10 Celebrities Who Train in Martial Arts

Celebrities, influencers, and world leaders all over the world are closely related to fitness and martial arts. It pays to look young, healthy, and fit. What pays more is to be able to throw a punch and kick like it is supposed to be thrown. That is why movie stars invest in themselves and train in martial arts.

Not only are martial arts a fun way to stay healthy and fit but martial arts inculcate a sense of confidence in an individual. The type of confidence that is necessary for world leaders like Barack Obama to handle pressure situations and make important decisions.

World leaders, celebrities, movie stars, and influencers are all privy to the benefits of martial arts. As we are about to share with you the 11 most influential people of the world who trained in martial arts and how you can take inspiration from their journey.

1-     Kobe Bryant

Any athlete that needs a competitive edge in their respective sport can attain it by cross-training in martial arts. That is why one of the greatest basketball players ever, Kobe Bryant studied martial arts extensively and was inspired by Bruce Lee.

Also known as the father of Mixed Martial Arts, Bruce Lee created a system that was the amalgamation of multiple disciplines of martial arts, it was called the Jeet Kune Do. The philosophy of Jeet Kune Do allowed Kobe to fight the challenges, the pressure and persevere throughout his career.

Bryant has revealed on numerous occasions that he incorporated the fundamentals of martial arts in his training regimen. In an interview with the Global Times, Kobe explained that he proactively infused the principles of utility, agility, speed, and efficiency into his training.

The philosophy of Bruce Lee is to exert the minimum amount of energy to gain the maximum output. Also called smart work, this approach to maximize efficiency could be beneficial to any athlete out there.

2-     Barack Obama

A big champion of healthy eating and exercise. It is no surprise that Barack Obama made it to our list. As a junior senator in Illinois, Obama trained in Taekwondo and earned a green belt. So back when the Former President visited South Korea, he was given an honorary black belt by the South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak.

This is to show that martial arts know no boundaries. It transcends cultures and connects people on a different level. Not only martial arts but Barack is a big fan of running and healthy eating. The former first lady Michelle Obama brought a campaign during her tenure known as the “Let’s Move” campaign that promoted healthy eating and physical fitness.

3-     Henry Cavill

The Man of Steel and Geralt of Rivia are two of the most iconic characters in the film industry. To pull them off is no small task. To build his Greek God-like physique for both roles. Henry used Jiu-Jitsu to help him get in shape and execute his fight sequences. Henry trains in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu with one of the best instructors in the world, Roger Gracie.

Under the tutelage of his mentor, Henry has already gained two stripes on his white belt and en route to a blue belt.

During the promotions of his action film Mission Impossible, Henry dubbed Jiu-Jitsu as a thinking man's sport which is great for endurance, mental toughness, and physical fitness. That is what allowed him to pull off one action role after the other.

4-     Tom Hardy   

One of the biggest action heroes in Hollywood, Tom Hardy is a physical specimen. From Bronson to Bane, Tom Hardy is always in peak physical shape to pull off any role that he is given. What keeps him always ready is his hardcore MMA regimen. For his role in Warrior, Tom showed perfect skills in Boxing, Wrestling, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. His training partners throughout the film were well-known UFC fighters Nate Marquardt and Yves Edwards. It is no surprise that his career has seen success after success.

For his role in the sequel of Venom, Tom has been training rigorously with MMA fighter Nathan Jones to give the film a realistic touch of fighting. This shows how the future of action films in Hollywood would be dependent on Martial Arts because actors like Tom Hardy have set the bar to a new limit.

5-     Guy Ritchie    

Guy Ritchie is one of Britain’s most iconic directors and producers. His passion for martial arts can be seen through his films, which are loaded with intense fight sequences.

Ritchie started training when he was only seven. He earned his black belt in Karate and then transitioned into Judo. After achieving a black belt in both martial arts, he switched to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and has been training consistently for twenty years. The long journey earned him a black belt under his mentor, Renzo Gracie.

Being an academy-nominated director and a black belt in three separate martial arts is no small feat. A rare achievement that only the best can attain. Having conquered three martial arts, Ritchie is set to conquer KickBoxing and Muay Thai as well. If he keeps going at this pace, we hope to see him in an MMA cage soon.

6-     Herschel Walker

Herschel Walker is a gifted athlete who has spent his whole life competing in different sports. Dubbed as one of the greatest football players in the NFL, he transitioned into track, MMA, and bobsledding at the Olympics.

A lifelong fan of MMA, Herschel has a 2-0 record under the Strikeforce banner. He also boasts a 5th-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do and allegedly does 2500 sit-ups and 1500 pushups every day. No matter the sport, Herschel has distinguished himself in every field and plans to compete in elections for the Senator of Georgia. A 59-year-old man who is still going at an age where most retire. Walker barely looks 40 and all props go to his physical and martial arts training.

7-     Robert Downey Jr.

The ’90s were a wild ride for Robert Downey Jr. Before he became Sherlock Holmes and Iron Man, Robert was an absolute party animal in Hollywood. His decadent lifestyle and addictions landed him in quite some trouble.

Throughout his journey, one thing that helped him fight his demons and change himself was Wing Chun. A martial art that helped him ground himself and take care of his health.

RDJ’s Wing Chun can be seen in Sherlock Holmes where he puts his moves on display. The art has allowed him to stay sober and clean which allowed him to star in Iron Man and The Avengers. Making him one of the biggest movie stars in the world.

8-     Keanu Reeves

One of the reasons that The John Wick franchise has been so successful is because of the action scenes in the film. Realistic fight scenes, grappling, and close-quarter combat all make the movies quite entertaining.

Jiu-Jitsu, Judo, and tactical gun practice were the three main reasons that John Wick was such a success. And the credit lies in the hard work Keanu Reeves had put in. Reeves has been one of the most iconic action movie stars since the early 2000s with The Matrix and 47 Ronin. 

For his role in The Matrix, Reeves not only trained in Judo and Jiu-Jitsu but learned boxing, wushu, and Krav Maga for his fight sequences. This goes out to show how well-rounded and dedicated actors are.

9-     Shaquille O’Neal

Shaquille O’Neal is a four-time NBA champion, businessman, Hall of Famer, and sports analyst. He is big into Mixed Martial Arts and attributes his success to MMA. In an interview with Ariel Helwani, Shaq explained his journey towards MMA

"MMA is the reason I became a champion. I always used to practice basketball. It wasn't enough. Because when I played basketball, it was more wrestling. So, when I trained MMA with Jon Burke, a friend of mine down in Orlando, I came back in the best shape of my life. That was in 2000. Won. Dominated.

"So, I'm a creature of habit. Did it again, won a second championship. Did it again, won the third championship. Got cute, got away from it, lost. Got traded to Miami, did it again, won the fourth championship."

10-  Vladmir Putin

The President of the Russian Federation is no joke. A former KGB agent, Putin has been projected as one of the most macho world leaders ever. From riding horses shirtless, catching fish in the polar ice caps, and shooting high-caliber sniper rifles, Putin is the embodiment of masculinity.

It has been speculated in the martial arts world whether Putin is a legit black belt in Judo and the verdict favors Putin. He not only enjoys Judo but supports the Russian Judo team and Russian Mixed Martial Arts fighters such as Khabib.

Putin is the reason why Russia has been dominating the Olympics in the past few years. Russian athletes have the backing of Putin and Russia has been producing the greatest combat sports athletes in the past few years, be it Sambo, Wrestling, Judo, or MMA fighters.

Bonus!

11-    Theodore Roosevelt

The fourth man on our list is someone you would not have expected. He is none other than the 26th President of the United States of America, Theodore Roosevelt. An avid practitioner of Judo and Jiu-Jitsu. He studied under two instructors, John O Brian and Yoshiaki Yamashita for a brief period.

Theodore was a tough guy who was intrigued by combat sports and the efficiency of Jiu-Jitsu and Wrestling. While outlining the differences between the two sports, he wrote

Yesterday afternoon we had Professor Yamashita up here to wrestle with Grant. It was very interesting, but of course, jiu-jitsu and our wrestling are so far apart that it is difficult to make any comparison between them. wrestling is simply a sport with rules almost as conventional as those of tennis, while jiujitsu is meant for practice in killing or disabling your adversary. In consequence, Grant did not know what to do except to put Yamashita on his back, and Yamashita was perfectly content to be on his back. Inside of a minute, Yamashita had choked Grant, and inside of two minutes more he got an elbow hold on him that would have enabled him to break his arm; so that there is no question but that he could have put Grant out. So far this made it evident that the jiu-jitsu man could handle the ordinary wrestler. But Grant, in the actual wrestling and throwing, was about as good as the Japanese, and he was so much stronger than he evidently hurt and wore out the Japanese. With a little practice in the art, I am sure that one of our big wrestlers or boxers, simply because of his greatly superior strength, would be able to kill any of those Japanese, who though very good men for their inches and pounds are altogether too small to hold their own against big, powerful, quick men who are as well trained.”

 

12-    Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela was a great humanitarian, an exceptional leader, and one of the greatest champions of justice and equality. In his youth, he was a fan of the sport of boxing. Even during the 26 years that he spent in prison, he never skipped a workout and would regularly go for long-distance runs and boxing training.

It is quite a dilemma that a promoter of nonviolence would be into a violent sport like boxing. But to make his case, he describes boxing as a science, which not only keeps the body physically fit, but it enables the mind to use strategy to outmaneuver one’s opponent.

In his book The Long Walk to Freedom, he writes:

Boxing is egalitarian. In the ring, rank, age, colour and wealth are irrelevant... I never did any real fighting after I entered politics. My main interest was in training; I found the rigorous exercise to be an excellent outlet for tension and stress. After a strenuous workout, I felt both mentally and physically lighter.”

 

Conclusion

There are numerous reasons for you to pick up Martial Arts. It is something that not only benefits your physical fitness but enhances your confidence and improves the overall quality of your life. Take it from these successful people who used the power of martial arts to become great leaders, sports champions, and award-winning actors. There are all pros and zero cons to this game.

So, if you are an upcoming politician, an aspiring actor, an athlete, or just a simple guy. Mixed Martial Arts can help you achieve your goals. And if you are looking for the best equipment and apparel for yourself, then be sure to check out our website.

 

Thanks for reading. 

Until the next one,

Shop Vali BJJ Gear!

Sign up to receive our content directly in your inbox! 

Follow us on Instagram!