There is so much controversy surrounding this subject, but it’s about to be put to rest. Ladies & gentlemen, Bourne’s fighting arts are a
combination of: Kali & Jeet Kune Do Concepts. This has been stated officially by the lead fight sequence choreographer “Jeff Imada” who worked on the fight scenes in the Bourne Supremacy & Ultimatum (Identity had another). Both arts are extremely dangerous and effective in the street.
I’ve been studying both of these arts for the past 4 years and will share with you EXACTLY what they are and how they work as well as how you too can learn them if you wish. Believe me when I say these arts are incredible and you really can perform many of the things Bourne did and even more if you know what to do.
Breaking Down The Arts:
Kali was the PRIMARY art used in the Bourne movies. This is an art which originated in the Philippines. It is weapons based and is made up of many sub arts. There are many islands in the Philippines and for each, a style of kali exists within them. This is because there are different tribes of people who take the art and add their own flavor to it.
Though there are 100s, some of the most popular are: Arnis, Silat, Eskrima, Sayok (Used in The Hunted with Tommy Lee Jones & Benicio Del Toro), Lacoste, Lacoste Inosanto. Though this answer varies on who you ask.
Which kali art/s were used in the Bourne movies?
The Lacoste Inosanto style. This method blends together 26 different styles of kali into one. It was developed by Sifu Lacoste & Dan Inosanto, best friend and protege of the late Bruce Lee himself.
Very few places teach this art. I was lucky enough to find one in my area (New York City) called Andersons Martial Arts. The only other places that teach that are the Inosano Academy which are spread across the U.S, but most notably California.
How it works:
The art is weapons based. You can use ANYTHING as a weapon here: Keys, sticks, knives, umbrella, bottles, magazines, pens, and ANYTHING
you can pick up and wield.
- Remember how Bourne used a pen to fight off an assassin in Identity?
- Or how about how he used a magazine to fight a knife wielding enemy in Surpremacy?
- And finally remember how he used a book, then a towel in the Bourne Ultimatum to kill Desh the assassin?
Well all of that is kali in action. And whats so great about it is it’s all realistic and practical. How safe would you feel being able to wield any prop in you as a weapon if you needed to protect yourself? Pretty damn safe if you ask me.
Empty hand Kali:
A lot of scenes in the Bourne trilogy involved empty hand combat and it was in those scenes that Bourne used the empty hand style of Kali which is called “Panantukan” which is designed to destroy your opponent using some VERY dirty tactics as well as how to stop people with weapons attacking you.
Panantukan borrows a lot of it’s fundamentals from boxing. But instead of having regular jabs, cross and hooks, Panantukan add a dirty flavor the mix. It uses techniques such as nerve destruction and breaking weak parts of a persons body as well as employing elbows knees, headbutts and wrenches (arm bars).
How Kali is taught:
Depending on where you learn from, Kali is taught in a different order. I will use my school’s as the example here. I am taught Kali through 2 2 classes: Panantukan & Weapons. Both classes employ the Lacoste Inosanto style.
In my boxing class, 60% of the curriculum is basic western boxing, while other times we are taught the dirty elements (Panantukan). It is imperative to learn basic boxing before getting into Panantukan because it sets the fundamental tones: Stand up, basic defense & offense and through that you can move into the dirty elements.
In our weapons class we learn 2 primary weapons: The stick & knife. It is from these weapons that all others (pen, magazine, ect…) are automatically learned. The reason being is that in Kali, you learn angles of attack and then certain sets of exercises where you perform “Dance” type routines with your weapons and/or partner. These moves can then be used with ANY prop you pick up.
You can do things like knife/stick drills with a friend which involve basic attacks into counters and then more counters. As you get better and better, the drill gets faster and faster. This is where you stop thinking and muscle memory begins to take over.
These exercises make your reflexes SKYROCKET. I’m not even kidding people. It’s absolutely insane how quickly Kali can accelerate your reaction time and precision as well.
If you remember in the movies, whatever Bourne did, he did it FAST. There’s exactly how Kali works. By the time your opponent tries something, you can end up hitting them 5 times. That’s how fast it is.
2. Jeet Kune Do:
JKD is not really a fighting art, but a philosophy of fighting which in essence comes down to every person having his/her own style of fighting
and flow. This art was created by Bruce Lee himself which he passed onto very few trusted followers, one of which was Dan Inosanto (Lacoste Insanto creator).
Originally JKD employed the following arts: Boxing, kickboxing, wing chun & judo into it’s curriculum. But it was never meant to end there and when Bruce Lee died, the art further enhanced and other things were added into it, including Kali.
Though you don’t see it often in the Bourne movies, there are basic kicks, punches and throws. Some of it is not Kali, but just basic things which when COMBINED with Kali can make you very dangerous.
How JKD is taught:
My school teaches JKD through 5 arts: Boxing (Panantukan), Kali, Kickboxing, Wing Chun & Grappling. The goal of JKD is to have a figher who can handle any situation whether it be on the ground, against a weapons attack, against mulitple attackers, ect… and that is why when learning JKD, a true master will teach you multiple arts to create a COMPLETE fighter.
It is only AFTER you learn the arts which are in the JKD curriculum that you can begin to create your own flow and moves from it. JKD is in the end an individual art which at the beginning teaches you what works, then you pick what works FOR YOU and develop it further. A lot of people misunderstand JKD and think it’s just a combination of arts. It isn’t. It’s a hell of a lot more than that.
Putting them together:
In the end in order to fight like Bourne, you need to understand that it’s a combination of arts, not just 1. There are MANY situations one can find themselves in where a certain art will not help them. Kali provides A LOT of versatility because it teaches you weapons and dirty fighting. It can prove very effective in the street. JKD is also an art which helps you become a complete fighter.
Can you fight like Bourne? It’s very possible, but remember choreography and real life are 2 different things. However what you saw in the Bourne movies was a refection of what is possible (and perhaps even more) of what Kali & JKD can be in the hands of a skilled individual.
Different situations require different arts to deal with. But if such a situation should happen, always remember, not fighting and even running is your best bet. Forget your pride and forget your ego. Your life is more important.
Do you have any questions/comments? Feel free to post them below and I will be more than happy to respond within 24 hours (usually faster).