Hollywood Actors and Global Celebrities with a Knack for Martial Arts Finesse


You think those action stars just act out all & every single one of their fight scenes? Or use a body double? Well, not exactly. At least most of them don’t use a double. Because why should they? When they know how to fight and can do the whole thing all by themselves — more importantly, when they can do it better than anyone else in this world ever possibly could… Why bother hiring a lookalike dummy?’

But for the people in general, if you find yourself fascinated with ‘combat practices’ and would love, obtaining some killer fighting skills or just simply interested in any genre of ‘Mixed Martial Arts’ then this post is for you. If you wonder about how which actors or celebrities have a well trained background and how they got to be so damn good at what they do, which path did they take – and what style? Do some research! (Hint: It’s called the Internet).

If you don’t have the time to do some researching, digging and finding out exactly what and how each of them trains that makes them so god damn awesome at what they do, check out the list below:

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♠ You should Read this (before you start… and Just for the record): Martial Arts‘ are codified systems and traditions of combat practices, which are practiced for a number of reasons: as self-defense, military and law enforcement applications, mental and spiritual development; as well as entertainment and the preservation of a nation’s intangible cultural heritage. Although the term martial art has become associated with the fighting arts of eastern Asia, it originally referred to the combat systems of Europe as early as the 1550s. The term is derived from Latin, and means “arts of Mars”, the Roman god of war. ♣

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‘Hollywood Actors and Global Celebrities with a Knack for Martial Arts Finesse’

(Plus the Ones Who Trains Or Have Had Exclusive Training in Any Specific MMA Genre)

(in no particular order)

BRUCE LEEBruce-Lee.jpg

I had to start with the most famous Martial Artist of our time – The little dragon himself, Bruce Lee.  There’s no simple ‘style’ here, as many know this man with the ‘style of no style’ has lots of styles under his belt…. (what?).


He first learned a little Tai Chi  from his father, some fencing from his older brother the fencing champion, and of course the background in Wing Chun that established his base before moving to America and picking up various arts from other practitioners.  

Lee Jun-fan (Chinese: 李振藩; November 27, 1940 – July 20, 1973), known professionally as “Bruce Lee”

Here’s the breakdown:

  • Jeet Kune Do (founded)
  • Jun Fan Kung Fu (founded)
  • Wing Chun under Ip Man (or Yip Man for the purists)
  • Boxing, he was a highschool boxing champion in Hong Kong, furthered his study in the US
  • Fencing
  • Karate – trained with Karate fighters, knows the movements but not formerly ranked.
  • Judo  (learned from Judo legend Gene Lebell)
  • Kali/Escrima from Dan Inosanto
  • Endless Various arts through research and reading.

Did Yo Know?

  • Bruce Lee personally certified only three instructors: Taky Kimura, James Yimm Lee, and Dan Inosanto. Inosanto holds the 3rd rank (Instructor) directly from Bruce Lee in Jeet Kune Do, Jun Fan Gung Fu, and Bruce Lee’s Tao of Chinese Gung Fu. Taky Kimura holds a 5th rank in Jun Fan Gung Fu. James Yimm Lee held a 3rd rank in Jun Fan Gung Fu. Ted Wong holds 2nd rank in Jeet Kune Do certified directly by Bruce Lee and was later promoted to Instructor under Dan Inosanto, who felt that Bruce would have wanted to promote him. Other Jeet Kune Do instructors since Lee’s death have been certified directly by Dan Inosanto, some with remaining Bruce Lee signed certificates.
  • James Yimm Lee, a close friend of Lee, certified a few students including Gary Dill who studied Jeet Kune Do under James and received permission via a personal letter from him in 1972 to pass on his learning of Jun Fan Gung Fu to others. Taky Kimura, to date, has certified only one person in Jun Fan Gung Fu: his son Andy Kimura. Dan Inosanto continued to teach and certify select students in Jeet Kune Do for over 30 years, making it possible for thousands of martial arts practitioners to trace their training lineage back to Bruce Lee. Prior to his death, Lee told his then only two living instructors Kimura and Inosanto (James Yimm Lee had died in 1972) to dismantle his schools.
  • Both Taky Kimura and Dan Inosanto were allowed to teach small classes thereafter, under the guideline “keep the numbers low, but the quality high”. Bruce also instructed several World Karate Champions including Chuck Norris, Joe Lewis, and Mike Stone. Between the three of them, during their training with Bruce, they won every karate championship in the United States. In Japan, Junichi Okada is a certified Japanese instructor in Jeet Kune Do.


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The world’s greatest stuntman, Jackie Chan, is no one to be messed with!

He runs, he fights, he makes funny faces and he can do all of them together at the same time… he even plays football (soccer):

As the second biggest international martial arts movie star of all time, Jackie Chan was initially touted as the next Bruce Lee, but his film-icon status was cemented through his production of kung fu comedies. With his large nose and floppy hair, Jackie Chan quickly became the clown prince of kung fu films. He didn’t replace Bruce Lee, but his films broke new ground because of his fight choreography and theater-trained martial arts skills.

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Jackie Chan’s martial arts abilities came from a Beijing opera school, where training focuses on the stage instead of martial philosophies or a code of martial ethics. Because of this, even Jackie Chan admits that he’s more of an entertainer than martial artist. However, with the 1978 productions of Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow and Drunken Master, Jackie Chan became a martial arts film superstar.

Jackie Chan’s greatest contribution to martial arts cinema was the creation of a whole new martial arts film genre, wuda pian. He also created the Suexploitation genre. These movies showcase a character based on real-life hero Beggar Su. In the films, the character is always the sifu to the downtrodden bumpkin that eventually becomes the film’s hero.

Did You Know?

  • He was a stuntman in Bruce Lee’s Fists of Fury and Enter the Dragon. Billed as Chan Yuen Lung, Jackie and a few of his China Drama Academy classmates (including Sammo Hung) known as the “Seven Little Fortunes” frequently used their acrobatic and acting chops as extras for movie studios.
  • Jackie was not the best student or drama pupil. According to his sifu (master), Yu Jim-Yuen, Jackie was “not one of the best, but the naughtiest, yes.” In 1988, the movie Painted Faces came out, detailing the story of the Seven Little Fortunes and their strict master.
  • Jackie Chan’s stage name was “Become the Dragon” for a while. Willie Chan (no relation?), a Hong Kong producer, liked Chan’s stunt work and recruited him as an actor. Trying to model him after Bruce Lee, he briefly took that stage name, until everyone realized he was nothing like Bruce Lee.
  • Jackie Chan invented the comedic kung fu genre. His former teacher sure saw that coming. After failing to force the super serious Bruce Lee-persona, he had a breakthrough with the comedic Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow, a film he made when he was allowed complete control of his stunts.
  • He has been blackmailed by the Triads. In 1983 he broke contract during the filming of Fearless Hyena Part II and director Lo Wei used extraordinary means to try to keep him in line. However, the matter was resolved peacefully. The movie was terrible — they finished filming with doubles — and Jackie tried unsuccessfully to block its release.
  • He really does all of his own stunts. And they have cost him. While he was shooting The Accidental Spy, his tailbone was hit so hard that it caused temporary partial paralysis. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Not surprisingly, that makes it extremely difficult for him to get insured in the U.S. The closest he has come to death was from a pretty mundane stunt, jumping onto a tree. “I fell past the tree and hit the rocky ground head first. A piece of my skull cracked and shot up into my brain, and blood poured from my ears. The production team quickly got on the phones to try to find the nearest hospital that could do emergency brain surgery, and eight hours later, I was going under the knife. The operation was successful, and I recovered quickly — even though there’s a permanent hole in my head now, with a plastic plug there to keep my brains in.”
  • He holds the record for most takes for a shot. While filming Dragon Lord, it took him over 2,900 takes to get a shot for a scene involving Jianzi, a game of shuttlecock soccer. But he got it in the end. 
  • He does not like Rush Hour. Jackie doesn’t understand American humor and doesn’t appreciate the action scenes. He also once said he has no idea whether a movie will do well in America because he doesn’t understand the American audience at all.
  •  Jackie’s blooper reels have another purpose besides humor. He says they’re an implicit “do not try this at home message to kids.”
  • Only two things scare him. Needles and public speaking. Imagine that.

In his movies, he is known for his acrobatic fighting style, comic timing, use of improvised weapons, and innovative stunts, which he typically performs himself. Officially, he is the master of Kung Fu and Hapkido

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According to Jin Pal Kim, a high-ranking instructor under Hapkido great Ji Han Jae, most Kung Fu stylists do not pivot on their stationary leg when kicking, making it difficult to kick high. Although their low kicks are effective, they don’t measure up on screen to Lee’s powerful, flashy techniques. Traditional Chinese styles don’t contain jumping or flying double or scissors kicks of the variety made famous in later martial arts films by Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung.

“When Jackie first came to my school, his kicks were not very good,” Kim recalls. “Most of his stunts involved rolling and gymnastic techniques from Chinese opera. However, with his flexibility and tumbling experience, Jackie quickly learned Hapkido.” 

“Even after he became famous, Jackie was one of the hardest-working people I’ve met,” Kim states. “He took his Hapkido seriously, practicing for hours at a time.”

Chan eventually earned a black belt in the highest possible degree (a generation best) in Hapkido, learning all facets of the art and specializing in self defense kicking techniques. He was especially partial to aerial maneuvers such as flying side and back kicks, double front kicks, and flying scissors kicks.

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Chan’s favourite Hapkido technique is probably the kick known as “eagle jumps and catches its prey.” This technique is used against an oncoming opponent, and the hapkido stylist first jumps on the adversary’s thigh, using it more or less as a step ladder. From there, the Hapkido practitioner delivers either a kick to the head or an axe kick takedown form atop the opponent’s back.

Chan has even taught Hapkido to at least 20 stuntmen who work for him. Chan demands realism in his movie fight scenes, and each of his stunt men are skilled in kicking, joint locking, and throwing.

If falling from crazy heights and nearly killing himself on a regular basis isn’t enough to take him seriously, here’s what else he’s trained in:

  • Kung fu (功夫)
  • Shifu (師傅)
  • Waijia (外家)
  • Chin Na (擒拿)
  • Fa jin (發勁)
  • Neigong (內功)
  • Neijia (內家)
  • Qi (氣)
  • Qigong (氣功)
  • Zuì Quán (drunken fist)
  • Yin and yang
  • Taoist (道教; Dàojiào) styles— Taijiquan, Wudang Quan, Baguazhang and Liuhebafa.
  • Wushu —Baguazhang, Bajiquan, Chāquán, Chuojiao, Eagle Claw, Northern Praying Mantis and Taijiquan, Chángquán.
  • Chinese Traditional Kung Fu —Eight Immortals and Dragon styles.
  • Shaolin Kung Fu (Northern and Southern), including additional styles such as —Choy Li Fut, Fujian White Crane, Dog Style Kungfu, Five Ancestors, Wing Chun, Southern Praying Mantis, Hak Fu Mun, Bak Mei and Dragon.
  • Peking Opera Stunt Academy
  • Hapkido Black Belt; Highest degree.
  • Wing Chun
  • Taekwondo
  • Judo
  • Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
  • Jeet Kune Do
  • Jun Fan Kung Fu
  • Karate

That’s the ‘Greatest (and funniest) Actor/Stuntman in the World‘ right up there folks!



He mastered the art of concealing his deadly fist within his beard (that’s why I grew my beard 😉 ) and he destroys everything in his path – well, this is all after 1972 when Bruce Lee kicked his ass in Way of the Dragon and of course the small parts he had in other movies.

But Chuck Norris is no slouch, he is one of the greatest martial artists of our time holding world titles in Karate and several belts as well as his own style of martial arts.  More than that he has been a shining example and role model for everyone who looks up to him – spawning a movie about a kid who is obsessed with Chuck Norris called Sidekicks. He’s the freakin man.

Here’s the credentials he has under his belt:

  • Chun Kuk Do 10th Dan Black Belt (founded)
  • Tang Soo Do 9th Dan Black Belt
  • Taekwondo 8th Dan Black Belt
  • Karate 5th Dan Black Belt
  • Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Black Belt under the Machados
  • Judo Black Belt
  • Jeet Kune Do learned from Bruce Lee

Chuck’s list is inspiring and perhaps one of the most impressive I think I’ve ever seen.



Initially planning on a career in ice hockey, an injury led a young Keanu Reeves towards acting. Roles as an airhead-type in movies like Parenthood and Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, and more serious roles in Point Break (1991) and Speed (1994) established him as a solid action star. It wasn’t until making The Matrix (1999) that Keanu became hooked on martial arts.


Playing the saviour of mankind in the post-apocalyptic world of The Matrix involved Reeves training in numerous martial arts, including Jiu Jitsu, Wushu, Boxing, and Krav Maga.

His respect for the various stunt performers he worked with on the movie led to him petitioning for them to receive higher salaries for the sequels Reloaded and Revolutions (both 2003) and him continuing to train in various forms ever since.


His real-life friendship with stuntman Tiger Chen led to his being inspired to make the movie Man of Tai Chi (2013).


While he doesn’t profess to be an expert in any form, roles in Man of Tai Chi (2013) and John Wick, among others, have seen him train in yet more forms such as Judo and Karate. If he continues at this rate, it won’t be long before he basically becomes Neo…

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Not in this life… But fortunately John Wick 3 is happening!

Here’s the credentials he has under his belt:

  • Tai Chi
  • Wushu
  • Boxing
  • Krav Maga
  • Judo
  • Karate 
  • Brazilian Jiu Jitsu


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Jason Statham —An English Actor, a former Model and National Competitive Diver. Statham competed for England at the 1990 Commonwealth Games. He’s also a very decorated Martial Artist. 

Before becoming an action star and all that he was a street seller, selling “fake perfume and jewellery on street corners” to make ends meet, that’s according to Statham. While working as a model for French Connection, he was introduced to fledgling British director Guy Ritchie — who was developing a film project and needed to fill the role of a street-wise con artist. After learning about Statham’s past as a black market salesman, Ritchie cast him to play the role of “Bacon” in his 1998 crime comedy thriller Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.

“A Disgrace to Criminals Everywhere.”

“Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” and “Snatch” — Jason’s debut and the follow up — two of the greatest ever films —didn’t feature any of his moves but “the Expendables,” “Transporter series,” “Crank,” “Fast & Furious Series”… and even “Spy” — all did.

Yeah, the Stathe-man has some moves and some movies.  He may not be the world class martial artist we all come to expect from mainstream martial arts actors these days but he’s still got a solid background and well and truly beyond what the ‘average’ martial artist achieves in his time.

  • Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Purple Belt
  • Wing Chun
  • Karate
  • Kickboxing/Muay Thai

Did You Know? In the comic book series Ultimate Spider-Man, the series’ version of the villain Vulture was rendered by artist Mark Bagley to resemble actor Statham, as per writer Brian Michael Bendis’ instructions.

Yep, He’s Hollywood’s Lethal Weapon of Destruction…

Although he did get a ‘Rock Bottom’ from Dwyane…

But… it was just that one time… (S*it happens, you know)



You know him from Bloodsport, Kickboxer and Universal Soldier (among a heap of other movies) and he is a former Karate World Champion.  It’s one of Hollywood’s most ever popular martial arts stars Jean Claude Van Damme!

He’s a skilled man, despite what some people may think, he fought in 19 full contact kick boxing fights being defeated only once and winning the other 18 by knockout.  Damn!

He’s a man to be taken seriously…

  • Shotokan Karate 2nd Dan Black Belt
  • Kickboxing



This guy is so cool, I mean he was Blade after all!

Wesley Snipes has been training since he was a child and is a very serious martial artist with some killer credentials, just check them out!

  • Shotokan Karate 5th Dan Black Belt
  • Taekwondo 3rd Dan Black Belt
  • Hapkido 2nd Dan Black Belt
  • Kung Fu
  • Eskrima
  • Brazilian Jiu Jitsu



An actor you’d generally associate with comedy over action is Ashton Kutcher. Since making his name in That ‘70s Show alongside Topher Grace and future wife Mila Kunis, he’s gone on to make numerous movies and even returned to television when he replaced Charlie Sheen as the lead, alongside Jon Cryer, on Two and a Half Men. While he hasn’t made a name for himself in the action genre, should he chose to move in that direction, he’s certainly got some great skills to bring to the big screen.


Kutcher has trained in Brazilian jiu-jitsu under Ricardo De La Riva Goded, a sixth-degree black belt and master of his signature move, the “De la Riva” Guard (grappling) position. Kutcher has trained with him for several years and has achieved his black belt. He credits jiu-jitsu as part of his healthy lifestyle when people ask about his physique. He has even travelled to Brazil several times to train – now that’s devotion to the art!

  • Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Purple Belt



John Cusack rose to fame in the mid-1980s in movies such as Say Anything, Stand by Me, and Sixteen Candles. Since then he’s taken incredibly diverse roles in the comedies High Fidelity and Hot Tub Time Machine, the dark comedy Grosse Point Blank, and blockbusters such as Con Air and 2012.


It was while preparing for 1989’s Say Anything that John Cusack began to train as a kickboxer, as his character, Lloyd, was an aspiring kickboxer himself. He trained under former world kickboxing champion Benny Urquidez, and continued working with him for over 20 years. He currently holds a level six black belt in Urquidez Ukidokan kickboxing system.

While he has appeared in some action films over the years, he’s rarely displayed his impressive skills on-screen, preferring to keep the two aspects of his life separate. However, should he ever make a sequel to Grosse Point Blank, we’d love to see him kick ass as the veteran hitman once again.

  • Urquidez Ukidokan Kickboxing Level 6 Black Belt.

Guy Ritchie


The director behind movies like Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch, Sherlock Holmes, Rocknrolla and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is a long-time practitioner of jiu-jitsu and reportedly a very, very tough black belt. Ritchie started training in Shotokan karate at the age of seven at the Budokwai in London, where he later achieved a black belt in judo. But that shouldn’t come as a surprise since Ritchie (who’s also a black belt in judo) regularly trains one-on-one with Roger Gracie and is close friends with Renzo, who awarded Ritchie the black belt in 2015. Sources from the director’s movie sets claim that he even sets up mats so he and his crew can get some rounds in before shooting begins.

  • Judo Black Belt
  • Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Black Belt

Did You Know? The so-called ‘Queen of pop’ and RIchie’s ex-wife Madonna learned and used to train Karate with him? 

Interested in some controversy? How’s this: On 18 May 2000, Ritchie was arrested by the police after he assaulted a 20-year-old man outside the Kensington home he shared with Madonna, causing actual bodily harm. 

Scarlett Johansson

“Civil War” actress Scarlett Johansson is proud that she does her series of action sequence in her films without a body double. “Black Widow” alternates her circuit and resistance training with martial arts. No wonder she looks so good!

  • Kung Fu
  • Jiu Jitsu

Jaime Pressly

Jaime Pressly is best known for her role on the comedy series My Name Is Earl where, other than an occasional drunken swing at Darnell, she rarely has a chance to display her fighting skills. But this is one hot butt-kicking babe when the opportunity presents itself. Kickboxing is a part of Jaime’s routine workout which is focused on cardio and resistance training but also includes power-lifting and other exercising that work several muscles at once. When making Torque, the actress spent four hours a day in fight training to prepare for the role. Jaime has had a few roles where she has had to get physical, but the two best would be Torque, where she has an unbelievable but thrilling fight with Monet Mazur while riding a motorcycle, and DOA: Dead or Alive, based on the video game where she most compete against other fighters in a winner take all competition.

  • Kickboxing



Mark is as serious a martial artist as any.  He grew up with a father who was a high ranking martial artist and has (obviously) built a portion of his career around his martial arts skills and has won several tournaments in his younger years. Don’t mess with Mark!

  • Wun Hop Kuen Do 8th Dan Black Belt
  • Muay Thai
  • Capoeira
  • Black Tiger Northern Dhaolin KungFu
  • Boxing



The one armed Swordsman himself is very well known in Hong Kong cinema, very much disliked by most of his co-stars for being an A-grade dickhead (putting flies in his mouth for kissing scenes?) and he was charged with murder in 1981 – but released for lack of evidence.

Jimmy Wang Yu definitely has a colorful background.

The totality of Jimmy’s training is numerous street brawls and his swimming training – but he’s go no formal training.  Not bad for one of Hong Kong’s most famous Martial Arts stars.

  • No formal training



Dolph is the man! He’s fought Stallone’s Rocky, Van Damme’s Luc Deveraux and has even popped up in the background of an earlier James Bond film.  He’s a tall, built and powerful guy with a strong background in martial arts.

Dolph has won several full contact Karate tournaments almost defeating one world champion, a second degree black belt when he was still only a green belt! Crazy.

  • Kyokushin Karate 3rd Dan Black Belt
  • Goju Ryu Karate
  • Judo



This ex CIA, ex KGB ex tough guy turned cook or peaceful nobody will use his skills to kill you and you’re entire posse if you mess his shit up.

Well, this fits the characters Steven Seagal plays, but he’s really just another actor with a strong background in traditional martial arts:

  • Aikido 8th degree
  • Kenjutsu Black belt



Gary Daniels has played some top roles and been in some awesome fights over the years (well, in films) but he’s also got a strong background in kicking style martial arts, although I’m sure his hands are good too 🙂

Here’s what Gary Daniels has under his belt:

  • Taekwondo 2nd Dan
  • Kickboxing – Former Professional, WKBA & PKA Light Heavy Weight Champion



Jet Li is one of the biggest names in martial arts cinema and one of the top handful of Hong Kong martial arts actors.

It’s funny though, he doesn’t have as varied a background as those alongside him, but his credentials are still very impressive:

  • Wushu performer on Beijing Wushu team 15 Gold Medals one Silver Medal



You can’t have a list like this without including Donnie Yen – who is one of the all time best in the martial arts movie industry.

Donnie has a strong background and is known for expressing different styles of fighting and martial arts in his movies.  Donnie’s really done his fans justice by bringing his training experience to film.

  • Tai Chi
  • Taekwondo 6th Dan Black Belt
  • Judo Black Belt
  • Wing Chun studied under Ip Man’s on Ip Chun
  • Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Purple Belt
  • Wushu
  • Parkour
  • Wrestling
  • Muay Thai
  • Mixed Martial Arts



The star of Chocolate also has a strong Martial Arts background. She’d have to in order to pull off some of the moves she does!

Here’s what this Thai actress has up her sleeve:

  • Taekwondo 3rd Dan Black Belt
  • Muay Thai



You saw her kicking ass in Blade Trinity, having started learning Martial Arts for the role.  Well Jessica Biel keeps it up by using the arts to keep fit. She refers to her training mostly with he generalized “martial arts” but she has specifically mentioned that she trained in Kick boxing during one interview.

  • Kickboxing
  • Various Martial Arts 



Name a guy who doesn’t like Jessica Alba?

Well you better stick to your best behavior because she keeps herself fit and thin by training regularly in Taekwondo.  So she’ll give you a good kickin’ if you give her a reason!

  • Taekwondo


Sure, he’s Batman we all know… 

But, he’s done more than just Batman, but that’s how I’ll always remember him – as John Connor sent back through time to try and pass himself off as Bruce Wayne, dressing up in a Bat costume.  Bad ass.

Sure, issues like driving around in that awesome-as-f*ck Batmobile right?

I do like Batman movies though, and it’s cool to see a guy playing the role who has some martial arts training, as Christian Bale trains Wing Chun under Eric Oram (who also trains Robert Downey Jr) and has some years of training under his belt. Don’t mess with this guy, he’s a real Psycho (yeah, pun intended).

  • Wing Chun



Bond himself and former Mr Universe (oh yeah, he pumped the iron back in the day) does actually have some skills! He’s trained in Kyokushin Karate and has reached the level of first degree black belt.

He even broke his instructor’s wrist training, which angered his instructor so much that he broke Sean’s wrist in return! I’m glad the people I train with have a more evolved sense of temperance 🙂

  • Kyokushin Karate  1st Dan


Naomi trains in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and has previously trained in Judo, competing in Judo competition.

  • Judo
  • Brazilian Jiu Jitsu


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She was one of Charlie’s Angels and held a presence as woman who could kick your ass – hence the appearance in Kill Bill! Well, she trains in a hardcore knife fighting and open handed art called Silat!

  • Kali-Eskrima-Silat


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The funny man who showed off a few moves in his film Here comes the Boom. Well Kevin has put some solid time in training in Mixed Martial Arts and is quite good friends with Bas Rutten – a legend of the sport.

  • MMA


This Canadian Actress shouldn’t be tangled with. She’s a 3rd Degree in Taekwondo and has even competed, earning a silver medal in some Canadian National Finals! She has also opened a handful of martial arts schools.

  • Taekwondo 3rd Dan Black Belt



Why save Martial Arts for the dojo? Why not jump on stage and do a Tiger Roll during your performance? Jack Black has fun with his training background whilst performing, thanks to basic training in Judo.

  • Judo


She’s too Fast and too Furious (oh I’m smashing the lame puns today!). This tiny supermodel has a strong background in American Hapkido Karate, holding a Black Belt in the style along with an honorary Black Belt from the World Tukong Martial Arts Federation.

  • American Hapkido Karate Black Belt


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She started young this actress! Earning her Black Belt in Taekwondo at the age of 12.

  • Taekwondo Black Belt


This guy knows how to survive in many situations, turns out he can kick you ass in a fight AND if it happens to be on a plane he can jump out and skydive his way into the wilderness before filming a TV show. That’s talent.
I guess it makes sense, he’s Ex SAS, 2nd degree black belt in Shotokan Karate and trains in Ninjutsu.

  • Shotokan Karate 2nd Dan
  • Ninjutsu



The guy all the girls want also happens to have some moves, he trains Muay Thai to keep in shape.

  • Muay Thai



Sarah had to kick some ass to impress her audience during her reign as Buddy The Vampire Slayer, so naturally she trained regularly in the king of all kicking martial arts, Taekwondo – earning herself a 1st Degree Black Belt.

  • Taekwondo 1st Dan Black Belt


Tough guy Steve McQueen was one of Bruce Lee’s personal Jeet Kune Do students!  According to Lee he was a gifted fighter who “had the toughness in him”.

  • Jeet Kune Do



This kick ass action actress and former fashion model, Mila Jovovich from the Resident Evil movies enjoys wrestling around on the ground with other martial artists.  She’s training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu!

  • Brazilian Jiu Jitsu



Having trained as a boxer as a youth, Mickey Rourke turned his attention to acting and became one of the more recognised faces of the 1980s with performances in movies such as Diner, Rumble Fish, and 9 ½ Weeks. It was for the Charles Bukowski biopic, Barfly, that he received the most critical acclaim. Rourke surprised many when he quit acting in 1989 and became a professional boxer. He had become more famous for his personal life and his acting decisions, and by his own account had “had no respect for [himself as] an actor”.

Despite being too old for many boxing promoters to take seriously, his professional record was surprisingly solid. Rourke was undefeated in eight fights, with six wins (four by knockout) and two draws. Having retired from boxing in 1994, Rourke returned to acting but struggled in mainstream Hollywood. However, appearances in Sin City, The Wrestler (for which he was nominated for an Academy Award), The Expendables, and Iron Man 2 have seen his career have a degree of resurgence.  He has studied the martial art of Hwa Rang Do for six years under Tae-joon Lee, the son of the art’s founder, and he credits the discipline he has found under Lee as inspiration for turning his life around.

  • Professional Boxer



Getting himself prepared for the days when his Funky Bunch weren’t around for back up, Marky Mark trains very frequently in boxing in his own personal gym (which is bigger than my god damn house). Apparently he has some good moves too!

  • Boxing



Straight out of the Fight Club into one of history’s greatest warriors (Achilles in Troy), Brad Pitt has played many tough guys in his career.  Naturally, Brad decides to train to protect himself, so he took up Krav Maga with his wife Angelina Jolie. (now ex-wife)

  • Krav Maga



Mentioned above, Jolie trains in Krav Maga and used to train with her former husband Brad Pitt.  A real Mr & Mrs Smith duo… Now in memories. (sigh..)

  • Krav Maga



The Krav Maga train keeps on rolling, this time James Bond himself has dedicated time to the art!

  • Krav Maga


Television show Friends star Courteney Cox is a long-time practitioner of karate. She trains several times a week, feeling empowered by the practice and loving the strength that it gives her. Initially desiring to train for the benefit of self-defense, Cox became hooked and has been an avid martial artist ever since. She even shared her passion with friend and costar Jennifer Aniston, who now practices martial arts with her husband. Jennifer Aniston moved on to a different form of martial arts known as Budokon, which she enjoys for its cardio and upper body strength benefits.

  • Budokon


Robert Downey Jr. training Martial Arts On The Set of
Robert Downey Jr.  On The Set of ‘Due Date’ (2010 Movie).

How freakin unbeatable would Ironman be with some Kung Fu up his sleeve? Well, no more than he is already, I mean he has lasers, rockets and can fly.

Nevertheless, Robert Downer Jr himself is a man who has had his foot in the Kung Fu door for many years, becoming quite proficient in the art of…

…drumroll please:

  • Wing Chun – starting back around 2005.



Slater used to have a lot of personal issues with his height, so he started training in Karate to overcome his feeling of inferiority.  He earned himself a Green Belt.

  • Karate Green Belt



“Put the bunny back in the box”

I’ll always remember that line from Con Air, he’s an entertaining guy Nicolas Cage but I didn’t know he could roll on the mats! He trains Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under the UFC champ Royce Gracie.

  • Brazilian Jiu Jitsu



He’s a crazy, funny guy but he’s also surprisingly skilled in the arts, Jim Carrey has attained a Brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  As mentioned earlier, any color of belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu takes years of training, with brown representing a minimum of 5 – 10 in most cases.  So the funny man knows hist shit on the ground!

  • Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Brown Belt


You’ve seen the Lethal Weapon scene, Gibson uses Jiu Jitsu (poorly) to subdue his opponent.  Well apparently he kept up his training in BJJ and also Tai Chi to become quite skilled at both arts!

  • Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
  • Tai Chi Chuan



This is an old-skool on screen star right here!  James Cagney was actually a Black Belt in the art of Judo!  Quite impressive.

  • Judo Black Belt



While pictured above wearing a blue belt (which is nothing to sneeze at when it comes to BJJ), Michael Clarke Duncan had earned himself a Purple Belt in the art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu before he died.

This is a pretty impressive feat as it can take some years to get a purple belt in the art – with the average BJJ black belt taking 13+ years to earn. Being such a big guy, he would have been a monster to wrestle with!

  • Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Purple Belt



The late Fast and Furious star was quite the martial artist himself.  While alive he wore a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu brown belt, with his black belt being awarded to him at his funeral.

What a lot of people also don’t realize is Paul also trained in the art of Muay Thai for years also, and saw the two as a fun way to keep fit.

  • Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Black Belt – presented at his funeral.
  • Muay Thai



This one’s kinda funny, but still worth a mention.

The Austrian Oak, the Terminator or more specifically (in this case) the Commando. Arnold Schwarzenegger undertook extensive Martial Arts training under Michael M. Vendrell when filming ‘The Commando’. Vendrel went on to say that he estimated Schwarzenegger’s skill level to be roughly that of a second degree black belt.

On top of the that, Arnold received an ‘honorary’ 1st Dan Black Belt in Taekwondo about 10 years ago.  So he’s ranked and has the skill, they’re just a little mismatched.

He’s also received awards for his accuracy in weapons handling on his films. Arnold is a man with meticulous attention to detail.

  • Taekwondo Honorary 1st Dan Black Belt
  • Second Dan Black Belt Skill level according to Michael M. Vendrel



He won’t be taken, he’ll throat chop his way through any assortment of thugs he needs to.

Seriously though, Liam Neeson isn’t to be tangled with. In his younger years Neeson trained and fought as a boxer, competing in Golden Glove matches.  Sure, there’s no throat chops in Boxing, but I think after watching taken we can add it to the list.

  • Boxing
  • Throat chopping (have you seen Taken?)



James Caan has been working hard in the movie industry for 50+ years, but he spent a good 30 years studying Karate. He trained under Takayuki Kubota in the style of Gosoku Ryu Karate and achieved the ridiculously high rank of 6th degree black belt. Damn!

  • Gosoku Ryu Karate 6th Dan Black Belt



Yep, Trinity herself has a background in martial arts also!  Carrie Ann Moss has a background in Shaolin Kung Fu.

  • Shaolin Kung Fu



He’s up there!  Simon Rhee from The Best of the Best movies is a well renowned martial artist with a background in a handful of styles.

  • Taekwondo 7th Dan Black Belt
  • Hapkido 4th Dan Black Belt
  • Wing Chun

BRANDON LEE (the Son of Bruce Lee)


Seems Obvious, the son of Bruce Lee would have some martial arts experience right? I shouldn’t need to say more than that but he trained quite heavily into his adult years before his tragic death at 28.

Here’s what Brandon had knowledge in:

  • Jeet Kune Do
  • Muay Thai
  • Boxing
  • Shoot Wrestling
  • Kali / Escrima
  • Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Tony Jaa


“Where are my elephants!?”

A man who needs no introduction and has to some degree brought martial arts back to life in 2003 with Ong Bak.  You know this guy is legit. His father was a Thai boxer and Tony Jaa himself has had several Thai fights at Thai camp he grew up in and was undefeated in all of them.

  • Muay Thai
  • Taekwondo Black Belt
  • Muay boran
  • Aikido
  • Judo
  • Wushu



Michelle Yeoh is one of the biggest names in martial arts film, if not the biggest name in female martial arts film.  So you’d expect she has some abilities!  Well, She has a tiny amount of training Taekwondo and the rest was learned as she worked on films…

  • Michelle Yeoh has no formal training or rank!



Sammo is a legend of Hong Kong cinema and one of the 3 dragons (Jackie Chan, Yuen Biao and Sammo) who helped raise the bar in terms of intensity and quality of martial arts choreography. Here’s his background:

  • Bak Pei Peking Opera School
  • Lam Kuen
  • Pak Mei
  • Hung Kuen
  • Karate
  • Hapkido
  • Wing chun



The third dragon and perhaps the most physically capable of the 3, Yuen Biao is one of the most underrated martial arts actors of all time.  He’s been through the same grueling upbringing as Jackie and Sammo. Black Belt Magazine called him “one of the most acrobatic martial artists ever”.

  • Bak Pei Peking Opera School



Richard Norton is one of Australia’s greatest Martial Artists and one of the friendliest I’ve ever met.  I’m glad because he’d easily kick my ass, here’s his credentials:

  • Goju Kai Karate 5th Dan Black Belt
  • Zen Do Kai Freestyle Karate 8th Dan Black Belt
  • Chun Kuk Do 5th Dan Black Belt
  • Brazilian Jiu Jitsu 4th Dan Black Belt under the Machados
  • Kickboxing
  • Muay Thai
  • Mixed Martial Arts



Chow Yun Fat has been a modern leading man in Martial Arts movies from Hong Kong and the USA.  He’s made his mark as a martial arts hero despite the fact he looks pretty ordinary in his fight sequences. You’ve seen him for sure… Hint: “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.”

  • Chow Yun Fat has little no formal training.  Not really a surpise.
    (there’ll be no more of these “has no training” entries I promise!)



I’m not super impressed by Nicholas tse’s abilities on screen and I never thought he’d even trained in martial arts.  Guess I was wrong, he has training in Wing Chun and has learned from Jackie Chan, Phillip NG and Chung Chi Li.

  • Wing Chun 



Here’s a guy who is impressive.  Johnny Nguyen has some serious gravity defying moves and a solid background.  See below!

  • Wushu – US Wushu Team
  • Tai Chi
  • Aikido



The daughter of Dan Inosanto, Diana Lee Inosanto is an American Martial Arts actor and has an extensive background in the arts.  Her father is one of the world’s foremost experts so that makes sense!

Dianna Lee has a background in:

  • Jeet Kune Do
  • Jun Fan Gung Fu
  • Eskima
  • Muay Thai
  • Savate



He was a pizza delivery man who met the ninja turtles at a young age, he then trained hard and became Ernie Reyes Jr.  That’s my version of his story, as he starred in the second live action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film.

Okay, so he’s an American/Filipino Stuntman and Martial Arts actor – here’s his background:

  • Tae Kwon Do 4th degree black belt
  • Muay Thai
  • Kick Boxing
  • Karate.



She’s a looker and a top notch martial arts actress.  Gina Carano is doing well for herself by transitioning from the professional fighting circuit to Hollywood.  Here’s her highly decorated experience:

  • Muay Thai Professional Fighter
  • MMA World Champion
  • Brazilian Jiu Jitsu White Belt



She is Nikita and has played many roles where she’s had to use martial arts to take apart her enemies.  Maggie Q has experience in a handful of styles, mostly for her movie career:

  • Wushu
  • Qi Gong
  • Wing Chun



Bren’s got a very extensive background and is considered one of Australia’s top martial artists.  Here’s a little on his background:

  • Taekwondo 6th Dan Black Belt
  • Muay Thai Instructor
  • Hapkido 1st Dan Black Belt
  • Hwarangdo 1st Dan Black Belt
  • Brazilian Jiu Jitsu


Everyone else…. (Musicians & Other Famous People & Public Figures)

ELVIS PRESLEY (The King of Rock N’ Roll)


The King of Rock also tried his hand at punching and kicking things. So he trained and received his black belt in Kenpo Karate!

  • Kenpo Karate 1st Degree Black Belt



The King of Pop this time!  Michael Jackson has had some scandals in the past but somehow this never really hit mainstream – Michael’s bodyguard Matt Fiddes says he was “one of the best martial artists I’ve (he’d) ever seen“. Apparently he had a black belt in some Kung Fu style!

MICK JAGGER (The Rolling Stones)


He can sing and throw, Mick Jagger has been known to train in the art of Judo! Think you’ve got the moves like Jagger?

  • Judo



Metallica’s James Hetfield would probably hate this as much as you but on of the big four of Heavy/Thrash Metal Greats, Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine makes the ist with a few moves of his own.  They appear to be mostly in Guitar flicks and Taekwondo kicks! 😛

  • Ukidokan Karate Black Belt
  • Taekwondo Black Belt



The Tool /  Perfect Circle lead singer has been known to hit the mats for a roll, he has trained under Rickson Gracie and attained a level of Purple Belt.

  • Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Purple Belt

TOMMY LEE (Mötley Crüe)


Thomas Lee Bass, best known as Tommy Lee, is a Greek-American musician and founding member of heavy metal band Mötley Crüe. When he’s not dating hot women (ahem, remember Pamela Anderson?), Tommy likes to train in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu to keep fit.

  • Brazilian Jiu Jitsu



She can sing and then toss you to the ground with the grab of a wrist! She has earned herself a Black Belt in Aikido!

  • Aikido Black Belt



How do you think he learned to wrassle Crocodiles? Well, I’m sure there’s actually no link, but Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter was training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu before he died!

  • Brazilian Jiu Jitsu



Christopher Nicholas Sarantakos, better known by the stage name Criss Angel, is an American magician and illusionist. Angel began his career in New York City, before moving his base of operations to the Las Vegas Valley. Beside having some really extraordinary magical moves, Criss Angel also dabbles in the arts!

  • Kung Fu
  • Karate
  • Taekwondo

VLADIMIR PUTIN (President of the Russian Federation)


Perhaps the most highly ranked person on this list!  The Russian President doesn’t just train in Judo and doesn’t just have a “black belt” – he’s a 9th freakin degree!  That’s about as high a rank as you get in any art! Well, I see no 10th degrees on this list 🙂

  • Jud0 9th Degree Black Belt

ALBERT II (The Prince of Monaco)


The Prince of Monaco himself has trained in Judo, earning himself a Black Belt!

  • Judo 1st Degree Black Belt

BARACK OBAMA (The Former US President)


When you’re President of the US, you need to know some moves just in case ninja’s break into the white house! (or Black Dynamite when he fought Richard Nixon)

  • Karate Green Belt – honorary black belt South Korean Pres Lee Myung-Bak

ADRIANA LIMA (Supermodel)

This stunning Victoria’s Secret Brazilian Supermodel knows how to do some fancy and realistic fighting moves – better not hit on her too aggressively 🙂

  • MMA
  • Capoeira



Another Brazilian – Gisele is the highest paid supermodel in the world. (Though she retired from the runway last year permanently). She also harnesses her Chi in her off time to become a better martial artist!

  • Tai Chi

Thanks for checking it out, folks!

Have A Nice Day!

: )

Asif Ahsan Khan

PS: Hats off to Wade McMaster; He is responsible for almost every single information I just laid out on this article.


© 2017 Asif Ahsan Khan. ® All Rights Reserved.


4 thoughts on “Hollywood Actors and Global Celebrities with a Knack for Martial Arts Finesse

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