Keysi Fighting Method: The Hollywood Fighting Style
published on August 3, 2023
curated and posted by BRWLRZ Team

In numerous modern action movies, the stars of these films have been using techniques from a fighting style called Keysi. A relatively modern fighting style that was developed during the 1980s.

Many aren’t familiar with the aspects of this martial art, which is why we’re giving you a full breakdown. Check out everything you need to know about the Keysi fighting method below and if it’s an effective self-defense system.

What is the Keysi Fighting Method 

Keysi, also known as the Keysi Fighting Method (KFM), is a fighting system that was developed in the 1980s. It’s a martial art focusing on self-defense and close-quarters combat techniques.

The creators of Keysi are Justo Dieguez Serrano and Andy Norman. Many became aware of KFM through its depiction in Hollywood action movies like the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy.

Since the martial art has received global exposure, it is now practiced in nearly every continent in the world.

Keysi Fighting Method Keysi Fighting Method

The History of the Keysi Fighting Method

Keysi, or the Keysi Fighting Method, is a relatively new martial art with a history dating back only 40 years. Although the martial art isn’t that old, it still has a unique history.

Justo Dieguez Serrano 

The co-creator of Keysi is Spanish martial artist Justo Dieguez Serrano. He began practicing martial arts at a young age and learned everything from boxing, Judo, and Karate.

Serrano said that he had numerous street fights when he was growing up. These fights made him realize there were flaws in the fighting disciplines he had spent years learning.

This realization would lead Justo to begin his journey to create his own fighting style.

Andy Norman 

Andy Norman is an English martial artist with experience in various martial arts. Two of the most prominent styles being kickboxing and Taekwondo.

As a lifelong martial arts practitioner, Norman would begin traveling to different places to learn new styles. Little did Andy know that his journey would lead him to co-creating a new fighting method.

How Keysi was Formed 

During the early 1980s, Andy Norman visited Spain to learn new martial arts. During his trip, he would meet Justo Dieguez Serrano.

The two would become friends and start sharing their philosophies on martial arts. Both realized that there were flaws in the disciplines they had previously learned.

This would lead the two martial artists to begin training with each other. Developing their own martial art focusing on self-defense and close-quarter fighting techniques.

Adapting

As Norman and Serrano began training together, they began fixing the flaws in their abilities. Taking their experiences from street fights to develop what they would call the Keysi Fighting Method.

They began implementing close-quartered techniques into their system that were quick, swift, and effective. Not just when facing one attacker but multiple attackers. Focusing on adapting to any life-threatening situation and quickly responding.

Once the two creators had developed their fighting system, they would begin sharing it with the world.

Keysi’s Hollywood Exposure 

During the early 2000s, Keysi began receiving international exposure through its depiction in Hollywood action films. The first depiction of KFM on film would be in the film Batman Begins– the first film in the Christopher Nolan, Batman trilogy.

Nolan and the film’s fight choreographers were looking for a fighting style that Batman would use to fight bad guys. Something that was mainly close-quartered attacks, where Batman could fight multiple people at once.

One of the stuntmen and choreographers, Buster Reeves told Christopher Nolan about the Keysi Fighting Method. He explained that the relatively new martial art was a fighting system that was created specifically for self-defense situations,

Quickly dispatching an enemy or multiple enemies with ferocious close-quartered attacks. Nolan thought that this was the perfect fighting style for Batman and his team would contact the KFM creators.

Andy Norman would come to the set and display Keysi’s techniques for the crew. He would become an advisor and fight choreographer on the film.

Batman Begins would be a huge hit that would give KFM global exposure. Soon many more action moves would begin utilizing Keysi techniques into them. 

You can see Keysi being used in everything, from the Batman trilogy to the Jack Reacher films starring Tom Cruise.

Keysi Fighting Method Keysi Fighting Method

The Keysi Defense Lab

After decades of training together, Andy Norman would break away from Serrano and the martial art he co-created. Going on to create his own system called Keysi Defense Lab.

An offshoot of KSM that implements other techniques along with Keysi techniques. The two martial artists have never publicly spoken about why the split occurred.

Many assumed that Norman wanted to go off and create his own fighting system. Whatever the reason for the split, we now have the Keysi Fighting Method and Keysi Defense Lab.

The Teachings of Keysi

In KFM, students are taught six main rules of fighting. These rules focus on learning how to defend yourself in any situation that you may find yourself in.

  1. Adaptable & Instinctive Techniques: KFM and KDL emphasize using instinctive movements and reactions. Each system teaches students how to respond to stressful situations effectively.
  2. 360 Defense: Keysi emphasizes defending against attacks from all directions. You could be attacked from all angles and must be prepared to act.
  3. Close-Quarter Combat: Everything taught within the system is to attack from close quarters. Using natural body movements to generate power in confined spaces.
  4. Stress-Testing: The training puts students in stressful scenarios where they must quickly react and defend themselves.
  5. Weapons Defense: The fighting system also teaches techniques for students to defend themselves against various types of weapon attacks.
  6. Awareness & Prevention: The system also teaches students how to avoid danger. Learning how to read situations, so you can avoid conflict and stay safe.

Keysi Fighting Method Keysi Fighting Method

The Techniques of Keysi 

Being a close-quartered fighting system, Keysi emphasizes techniques used within close range.

Some of the techniques include:

  • Clinches
  • Elbows
  • Knees
  • Short Punches
  • Palm Strikes
  • Takedowns
  • Weapon Disarmament

The Keysi Belt System

Like more traditional martial arts, Keysi does have its own belt system. It comprises seven belts that take around nine years to complete.

  • White Belt
  • Yellow Belt
  • Orange Belt
  • Green Belt
  • Blue Belt
  • Brown Belt
  • Black Belt

There are also 7 high-level black belts after the 1st-degree black belt. Reaching a 7th-degree black belt in Keysi would take over 20 years to complete on top of the nearly 10 years within the colored belts.

The Flaws of Keysi

While Keysi seems like it was a genuine effort to create a self-defense system, it does have its flaws. Many martial arts experts believe that the only place that KFM works is within a Hollywood movie set. Citing two specific problems with the fighting method.

Reinventing the Wheel

The biggest flaw that experts cite is that Keysi tries to reinvent the wheel. It addresses answers to solutions to problems that were already solved and answered better.

All of the techniques in the system are done better within the martial arts they borrowed from. The best example is the guard the system uses, called the pensador.

It’s similar to a boxing guard, but you keep your hands open against your forehead. Much less effective than the guard in boxing, where you block the more vulnerable parts of your face and head.

There are various other examples where remade techniques that were already good were made them less effective.

Lack of Pressure Testing

Keysi was developed between two martial artists training together and studying techniques. While it’s good to learn an already-established system in this manner, it’s not an effective way to create a new one.

The system has a lack of pressure testing. Meaning that the techniques were not tested in real-life scenarios or in competitions.

These are the only ways to know if a technique works. Many KSM and KDL techniques were not tested in these ways, showing the systems are heavily flawed.

Is Keysi Worth Learning?

Keysi looks good in a movie, but we’re not sure the techniques would work in a real-life situation. Nearly all the techniques were done better in the martial arts that the system borrowed from, which were pressure tested.

Keysi was a good attempt at creating a new fighting system, but there are already more effective systems that exist.

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