50 Celebrities Who Train a Form of Martial Arts

Brian Goldsmith@coldy4goldyContributor IIIApril 6, 2012

50 Celebrities Who Train a Form of Martial Arts

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    Mixed Martial Arts is the fastest growing sport in the nation.  Martial arts training is becoming more popular with it. Over the years, we've seen quite a few famous faces training a form of martial arts.

    Some of our former presidents practiced mixed martial arts disciplines.  Abraham Lincoln and George Washington were both respected wrestlers in their time. Wrestling is not a martial art, but it is a necessity in MMA. Theodore Roosevelt studied jiu jitsu and judo. Even Bill Clinton has trained in taekwondo. 

    If you think those names are surprising, you'll be stunned at some of the names on this list.

Ed O’Neil

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    Al Bundy trains Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu! Seriously, actor Ed O'Neil has been a trained under Rorian Gracie for almost 20 years, and is a black belt in BJJ.  Check out this video of O'Neil and Gracie rolling on the mat and discussing their relationship.

Herschel Walker

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    Most people have seen Herschel Walker play football, but how many have seen him fight inside a cage?  Check out this video of his MMA debut.  Walker is 2-0 professionally.

Guy Ritchie

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    Filmmaker and screenwriter, Guy Ritchie, is probably best known for being the ex-husband of Madonna.  At the age of seven he started training Shotokan Karate.  He's a black belt in Judo and a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

    The picture is from an article by the New York Times.  That's Ritchie training with friend, Bobby Rich.

Michael Clarke Duncan

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    Michael Clarke Duncan (Armageddon, The Green Mile, Talladega Nights) is a big (BIG) fan of the UFC.  He's also a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and trains at the Gracie Academy.

David Akers

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    When he's not kicking field goals for the San Francisco 49ers, you may find David Akers training jiu-jitsu or Shaolin Kempo Karate.

Jessica Alba

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    Jessica Alba is a pretty face that could likely kick your butt.  She practices Taekwondo for various movie roles and to stay in shape.

Criss Angel

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    The Mind Freak has some serious martial arts skills to go along with that unbelievable magic.  He practices kung-fu. karate and taekwondo.

Jennifer Aniston

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    Jennifer Aniston stays in great shape by practicing Budokon, which combines karate and yoga.  She was introduced to it by one of her former co-stars from Friends. Find out who later.

Christian Bale

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    Where did you think those moves from Batman came from?  Christian Bale trains Wing Chun Kung Fu under Master Instructor (Si Fu) Eric Oram (shown in the picture).

Jessica Biel

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    Another pretty face, that could probably kick your butt.  Jessica Biel trains martial arts to stay in shape.

    From dailymakeover.com:

    I'm really into martial arts now, it's the most amazing workout ever! And since I've been working with a partner, I've learned some awesome self-defense moves and most importantly, how to redirect someone's energy. It gives me a real sense of empowerment.

Jack Black

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    The Tenacious D rocker and Kung Fu Panda has trained in judo and has been known to show some of his moves, including a tiger roll, while performing on stage. He's also had kung fu training in preparation for Kung Fu Panda.

Kobe Bryant

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    The Black Mamba, Kobe Bryant, trains Jeet Kune Do (the way of the intercepting fist), a martial art developed by Bruce Lee.  Check out the video interview conducted by Elie Seckbach.

Gisele Bundchen

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    Tom Brady's better half, and occasional wide receiver critic, Gisele Bundchen, is another celebrity that has turned to martial arts to stay in great shape.  Gisele trains kung fu and tai chi under  Yao Li, of the Boston Kung Fu Tai Chi Institute.

James Caan

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    Actor James Caan, has trained martial arts for over 30 years.  Shown in the picture with karate master, Takayuki Kubota, Caan is a Master in Gosoku Ryu Karate, and was given the title of Soke Dai by the International Karate Institute.

Courtney Cox

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    Here's the co-star from Friends that got Jennifer Anniston involved in Budokon.  Courtney Cox even got her ex husband, David Arquette to train with her (while they were married, of course). Budokon, founded by Cameron Shayne, is translated to "the way of the spiritual warrior."

Robert Downey Jr

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    The star of action films, Iron Man and Sherlock Holmes, Robert Downey Jr., like Christian Bale, trains Wing Chun Kung Fu under Master Instructor (Si Fu) Eric Oram (shown in the picture).

D’Bickashaw Ferguson

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    The 6'6", 310 pound, offensive tackle for the New York Jets, D’Bickashaw Ferguson, is a black belt in karate and also studies taekwondo.  His father, is a certified karate instructor.  Ferguson's martial arts training has been credited for his footwork, dexterity and discipline.

Sean Patrick Flannery

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    Actor Sean Patrick Flannery, holds a black belt in both karate and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.  Check out the video of him demonstrating BJJ to a class. 

Sarah Michelle Geller

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    The Buffy The Vampire Slayer star is a 1st Dan black belt in taekwondo.  She's also trained kickboxing, boxing and street-fighting.  Those vampires never stood a chance.

Mel Gibson

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    Mel Gibson showed us all his Jiu-Jitsu moves back in Lethal Weapon.  Check out the triangle choke in the video.  Gibson has trained Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Rorian Gracie.

President Barack Obama

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    Yes, President Barack Obama, has practiced taekwondo and earned a green belt.  He was given an honorary black belt in taekwondo by South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak (shown in the picture). 


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    Rapper/actor Ice-T is a big fan of the UFC. He's also a long time practitioner of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and boxing.

Michael Imperioli

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    Former Sopranos star and current 1800 Tequila endorser, Michael Imperioli, has trained taekwondo for several years.  He says the martial art changed his life.

Mick Jagger

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    The timeless, ageless lead singer of the Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger, trained judo under George Kerr.

Lucy Liu

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    Kill Bill star Lucy Liu, practices the martial art of Kali-Eskrima-Silat (knife-and-stick fighting).


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    Madonna was encouraged to take up karate by her then-husband Guy Ritchie. 

Phil Mickelson

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    Pro golfer Phil Mickelson has been criticized for being out of shape in the past.  Not so much anymore.  He practices kung fu and taekwondo.

Adrianna Lima

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    Adrianna Lima, the Victoria's Secret Angel, takes mixed martial arts classes and Capoeira (an Afro-Brazilian art form that combines martial arts, games, music, and dance).

Carrie Anne Moss

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    Carrie Anne Moss knows kung fu, and she didn't learn it in the The Matrix.  She practices Shaolin Kung Fu.

Dave Mustain

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    The lead singer of Megadeth has studied different fighting techniques since he was 12 years old.  He has earned a black belt in karate and taekwondo.  He is a goodwill ambassador to the World Taekwondo Federation.

Willie Nelson

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    This country music legend is also a black belt in taekwondo.  The picture shows Nelson training with taekwondo master, Sam Um.

Shaquille O'Neal

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    Shaq is a huge fan of MMA, and has been training in MMA for quite some time. He recently agreed to fight another famous face on this list.  More on that later.  No, it's not Kobe Bryant.  Although that is a long time coming and something we'd all like to see.  Check out the video of him training.

Ryan Phillippe

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    Actor Ryan Phillippe is a black belt in taekwondo.  He's competed in tournaments, and taught kids the martial art.  The photo above is from Ellen.  Check out this link for the video:  http://www.aoltv.com/2010/05/12/ryan-phillippe-demonstrates-martial-arts-ellen-degeneres-video/

Christian Slater

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    Actor Christian Slater, began karate training due to a lifelong inadequacy he felt over his height.  Now he's a green belt in karate.

Wesley Snipes

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    Action movie star, Wesley Snipes is a fifth dan black belt in Shotokan Karate, a third dan black belt in taekwondo, and a second degree black belt in Hapkido.  He also practices kung fu, capoeira, eskrima and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. 

Naomi Watts

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    Actress Naomi Watts has trained judo for many years, and actually competed in amateur Judo championships from 1989 to 1992.  She currently trains in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Forrest Whitaker

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    Oscar-winning actor Forrest Whitaker, is  a black belt in kenpō, and trains in the Filipino martial art of Kali.

Evan Rachel Wood

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    Actress Evan Rachel Wood received her black belt in taekwondo with her mother.

Rikki Rockett

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    Poison drummer Rikki Rockett is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Renato Magno.  Check out the video of him training BJJ.

David Lee Roth

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    Van Halen front man/crazy person David Lee Roth has trained in many different martial arts, including kung fu and karate, for the majority of his life.  He even teaches martial arts classes. Check out this video of Roth taking his training to the streets.

Maynard James Keenan

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    Maynard James Keenan, lead singer of the bands Tool and A Perfect Circle, trains in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Rickson Gracie.

Nicolas Cage

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    Actor Nicolas Cage trains Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Mixed Martial Arts legend Royce Gracie.

Jim Carrey

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    Jim Carrey has begun training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.  I couldn't find a video of him training, but I did fin a video from his In Living Color days, where he's playing a martial arts instructor.  Funny stuff.

Ashton Kutcher

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    Actor Ashton Kutcher trains in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Jose Canseco

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    Former baseball slugger and admitted steroid user Jose Canseco has actually fought professionally in Mixed Martial Arts. Check out his debut in this video.  Jose is also the one who challenged Shaquille O'Neal to an MMA contest.

Kevin James

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    King of Queens star Kevin James is a big-time fan of the UFC.  He also trains in MMA.  Check out this video of him training with Hall of Famer Randy Couture.

Joe Rogan

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    MMA fans know comedian/UFC broadcaster, Joe Rogan trains Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.  He's a brown belt in BJJ under Eddie Bravo.  He also has trained in taekwondo since he was a kid.  In fact, he's a black belt in taekwondo, and won the Massachusetts taekwondo state championshion four straight years. 

    At the age of 19 he won the US Open Taekwondo Championship, and later won the grand championship after he (as the lightweight champion) defeated the middleweight and heavyweight champions. 

    Check out this video of Rogan wearing out a guy who challenged him on Myspace.

Jason Statham

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    Action star Jason Stathom is another big fan of MMA.  He's a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and has trained in multiple martial arts disciplines including: Wing Chun kung fu, karate and kickboxing. 

Paul Walker

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    The Fast and Furious star is a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Ricardo "Franjinha" Miller.

Tommy Lee

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    The infamous Motley Crue drummer, Tommy Lee, trains Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under the Gracie Family.  Just look at that rear-naked choke in the picture.

    I hope you enjoyed the list of celebrities who train in martial arts.  You think there's any chance we could see Celebrity MMA, like we had Celebrity Boxing a few years ago?

    Check out Brian's blog: The Hair of the Dog Sports Blog.

    Follow him on Twitter @coldy4goldy.