An iconic actor and martial artist, Bruce Lee, in his short life, gained international fame and developed his own form of martial arts, Jeet Kune Do. In films, he debuted as a child actor and became a huge Hollywood star after the release of his last film Enter the Dragon.
A black belt in Tang Soo Do, Brazilian jiu jitsu and Judo, Chuck Norris is an American martial artist, screenwriter and a popular action film star. He has won many martial arts championships. He later founded his own discipline, Chun Kuk Do. He has also written books on martial arts, philosophy, politics, Christianity, plus Western novels and biography.
Donnie Yen is a Hong Kong martial artist, actor, stuntman, action choreographer, director, and producer. He has won several wushu tournaments and is credited for introducing mixed martial arts to mainstream Asian cinema. He is also credited with introducing UFC champion Zhang Weili to MMA. Donnie Yen has won several awards like Hong Kong Film Awards and Golden Horse Awards.
Yip Man was a Chinese martial artist best remembered for teaching martial arts to the famous Chinese American martial artist, Bruce Lee. Yip Man is credited with teaching not only Bruce Lee but also many other students who went on to become martial arts masters. A biographical martial arts film titled Ip Man was inspired by his life and career.
Jackie Chan is a martial artist, actor, film director, screenwriter and singer and is known for his acrobatic fighting style, comic timing and innovative stunts in his films, which he performs himself. Rumble in the Bronx, Shanghai Noon and Rush Hour are some of his popular Hollywood films. He has a widespread following in both the Eastern and Western hemispheres.
Belgian actor,Jean-Claude Van Damme is best known for a string of martial arts films. He started his career as a karate fighter and competed in a number full-contact and semi-contact matches. Later he took up acting and became a star with the 1988 Hollywood film, Bloodsport. Cyborg, Lionheart, Double Impact and Universal Soldier are some of his notable films.
Jet Li is one of the most popular Asian actors to have made it big in the American film industry. A martial artist and former Wushu champion, he won a national championship before retiring from competitive Wushu to focus on his acting career. Also a well-known philanthropist, Jet Li is closely associated with the Red Cross Society of China.
Swedish actor, Dolph Lundgre,n is mainly known as an action hero. He gained recognition with the 1985 Hollywood film Rocky IV and then went on to do many action and thriller movies like Joshua Tree, Showdown in Little Tokyo, Bridge of Dragons, Universal Soldier, Diamond Dogs and The Expendables. He has also directed several films like Missionary Man and Icarus.
Shannon Lee is the daughter of the most popular martial artist of all time, Bruce Lee. She followed in her father's footsteps to become an actress and martial artist. Shannon Lee is credited with upholding her father's legacy by serving as the president of the Bruce Lee Foundation. She is also the executive producer of Warrior, a series based on her father’s idea.
Michael Jai White is an American martial artist and actor. When he portrayed Al Simmons in the film Spawn, White became one of the first black actors to play a major comic book superhero in the history of American film industry. Known for his martial arts skills, White has played leading roles in popular action films like Mortal Kombat: Legacy.
Scott Adkins is an English actor, producer, and screenwriter. He is a trained gymnast and martial artist and is best known for his action films. He played Casey Bowman in the film Ninja and its sequel Ninja: Shadow of a Tear. He considers Jean-Claude Van Damme to be his idol and has appeared in four films with him.
Jason Scott Lee is one of the most popular American actors and martial artists of Asian descent. In recognition of his work and the positive image he has created for Asians in America, the Asian-American magazine website Goldsea ranked him seventh in its list of The 130 Most Inspiring Asian Americans of All Time.
Mixed martial artist Cat Zingano, who currently represents Bellator MMA, is a world champion in the bantamweight and flyweight divisions and had begun training in martial arts at 12. A brown belt and a world champion in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, she also teaches Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Thai, and wrestling.
Sammo Hung is a Hong Kong actor, filmmaker, and martial artist. He is best known for his work in martial arts films and played an important role in commencing the Hong Kong New Wave movement of the late-1970s and 1980s. He is also credited with helping many of his fellow actors establish themselves in the Hong Kong film industry.
The son of the legendary martial artist and actor, Bruce Lee, Brandon Lee followed in his father’s footsteps. Trained in martial arts, he made his film debut in the 1980s and became a successful star in his own right. He was accidentally wounded while filming The Crow and died. The film, dedicated to him, became a hit.
Cub Swanson is a professional mixed martial artist, currently affiliated with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), where he competes in the Featherweight division. He has been awarded "Fight of the Night" honors ten times. Industry experts consider him to be one of the most entertaining MMA fighters of all time. He is married to model and TV host Kenda Perez.
Known for his popular catchphrase “It's time!," Bruce Buffer, the well-known MMA ring announcer, initially worked in the telemarketing industry. He and his half-brother, announcer Michael Buffer, whom Bruce had no clue about till he was an adult, now run The Buffer Partnership, a company to grow their brand value.
Indonesian actor and martial art expert Joe Taslim is best known for his appearances in the films The Raid: Redemption and Fast and Furious 6. He was previously part of the Indonesian national judo team and had won several championships. He has also played Li Yong in the series Warrior.
Wong Fei-hung was a Chinese physician, martial artist, and folk hero. Wong is the subject of many television series and films. Between the 1940s and 1980s, Wong was portrayed by Hong Kong actor Kwan Tak-hing in over 70 films which earned Kwan the nickname Master Wong. Wong was also played by Jet Li in Once Upon a Time in China.
Legendary Japanese athlete Jigoro Kano is remembered as the founder of judo. A fine educator, he had also had a 23-year stint as the principal of 2 schools, which later became the University of Tsukuba. He was also the first Asian to be part of the International Olympic Committee.
Best known for being a top performer on the obstacles show American Ninja Warrior, stuntwoman and TV star Jessie Graff is a black belt in Taekwondo and is well-versed in other forms of martial arts, too. An aerospace engineering graduate, she has also been a competitive gymnast and a pole vaulter.
Former mixed martial artist and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner Matt Sera began his career in 1999, successfully competing in several championships before joining Ultimate Fighting Championship, winning a total of 11 bouts till 2010. Currently the co-owner of a Brazilian jiu-jitsu school, he has also appeared in television productions like Chris Weidman: Untitled Documentary and Dana White: Lookin' for a Fight.
Though born deaf, Matt Hamill didn’t let his physical disability hinder his progress in mixed martial arts and wrestling. Introduced to wrestling by his wrestling coach father, he won three NCAA Division III wrestling titles. His life inspired the 2011 film The Hammer, named after his nickname.
Remembered as a pioneer of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Carlos Gracie was enrolled into wrestling classes to channelize his aggression in childhood. He also followed what is known as the Gracie diet. Thirteen of his 21 children have the Brazilian Jiu-jitsu black belt. He and his family developed the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu.
Billy Blanks is a martial artist and fitness personality. He is the creator of the Tae Bo exercise program, a body fitness system that incorporates martial arts techniques. He started attending karate and taekwondo classes when he was 11 and proceeded to become a martial artist. He has also appeared in a few films and TV shows.
Sadao Maeda, better known as Sonny Chiba, was initially a talented gymnast, aspiring to be part of the Japanese Olympic team, though a back injury ended his sports career. Trained in martial arts, he later soared to fame with movies such as The Street Fighter. He died of COVID-19 at age 82.
Cynthia Rothrock was not just a mixed martial artist but has also acted in various martial arts films. The Black Belt Hall of Famer began training in martial arts at 13 and eventually ended up being one of the first women martial artists to be featured on the martial arts magazine covers.
Frank Dux is a Canadian martial artist and fight choreographer. He began his training in ninjutsu as a teenager. He claims he served in the United States Marine Corps Reserve for a few years and was awarded the Medal of Honor; however, this claim is disputed. He later founded his own school of ninjutsu called Dux Ryu Ninjutsu.
Sixteenth-century Japanese swordsman Sasaki Kojirō was known as the Demon of the Western Provinces because of his skill with the nodachi, a sword that demons used. Known for his signature move, Tsubame Gaeshi, he died fighting Miyamoto Musashi, his arch rival, at what is now known as Ganryu island.
Legendary Japanese karate master Mas Oyama, who founded Kyokushin Karate, was known by his fans as The God Hand. Known as someone who had fought bears and bulls with his bare hands, he was also an actor and author. Following his death, he was declared a God by a Japanese religion.
Morihei Ueshiba was a Japanese martial artist. Referred to as the Great Teacher, Ueshiba is credited with founding aikido, a martial art which is now practiced around the world. During the course of his career, Ueshiba set up many dojos, including the Aikikai Hombu Dojo, and taught several students, many of whom are celebrated martial artists in their own right.
Benson Henderson is an MMA fighter who has competed in promotions like WEC and UFC. A former UFC Lightweight Champion, Henderson currently competes for Bellator MMA in their Lightweight division. Henderson is also a former WEC Lightweight Champion. In 2012, he was named Fighter of the Year by ESPN. He also won Fighter of the Year Bazzie Award in 2012.
Li Ching-Yuen was a Chinese martial artist, herbalist, and tactical advisor. Li Ching-Yuen, who is believed to have lived off a diet of rice wine and exotic herbs throughout his life, is best remembered for his extreme longevity claim. According to his claim, Li Ching-Yuen lived for 250 years, although gerontologists consider that to be a myth.
A purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Ben Rothwell represents UFC as a heavyweight. Nicknamed Big Ben, he gained weight as a child due to an illness and ended up fighting a lot, eventually taking up martial arts as a career. He and his wife now co-own a martial arts school.
WEC bantamweight fighter Joseph Benavidez had a 15-year career in combat sports, which included several top bantamweight and flyweight championship wins. Initially a screen printer in Mexico, he began his career with small boxing shows and began wrestling at age 16. He has also battled drug and alcohol abuse.
Born Edgar Cano, martial arts instructor Eddie Bravo later took up the last name of his stepfather. A black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, he has also launched the grappling tournament Eddie Bravo Invitational. He also developed his own signature style of martial arts, known as the 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu.
Josh Barnett is a mixed martial artist, submission grappler, and professional wrestler. He is currently signed to Bellator MMA. In the past, he was associated with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), where he is a former UFC Heavyweight Champion. As a wrestler, he made his in-ring debut in 2003. He calls himself a catch wrestler.
Cung Le is a Vietnamese-born American actor, retired kickboxer, Sanshou fighter, and mixed martial artist. He has competed in popular promotions, such as the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). A former International Kickboxing World Champion in the Light Heavyweight division, Cung Le has an impressive record of 17–0 in kickboxing. He is also a former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion.
Born in the US to an Italian mother and a Filipino father, Brandon Vera, better known as The Truth, initially joined college on an athletic scholarship but dropped out to join the US Airforce soon. The black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has also appeared on shows such as Kamandag and Magpakailanman.
MMA podcaster Josh Thomson, popularly known as The Punk, was previously a professional mixed martial artist and has represented promotion such as Bellator MMA, PRIDE, and UFC. He is best known for his bouts against Gilbert Melendez. The Strikeforce lightweight champion has previously worked in construction.
Known as the Godfather of Grappling, Gene LeBell is a renowned martial artist and stuntman who has appeared in countless movies such as Raging Bull and Men in Black II. After mastering judo and winning several big tournaments, he excelled in wrestling, too. He has also penned several books.
Best known for his roles in films such as American Warrior and Bachelor Party, Michael Dudikoff is also a martial artist, well-versed in Brazilian Jujitsu, Judo, Karate, and Aikido. A child psychology major, he has also worked in real estate and loves designing homes and bronze sculpturing.