From action movie icons to superheroic stars, Hollywood is filled with A-list actors who train Jiu Jitsu. Whether it’s for a blockbuster role or just a personal fitness goal, stars have begun training in the grappling discipline thanks to #MMA‘s recent mainstream takeover. It’s pretty surprising how many celebrities now like to spend their free time in #BJJ gis.
Check out our list of actors you never knew trained Jiu Jitsu below.
Since joining the Marvel cinematic universe, Black Panther actor Chadwick Boseman seems to have taken a liking to BJJ. Boseman has been spotted training with famed instructor to the stars Rigan Machado.
Comedian, actor, and activist Russell Brand recently revealed that Joe Rogan’s podcast inspired him to add BJJ, yoga, and kickboxing to his training regimen. “Now I do kickboxing once a week. I do jiu-jitsu once a week,” Brand said on Rogan’s show. “What I’m facisnated about is these new ways of being a man.”
Millie Bobby Brown
When she’s not using telekinesis to fight monsters and bullies as Eleven, Stranger Things actress Millie Bobby Brown can be found on the mats honing her grappling skills. She earned her second stripe on her white belt over the summer.
#WWE star turned action movie actor Dave Bautista has a long history with martial arts and BJJ, and even has a professional MMA win on his résumé. The James Bond and Guardians of the Galaxy actor currently holds a purple belt in the art.
Nicolas Cage may be one of the zanier personalities in Hollywood (which is saying something), but the former Ghost Rider star is also among the list of celebrities who’ve trained in jiu-jitsu, and has allegedly worked with UFC pioneer Royce Gracie. He recently had to use his martial arts skills to help subdue a very angry Vince Neil.
Although not much is known about Jim Carrey’s BJJ knowledge, he’s rumored to have a brown belt in the art. Take that with a grain of salt, though, as we’ve really only ever seen his martial arts moves on In Living Color.
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s… Superman in a gi? Yup, Batman v Superman star Henry Cavill spent some time working on his grappling moves at Renzo Gracie’s academy in Florida over the summer.
Like his late Fast and Furious co-star Paul Walker, #xXx actor Vin Diesel is an avid fight fan who’s got some BJJ experience. Walker actually introduced Diesel to his coach Rigan Machado, who helped work on some of the choreography for Furious 7.
Proving that age is just a number, legendary actor Robert Duvall and his wife are also on Machado’s list of famous students.
Like his dad Clint Eastwood, Suicide Squad actor Scott Eastwood is also a badass. The younger Eastwood is an active BJJ student who currently holds a blue belt.
Sean Patrick Flanery
While most fans know Sean Patrick Flanery for serving up vigilante justice opposite Daryl from The Walking Dead in the cult classic The Boondock Saints, the actor is also known for his martial arts skills. A black belt in BJJ, Flanery teaches the grappling art when he’s not beating up bad guys on the big screen.
Another reminder not to mess with Agent Coulson, Agents of Shield star Clark Gregg is a BJJ addict who worked his way towards black belt status.
Having starred in the MMA drama Warrior, it’s not a huge surprise that actor Tom Hardy has some skills on the mats. He’s even trained jiu-jitsu with the Royal Marines.
Sons of Anarchy star Charlie Hunnam is yet another famous face who likes to get in some training with Machado. It’ll be interesting to see if Hunnam shows off any of his BJJ skills in the highly-anticipated flick King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.
If you’re wondering why so many UFC stars show up in Kevin James projects, it’s because the comedian and actor is a huge MMA fan who also trains from time to time. James had to work on his BJJ and other fight skills to prep for a starring role in the MMA comedy Here Comes the Boom.
As the star of the MMA drama Kingdom, you can bet that Nick Jonas has spent time on the mats over the years. Judging by his photos, the former Jonas brother has been hitting the weights too.
You can thank Machado for helping Avengers actress Scarlett Johansson work on her BJJ moves for her role as the Black Widow. The Russian super spy has utilized her grappling skills on several occasions, from fighting security guards in Iron Man 2 to fending off aliens in Avengers: Age of Ultron.
After training with ‘real life Rick Flags’ for Suicide Squad, actor Joel Kinnaman has become enthralled with the grappling arts. He frequently trains in BJJ and judo.
One of Machado’s most recognizable students, Ashton Kutcher has become a serious BJJ practitioner and loves to rep his professor’s logo. Kutcher currently holds a purple belt.
Former Saved by the Bell heartthrob and GSP’s famous BFF Mario Lopez has turned BJJ into a family affair. The actor and TV personality likes to train with his son Nico at Gracie Barra.
Action movie icon and martial arts master Chuck Norris was one of the first people to get on the BJJ before it exploded in popularity. The bearded butt kicker has a black belt in the art (as well as many, many other fighting styles).
No joke, Married With Children‘s Al Bundy is a black belt under UFC co-founder Rorion Gracie. Ed O’Neill earned his black belt in 2007 and called the experience, “the greatest achievement of my life, apart from my children.”
Freddie Prinze Jr.
Jiujitsu test sesh
Posted by Freddie Prinze Jr on Tuesday, September 27, 2016
When he’s not getting beat up in a boxing ring by Victor Ortiz, Freddie Prinze Jr. likes to test his skills on the mats during BJJ practice. The former Scooby-Doo actor holds a blue belt in the discipline.
As if you needed another reason not to test John Wick’s patience, star Keanu Reeves has put a lot of time into his BJJ training to prepare for the high octane role. As you’ve probably already guessed, Reeves is yet another high-profile student of Machado.
Chicago Fire and Once Upon a Time actress Teri Reeves is an avid BJJ competitor and loves to spend her free time on the mats. She currently holds a brown belt under professor Romulo Barral.
Long before he was pestering Luke Cage as Shades, actor Theo Rossi was hitting the mats to stay in shape. He told Fight! magazine in 2012 that he began training with Royce Gracie after the BJJ legend visited the set of Sons of Anarchy.
The Blade star is mostly known for his skills in the striking arts, but Wesley Snipes also has some experience with BJJ thanks to Hollywood’s favorite grappling trainer, Rigan Machado.
The action movie actor has long been a proponent and student of BJJ and the various styles used in MMA. “Any kind of martial art or discipline of that nature actually breeds a bit of peace,” Jason Statham said of MMA in a past interview. “You find any of the guys that have a certain skill within that fighting world, whether it be judo, kickboxing Thai boxing, jiu-jitsu – they’re very, very peaceful people.”
After signing his daughter up for an anti-bullying class, Vince Vaughn caught the BJJ bug himself and decided to start training. He was recently featured in a “Gracie Breakdown” video opposite Ryron and Rener.
He may have never gotten the chance to play Robin on the big screen, but that hasn’t stopped Marlon Wayans from working on his crime fighting skills. The comedian and actor was spotted putting on a gi a few years ago to train BJJ with Chris Light at the Gracie Academy in Beverly Hills.
Over the years, Pitch Perfect star Rebel Wilson has been spotted getting some time in on the mats at Hollywood gyms. Judging by her Instagram feed, though, she seems to like striking a bit more.
On – 27 Feb, 2017 By Matt Juul
Brazilian jiu-jitsu, muay thai and MMA are catching on as exercise. By Joyce Teo
Miss Sandra Riley Tang, from the local band The Sam Willows, grapples a sparring Brazilian jiu-jitsu partner in the mixed martial arts gym, Evolve. She also does yoga and strength training. Photo: Feline Lim
Miss Sandra Riley Tang, 26, one-quarter of popular local pop band The Sam Willows, is able to grapple, choke and overpower a guy who is much bigger than her.
It helps that she has a blue belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ), a martial arts form that focuses on grappling and ground fighting.
“I’ve always liked martial arts. You get to hit things and kick things. It sounded like fun and is a good skill to have,” she said.
“When I first saw BJJ, I was like: ‘Go punch someone, come on, do something, why are you on the floor?'”
She started doing muay thai or Thai kickboxing, but became hooked on BJJ.
“It’s really something that was absolutely new to me. The more you practise, the more combinations you learn. It’s like a chess game,” said Miss Tang.
Like her, more and more young people are hooked on fighting as a form of fitness.
People have been doing martial arts for years but, in recent years, it is largely BJJ, muay thai and mixed martial arts (MMA) that have become trendy.
MMA combines combat sports from around the world. It can involve a striking discipline like boxing or muay thai, and grappling sports like wrestling and BJJ.
Mr Chatri Sityodtong, owner of a chain of Evolve MMA gyms, said his clients range from chief executives and doctors, to teachers, nurses and engineers, to students.
Although martial arts training attracts mostly men, more women as well as some children and older adults are also signing up.
“When we started, about 10 per cent of our clients were female. Now, there are more. Some days, we may get 60 per cent men and 40 per cent women,” said Mr Arvind Lalwani, who owns Juggernaut Fight Club in Hong Kong Street.
The credit for the rising popularity of MMA goes to its promoters, the biggest of which is the US-based Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), staging fights that draw crowds of at least several thousand people.
UFC, which is open to only elite fighters, will be returning to Singapore on June 17 after a three-year absence.
Mr Sityodtong is also the chairman and founder of Asia’s largest MMA promoter, One Championship. Established in Singapore in 2011, it snagged an undisclosed eight-figure sum from a consortium led by a Temasek Holdings unit last July to expand in the region.
There are also smaller events like the Singapore Fighting Championship, an amateur MMA organisation that was founded in 2014.
Today, Evolve MMA has three branches, at Far East Square, Orchard Central and PoMo in Selegie Road. It has 50 instructors and is in the midst of hiring more as it expands, said Mr Sityodtong.
Over at Juggernaut Fight Club, Mr Lalwani said classes used to draw 30 to 40 people a day, but now, there can be 60 to 80 people. The attraction of these martial arts is that they can teach one to fight, but for those who are not ready, at least one gym, FaMA, offers fitness training with some martial arts moves.
Depending on the intensity, the classes focus on body weight drills and coordination exercises, or circuit training, but always with martial arts moves from BJJ and muay thai thrown in.
These fitness classes will help improve a person’s overall physique, stamina, functional strength, balance and flexibility, said co-founder Bruno Amorim, who holds a black belt in BJJ and is a professional MMA fighter.
Mr Hiroshi Yamada, 29, who trains in muay thai, said what he liked was the opportunity to train under world champions.
Mr Yamada, who weighed more than 95kg at one point, said the sport helped him shed 25kg. He was also inspired to change his diet and lifestyle.
“Muay thai is a fantastic cardio workout. In a one-hour class, I can burn up to 1,000 calories,” he said.
More than that, muay thai has taught him respect, confidence and discipline, he added.
RISKS AND REWARDS
As for the safety of martial arts training as a form of fitness, sports doctors say that as long as it is a combat sport, there will be an inherent risk of injury.
Also, some martial arts forms are riskier than others.
Dr Cormac O’Muircheartaigh, a sports medicine physician and director of Sports Medicine Lab in Tanjong Pagar, said more people are seeking help for injuries such as lacerations and fractures sustained during martial arts training, especially in the last two years, about the time that the sport had become popular.
“If you like the idea of combat sports, but are not prepared to take the inherent risk, then don’t do MMA,” said Dr O’Muircheartaigh.
He recommends doing BJJ just for self-defence, as the risk is less than that for a striking sport like muay thai and boxing.
Dr Fadzil Hamzah, a staff registrar at Changi Sports Medicine Centre, said MMA is possibly one of the safest full-contact sports today, because it targets the whole body, though research is limited.
“Strikes in MMA are directed at all parts of the body. In boxing, strikes are largely directed at the head, and it is the accumulation of those blows to the head that is devastating,” he said.
Ultimately, those who train in martial arts will not only develop authentic self-defenceskills, but also more courage, discipline, focus and mental strength. (Also read: 5 Ways Martial Arts Training is Good For You)
For those who say that MMA or martial arts is more for men, at least one gym offering martial arts training to men and women – Trifecta Martial Arts – was started by two women three years back. One of the co-founders had said she took up BJJ after an abusive relationship, during which her former partner once threw a bedside table.
Being empowered is important, said Miss Tang, who picked up BJJ about two years ago and does it about two to three times a week, for up to 1½ hours each time.
“And a woman who can fight is definitely sexy,” said Miss Tang, who also does yoga and strength training, and has competed in BJJ.
She said she had not suffered any injury, though she had her contact lenses knocked out by her opponent during her first competition.
“Fighting, it builds your confidence and it’s important for women to be able to fight and save themselves if needed,” she said.
On – 07 Mar, 2017 By sylow
Home Nutrition & Conditioning Jiu Jitsu – Better than Dieting
On – 09 Feb, 2017 By Nicolas
Like most women, I’ve felt pressured at points in my life to be a certain weight, to have a particular look or to act a specific way. Social media can play havoc with your confidence and self-image, and I am constantly thankful that my teenage years were without the minefield of Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter etc, where my every idiotic thought and mistake could be documented for ever more.
The start of New Year is filled with a melee of ads for detox diets that will shrink you to within a wafer of your existence, guarantee a six-pack and make you look gorgeous at the same time. Or you could succumb to one of many promotions for a new sport, where you will suddenly transform into plastic man and be able to eat kale whilst standing on your head with your legs behind your ears.
The simple fact is that detox or crash diets can work, but only for the very short term. They don’t attempt to address the underlying issues of why we might eat the way we do, and they only very rarely lead to sustained weight loss. Rapid weight loss is not usually a healthy option to choose and can put intense strain on organs such as our liver and kidneys.
Health Gain Instead of Weight Loss
Rather than focusing on weight loss, perhaps we should be concentrating on health gain. Health is a complicated dynamic, and certainly doesn’t just involve weight. The World Health Organisation defines health as: ‘A state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.’
Complete physical, mental and social well-being may seem unattainable but, when broken down, we can at least make steps to improve each area. A lot of dietary advice that just thinks about weight, abstinence and severe restrictions almost by definition is not going to be helping our overall health if you think of the triad of physical, mental and social well-being. Something that makes us unhappy or feel guilty is definitely not good for our mental health.
But the good news is that some simple changes can improve all three areas that make up the definition of health.
For example, trying a new form of exercise may introduce you to new friends (social well-being ticked) as well as improve your physical health (second tick). Any form of exercise is known to boost mood and self-esteem, and boom, all 3 of the health boxes are covered. Exercise does not have to be expensive either. Walking is amazingly good for us, it’s free, and can be very sociable.
Jiu Jitsu Was the Key
The exercise that ticked everything for me was jiu jitsu. I started just over 2 years ago in pretty bad shape. Post-3 kids, aged 39, fairly exhausted, very stressed at work: not a pretty picture! What I soon discovered was that jiu jitsu was more than just a simple sport. As clichéd as it may sound, it presented a lifestyle to me that was very appealing.
Jiu jitsu made me want to be fitter, stronger, faster and more technical. It made me want to work harder and eat more of the right foods that would help me physically, but without the overwhelming aim of weight loss. The ironic thing is that it has made me lose weight, simply because the sessions are so physically demanding that it can be hard to keep up with the calorie input. Add our 3 children in to the mix, and I don’t seem to sit still for long anymore!
The key for me was that I didn’t know I was exercising. I wasn’t thinking about my abs, my quads, my biceps etc, but I was definitely using them all! The sessions are so varied, so dynamic and use every possible position, movement and combination of muscles.
I also noticed a massive shift in my mood. I felt calmer, happier and gained a whole bunch of awesome (very patient!) training partners. No matter how tired, grumpy or physically worn out I felt before a training session, by the end I would feel energized, physically fatigued and mentally at peace all at once.
And my nutritional input has definitely changed. There’s less sugar around, and a greater awareness of what is going into my body. None of it feels like a punishment, because I know when I’m eating healthier, I feel stronger on the mats, and it takes less time for my muscles to recover.
Not that I’m trying to convert everyone to jiu jitsu (although that would be awesome!), but the message I’m trying to get across is just ‘get into something’. Anything. But it has to be fun! If you can enjoy whatever exercise you’re doing, you will be becoming healthier.
Clare Barton is a devoted wife and mother, medical doctor and jiu jitsu blue belt. Check out her blog In the Zen Garden