Jocko Willink Navy SEALs

There are not many military special operations forces more feared and respected than the US Navy SEALs. So, when one of their number offers advice on what he thinks the best martial art for self defense is, plenty of people sit up and listen. That is precisely what retired SEALs and now personal trainer, Jocko Willink has done.

The US Navy SEALs are a highly secretive group which was formed back in the Vietnam and have undertaken some of the most audacious and dangerous military operations modern warfare has seen. They all emerged unscathed despite coming under sustained assault, which demonstrates just how well trained they are.

So, when a former Navy SEALs reveals which martial arts they believe is the best for self defense, those with an interest sit up and listen.

Former Navy SEALs: Jocko Willink

Jocko Willink Navy SEALs
Picture Credit: Jocko Willink Facebook.

That is what former Navy SEALs Jocko Willink has now done and his choice of styles is an interesting one. Jocko’s pick for the best self defense martial art is Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Close behind he has opted for western-style boxing, followed by Muay Thai boxing, and he also has a good word to say about wrestling too.

Jocko Willink is no run-of-the-mill soldier. He was commander of SEALs Team Three’s Task Unit Bruiser during the Battle of Ramadi in Iraq and was awarded the Silver Star and the Bronze Star for his service in the Iraq War. Prior to his period in command, he also spent eight years as a regular SEAL and time as a SEAL instructor.

His experience and expertise is beyond repute, so why has he picked out the martial arts that he has? Well, it should be noted that WIllink’s first recommendation for self defense is to carry a concealed gun. But, as this is not legal in many parts of the world outside the USA (plus in several US states too) he acknowledges that many people need alternatives.

Jocko Willink Says Brazilian jiu-jitsu is the Top Pick

Jocko Willink Navy SEALs

Brazilian jiu-jitsu is his first recommendation and he says this is “because it’s going to teach you how to handle yourself when that combative situation gets into a grappling scenario and you’re on the ground and you need to get up and get away or protect yourself while you’re on the ground. [It’s] the best one to learn.”

It should be noted that Willink is an avid fan of Brazilian jiu-jitsu and is a black belt in the discipline himself. And of course, as a former US Navy SEAL, it is no coincidence that this is the martial art he has mastered.

Indeed, in the YouTube video in which he shares his views, Willink tells the story of how a year into his jiu-jitsu training, he took on a fellow SEAL who had 20 years of experience in traditional martial arts and defeated him multiple times.

His choice of western boxing is because it teaches you “how to punch people in the face and maintain distance”, while Muay Thai boxing is beneficial because it involves both striking and clinching. The main reason wrestling gets a mention is because it involves “taking people down”.

Whilst making these recommendations, Willink is eager to stress that none will offer people the Hollywood level of self defense skills. The idea of finding what he describes as the “magical instructor” who will teach you how to defeat multiple attackers simultaneously, as is seen in so many Hollywood movies is, as WIllick puts it, “not there”.

He does give an honourable mention to martial arts like Krav Maga, which he says can augment the skills jiu-jitsu will give you but is clearly not a fan of it on its own.

Even the SEALs See There is More to Martial Arts to Just Combat

Jocko Willink Navy SEALs

Whilst Jocko Willink is an expert in combat and self defense scenario’s, he is also clearly sufficiently well versed in martial arts to appreciate that there is more to them than plain combat. He acknowledges the benefits of discipline and humility that come with all martial arts, especially Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and ends his video by giving these as another reason for people to train in martial arts.

But the take-away most people will get from his views, is his ringing endorsement for jiu-jitsu. Yes, there are other martial arts which will help, especially if your opponent is unskilled.

But for the best self defense skills around, it seems that Brazilian jiu-jitsu is the place to go. And that comes from the mouth of a man who knows better than most.

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