Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is a term used to describe someone who is trained in all or many areas of combat. Someone proficient in MMA will be a well-rounded fighting machine, but since we're talking about actors here, we're going to use MMA as that all-encompassing term that considers all combat sports and martial arts styles. While many of the actors on this list study multiple styles of martial arts, some have become proficient in only one area, so we want to include them as well.
Because of the intense physical nature of martial arts and the growing popularity of MMA in recent history, many people around the world, including celebrities, have begun to pick it up as an intense physical workout. There are a number of additional benefits to picking up the discipline as well, including learning self-defence, providing a stress outlet and offers an environment for healthy competition. Since MMA has been picked up by many as substitute or a supplement for traditional exercise, there are countless actors and celebrities who do it "for fun." What we mean by this is that, while they may have some training and experience in martial arts or MMA, they have no formal training and no recognition of competence, such as with belts or competition. We have none of that on this list. If we did, we could include Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Ryan Gosling, Christian Bale, Jessica Alba, Jessica Biel, Robert Downey Jr and MANY more. What we've focused on here is the well-known actors who have accomplished something of significance in a specific martial arts style, a black belt for example. Sadly, this omits our boxing friends, Mickey Rourke, Liam Neeson, Mark Wahlberg and more. But let's not cry for who we've cut; let's celebrate those actors who have demonstrated they can make more money than us and kick our asses. We have tried to rank them in order of rank, but it's difficult with so many different styles.
We haven’t included them on this list, but both Paul Walker and Arnold Schwarzenegger hold "honorary" black belts in their disciplines. Walker was awarded his black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at his funeral and Schwarzenegger was given a black belt in Taekwondo because he's the Arnold. While both men had significant training, neither of them technically earned these belts. Here are 15 well-known actors who are surprisingly trained in Mixed Martial Arts.
15 Sarah Michelle Geller – Black Belt – Taekwondo
14 Naomi Watts – Judo/Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
13 Eric Roberts – Black Belt - Taekwondo
12 Evan Rachel Wood – Black Belt – Taekwondo
11 Ryan Phillippe – Taekwondo
10 Forest Whitaker – Black Belt - Kenpo Karate
9 Sean Connery – Black Belt - Kyokushin Karate
8 Taylor Lautner – Black Belt – Karate
7 Ed O'Neill – Black Belt - Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
6 Guy Ritchie – Black Belt – Judo & Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
5 Sean Patrick Flanery – Black Belt - Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu & Taekwondo
4 Dolph Lundgren – 3rd Degree Black Belt - Kyokushin Karate
3 Wesley Snipes – 5th Degree & 2nd Degree Black Belt – Shotokan Karate & Kapkido
2 John Cusack – 6th degree black belt - Ukidokan Kickboxing
1 James Caan - 6th Degree Black Belt - Gosoku Ryu Karate
Most people don't need a reminder that James Caan is a bad, bad man, but this guy doesn’t just look mean, he is mean. He's considered a master in the art of Gosoku Ryu Karate. He's been training for over 30 years now and has reached the level of 6th degree black belt. Caan has trained directly under Takayuki Kubota, who is a legend in the Karate world. Kubota is the founder of the International Karate Association and he holds black belts in more than five disciplines. James Caan himself trains students, including the Culver City Police Department. Caan was also given the title of Soke Dai by the International Karate Association, which basically means second in command. He might not be able to beat everyone on this list in a fight (it's tough to imagine anyone beating Lundgren), but he probably has the most training.
Sources: MartialArtsActionMovies; MixedMartialArts
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