Keanu Reeves has starred in some incredible movies and is a household name everywhere in the world, but in recent years, his role as John Wick has made him a favorite of martial artists. The series features some of the best BJJ and Judo displays ever put into film, and Reeves is known for doing his own stunts, which has caused many people to wonder what BJJ belt he has.
Keanu Reeves is a white belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu despite his extensive training in the art for movie roles. He has been trained by the Machado brothers and Dave Camarillo, among other martial arts instructors and stuntmen. However, he is not training regularly outside of preparation for a movie and does not spar and compete, meaning he is not progressing through the ranks.
Nevertheless, Keanu has shown impressive mastery of his body in choreographed fights, executing technically correct jiu-jitsu techniques interwoven with striking and weapons fighting, so it’s interesting to know how he achieved this skill level.
Being in some of the best action movies ever filmed, Keanu Reeves is an actor that doesn’t need much introduction. The star of The Matrix and John Wick has earned the love and respect of fans worldwide, being known as one of the hardest-working actors, but he has also impressed more than a few martial artists throughout his career.
But we are interested in him in this article because Keanu Reeves trained in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and Judo for his role in the spectacle John Wick and its subsequent sequels.
While marital arts were not new for him before the first John Wick movie, BJJ was something he had never done at that point, but after 4 full-length movies, 75% of which are action scenes, he can be considered pretty skilled.
Keanu Reeves is still a white belt in BJJ, as seen from the latest training footage for the 4th John Wick movie. The reason for this, despite the lengthy training time he must have had until now, is he is training specifically to be able to use the techniques in a movie setting. He is not attending regular classes, sparring, and progressing through the BJJ ranks.
But still, he moves impressively for a 50+ years old white belt, doesn’t he? Here is how he reached that level.
Keanu Reeves BJJ Training
Keanu Reeves has been lauded time and time again as a tireless worker in the gym. After he got back in shape in a few weeks, Keanu started training BJJ more extensively for the second film, and to prepare him, the producers brought in the best instructors they could find- the Machado brothers.
According to them, Keanu has a good grasp of positions, transitions, and submissions and knows more than a few techniques memorized for a specific fight scene.
What’s more impressive are his judo throws and sweeps, which translate beautifully to the screen. Perhaps this is why Judo’s only three-time Olympic champion Nomura Tadahiro awarded him an honorary Judo black belt.
Here is an amazing video of Judo, aikido, and jiu-jitsu techniques Reeves uses in the movies, along with their names and demonstration in real life:
For the fourth installment of the Wick series, another legendary grappling instructor Dave Camarillo helped Keanu Reeves with his BJJ game. With extensive training, he could translate some of the subtle nuances of the martial art to the screen.
Dave even helped Keanu and director Chad Stahelski raise money for a children’s hospital by auctioning a BJJ gi signed by all three men.
Why Is John Wick Special For BJJ Guys
The John Wick series is known for displaying some of the most realistic Jiu-Jitsu and Judo choreography in the history of film, making it hugely popular among those who train in grappling arts.
For me, the allure of John Wick lies in two things. First is the film’s overall aesthetics and the High Table’s whole ethos. The second is the realism and the credibility of the action.
Obviously, one man cannot kill hundreds of people as it happens in the movie, but the moves he uses, both unarmed and with weapons, look and feel authentic.
They are real techniques people use in fighting, and it shows on the screen, which is a big reason for the success of the John Wick series.
As practicing martial artists, we have a much tighter filter and can distinguish complete fantasy from something that could happen in a real fight.
Of course, things are way more telegraphed than real life, but it is infinitely better than other movies. To use a comparison, I am sure you will understand, John Wick is the UFC, while other mainstream action movies are point karate in terms of realism.
This is why BJJ practitioners and other martial artists praised and analyzed Keanu and his movies. The action is Hollywood-like, but jiu-jitsu has seldom been used in mainstream movies and never to this extent.
And let me tell you, after 15 years of watching and doing combat sports, it’s rare that I watch movie fights and not roll my eyes.
While Keanu Reeves is only a white belt, many other actors and celebrity colleagues have progressed further in the BJJ rankings. BJJ has been the craze these past few years, with even Mark Zuckerberg competing on the mats, joining people like Tom Hardy, Russell Brand, Henry Cavil, and many others.
But some have walked the long path to the black belt, so their dedication to jiu-jitsu, especially given their success in other fields of life, is worth honoring.
Joe Rogan is the most popular person in the combat sports community and hosts the world’s most popular podcast. His love for BJJ is well known, and he was awarded his first black belt by Eddie Bravo in his 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu. He also has a black belt in the gi awarded to him by Jean Jacques Machado.
The famous Hawaii Five-O and “Ocean’s Eleven” actor started BJJ in 2001 and received his black belt from Marcus Vinicius in 2016.
One of the more surprising names among the actor black belts has to be Ed O’Neill. The actor who played Al Bundy was one of the first celebrities to start BJJ even before the UFC.
After 22 years of training under Rorion, Gracie O’Neill was awarded his black belt in 2007. Ed is still active despite his age.
Iconic British film director Guy Ritchie is also in the black belt ranks. He got his from Renzo Gracie in 2015 after many years of training. The famous filmmaker even hooked up Russel Brand and Jason Statham on grappling.
Keanu Reeves is a white belt in BJJ under the Machado brothers. He trains BJJ mainly for his movies, where he showcases his skills and realism by doing his own stunts.
While his skill is not comparable to a competitor, his proficiency is notable given his age and main profession. He also trains other martial arts such as Judo, krav maga, Muay Thai, and Wushu; all showcased in his long and storied action movie career.