Bill Skarsgård Learned Four Martial Arts For The New Action Film Sensation Boy Kills World

0 Posted by - April 29, 2024 - Film, Martial Artist
Bill Skarsgård in Boy Kills World, Source: Lionsgate

If the behind the scenes reports and early buzz are anything to go by, Boy Kills World could be a huge deal for people who love seeing martial arts on screen. The action thriller that took the film festival circuit by storm last year doesn’t just provide exciting fight scenes crafted and performed by some of the best in the business. It might actually help to introduce a whole new style of cinematic combat to mainstream moviemaking. 

Stunt performers and fight choreographers have brought techniques from different martial arts to their work before. The John Wick franchise has been a particularly impressive example of that approach, taking their influences from a wide range of disciplines, including Muay Thai strikes and BJJ ground game. But Boy Kills World’s action director, Dawid Szatarski takes things a step further by developing a hybrid style that “take[s] stuff from everywhere.” This approach has the potential to change cinematic combat the way that the evolution of mixed martial arts changed combat sports. 

Let’s dig into martial arts “stuff” that Szatarski took from and Boy Kills World’s start, Bill Skarsgård, prepared for the role. 

What martial arts are featured in Boy Kills World? 

In an exclusive behind the scenes video for Collider, Szatarski says that film features a mix of Taekwondo kicks, Muay Thai kicks, boxing, stick and knife fighting techniques from Filipino martial arts, Pencak Silat, and “a lot of groundwork.” While he doesn’t specify the types of groundwork involved, the clips of action we’ve seen so far have some obvious Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu influences. It’s possible that there’s some amateur wrestling, Judo, and maybe even Sambo in the mix, too. 

How did Bill Skarsgård prepare for Boy Kills World?

Skarsgård immersed himself a two month bootcamp with Szatarski, trying to learn as many martial arts techniques as possible before they started shooting. 

“This was an incredible journey into something completely new for me,” he told EW in a 2022 interview. “I had two months to learn how to pretend how to fight well. [Action coordinator] Dawe Szatarski is a wizard, and he might’ve just pulled it off.”

Together, they took the wide range of martial arts influences that Szatarski wanted to use for the film, adapted the techniques for Skarsgård’s lanky 6’4” frame, and developed a new style all their own. “You’ve never seen an actor move like this in a movie,” a rep for the film promised EW, calling Skarsgård “an unconventional new-age action star.”

The actor also worked with a personal trainer to make sure that his abs were right for this new age of action stardom.

What martial arts did Bill Skarsgård learn while preparing for Boy Kills World?

Let’s take a closer look at some of the techniques and influences that Skarsgård picked up during his two month martial arts bootcamp: 

Filipino Martial Arts:

FMA is an umbrella term for martial arts for the ancient and modern martial arts techniques that have been developed in the Philippines, or arts that have been developed by Filipino in other parts of the world based on FMA principles. While each discipline has its own style, most FMA is practiced with a mix of traditional weapons, household items that can be used as weapons, and open-handed techniques. Techniques from these arts have influenced the fight choreography of a number of recent Hollywood blockbusters, including Dune

Muay Thai:

Also known as Thai Boxing, Muay Thai is a martial art and combat sport that originated in Thailand. It’s sometimes referred to as The Art of Eight Limbs because its techniques involve striking with legs, fists, knees, and elbows. Muay Thai is arguably one of the most influential martial arts of our time and it has undeniably shaped everything from modern day MMA to action films. Popular Muay Thai-centric films include Ong Bak: Muay Thai Warrior and Kickboxer

Pencak Silat:

Pencak Silat refers to any Indonesian indigenous martial art. This umbrella term for the hundreds of styles that have been developed in the area was adopted in the 1950s to represent unity when Indonesia declared independence. In general terms, Pencak Silat martial arts are full contact and involve some combination of grappling, strikes, weapons, and mental discipline. Thanks in part to the breakthrough success of the Indonesian action sensation, The Raid, in 2011, Pencak Silat has become an increasingly popular choice for stunt professional who are looking to bring something new to their fight scenes. 


One of the oldest martial arts in the world, Taekwondo is a Korean martial art that focuses on self defence. Just like the name suggests—“tae” means foot, “kwon” means hand, and “do” means way—Taekwondo techniques include a mixture of upper and body strikes. TKD’s influence can be seen everywhere from MMA to pro wrestling, to the fighting styles of action stars like Dev Patel and Scott Adkins