This is a strategy that Bourne frequently deploys, intercepting an incoming attack with his own strike to stop an opponent in their tracks before following up with a continued assault his fight scenes in the James Bond-influencing bourne franchise. Jeet Kune Do was always intended by Bruce Lee to be a philosophy of combat rather than a strict “style” as the term is often understood, but he still had many key principles of fighting he wished to convey through it. Catching an opponent’s incoming attack with an unexpected counterstrike was one of the most important of them for Bruce Lee, and it’s one that Jason Bourne never misses an opportunity to implement in his fight sequences in the bourne franchise.