What Is John Wick’s Gun Style?

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Introduction

Centre Axis Relock is the gun-style used by actor Keanu Reeves as John Wick in the hit franchise John Wick, John Wick Chapter 2, and John Wick Chapter 3, Parabellum.

In 2014, most of us firearms geeks were astonished to see the star moving like a real shooter and using correct reload techniques. It took a few re-screens and caught the sequels for me and others to understand his gun style.

The Center Axis Relock or CAR Gun Style

An alternative to isosceles and the modern weaver stances, law enforcement trainer Paul Castle developed the Center Axis Relock style of gun fighting. This was before his untimely death in 2011 from cancer. 

Most scenarios of self-defense happen in confined spaces and at very close ranges. As such, there’s less restrain of movement like with traditional gun stances like the weaver or isosceles.

Since your opponent is within 8 and 10 feet, or closer, there’s no room to extend your arms fully. Many styles call for pointing out the gun in front of you, exposing yourself to being disarmed.

John Wick’s Center Axis Relock style ensures better weapon retention and provides less time between the draw and sighting targets. I have seen many instances where the armed are disarmed and get shot with their gun, especially in close range attack scenarios. 

When I am shooting at the range, moving at the same time, an isosceles stance is a suitable tactic. However, this gun style won’t work if I am cloistered in a narrow passageway or shooting from a vehicle.

A target at contact distance will probably take up space where the isosceles stance requires your arms to be.

When the CAR style was devised, it addressed these issues. Centre Axis Relock integrates with isosceles and weaver stances to become another shooting option for close-quarter combat.

Keanu Reeves Portrayal of the John Wick Gun Style

Like me, gun fans were quick to notice what Keanu Reeves was accomplishing as John Wick from the word go. We have watched with bated breath as he plows through well-armed assailant and thug using Gun-Fu with freakishly awesome headshots. 

The original film and its sequels have plots that don’t beat around the proverbial bush. John Wick starts by going straight for the kill from the onset.

He showed folks how to start and end gunfights, using the Center Axis Relock style for final pistol solutions.

Look closely at the gunfight scenes, which are aplenty in John Wick 1, chapter two, and Parabellum. Keanu uses a lot of different John Wick guns and handles them in a well-trained and stylized manner.

The Center Axis Relock utilized here conforms to stances that would apply in real-life close combat situations. However, movie equals fantasy, and what john does may seem flash and look cool, but it shouldn’t be your only defensive tactic.

CAR has seen wide and extensive Hollywood use, more for its shooter appeal than functionality. It involves a compressed weaver-like stance that holds the pistol in front of the shooter and towards a target.

Does the John Wick Gun Style (CAR) Work in Real-World Scenarios?

The gun style employed by Keanu reeves as John Wick most of the time is the Center Axis Relock stance. This is part of his overall combat style called Gun Fu, an eclectic mix of Kung Fu and gun shooting mastership.

As a legitimate law enforcement style of firearm training, the Center Axis Relock is made up of two aspects. Each of these positions has its purpose and holds its specific right to create CAR as a whole. 

The High Position

Center Axis Relock systems High Position involves bringing your body perpendicular to your opponent. At the same time, your strong gun hand will be drawing, while your support hand clears obstructions.

Bring the gun close up to your chest as you non-pistol holding hand moves from below to meet your trigger hand. For obvious reasons, I always emphasize care when sweeping obstacles with the support hand not to bring it over your gun’s muzzle.

If like me, you are left-handed; your weak side foot is the right one. Turn it within this same sequence to face a 90° angle with your attacker. 

You are now at a position where your gun is level up and pointed at your target, enabling you to place accurate fire from this range. Besides engaging your opponent, you can use your non-gun hand elbow to create distance between you.

The High Position of Center Axis Relock system is your ready position. You’ll also be able to convert into the next CAR position, which is aptly named the Extended Position.

The Extended Position

From your High Position when execution Center Axis Relock gun style, rotate down your support hands elbow. Bring up your strong hand, the gun-toting one, up so that the firearm’s sight is aligned with your strong eye.

At this close range, use the Extended Position for aimed fire for accuracy. Your strong hand should push the firearm at your target, while your support hand pulls it backward.

This engagement creates a flexible yet stable firing position known as being locked in. CAR works to leverage available space for shots while presenting to your attacker a small as possible of a target. 

What I Like About the John Wick Car Gun Style

Other than a stable firing position, the Center Axis Relock style helps you maintain sustainable weapon retention. The main goal of CAR is to offer feasible sight on your target. 

This is accomplished by leveraging your body’s gross motor function and instinctive reactions during a high-stress scenario. Such situations can present difficulties for choosing the correct target picture with a quick, strong eye and sight alignment. 

Close quarter engagements don’t give much time for using red dot optics, and CAR allows your dominant eye to come into play. 

CARs High Position facilitates your engagement of a target at contact distance, allowing for maximum point-shot abilities. It’s designed for when the assailant is in your face and mitigates their chances of wrestling away your weapon.

You don’t punch the firearm way out towards them, but only enough to find the sight and shot clearance.  Even when they try wrestling the gun out of your grasp, your elbow strength in High Position will ensure a degree of gun hand resistance.

With the John Wick CAR gun style, your attacker can be stopped without bringing up your weapons sights.  This is made easier by the High Position gun hand and leg stances. 

When your target is yet far off, your gun’s sight makes for accuracy formidability. The Extended Position of Center Axis Relock gun style enables you to bring up your weapon fast and clean.

This stance offers good weapon retention capacities from the stable platform of shooting. CAR Extended Position allows the utilization of the correct sight picture fast for improved accuracy. 

Learning the CAR Gun Style

Please don’t be mistaken; I believe that the Center Axis Relock gun style used by John Wick is worth learning. It’s an essential tool to have within your ‘no retreat, no surrender’ toolbox if you are as defensive-minded as I am.

You shouldn’t however, try replacing the modern stances of shooting with CAR gun style. Stances like the isosceles are a style most shooters are readily familiar with.

The John Wick stance offers a substantial chance of shooting while moving past to get off the X. This means that applying the high and Extended Position ends when your attacker has been downed or held back. 

Going into any situation will call for the modern isosceles stance as your general go-to gun style. Unlike the antagonistic John Wick, your aim is to get out of a live-fire situation as soon as possible.

Keep in mind that a well-armed engagement never trumps over a well-earned retreat, which is less deadly. Don’t enter shot range scenarios with the Center Axis Relock system, in my opinion, and you shouldn’t leave one with it. 

An unknown number of shooters in a room that you aim to enter, for instance, may turn out into an epic fail to go in with the CAR gun style. You will have to pivot your whole body to face an attacker or attacker that has you already n their sights.

An attacker to your gun hand side will be in an advantageous position to knock the weapon out of your hand. 

On the other hand, such a scenario rarely happens. If you have already drawn your weapon, it means you’ve reacted to visual and other sensory threats that are in front of you. 

Summary

The Centre Axis Relock system becomes very effective, especially if you employ incredible speed and sureness. CAR is also significantly helpful when you are moving through a confined space, or room to room.

The solid shot base presented by the high and Extended Positions translates to sustained gun retention. This system may stand between you and the armed defender that got shot using their own weapon. 

CAR or Center Axis Relock system is a gun style devised for law enforcement scenarios by Paul Castle but popularized by Hollywood. The shooting technique is more than a cinematic myth, though, and works well in real-world close-range scenarios.

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