Hollywood stars have sometimes had to go through intensive martial arts training when preparing for a physically demanding role. Whether they’re playing the latest superhero or starring in an action flick, sometimes actors don’t rely on a stunt double and take the challenge head-on. There are stories of actors going through months of grueling training to get in peak physical shape. It’s also makes the movie seem more realistic if you see the actor doing the actual fighting. Some stars actually started out as martial arts specialists and then transitioned into movie roles. Jet Li, Jackie Chan, and Jean-Claude Van Dame are some notable examples of ass-kickers who learned how to act and when on to successful movie careers.
Then there are the actors who are given a part in an action movie and now have to go through extensive training to get prepared for the role. Experts in martial arts are sometimes brought onto movie sets to get these actors as close to looking the part as possible. Most of these stars move on after their action movie has hopefully cleaned up at the box office, but some continue their ass-kicking ways after their shoot has ended. Let's take a look at some celebrities you might not know could take you down.
13 Wesley Snipes
12 Naomi Watts
This pint-sized actress has been training in Judo for years and has even participated in Amateur tournaments in the early 90’s. More recently she has been practicing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, which ties into Judo because it is based on a lot of ground fighting and grappling. The Australian actress has credited martial arts training with keeping her in shape and giving her added focus. She might be small and beautiful, but don’t mess with this tough lady.
11 Kobe Bryant
NBA legend Kobe Bryant has 5 championship rings, Hall of Fame credentials, and endorsement deals up the wazoo. The man is obviously in peak physical condition from his non-stop basketball schedule. But he also practices a type of martial arts called Jeet Kune Do. This fighting style was founded my the martial arts master Bruce Lee. It is a style based on minimal movement utilized for maximum efficiency and effect. Moral of the story…don’t mess with the 6’8” basketball superstar whose athletic gifts are combined with a Bruce Lee style skillset.
10 Ryan Phillipe
Ryan Phillipe is known for his roles in films such as Cruel Intentions, Crash, and I Know What You Did Last Summer. The actor has studied Tae Kwon Do since he was eight years old. He even showed off his Tae Kwon Do skills on Ellen during a recent appearance. He was able to break a plank with his hand and impress the comedienne host.
9 Mel Gibson
You can see Mel Gibson pull off an impressive array of moves and stunts in the Lethal Weapon movies. The controversial actor practices Tai Chi Chuan and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He is said to be experienced in both these styles and has achieved black belt status in both. He has trained with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu masters and even had an expert on set with him in many of his action movies.
8 Sarah Michelle Gellar
7 Ashton Kutcher
6 Evan Rachel Wood
5 Christian Bale
4 Robert Downey Jr.
The Iron Man star certainly looks buff and ripped when he takes off his superhero costume, but he actually keeps up his training routine in real life as well. He has been trained by masters at the Wing Chun Kung-Fu Academy and is known to have a tireless work ethic when it comes to his martial arts. Before his turn as Tony Stark in Iron Man, Downey Jr. had never played an action hero. He has been training at the Academy since 2003 and he credits it with improving his concentration and his trainer described it this way… “This shotgun mind of his channeled it into a single point of focus and turned it into a laser”.
3 Jennifer Aniston
Friends superstar Jennifer Aniston has been America’s sweetheart since the 90’s. She can also boast about being a Budukon expert, a form of Karate. It is a practice that mixes elements of yoga and Karate. It is referred to as the “science of mind and movement”. She was recommended to start training in Budukon from her friends co-star Courtney Cox, who is also a practitioner.
2 Joe Rogan
You might think of Joe Rogan as just one of the announcers of the MMA along with his other showbiz jobs, but this multi-talented individual also practices mixed martial arts. He trains just like the fighters he analyzes in mixed martial arts, and he has advanced skills in multiple disciplines. He has a long background in Tae Kwon Do and actually won a championship in Massachusetts in his teens.
1 Jason Statham
The action star Jason Statham has been in many adrenaline-inducing films including the Crank series, The Transporter, and the Expendables franchise. He is also a member of the Wing Chung Kung Fu academy in L.A. He does almost all of his own stunts in his movies and has even advocated that stunt performers be given their own category at the Academy Awards. He credits Wing Chung with helping him "relax," saying “any of the guys who have a skill within that fighting world whether it be judo, jiu jitsu, boxing, Thai boxing—they’re very peaceful people and the only aggression they have time for is when it’s in a competition type role.”