Being a Navy SEAL – a member of one of the most elite special operations forces in the world – is often seen as an epitome of being in top-notch physical and mental condition, of comanding an extremely disciplined attitude and brushed-up lifestyle.
So, given that the MMA fighters also undergo demanding physical training, would they be good SEALs if they decided to try and join the force?
Jocko Willink, a BJJ Black Belt and a retired Navy SEAL, shares his opinion.
THE SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES BETWEEN A SEAL AND AN MMA FIGHTER
It’s true, Jocko says, that there are points which are very much connected between being an MMA fighter and a Navy SEAL. The first and perhaps the most important one that comes to mind is – discipline. Discipline and the requirement, as well as the ability to put in the required work; to push, to grind through the moments when you don’t feel as if you want to continue at all… In simple terms, they both require a certain level of mental endurance to go through heavy physical training.
However, Jocko emphasizes that a distinction needs to be made between the discomfort felt by the two. Although they undergo demanding martial art and workout regimes, MMA fighters have time to rest. They can have a workout in the morning, then go rest a bit and have a massage, then go and train another martial art a few hours later, rest again… And so on – they have a certain amount of „luxury“ at their disposal. Whereas for the NAVY SEAL the situation is not as simple; there’s no real rest. There is no luxury. You’re constantly required to grind it out, Jocko explains.
Therefore, it seems that the combination of mental and physical endurance while undergoing physical exhaustion is greater for NAVY SEALs, and it is something that an MMA fighter would have to get used to.
On the flipside, there are requirements that are specific for first qualifying to become and then for being a SEAL – requirements that some people, including MMA fighters, simply may not be able to fulfill and overcome. Jocko mentions some of them; for example, some MMA fighters may be really aggressive and that may pay off well in the ring for them. However, Jocko explains that you can’t be uncontrollably aggressive during live training and on the battlefield; you need to be steady while using your weapon and aggression must not lead the way you shoot.
Then again, some of the other requirements may be much more „simple“, and they simply may or may not be a part of an MMA fighter’s „nature“. For instance, the Navy SEALs are expected to deal well with heights, Jocko points out, such as when they need to climb to high positions. SEALs are also required to endure the cold, to be able to swim well… And so on.
So, it can be the case that an MMA fighter simply doesn’t like one of these things! He may hate the water, he may feel more than uncomfortable in the cold… Or he may not be able to tolerate the heights all too well. Simply said: how well an MMA fighter would adapt depends on a multitude of factors!
So, could an MMA fighter be a good SEAL? Jocko says that yes, sure he could. But it is not a black and white answer, as there are a lot of things which need to be taken into consideration.
Watch an insert from the Jocko’s Podcast on the video below, and hear more on his opinion regarding this topic: