15 Celebrities You Didn't Know Are Martial Artists

The exact origins of martial arts are difficult to trace. Some of the earliest mentions of this sort of advanced fighting appear in Egyptian recordings dating all the way back to 4000 B.C. These consist of murals and hieroglyphs that outline boxing activities and wrestling techniques.

Over time, nearly every culture has developed sophisticated methods for defeating enemies in bare fisted or hand-held weapon-based combat. Some thrived and spread throughout the world, particularly techniques developed in China, Korea and Japan.

In recent times, movies like Mortal Kombat and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon opened Hollywood's eyes to the selling power and beauty of martial arts, heavily inspired by Eastern methods of self-defense. Since then, movie characters proficient in kung-fu are everywhere, and sports like MMA have portrayed skilled fighters as heros to audiences around the world.

Some surprising martial arts are celebrities who became interested in MMA, especially Jiu-Jitsu. Some of the people in this list of shocking celebrity martial artists are seasoned veterans with decades of experience and deadly techniques, while others have been recently inspired by the rise of MMA in North America. Many don't look the part of a practicing martial artist while others have developed skills beyond anyone's expectations.

Of course, considering the aggressive nature of some fans, media outlets and paparazzi, the biggest surprise might be that not all celebs learn advanced fighting skills...

15 Ed O'Neill

Better known as the sarcastic father Jay Pritchett in Modern Family or couch potato dad Al Bundy in Married with Children, Ed O'Neill's television credits certainly wouldn't lead us to believe that he's involved in the martial arts.

14 Guy Ritchie

He made his name directing great crime films such as Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, but truly became a name in the gossip pages when he married Madonna. Turns out that badboy Ritchie also practices Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and has dedicated enough time to the pursuit to earn a brown belt.

13 Madonna

12 Courtney Cox

Courtney Cox is an avid practitioner of Budokan for fitness and self-defense. It's a blend of Jiu-Jitsu grappling, yoga and a variety of martial arts and street striking techniques. Her mega fame came from her role as Monica in Friends, one of the most successful sitcoms in the history of television.

11 James Caan

Actor James Caan has a film and television career that's spanned over five decades, including playing Sonny Corleone in the first two Godfather movies. His martial art of choice has been Gosoku Ryu Karate, earning him the title of Soke Dai after training for more than 30 years.

10 Mick Jagger

As frontman and one of the lead songwriters for the Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger is famous for millions in album sales, world tours and rock star living. However, he trained in the art of Judo under George Kerr.

9 Kevin James

Kevin James is typecast as an oafish comic foil in television and movie productions. Despite this, James is in fact an avid participant in MMA, boasting a surprisingly powerful frame.

8 Prince Albert of Monaco

His Serene Highness, the Sovereign Prince Albert the II, holds the titles of Grand Cross of the Order of Saint-Charles, Grand Cross of the Order of Grimaldi and Colonel of the Carabineers. Recently, he took over as Regent in accordance to Monaco's Statutes of the Sovereign Family.

7 Evan Rachel Wood

A black belt holder in the art of taekwondo, Evan Rachel Wood is another Hollywood star with a filmography and look that don't suggest deadly physical capabilities.

6 Dave Mustaine

5 Phil Mickelson

4 Jim Carrey

The physical talents of Jim Carrey have lead him to superstardom. His comedic values lies largely in his ability to twist his body and face in endless bizarre ways, although he has showcased his serious side to great effect on a few occasions.

3 Barack Obama

2 Nicolas Cage

We know him best for his ultra-intense, offbeat performances and odd script selection. But not many of us know that Nicolas Cage actually learns Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu with Royce Gracie, one of the best MMA fighters the sport has known.

1 Willie Nelson

He's an incredibly chilled out country performer who radiates peace and calm. So, it might be surprising to learn that Willie Nelson is a skilled practitioner of taekwondo who can kick you hard enough to send you back to the 70s.

After many years of training, he obtained a black belt in the sport. While he was practicing the ancient Eastern art, he was writing some of the biggest country hits like “On the Road Again” and "Crazy".

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15 Celebrities You Didn't Know Are Martial Artists