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Navy SEALs Hand-to-Hand Combat Training Information

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Navy SEALs are among the best armed forces special operation units in the world. They can attack a target by sea, air or land. SEALs normally function in small units, ranging in size from six to 14 operatives. These small units must rely on stealth and force of action to mitigate their lack of personnel. SEALs undergo intense training in all types of combat, including hand-to-hand fighting.


Most SEAL hand-to-hand combat training is in a wide variety of martial arts. SEALs want to use the most efficient way possible to dispatch an opponent. Being experts in a number of martial arts gives them that capability. Not every martial art is perfect for every situation, but the SEAL operator has a wide variety of hand-to-hand combats styles to draw from, making him dangerous in any circumstances.


Jujitsu is the most common of the martial arts that SEALs learn. Jujitsu is defined by Webster's Dictionary as “an art of weaponless fighting employing holds, throws and paralyzing blows to subdue or disable an opponent.” SEALs become masters of each martial art they study, and jujitsu is no exception. It was developed around 750 A.D and was popular with the Samurai. Jujitsu is not a “hands-only” martial art; it can be enhanced by the use of weapons. SEALs are trained to use jujitsu in a variety of ways, most leading to severe injury or death of the opponent.

Muay Thai

Muay Thai, or Thai boxing, is another martial art that is a foundation for SEALs. This art teaches the use of the head, fists, elbows and feet as weapons. As the name would suggest, it originated in Thailand. It eventually developed into a sport, and is very popular in Thailand. The SEALs do not train with it as a sport. It is a deadly weapon when used by a SEAL.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is also used by SEALs. It can be broken down into three categories: self-defense, free fighting and grappling. SEALs are trained to use leverage as part of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, as well as ground fighting. It is one more weapon in the bag of martial arts knowledge for the trained SEAL.

Krav Maga

Krav Maga is a brutal martial art learned by the SEALs. Krav Maga translates from Hebrew to mean “contact combat.” It is an Israeli martial art used by Israel's commandos and special forces. Krav Maga is considered by some to be the most reality-based martial arts system. Its premise is “Maximum damage, minimum time,” which is an effective rule for a SEAL training in martial arts.


Cliff Wiese is a certified strength and conditioning specialist and a sports performance coach. His work has been published in "Women of Diet & Fitness," "Better Fitness & Health," "Good2Health," and "SENIORity Magazine." He has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Schreiner University and attended graduate school at the University of Oklahoma.

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