Celebrities Who Are Also Skilled Martial Artists
While you've seen plenty of actors and actresses appear as crime-fighting superheroes in movies, do you ever wonder how many actually know legit self-defense? Prepare to find out as we take a look at a list of celebrities who are accomplished martial artists in real life. From actors you never knew practiced martial arts in the first place to the exact styles some of your favorite action heroes practice, you'll get the low down on which celebrities really could take you down!
Robert Downey Jr.
If you saw Robert Downey Jr.'s performance in Sherlock Holmes, then you may have wondered how he learned to fight so well so quickly. As it turns out, the Iron Man actor has been training in wing chun kung fu since 2005.
Like Downey, Russell Brand has become well known for overcoming his past struggles with substance abuse. Brand has credited his training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) for helping him learn how to face life head-on and overcome the obstacles.
Lucy Liu may be gorgeous, but she also definitely knows how to handle herself. So where did she get all those cool skills she used it movies like Charlies Angels and Kill Bill? Well, she's been training in the martial art of kali-eskrima-silat for years.
Courteney Cox shot to fame back in the 90s for her role as the charming Monica Gellar on Friends. Her character made such an impact that producers were originally hesitant to cast her as more aggressive characters, such as the one she later played in Scream.
While Forest Whitaker may not be an actor who you see in a lot of action movies, he's a serious martial artist off-screen. Whitaker earned his black belt in the art of kenpo karate and credits martial arts for helping him learn to understand and direct his own energy.
Make no mistake, Al Bundy is not a man you want to mess with. Ed O'Neill, who portrayed Bundy on the sitcom Married … With Children, has been practicing Brazilian jiu-jitsu for over 30 years. O'Neill took up BJJ when he was 40 years old and has credited it for helping him change his thinking in regard to self-defense.
Sean Connery shares his action hero characters’ love of smooth moves. Connery has a black belt in kyokushin karate, a style founded by Korean Masutatsu Oyama. The full-contact style emphasizes not only self-defense techniques, but also self-improvement, hard work and discipline.
Look no further for proof of the physical benefits of MMA than Kevin James' appearance in Here Comes the Boom. While James was already famous for his role as the frumpy Doug Heffernan on King of Queens, he decided to get fit for his role in the UFC-themed movie.
Sarah Michelle Gellar
While it's hard to believe that Buffy The Vampire Slayer first premiered over 20 years ago, it’s less of a surprise to fans that lead actress Sarah Michelle Gellar is a black belt in taekwondo. Gellar was known for doing many of her own stunts on the show, and her hard work definitely showed onscreen.
Okay, so it's no surprise that action star Wesley Snipes has trained in martial arts. What's truly impressive, however, is just how many different styles he's mastered. Snipes has been training since he was a child and has racked up some serious achievements.
Guy Ritchie is famous for several things, including directing films such as Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels and for once being married to Madonna. What many fans may not realize, however, is that he's also a total martial arts addict.
You don't get the body of Ukranian actress Milla Jovovich by just sitting around depending on stunt doubles. The Resident Evil actress is a huge fan of martial arts, which she once revealed was the reason she loves doing action movies so much.
There's no doubt that Chuck Norris is one of the greatest martial artists of our time. He learned jeet kune do by training with Bruce Lee himself and has one of the most impressive resumes of any martial artist alive.
Growing up as a child star is not always easy, as no one can attest to better than Grammy-nominated singer and actress Demi Lovato. Lovato first began training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu in 2017 and has credited the sport for helping her work through her struggle with addiction.
While Jackie Chan may be one of the best stuntmen and martial artists around, you might be surprised by his actual martial arts background. Make no mistake, Chan does indeed have a black belt, but it's not necessarily in the style you might think.
When Margot Robbie scored the role of Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad, she knew she was up for a physical challenge. Though she had trained as a trapeze artist in the past, Robbie decided it was time to up her self defense game.
Steven Seagal may be an actor, producer and screenwriter, but he's also a terrifying opponent on the mats. Before he was known for his roles in films such as Under Seige and Hard to Kill, Seagal became the first American to ever operate an aikido school in Japan.
Millie Bobby Brown
It turns out that Millie Bobbie Brown is a great fighter in real life, with or without the special powers that her Stranger Things character, Eleven, enjoys. Originally born in Marbella, Spain, Millie now splits her time between Los Angeles and England.
Remember the Twilight movies? Well, the masses of young girls who fell in love with Taylor Lautner, the actor who portrayed Jacob in the franchise, have karate to thank for helping him achieve his chiseled good looks.
British actress and producer Naomi Watts, who has starred in films such as The Impossible and King Kong, is known for being one of Hollywood's most beautiful leading ladies. But don't mistake that sweet exterior for weakness because this lady also knows how to throw down.
Of course Christian Bale knows martial arts — he is Batman after all. Before he became the dark knight, Bale starred in movies such as American Psycho and Equilibrium while training in the art of kung fu regularly. But when he stepped up to play the caped crusader, the actor had to tweak his style a bit.
When Tom Hardy was preparing for his role in the movie Warrior, he went through some intense MMA training. Fortunately, the actor discovered that he really enjoyed his time in the octagon, and he’s been training in various styles ever since.
For years now, Crazy, Stupid, Love actor Ryan Gosling has been capturing the hearts (and eyes) of ladies everywhere with his sensitive guy vibe and ridiculous abs. But how does he stay so in shape? With a little help from the art of muay thai.
If you've seen a Marvel movie in the past decade, then you probably already know that Scarlett Johansson has some pretty killer moves. But what styles does Black Widow favor when it comes to taking down the bad guys?
Willie Nelson is awesome. Not only is he one of the most recognized stars in country music, but he just seems like a really cool dude in general. That said, prepare to love him even more than you already do.
One look at Mario Lopez is all it takes to see that he loves to stay in shape. Back in the 1990s, Lopez was famous for his role as AC Slater on the hit show Saved by the Bell. Like his TV character, Lopez was also a wrestler growing up, so it makes sense that he'd eventually fall in love with jiu-jitsu.
As an eighth degree black belt in judo, Russian President Vladimir Putin is no stranger to the mats. Though the Japanese martial art was once banned in the Soviet Union, the USSR lifted its restrictions on the sport in the 1960s when it was introduced to the Olympics.
Superman actor Henry Cavill is yet another actor who is a self-professed Brazilian jiu-jitsu addict. Though still relatively new to the sport, BJJ practitioners everywhere could relate completely when Cavill described his love of rolling in an interview with Men's Health.
Former NBA star Shaquille O'Neal also trained in MMA — not that anyone would be rushing to jump into the octagon with him even if he didn't. The seven-foot tall basketball star has recently been brushing up on his skills in boxing, jiu-jitsu and muay thai after reportedly falling in love with UFC style fighting.
If you're a fan of the show Vikings, then you doubtless know Katheryn Winnick as the fearless shield maiden, Lagertha. In real life, Katheryn has no problem defending herself with or without a sword in her hand. She's been training in martial arts since she was seven years old and owned three dojos by the time she was 21.