The John Wick franchise metamorphosed how to fight, and it’s anything but for the faint at heart.
Director Chad Stahelski and writer Derek Kolstad introduced the world to the American action thriller film when it debuted in 2014. The hooking trilogy is a pinnacle in its genre, with Keanu Reeves immortalizing the character of John Wick.
The legendary protagonist is muscular and masculine. He is handsome and fine-tailored. He is bloody and barbaric. He is brave in sorrow and love. He is a heroic assassin.
Despite his stoic and subtle character, John Wick has a complete skill set, and testosterone to create what’s famed as one of the most epic, complex action sequences ever. It’s verifiable grit.
The iconic assassin is distinguished as “a man of focus, commitment, and sheer will.” I understood, in heart, the extreme level of his tenacity. I understood that he was a man on a very raw mission.
Most of us have experienced intense pain or a loss that changed us to our core. It may have been a death or a betrayal—the loss of your job or even your dream.
It’s about grief and feeling hard-core broken. A trauma that’s so intense it makes you more indestructible and braver than you could have ever imagined. This is John Wick.
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If you have yet to experience the colossal franchise, the basic premise is about protagonist John Wick, an illustrious hitman who retires after finding and marrying his soulmate. Shortly after, she dies, leaving him desolate.
When the son of a Russian gangster steals John Wick’s vintage car and kills his puppy (the final gift from his deceased wife), it ignites a fury that transforms him into a merciless killing machine out for revenge.
Screenrant tells what ensues are “epic explosions, deep tissue scarring, broken bones, and meaty bullet holes that have never looked more glorious or grand.”
In one epic trailer, we see John Wick expertly riding a horse in the desert while rapidly firing at his adversaries, repeatedly bashing a man’s head with nunchucks, hacking another’s apart with an ax in a nightclub, and engaging in close-quarters sword-fight combat!
John Wick: Chapter 1, John Wick: Chapter 2, and John Wick: Chapter 3 – The Parabellum have immortalized some of the most remarkable fight schemas ever to thrill the screen. So much so that everyone wanted to be this exceptional man, more precisely, they wanted to know how to fight like him.
Then – and now – nothing has changed.
The gripping lead Reeves is influential for his artistry in killing and thrilling audiences with his violent rampage.
He does it with impervious skill making the passionate assassin our hero. So, for the premise of this month’s blog, I arm you with five tips on how to fight like John Wick in Nick Drossos style.
1. Train Krav Maga (and more)
The John Wick script developed a hybrid technique of fighting for Keanu, a new, unique style of close-quarter combat. So, he needed to learn various martial art techniques to make it happen. As a result, Krav Maga, Japanese Jiu-Jitsu, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, standing Judo, Sambo, and Tactical 3-gun all make epic appearances in the John Wick franchise.
Krav Maga is the sub-structure of all my self-defense courses. With its prominence in real-world scenarios, it’s a system that exposes you to acute stress with power drills for the psyche and the brain. In addition, it plays an intrinsic role in a slew of fight scenes, including John Wick: Chapter 2: The scene in which Wick disarms his opponents and uses their weapons against them. His resourceful techniques are simple, efficient, practical, and advocated by military and law enforcement.
Hands down, Brazilian Jiu-jitsu is the most prominent discipline utilized by the lethal combat fighter. John Wick’s extensive training with the infamous Machado brothers was invaluable in creating the gamut of pulse-pounding scenes that erupt when the fight hits the ground. Being paramount in MMA, it also incorporates choking and joint manipulation.
It’s essential to know that Judo techniques appear simple however, it takes decades to learn the intricate principles of Kuzushi (the Japanese term for unbalancing an opponent) and movement to hit perfect throws. That said, John Wicks’s force is rapid and deadly throughout the films, allowing him to continue fighting.
We witness his proficiency many times as he slams his adversaries into the concrete. There are also numerous scenes in which John Wick transitions from standing Judo by blocking jabs and punches or clearing knives.
Sambo makes a short expose in the John Wick universe. The martial art and combat sport was developed and used by the Soviet Red Army to improve their hand-to-hand combat abilities. The sport is similar in many ways to Judo and Jiu-Jitsu but incorporates different types of wrestling and various self-defense systems.
The Russian-derived name means “self-defense without weapons’. While a hybrid of different fighting techniques, Sambo is connected to Judo with a similarly great emphasis on throwing techniques.
In Chapter 3 – The Parabellum, we also witness an epic Tactical – 3 gun combat scene in which John Wick uses a superior combination of a pistol, shotgun, and rifle to fight off many opponents in a simulated training exercise. Again, it’s intense and split-second – indicative of the John Wick franchise.
2. Train Gun-fu
Gun-fu is a blend of fast-paced martial arts using firearms to create a unique and cohesive fighting system. It’s a genre spawned from Hong Kong, and John Wick showcases it in its most fascinating artistic form. Rather than isolating gunplay and hand-to-hand combat, John Wick fuses the two and creates what seems unimaginable.
In Parabellum, John Wick, who has a 14 million bounty on his head, is defending himself from every assassin in New York while being pursued at epic speed by armed motorcyclists swerving around his horse. He suspends himself entirely off the saddle to shield from their oncoming fire. John Wick makes us marvel at his technical skill set as he simultaneously fires bullets from around the horse’s neck. That’s some Gun-fu – dodging and weaving, all while firing weapons!
Gun-fu features speed, precision, and agility, demanding substantive training and skill. The technical gunplay in John Wick is exceptional and unconventional, and to shoot like him, you’ll need to master running your gun in close quarters.
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The practice begins with mastering gun safety and handling techniques, then developing your shooting skills.
Opponents typically bring the conflict into what is labeled lousy breath distance, as it’s unlikely that the gap will be indicative of a practice shooting range. However, in this case, the fight will be tight and fast.
Street fighting is intimate and demands the shooter be conscious of their muzzle and support side hand location. The gunplay includes striking your adversary with the barrel or butt of a gun or even using your firearm to deflect or block an attack.
The Red Circle shootout is fully loaded with weapons and ammunition, boasting some of the most astounding gunplay produced on screen.
The gunplay indicates both quick draw and rapid fire, which is the foundation of Gun-fu. Speed and efficiency prevail; most of his adversaries are eliminated by a single bullet,
Reeves learned to master a vast arsenal of weaponry from shooting instructor and tactical expert Taran Butler. John Wick’s tactical stance indicates his life in combat, including military and criminal activity.
The trained eye would connect that the revered assassin is steadfast in keeping his weapons close to his body and forward at all times. He never fails to check all corners, his gun always in the direction of his eyes.
It’s critical to note that Gun-fu is highly cinematic and stylized and fails to hone in on practical or real-world self-defense. However, as a fun, challenging discipline, John Wick’s take on Gun-fu is sensational.
3. Train the knife
John Wick’s simple hand-to-hand combat spawns into an excellent knife and blade-throwing proficiency in the infamous knife shop scene. What transpires with John Wick and his violent adversaries surpasses cutting edge.
The actor is seemingly immortal, moving at lightning speed to defend himself from several men with knives. The fight is vicious and violent, affecting all your senses – that’s the efficiency of the knife.
Again, John Wick’s slick precision is delivered with deadly force in his blocks and strikes. But ultimately, his impressive close-contact skillset leads him to victory.
John Wick’s knife training surpasses what we could fathom achieving as civilians. However, self-defense courses are not created for the theater but for the real world – your world. My tactical-edge and knife-defense instruction hones in on authentic scenarios and covers concepts and strategies, live drills, and pressure training. It’s a full-out reality-based experience.
So, it’s possible you can still reach impressive levels. Training begins by learning the safety and (knife) handling with a ”dummy” knife and then follows with the basics like how to grip, move and strike with your edged weapon.
A solid focus on balance and speedy footwork is also critical for offensive and defensive techniques.
Training the knife also means learning how to defend yourself while simultaneously attacking. This involves practicing parrying, blocking, slicing, and stabbing.
So if you’re skilled with self-defense, Krav Maga, or any fighting system or martial art, pair it with edged-weapon training you’re on target to achieve John Wick status.
4. Train hard-core
In a violent altercation, whether or not you or John Wick use hand-to-hand combat, a gun, or an edged weapon – one’s physical fitness is critical.
Keanu evolved into an athletic beast for his role as John Wick. He studied several martial arts and exercised punching and kicking techniques from various striking systems and a vigorous emphasis on throwing and grappling disciplines.
Personal trainer Patrick Murphy, who prepared Keanu Reeves for the second and third installments of the franchise, explained that John Wick is one of the most physical roles endured in cinema history – “The choreography, along with the multiple fight disciplines, tumbling, stunts, horseback riding, stunt car driving, gun training, and other various weapons training means K.R.’s body had been through hell and back.”
The actor trained eight hours daily and committed to real-world training in the tactical industry. He learned from the best and most elite, like C.I.A. contractor and Navy Seal Shawn Ryan. Similarly, I teach my students how pivotal it is to be motivated, focused, and committed to their self-defense practice and physical fitness regime because it’s what the body will demand to push and forge ahead.
Reeve’s weekly schedule included recovery practices and corrective exercises designed to improve the body’s movement, along with muscular endurance, balance, stabilization, power, and weight training. Hitting your peak fitness will help you execute your John Wick best and achieve your goals.
Nutrition is a fundamental principle that will help make your grabs, kicks, and punches more dynamic. Getting ample vitamins, minerals, and nutrients into your body will positively influence its healthy form and function. In addition, your diet will always impact your strength, stamina, mobility, and, of course – speed.
5. Train improvised weapons
John Wick is a master of improvised weapons. In pursuit of bloody justice, he executes some rare and thrilling scenes in which he’s lethal in thinking outside the box. The famed assassin stuns with his unusual choices to turn anythng into an object to disable or physically kill.
His ingenuity reveals itself when he uses a pencil (tactical object) to slay two assassins after a bounty on his head, a thin wire to choke his kill, and a belt to ‘keep up’ when found himself outnumbered. Other spontaneous defense weapons included a bike helmet, which he almost instantly kills his attacker, and an ax that he embeds into the skull of one talented martial arts fighter. The versatile assassin proves that almost anything in your immediate area can and should be used in combat.
Using his retrieved stolen Mustang as a weapon, John Wick slams his car door into one of his attackers, ripping off the metallic door alongside the attacker.
Also, as Wick darts into a barn full of horses early on in Parabellum, he uses the animals for cover, sliding underneath and spinning around the spooked equines. Then, in a very efficient and technically savvy move, Wick positions the rear of one horse toward oncoming shooters and taps its flank, causing an instantly violent back kick that sends the bad guys flying out of frame.
Self-defense is about internalizing how to be adaptive and prepared. You don’t walk around armed and ready for violence, so you must hone in on the alternatives. Therefore, learning how to transform random objects into self-defense weapons is critical to your instruction in real-world protection. So, to gear up to fight like John Wick, you train to utilize what’s in your close perimeter.
Perhaps, I’ll be training for my action film one day. Red-blooded training, Krav Maga, diverse martial arts, and quickly evolving as an actor. There’s not much I can’t see next for myself, much like Keeanu, in his mindset and grit. John Wick’s knife training surpasses what we could fathom achieving as civilians. However, self-defense courses are not created for the theater but for the real world – your world. My tactical-edge and knife-defense instruction focuses on authentic scenarios and covers concepts and strategies, live drills, and pressure training. It’s a full-out reality-based experience.
Screen Rant says that “explosions, deep tissue scarring, broken bones, and meaty bullet holes affect the most glorious or grand action films” – what is precisely John Wick.
It’s one of the most successful action franchises of our time, with Chapter 3: Parabellum being the highest-grossest film of 2019. The fourth in the series is soon to be released, and with a guarantee of even more jaw-dropping, brutal, and pulsating action, the world awaits.
Not only for the gritty, violent, marvelous scenes or the John Wick persona but for Keanu Reeves, whose focus and discipline morphed him into a character larger than life. Someone who avenges the wrong and protects the innocent. He becomes the action hero living in all of us.
The actor says. “They really trained me up to be able to have what we call the toolbox…” What’s more, John Wick, single-minded about performing all his stunts, reveals John Wick: Chapter 4 was the most challenging physical role he’s ever had to play – grueling, but worth it!” Which best sums up how to fight like John Wick in Nick Drossos style.
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