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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Chinese martial artist Wong Jack-man is best remembered for his duel with Bruce Lee in 1964. The duel was mired in controversy, as it was held privately in Oakland. There are different accounts of the fight, and Wong released his own version in the Chinese newspaper Chinese Pacific Weekly.
Gordon Liu is a Chinese martial artist and martial arts film actor best known for his portrayal of San Te in the 1978 Hong Kong kung fu film The 36th Chamber of Shaolin. He then went on to appear in popular films like Kill Bill: Volume 1. Gordon made his Bollywood debut in the 2009 film Chandni Chowk to China.
Wu Jing is a Chinese martial artist, actor, and director best known for playing important roles in martial arts films like Fatal Contact, Tai Chi Boxer, and the SPL films. Widely regarded as one of the most bankable Chinese actors of all time, Wu Jing has been featured in the Forbes China Celebrity 100 list on a couple of occasions.
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.
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.
Athlete and martial artist Jim Kelly won hearts with his Afro hairstyle and his roles in action film such as Enter the Dragon and Black Belt Jones. Apart from films, he also excelled in karate, winning contests such as the International Middle Weight Karate Championship. He has also played professional tennis.
A world-renowned Indian pehlwan, or wrestler, Ghulam Mohammad Baksh Butt competed using the ring name The Great Gama. Also known as Rustam-e-Hind, he remained undefeated over an illustrious career of almost 5 decades and even saved many Hindus during the communal riots at the time of the Partition of India.
Ip Ching was a Hong Kong martial artist best remembered as a Grandmaster of the famous Ip Man family of Ving Tsun Kung Fu; he was only one of five Grandmasters of the family. Ip Ching and his brother Chun served as Wing Chun consultants for the film Ip Man 3 in which the former was portrayed by Jim Liu.
Part of the Brazilian Gracie family that has pioneered the its own form of martial arts, Rener Gracie has a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. He has also co-created the Gracie University martial arts curriculum and owns Quikflip Apparel. He is married to three-time WWE Divas Champion Eve Torres.
While he initially studied architectural design, Daniel Bernhardt also co-owned a martial arts center with his brother. He later worked as a model in Paris, before stepping into films. Known for his roles in action films such as the Bloodsport franchise, he was later seen as Agent Johnson in The Matrix Reloaded.
A 3-time NEVER Openweight Champion, Japanese wrestler and MMA fighter Katsuyori Shibata has also been a coach for NJPW. In December 2021, he announced his first match in 5 years, at the Tokyo Dome. He had practically retired after suffering a subdural hematoma in a 2017 match.