ByRyan Matsunaga, writer at
MMA fan, BJJ enthusiast, and Executive Publisher at Creators Media.
Ryan Matsunaga

Four years after the original, a sequel to Jack Reacher is set to hit theaters later this year with Tom Cruise returning as the titular character. Based on the trailer alone, it seems like the upcoming movie will be keeping the previous one's gritty, visceral style when it comes to the fight scenes.

Despite never explicitly detailing the character's martial arts training, Jack Reacher seems to have a very distinct fighting style in the movie. The books that it was based on don't have many answers though, and leave much of Reacher's hand-to-hand skill set vague. While he has certain techniques that he's fond of (elbows and headbutts for example), there's no real mention of what martial arts he's actually drawing from (if any).

The movies, however, draw from a much more specific martial arts discipline. For the hand-to-hand action sequences in Jack Reacher, the fight choreographers turned to the Keysi Fighting Method, a combat system developed by Justo Dieguez and Andy Norman.

Keysi was designed as street-effective martial art that focuses on defensive positioning and short-ranged attacks. It gained a measure of fame after it was used as the basis for the fight choreography in Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and the third Mission Impossible.

While visually similar to more commonly practiced martial arts disciplines like Krav Maga and Systema, Keysi is unique in a few regards.

For example, the Keysi system teaches almost no kicking attacks. Instead, it stresses maintaining a strong base at all times, and using a wide variety of upper body attacks such as punches, elbows, headbutts, and hammerfists. Most importantly, Keysi students also train to defend themselves against armed attackers and multiple opponents, which makes a lot of sense for a character like Jack Reacher.

This approach formed the basis for Jack Reacher's memorable "Five Against One" fight scene:

Additionally, Keysi focuses on shorter, tighter arcs of movement, aiming to generate the most power possible with the least amount of effort. In the original movie, this allowed the character to fight more effectively in narrow spaces, such as the house fight scene:

It will be interesting to see how the sequel builds on the Keysi core of the original, and if Jack Reacher himself will be bringing in techniques from any other martial arts styles.

We'll find out this fall when Jack Reacher: Never Go Back hits theaters on October 21.


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