What Martial Arts does John Wick Know?

Last modified date

John Wick is the epitome of a bad ass, a man of singular focus and sheer will who stops at nothing to administer his own personal brand of justice aka breaking your arm and calmly popping a cap in your head. He has no time for mercy for the goons he kills, he’s too busy thinking about his dead wife and dog 🙁 . One of the most exciting parts of watching John Wick is watching him slowly break his calm façade as he succumbs to being ANGERY AS FUUARK and then putting that calm game face back on so he can continue murdering. If you haven’t seen it I highly suggest you do. 


Courtesy of regmovies.com

So what Martial Arts does he show in the film?

The styles used are almost all forms of grappling styles, with a type of firearms training called Tactical 3 Gun, which is what he often uses to finish each fight. We almost never see  him throw a punch and the time he does stand and throw punches we see him get handled and thrown off a balcony. the grappling styles he uses are a combination of Brazilian Jiu jitsu, Japanese Jiu jitsu and Standing Judo. Lets break down those styles.

Japanese Jiu jitsu

Japanese Jiu Jitsu  is the oldest style here and as such, is kinda a mix of everything, it teaches basic strikes, grappling and takedowns with a few little pieces of ground work in there. Japanese Jiu Jitsu is actually the root of many newer styles of martial arts including Judo, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Sambo. This is probably where we could consider John Wick has his base as it is such a versatile style, most modern JJJ gyms focus on joint locks and manipulation with some throws chucked in for good measure. 


Photo courtesy of MixedMartialArts.com

Standing Judo

I wish I could tell you that Standing Judo is some form of Uber Judo that is even better than Olympic Judo but alas, it is literally just the takedowns of Judo without following up into traditional ground grappling techniques. So this style is where John gets his takedown ability, some might argue that there are some takedowns in BJJ, but those throws come from Judo itself and as take downs and throws are Judo’s focus, it supersedes the BJJ. Judo is where we see John transition effortlessly from standing to the ground, he doesn’t often deliver much damage, but that’s not what his throws are for, they are for getting that goon to the ground so he can bend his limbs into ouchy no no shapes. we see him use a swath of techniques like Uchi matas, which are a kind of Leg toss mixed in with VIOLENCE OF ACTION. We also get to see a few seoi nage which is a hip toss where you grab the arm and push your booty into them, to push them of balance and then YEET them into the ground. What’s most interesting about his use of Judo is that it is all relatively simple moves that he uses, he doesn’t need to use anything particularly fancy, it is a very barebones style of Judo, that if used on its own wouldn’t be as effective, however when combined with BJJ becomes VERY effective. 


Picture taken by Scott Hirano

Brazillian Jiu Jitsu

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has become a  very popular martial art in recent memory, Its main focus is on techniques that allow you to fold clothes with the wearer still in them. its known as the style for the ‘little guy’. it is essentially, grappling and neutralizing opponents on the ground. this is where we see John transition to points of advantage and weaken his opponents before delivering a final fatal blow in the form of a bullet. we see him utilise arm bars, guard transitions, as well as using it to escape various holds his enemy has on him. This is a big part of his arsenal, as he is constantly grappling with people that are bigger/stronger than him physically so he has to fall back on it quite often.

Picture taken by Scott Hirano

Tactical 3 Gun

Tactical 3-Gun otherwise is derivative from a type of training known as multi gun, where you have to hit targets from multiple different positions and with multiple firearms, normally 3, a shotgun, a long gun and side arm, but there can be many more. The goal is normally to hit all the targets as fast and as accurate as possible, a useful skill when your a lone gunman against many opponents. It becomes tactical because many military units and police forces train using multi gun,  Keanu Reeves trained using this style at Taran Tactical and while a lot of the gun play has been hammed up for the film, there are still real, legitimate parts that a real soldier or police officer would use if they were using a firearm. Tactical 3 gun is just the application of training for real use other than competition or sports shooting, although i’d imagine that there would be lots of overlap between the two. We see John use this style as his finisher, he very rarely chokes someone out or breaks their neck, 90 percent of his kills are him blasting someone out of their socks or shooting someone in the head while his legs are wrapped around them like two trouser wearing anacondas.

Screenshot from Taran Tacticals Youtube channel

Ultimately John Wick is a piece of fiction though and creative licence has been taken with how effective he is. However, that doesn’t change the fact that the styles he used are real, you could learn them if you wanted to and that’s probably the most exciting part, you can become like John Wick, hopefully minus the murder and wife, dog death situation.