Martial Arts Actors training stylesYou know they’re deadly.  You’ve seen them move and kick ass on screen performing incredible feats of acrobatic martial arts at a speed and intensity that you’d probably pass out from.

But are they any good? (lol)

More specifically, how did these Martial Arts actors become so skilled and powerful at what they do, which path did they take – what style?  I want in!

I’ve been wondering for years what some of the best in the industry do to harness their skill and sharpen their blade (so to speak), so I’ve spent weeks researching, digging and finding out exactly what each of the following actors trains in that makes them so god damn awesome at what they do.

So no more foreplay and following up on my this list will pick up where my “Celebrities Black Belts / Martial Artists” left off, here we go (in no particular order)

Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee

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.  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.

Chuck Norris

Chuck Norris

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 aswell 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 the most impressive I think I’ve ever seen.

Jason Statham

Jason Statham

Expendables, Transporter, Crank…

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

Jean Claude Van Damme

Jean Claude Van Damme

You know him from Bloodsport, Kickboxer and Universal Soldier (among a heap of other movies) and he is apparently 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

Michael Jai White

Michael Jai White

Michael Jai White is another martial arts star who really has some other worldly skills and credentials that has even UFC fighters and commentators like Joe Rogan stating quite boldy “Michael Jai White is no joke“.

This guy has been in the movies, has high ranks in a handful of arts and still competes in bare knuckle Kyokushin Karate Kumites.  He’s as real as they get when you take martial artists from the movies and put them alongside guys who can really fight. He has won 26 martial arts titles, including U.S. Open, the North American Open, and he was the New England Grand Champion.

Here’s a look at Michael Jai White’s crazy impressive background:

Note: I don’t have his exact ranks but he is a highly ranked black belt in some of these arts.

  • Kyokushin Karate 3rd Degree Black Belt
  • Shotokan Karate 3rd Degree Black Belt
  • Goju Ryu Karate 3rd Degree Black Belt
  • Superfoot system 8th Dan Black Belt
  • WTF Taekwondo Black Belt
  • ITF Taekwnodo Black Belt
  • Kobudo Black Belt
  • Tang Soo Do 1st Degree Black Belt
  • MMA, trained in.
  • Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, trained in

Mike Chat

The founder of XMA is a talented martial artist who appears behind and in front of the camera.  Chat has some impressive credentials himself!

  • Karate Black Belt
  • Taekwondo 5th Degree Black Belt
  • Wushu Practitioner

Jin Zhang

Jin Zhang

This guy is one of favorite up and comers.  He starred across Donnie Yen in Ip Man 3, was an imposing villain in SPL 2 across from Wu Jing and Tony Jaa and continues to impress in his roles and fight scenes.  He studies an art which translated perfectly to the screen – Wushu.

  • Wushu

Karen Sheperd

Karen Sheperd

Karen Sheperd is another incredible force in martial arts as she currently holds the rank of 7th degree Black Belt in the art of Wun Hop Kuen Do.

  • Wun Hop Kuen Do 7th Degree Black Belt

Jeff Imada

Jeff Imada

Jeff Imada has been in the martial arts film industry for years and has some extensive expertise which have helped to create some exciting fight scenes over the years.  He’s a close friend to the late Brandon Lee and studied up Guru Dan Inosanto – who continued the Legacy of Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do after his death.

  • in Jeet Kune Do
  • Eskrima
  • Taekwondo
  • Tang Soo Do
  • Karate
  • Shaolin Kung Fu
  • Kendo
  • Boxing.

Wesley Snipes

Wesley Snipes

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

Loren Avedon

Loren Avedon

I remember when I first saw this guy in The King of Kickboxers, the energy was crazy and the movie was cool.  But I had never heard of Loren before I saw that film and since then have become a fan, and it’s no wonder why – check out his credentials:

  • Taekwondo 5th Dan black belt
  • Hapkido 8th Dan black belt

Jackie Chan

Jackei Chan Legend Drunken Master

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

  • Peking Opera Stunt Academy
  • Hapkido Black Belt
  • Wing Chun
  • Taekwondo
  • Shaolin Kung Fu (Northern and Southern)
  • Judo
  • Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Mark Dacascos

Mark Dacascos as Kung Lao

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

Jimmy Wang Yu

Jimmy Wang Yu

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 Lundgren

Dolph Lundgren

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

Jeffrey Meek

jeffrey meek

Jeffrey Meek also holds some credentials that prove his authentic martial arts skills, having trained in Taekwondo and Aikido.

  • Taekwondo Black Belt
  • Aikido Black Belt

Alexander Fu Sheng

Alexander Fu Sheng

Taken tragically a young a young, Fu Sheng was a big star in on the Hong Kong Kung Fu scene. He had the ability and charisma to go a lot further in his career, he also had some training to back it up having trained in Judo and Karate.

  • Judo
  • Karate

Yukari Oshima

Yukari Oshima

This kick-ass martial arts actress isn’t just an accomplished martial artist but also trained at Sonny Chiba’s stunt school way back when.  She started in Goju Ryu Karate and also learned a decent amount of weapons work.

  • Goju Ryu Karate

Zara Phytian

Zara Phytian

Take a deep breath, this woman has some of the most impressive credentials on this list and she’s only in her 30’s.  She’s been training since the age of 6 so she has wasted no time!

The following has been taken directly from the Spirit2Power website:

Achievements and Awards

  • 4th Dan Freestyle Karate  / Kickboxing
  • 3rd Dan Tae Kwon Do
  • 2nd Dan Shotokan Karate
  • 1st Degree Yi Tung Shaolin
  • WSA Stunt Fighting Certification
  • TCFS Level One Instructor
  • CSD Level One Instructor
  • 3rd Dan San Ryu Do

As a Competiting Martial Artist

  • 13 Time World Martial Arts Champion
  • Triple Womans World Grand Champion (Germany)
  • Double World Champion & Grand Champion (Spain)
  • 4-time US National Title Belt Champion
  • over 50 British Open Championships
  • World Point Fighting Champion
  • World Traditional Kata Champion
  • World Poomse Champion
  • World Creative / Musical Forms Champion
  • World Traditional Weapon Champion
  • 10 European Grand Champion Titles
  • WUMA European Champion
  • 8 Gold Medals at the Battle Of Champions, USA  2007
  • World Weapon Combat Champion
  • 6 World Champion Rings

Special Achievements and Awards

  • IKK Hall of Fame 2006
  • WOMAA Female Martial Artist Hall of Fame 2008
  • WOMAA International Instructor Hall of Fame 2010
  • OMAC Instructor of the Year Award
  • Sports Personality of the Year Award

Steven Seagal

Seagal knows guns

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

Gary Daniels

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

Jet Li as Chen Zhen

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

Donnie Yen

Donnie Yen in Killzone (aka SPL)

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

Yanin Jeeja

Yanin jeeja

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

Matt Mullins

Matt Mullins

Former Extreme Martial Arts (XMA) champ and current Martial Arts movie actor Matt Mullins has a pretty solid background also, and you’ve seen him move!

Matt’s fairly high ranked for a guy in his mid 30’s:

  • Shorei Ryu Karate 4th Dan

Chris Casamassa

Chris Casamassa

He was Scorpion in Mortal Kombat, and he’s played many fighters and performed many stunts in American Martial Arts films.  Chris has definitely got a solid background in the arts:

  • Red Dragon Karate 8th Dan Black Belt
  • Shorin Ryu 3rd Dan Black Belt

Gene Lebell

gene lebell

Gene Lebell’s background is no secret as he is one of the most famous grapplers of all time. He fought one of the first publicized mixed style matches (fighting boxer Milo Savage and defeating him with his Judo). He traded martial arts techniques with Bruce Lee himself and taught him how to Grapple.  He’s also been the man behind many other big names in grappling and Judo.

  • Judo 10th Degree Red Belt
  • Jiu Jitsu 9th Degree Black Belt

Will Yun Lee

Will Yun Lee

A familiar face one America’s screens, the Witchblade star had a Taekwondo Grandmaster as a father, so guess which style he’s proficient in?

  • Taekwondo

Lee Byung-hun

Lee Byung-hun

This South Korean actor is also  a credible martial artist, training in Taekwondo to stay in shape.

  • Taekwondo

Joey Ansah

Joey Ansah

Joey Ansah may not have the mainstream recognition of some others on this list but he is a big name in the martial arts film industry, showing off some incredible moves and direction in his films. He’s also a bg part of the Street Fighter – Assassin’s Fist series.

He’s trained in a lot of styles in his time:

  • Joey Ansah Black Belt
  • Ninpo Taijutsu (Ninjitsu) – 10+ years of training
  • Filipino Kali
  • Capoeira
  • Boxing
  • Akido

David Bradley

David Bradley

He’s starred in a handful of the American Ninja Films (parts 3, 4 and 5) and has a solid background in a handful of styles – he was once a Karate Champion!

  • Shotokan Karate
  • Kempo Karate
  • Tai Chi

Simon Rhee

Simon Rhee

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

Phillip Rhee

Phillip Rhee

Phillip Rhee was also in The Best of the Best series and is known for his solid Martial Arts background.  Check it out!

  • Taekwondo 6th Dan Black Belt
  • Hapkido  3rd Dan Black Belt
  • Wing Chun
  • Boxing

Jerry Trimble

Jerry Trimble

Another solid American Martial Artist, Jerry Trimble shows off his powerful kicks from years of training in Taekwondo!

  • Taekwondo 6th Dan

Chuck Jefferys

Chuck Jefferys

A fight Coordinator, stunt man and veteran of Martial Arts movies, Chuck Jefferies has a solid foundation Shaolin Wushu.

  • Shaolin Wushu 5th Dan Black Belt

Noah Ringer

Noah Ringer

This kid was The Last Airbender and actually has a solid training background himself despite being born in 1996! So far he’s earned himself a 2nd Degree black belt.

  • Taekwondo 2nd Dan

Cecep Arif Rahman

cecep arif rahman

This guy was in one of my all time favorite fight scenes at the end of the Raid 2 with Iko Uwais. His background is quite extensive as he won the first international martial arts championship in Thailand in the mid 1990’s. It doesn’t take a stretch of the imagination to see that he has a background in Pencak Silat.

  • Pencak Silat Master

Ronda Rousey

Ronda Rousey

I’m not sure I need to tell you Ronda Rousey’s background! But hey, I won’t let you down (just in case).  She may be more MMA star than movie star, but she qualifies for the number of small roles she had in action films.  So here we go:

  • Pan American Judo Champion
  • Olympic Bronze Medal in Judo
  • Former UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion
  • Former Strikeforce Women’s Bantamweight Champion
  • 4th Degree Black Belt in Judo
  • Trains Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under 10th Planert Jiu jitsu and Graceiu

James Lew

James Lew

James Lew is one of America’s top names in Martial Arts films.  He’s been inducted into the martial arts hall of fame and has had an extensive career/

  • Former US Karate Champion
  • Black Belt in Bak Mei PaiKung Fu (given by Sifu Doug Wong in 1972)
  • Taekwondo
  • Tang Soo Do
  • Bak Mei Pai Kung Fu
  • Escrima
  • Wushu
  • Muay Thai
  • Chen Tai Chin

Nathan Jones

nathan jones

This gargantuan movie star is a former strongman and powerlifting champion who often appears in films as a larger than life villain.  He’s 6’10” and a beast so he’s not one to mess with, especially since he fough inearly Pride matches back in the day!

  • MMA

Brandon Lee

Brandon 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

Scott Adkins

Scott Adkins

Scott Adkins is, in my opinion, the most entertaining on screen martial artist in movies today. He’s a fantastic performer, has a solid background and an uncanny ability to go from a quiet spoken gentlemen into a tough, highly animated character in front of the camera – just think about Boyka!

This guy is here to stay.  Here’s what he has up his sleeve:

  • Taekwondo 4th Dan Black Belt
  • Judo 2nd Dan Black Belt
  • Jujitsu Black Belt
  • PKA Kickboxing Black Belt / Instructor
  • Ninjutsu
  • Karate
  • Wushu
  • Krav Maga
  • CapoeiraJeet Kune Do
  • Gymnastics.

Tony Jaa

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

Iko Uwais

Iko Uwais

This guy, working alongside Gareth Evans, has helped to set a whole new standard for martial arts films in the last 10 years. If you’re not familair with him, familiarize yourself! Watch The Raid & The Raid 2 Now!

  • Pencak Silat former National Champion (2005)

Michelle Yeoh

Michelle Yeoh

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!

Jacky Wu Jing

Wu Jing

Holy shit this guy had potential, until he recently suffered a severe career threatening injury (get well soon brother!).  Let’s hope it all pans out because Jacky Wu Jing has a solid background with Fatal Contact and SPL: Killzone under his belt. Lucky we have Wolf War and SPL 2 on the way 🙂

Jacky Wu Jing’s training is mainly:

  • Wushu Beijing team

Sammo Hung

Sammo Hung

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

Yuen Biao

Yuen Biao

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

Richard Norton in City Hunter

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

Phillip Kwok

Phillip Kwok

You’d be surprised to know that Phillip Kwok was originally a circus acrobat. But according to this interview in 2002, he “doesn’t do Kung Fu” but trained in an onscreen style of fighting for cinema. With his fan following from his rich history of Shaw Brother films, I do find this quite surpising!

  • Acrobat – no official Martial Arts credentials

Lo Meng

Lo Meng

The Shaolin Hercules, known for his muscular physique (achieved without weight training) is one of the popular Venoms actors from Shaw Brothers.  He has an extensive background in Tai Chi and  Chu Gar Tong Long Southern Praying Mantis, having studied for almsot 15 years before starting his film career.

  • Tai Chi
  • Chu Gar Tong Long Southern Praying Mantis Kung Fu

Chen Kuan Tei

Chen Kuan Tei

This poplar Shaw Brothers Star isn’t just training in martial arts but hold several Kung Fu Championship titles. Unfortunately I cannot find any information on what style he studies.  (if you know – please tell me in comments below!)

  • Kung Fu Champion

Moon Lee

Moon Lee

Moon Lee originally started out as a ballet dancer, but sought to learn Kung Fu after her film career gained traction. She learned a bit of Kung Fu but as dancers tend to make excellent on screen martial artists, she claims she hasn’t trained enough to call herself a martial artist.

  • Ballet Dancer
  • Dabbled in Kung Fu

Gordon Liu

Gordon Liu Arm Strengthening

This Shaw Brothers star has had a life of training in Kung Fu, and it shows in his movies.

  • Hung Gar Kung Fu

Bolo Yeung

Bolo Yeung

Training since the age of 10, adding a few more squats, bench presses and deadlifts than the average martial artist (that’s a bad joke BTW) and Mr Hong Kong (bodybuilding champion), Bolo Yeung is an instantly recognizable icon of martial arts cinema – especially since he played the role  ‘Bolo’ in Enter the Dragon across from Bruce Lee.

  • Tai Chi
  • Shotokan Karate
  • Several Forms of Kung Fu

Jeff Speakman

Jeff Speakman

Jeff Speakman is another truly serious martial artist who carries the torch in his style. He’s the perfect weapon, and is insanely high ranked!

  • American Kenpo Karate 9th Dan Black Belt
  • Goju Ryu Karate 9th Dan Black Belt

Sonny Chiba

Sonny Chiba

The Street Fighter himself, Sonny Chiba trains in several styles when he’s not ripping the abused genitals of movie rapists straight from their groin. He’s every bit the knowledgable and deadly martial artist we’ve come to see him as in his movies.

Seriously? Damn:

  • Kyokushin Karate 4th Dan Black Belt
  • Ninjutsu 4th Dan Black Belt
  • Goju-ryu karate 2nd Dan Black Belt
  • Shorinji Kempo 2nd Dan Black Belt
  • Judo 2nd Dan Black Belt
  • Kendo 1st Dan Black Belt

Cheng Pei Pei

Chin Pei Pei

Cheng Pei Pei is one of the true Pioneers of Hong Kong cinema with her performance in the 60’s classic Come Drink with Me, she came full circle when she appeared in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon almost 40 years later.

  • Studied Northern Style Kung Fu

Toshiro Mifune

Toshiro Mifune

The guy can be seen in a big chunk of Japan’s samurai classic films such as Seven Samurai.  A true icon of martial arts cinema going back as far as the 50’s,  Toshiro Mifuine is a legend.

His acting style and realistic portrayal of combat on screen elevated these classic films to the next level.

  • Toshiro has little to no formal martial arts training.  That’s a true surprise!…. but I had to mention him 🙂

Chow Yun Fat

Chow Yun Fat & The Green Destiny

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.

  • 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!)

Tomisaburo Wakayama

Lone Wolf and Cub

He’s the Lone Wolf who travels with his Cub. He’s a big name in Japanese martial arts film and he’s got some solid skills!  Tomisaburo Wakayama earned himself a 4th Degree Black Belt in Judo!

  • Judo 4th Dan Black Belt

Stephen Chow

Stephen Chow

He’s the master of Kung Fu comedy, without a doubt one of the funniest guys in the action genre.  But Stephen Chow isn’t just a comedic actor, he’s actually a formally trained martial artist.

He started by teaching himself, watching TV but eventually followed the steps of his idol, Bruce Lee, and started studying Wing Chun and has good level of training, although he proclaims himself that “I’m not good at kung-fu at all. I have been learning, but obviously I am not an expert.

  • Wing Chun

Hiroyuki Sanada

Hiroyuki Sanada

The protege of Sonny Chiba, Hiroyuki Sanada has become a sought after Japanese martial arts actor in both Japan and in the United States.  Being the protege of Chiba, he also studied Shorinji Kempo before sinking his teeth into Kyokushin Karate.

  • Shorinji Kenpo
  • Kyokushin Karate

Joe Taslim

Joe Taslim

Joe Taslim is the Indonesian actor best known for leading the squad of cops into the terrible tower in ‘The Raid‘ alongside Iko Uwais. He’s got a very solid background and career in martial arts and shows a lot of promise for future roles in film. He already made his way into the US by starring in Fast & Furious 6.

This guy is worth keep an eye on!

  • Judo Gold & Silver Medalist
  • Pencak Silat
  • Wushu
  • Taekwondo
  • Shotokan Karate

Angela Mao

Angela Mao

Angela Mao, star of the film Hapkido, has trained in the art of Hapkido from a young age!

  • Hapkido ‘Honorary’ 2nd Dan Black Belt (is actually quite proficient)

Yasuaki Kurata

Yasuaki Kurata

You may recognize this guy from a few big martial films throughout the last 5 decades, including a prominent role in Jet Li’s Fist of Legend.  Yasuaki Kurata (also known as Shoji Kurata) has always been know as one of the most authentic martial artists in film holding a number of Black Belts.  This includes:

  • Kenpo Karate 7th Degree Black Belt
  • Judo 3rd Degree Black Belt
  • Aikido 2nd Degree Black Belt

Keith Cooke Hirabayashi

Keith Cooke has been in the American Martial Arts Movie Scene for 30 years. He showed up in some top films like China O’Brien, The Kingof Kickboxers and he played Sub-Zero in Mortal Kombat Annihilation.  He is also a man known for his extensive martial arts skills!

Here’s a little information from his website: “5-time World Martial Arts Grand Champion and was named Competitor of the Year in 1983, 1985 and 1986. Inside Kung Fu magazine inducted him into their hall of fame and ranked him #7 of the “Top 30 Masters of the Last 30 Years”. Black Belt Magazine named him in the top 100 “Most Influential Martial Artists of the Last Century” and inducted him into their Hall of Fame.”

  • Karate 5th Degree Black Belt
  • Taekwondo (trained in)
  • Wushu (trainined in)

Ti Lung

Ti Lung (full name Tommy Tam Fu Wing) is a prominent Shaw Brothers actor and martial artist with a very diverse range of roles over the past 50 years. He learned Wing Chun early on under Jiu Wan.

  • Wing Chun

Collin Chou

Collin Chou

Collin Chou has been training in martial arts since the age of 5! The main art he has mentiond in interviews though is Taekwondo alongside “movie martial arts”.

  • Taekwondo

Vincent Zhao

Vincent Zhao

Vincent is another big name in modern kung fu cinema, having starred in a number of films and proving himself to be decent leading man. He started martial arts at 5 years old, quit and started again at 8! He then dedicated himself to Wushu and Tai Chi.

  • Wushu
  • Tai Chi

Yuen Wah

Wah Yuen

Another veteran of Kung Fu films, Yuen Wah is quite the accomplished martial arts actor. Like Jackie Chan, he learned a lot of his skills from a Peeking Opera school under Yu Jim yuen.

  • Yu Jim Yuen’s Peking Opera School

Sho Kosugi

Sho Kosugi

The Ninja himself! Sho Kosugi has a very extensive martial arts background which it seems has been somewhat passed onto his son Kane Kosugi (Ninja 2). Check out this list!

  • Shindō Jinen-Ryū Karate
  • Kendo
  • Judo
  • Iaido
  • Kobudo
  • Aikido
  • Ninjutsu

Kane Kosugi

Kane Kosugi

Kane Kosugi; the son of Sho Kosugi obviously has a great role model to learn from, he start training before he was 2 years old!  Below is what he has been training in since then:

  • Wushu
  • Ninjutsu
  • Taekwondo
  • Karate
  • Judo
  • Kendo

Cyril Raffaelli

cyril rafaelli

Cyril started his Martial Arts journey at 6 years old. He has an extensive background and obviously a high level of skill since he’s been showing up in martial arts films for the last 15-20 years.

Cyril trains in:

  • Shotokan Karate
  • Wushu
  • Sanda (1998 France Champion)

Benny ‘The Jet’ Urquidez

Benny ‘The Jet’ Urquidez

Benny the Jet can be seen fighting Jackie Chan in a few of his films form the 80’s.  If you didn’t already know, the guy is a legend in martial arts! He’s considered to be the greatest kickboxer of all time!

Here’s what the ‘The Jet’ has to his name – count these Black Belts!

  • Ukidokan Karate founder / Black Belt
  • Judo Black Belt
  • Jujutsu Black Belt
  • Shotokan Karate Black Belt
  • Taekwondo Black Belt
  • Kajukenbo Black Belt
  • Kendo Black Belt
  • Kickboxing Black Belt / former World Champion
  • Lima Lama Black Belt
  • White Crane Kung Fu Black Belt
  • Aikido Black Belt

Cynthia Rothrock

Cynthia Rothrock

Another legend of Martial Arts Cinema with an outstanding background in her training.  She’s gotta be one of the most deadly women on the planet!

  • Tang Soo Do 7th Dan Black Belt
  • Taekwondo Black Belt
  • Karate Black Belt
  • Eagle Claw Black Belt
  • Wushu Black Belt
  • Northern Shaolin Kung Fu Black Belt
  • Pai Lum Tao Kung Fu Black Belt

Cung Le

Cung Le talks about Bruce Lee

A top notch Martial Arts movie star and a powerful force in the UFC, Cung Le  is every bit the weapon he portrays in the movies and perhaps one of the most proven fighters to star in Martial Arts film (come on, he competed in the UFC!).

  • Sanshou Black Sash
  • Taekwondo 1st Dan Black Belt
  • Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Purple Belt
  • Professional Mixed Martial Artist and former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion

Randy Couture

Randy Couture

Randy Couture is fresh from the UFC and stepped into action and martial arts films.  But his background isn’t really a mystery!

  • 5 Time UFC (MMA) World Champion
  • Greco Roman Wrestler
  • Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Black Belt
  • Boxing
  • Muay Thai

Don ‘The Dragon’ Wilson

Don the Dragon Wilson

This US Martial Arts film star is another powerful force in the ‘real world’ of Martial Arts. Here’s what he has under his belt:

  • White Dragon Kickboxing 5th Dan Black Belt / former World Champion
  • Boxing – former Professional
  • Goju Ryu Karate
  • Pai Lum Kung Fu

Jim Kelly

Jim Kelly

“Man, you come right out of a comic book”

Jim Kelly was a cool dude in Enter the Dragon, and if only John Saxon’s agent didn’t throw a little tanty over Saxon’s character being killed, Williams would have survived the film’s plot!  Anyway, I’m whining, here’s what Jim Kelly has experience with in his training.

  • Shorin-Ryu Karate Middleweight Champion

Billy Blanks

Billy Blanks

Whenever I hear the name “Billy Blanks” I think of the Tae Bo infomercial! But this guy is a serious martial artist with a solid foundation with 6 black belts to his name, check it out:

  • Taekwondo 8th Degree Black Belt
  • Kung Fu 4th Dan Black Belt
  • Tang Soo Do Black Belt
  • Boxing Golden Gloves Champion
  • Tae Bo (duh)

(more information about Billy Blanks’ martial arts history is quite difficult to find – he actually has more Black Belts than mentioned above)

Louis Fan

Riki Oh

Louis fan has been training since the age of 14 and, if you saw him in The Story or Ricky, you’d know he was a beast in his younger years! Here’s what he knows:

  • Kung Fu
  • Gymnastics
  • Taekwondo

Bob Wall

Bob Wall

Bob Wall is as serious a martial artist as they get.  He was O’Hara in Enter the Dragon and a Karate World Champion.  In reality, he’s one of the most accomplished martial artists out there, here’s his credentials:

  • Tang Soo Do 9th Dan Black Belt
  • Chun Kuk Do 9th Dan Black Belt
  • Taekwondo 8th Dan Black Belt
  • Okinawan Shorin-Ryu Karate Black Belt
  • Okinawan Okinawa-te Black Belt
  • Judo Black Belt under Gene Lebell
  • MNA Black Belt under Gene Lebell
  • Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Black Belt under the Machados

Robin Shou

Robin Shou as Liu Kang

No, he’s not a Shaolin Monk, that’s Liu Kang.  Robin Shou is a well trained martial artist though, with a decent enough background to break into the Hong Kong movie industry when he was young.

Here are the styles Robin has trained in:

  • Kenpo Karate
  • Wushu

Darren Shahlavi

Shahlavi

The (unfortunately) late action Star Darren Shahlavi was an exceptional actor and, if you’ve ever watched Ip Man 2, played an awesome and almost crazed villian quite convincingly.

An awesome martial arts actor, his background consisted of:

  • Shotokan Karate
  • Boxing
  • Kickboxing
  • Muay Thai

Nicholas Tse

Nicholas Tse

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 

Johnny Nguyen

Johnny Nguyen points his gun

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

Dan Inosanto

Dan Inosanto

His appearances are few and far between, but his notable fight against his friend and fellow martial arts practitioner Bruce Lee in Game of Death puts him out there. He has an astonishing background and they don’t call him the “martial arts guru” for nothing, check it out:

  • Jeet Kune Do – world’s foremost expert and the first qualified by Bruce Lee
  • Eskrima, teaches
  • Silat, teaches
  • Jun Fan Gung Fu, teaches
  • Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Black Belt under the Machados
  • Muay Thai, teaches
  • American Kenpo Karate ‘Shodan’ Black Belt
  • Shoot Wrestling

Dianna Lee Inosanto

Diana Lee Inosanto

The daughter the above-mentioned  Dan Inosanto, Dianna 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

Ernie Reyes Jr

Ernie Reyes Jr

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.

Gina Carano

Gina Carano

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

Jon Foo

Jon Foo

Jon Foo is a Chinese-British Martial Arts Actor who has some very nice moves.  He has potential which I hope is realized in the next few years but hasn’t quite had his break yet.  His training is primarily in Wushu.

  • Wushu

Yayan Ruhian

Yayan Ruhian

He is the ‘Mad Dog’ from the Raid.  An Indonesian Martial Artist, he trains in Pencak Silat.

  • Pencak Silat

Mark Zaror

Kiltro with Marko Zaror

This Chilean actor, known as Dolor in Undisputed 3 is another powerful guy that has trained in martial arts for most of his life.

  • Taekwondo
  • Kickboxing
  • Shotokan Karate Green Belt
  • Kung Fu
  • Boxing 
  • Wing Chun
  • Judo Black Belt
  • Aikido Black Belt

Maggie Q

Maggie Q

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 Foster

Bren Foster

I’m a big fan of Bren Foster (being a fellow Aussie) and hope to see him kicking more ass very soon! He’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

Bill ‘Superfoot’ Wallace

Bill Wallace

He fought Jackie Chan in the early days and has appeared in many other martial arts films.  Bill Wallace is a legend of Martial Arts, here’s his credentials:

  • The Superfoot System 10th dan “Soke” Black Belt
  • Shorin-ryu Karate Black Belt
  • PKA Kickboxing former champion
  • Boxing
  • Judo
  • Wrestling

Al Leong

al leong

Al Leong has appeared a numerous Hollywood action/martial arts films and is incredibly skilled in the martial arts.  Check out what he trains in below:

  • Northern Shaolin Kung Fu
  • Taekwondo
  • Kali
  • Jujutsu

Andy On

Andy On

Donnie Yen seems to think that Andy On will be the guy to carry the torch when he steps down as the king of modern Hong Kong action films, yet he has very little training outside of his training with Chung Chi Li.

Let’s see what Andy brings to the table:

  • Wing Chun 
  • Muay Thai

Ray Park

Ray Park

Ray Park is the real deal. He has trained in several styles and won several tournaments in his time.  You can see his fantastic abilities in a string of movies but he is most noticeable as Darth Maul in Star Wars.

Ray Park has experience in the following arts:

  • Northern Shaolin Kung Fu
  • Wushu
  • Kickboxing
  • Hapkido

I know that’s not everyone!

There are HUNDREDS of noticeable Martial arts actors out there, and although I wish I could cover them all it took me weeks to create the list above.

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