The choreography was quite diverse, where Wick's style changed depending on his opponents' favored styles.

The initial fight scenes involved the Russian Mafia, and the grappling had a different flavor than grappling later in the movie (certain uses of footwork, etc.)

Keanu studied under Tiger Chen, so this could be the Chinese influence, but per the in-universe profile of the character of Wick, it would be within his scope to have studied Systema, if only to be prepared when fighting practitioners.

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    Movies are crafted for specific characters and not always realistic to a whole "styles" as much as to give the impression of extreme mastery to the viewer. Like in Star wars phantom menace Darth Maul knew martial arts, but the others were just actors practicing with him...not likely either could have beat him realistically, but it looks pretty close in skill due to the scripting and choreography. Without talking to the choreographer themselves it might be impossible to truly tell a specific style usage unless all the moves are recognizable of a particular style. As you mention it shifts...
    – mutt
    May 10, 2017 at 21:06
  • @mutt part of the reason I asked is because I know so little about this method, but find it very intriguing. I know a few professional fight choreographers and they tend to make it their business to learn multiple styles to keep things "fresh". (The first wave of MMA choreographers comes to mind.) I've also known a few professional warriors who "collect" styles, attaining at least a basic level of mastery in everything they can in order to be fully prepared for any potential opponent. Thanks for weighing in!
    – DukeZhou
    Jun 1, 2017 at 20:44
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    Be cautious with Systema. I personally know a few guys I respect who trained in it and had good things to say but you see Systema videos appear a lot on Bullshido and the FB group "Dumbass Martial arts"
    – Wudang
    Mar 23, 2018 at 11:12
  • @Wudang My teacher used to sell videos out of financial necessity, but always made the point you can't really learn the arts from reading books or watching videos. You attain degrees of mastery the same way you get to Carnegie Hall: "practice, practice, practice!". But I am interested in Systema b/c those Spetznaz guys are no joke, and the description is reminiscent of Wudang fundamentals with a Jeet Kun Do filter. I suspect the lack of forms/katas is part of the reason this compelling Russian it is still so opaque to outsiders.
    – DukeZhou
    Mar 23, 2018 at 19:50
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    @Wudang: Speaking of Bullshido, the difference between Systema as marketed by Vasiliev/Ryabko and offshoots (essentially spiritual bullshit) and what Retuinskih developed under the name of Systema originally (which is the practical self-defence curriculum of Combat Sambo, comparable to Gracie Combatives and freaking hardcore) is quite important. See e.g. this post. Spetznaz Systema is not what Vasiliev and Ryabko are doing. They market made up stuff after having visited two seminars. May 5, 2018 at 9:53

2 Answers 2


No. Not specifically.

In the John Wick 2 training featurettes, they mention Japanese Juijitsu, Brazilian Juijitsu, and Judo as the three arts they practiced with Keanu in preparation for John Wick 2. Systema is not specifically called out.


We just went to town training him on 14 or 15 great Judo moves, Aiki-jitsu moves, and then really up'd his Juijitsu game, spent a lot of time grappling.


  • Thanks for this. (Not everyone seems to consider choreography a legit aspect of the arts. Sure, it's the "fine art" aspect, and has to be modified and translated for the camera, but the best stuff is rooted in real techniques;) That second vid showing all the mat work with the Machados is especially nice.
    – DukeZhou
    May 4, 2018 at 16:10

In addition to the well informed comments above I can add that I definitely recognised a number of throws transitioning into locks from Judo, some very elegant, as always, wrist lock throws from Aikido along with a good variety of ground work from both Brazilian and Japanese Jujitsu and more Judo. Some of the punches, elbows and open handed striking looked to be from more modern eclectic systems, targeting vulnerable areas (I'm not so familiar with these). A lot of the kicks to the legs were very similar to the street fighting form of Kick/Thai boxing that I studied quite a few years ago where we had it drummed into us that any kick above thigh level is likely to end up with you on your back after getting your leg caught. I may have missed some techniques, misinterpreted others, and attributed some to a particular system where they are common amongst a number of systems. My background was with Judo, mostly Japanese Jujitsu (a little Brazilian), kick and Thai boxing - with direction to what is practical in a street fight (though we did study the full plethora of techniques), a lesser amount of Aikido, Western boxing and a few years of eclectic techniques involving stick and knife fighting and the most useful techniques borrowed from numerous styles. Sadly, these days, my back and neck are so damaged from the stresses I put them through in my youth that my only contact with martial arts and combat sports is through John Wick, Jason Bourne etc!!!

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