What Styles of Martial Arts Do Navy Seals Learn?

MMA Fighter Practicing With Boxing Bag.
(Image: Niyaz_Tavkaev/iStock/GettyImages)

Navy SEALs learn a variety of martial arts to become highly efficient hand-to-hand combatants. They are encouraged to learn as many styles as they can, but there are a few that are staples in their training. For a Navy SEAL, martial arts are integral to their safety and their ability to execute covert missions and deal with enemies in close quarters. This is why SEALs only focus on the most effective martial arts.

Practical Boxing Skills

Most people don't consider boxing to be a martial art, but its application is just as effective in a street fight as it is in a ring. Navy SEAL combat training starts with basic elements that come from traditional boxing -- footwork speed, agility, quick thinking. Navy SEALs are taught first and foremost to be practical fighters; boxing dispenses with fancy spinning kicks and other showy maneuvers, and deals directly with confrontation.

Brazilian Jiujitsu

Besides carrying a concealed weapon, Brazillian jiujitsu is the best martial art for self-defense, former Navy SEAL Jocko Willink told Business Insider. This martial art system focuses on ground fighting and grappling. By taking the fight to the ground, the experienced Brazilian jiujitsu practitioner can maximize force by using mechanical techniques including chokeholds and joint locks to manipulate his opponent into submission.

Krav Maga

Krav maga is the official martial art of the Israeli armed forces. It is expressly designed for real-life situations, such as street fighting. Many of krav maga's techniques are meant for disarming armed opponents who may be attacking with a gun or a knife, which is why it's ideal for Navy SEALs. It teaches practitioners to abandon flashy, complicated moves typical of most martial arts and rely on instincts.

Muay Thai

Muay Thai, the national sport of Thailand, is one of the most brutal forms of hand-to-hand combat in the world. Its practitioners are taught to strike their enemies viciously with the hard bones of the shins, elbows, fists and knees. When the gloves are off, it is efficient at incapacitating an attacker in real-life situations. It is also ideal for close-quarters combat, which is how Navy SEALs are taught to engage their enemies.

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