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
Wesley Snipes is a seasoned action movie star. He’s been in various action films including the Blade franchise and Demolition Man. Based on his physique you can tell the man keeps in tip top shape. Part of that has to do with his practice of multiple martial arts disciplines. He has advanced training in Eskrima, a Filipino martial art involving the dual-wielding of sticks, he has trained in Capoeira; a Brazilian martial arts style, and well as Kung Fu and Karate. He has been practicing martial arts since he was a child and never thought it would pay off in terms of his acting endeavors. He thought of his study as more of a hobby, saying he didn't think that “wow, maybe one day I’ll be using martial arts in films”.
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
Sarah Michelle Gellar played the infamous butt-kicking vampire hunter Buffy Sommers for 8 seasons. In real life, the beautiful actress has trained in Tae Kwon Do for years, which clearly helped her during those vampire fight sequences. She has a black belt in Karate to boot, so don’t mess with this former slayer. Apart from Buffy, this ass-kicking actress hasn't used her fighting skills in many roles. Someone give this lady a role in a new superhero movie.
7 Ashton Kutcher
Ashton Kutcher has many things going for him at the moment. From getting engaged to one of the biggest babes on the planet, Mila Kunis, to his various tech pursuits. He managed to find the time to earn his blue belt in Brazillian jiu-jitsu earlier this year. He trained with reputed master Rigan Machado, an 8th degree black belt. The tall and muscular Kutcher definitely knows how to keep him and those close to him out of harms way.
6 Evan Rachel Wood
Evan Rachel Wood is an undeniable indie film darling and major acting talent. She has starred in critical hits like The Wrestler and Thirteen. You might not expect that the gorgeous actress has a black belt in Tae Kwan Do. She credits not wanting to go to dance class with starting up with the discipline. She kept up with the pursuit and can now fend for herself.
5 Christian Bale
Christian Bale definitely looked the part for his starring turn in the Dark Knight Trilogy. He certainly played one of the biggest bad assess in film history. But outside of the screen he keeps it going by practicing Kung Fu. He trains at the infamous Wing Chun Kung-Fu Academy in L.A. Various other celebrities have trained there and they have a reputation for intensive physical martial arts training. He was training in the style years before he became a bona fide action hero and a member of one of the best film franchises in history.
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.”
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