10 Actors That Have Martial Arts Skills In Real Life

Martial arts have long been a staple of the film industry, from Bruce Lee's legendary kung fu movies to Jackie Chan's comedic fight scenes.

Lucy Liu Hilarious Hippo 1

But even if you aren't an actor, learning martial arts can be extremely beneficial. It helps you stay in shape and make friends with other people who love martial arts as much as you do! This list proves that actors are no exception when it comes to taking up martial arts—these 10 famous faces have either taken up a discipline themselves or had some experience with it before they became famous:

  1. 1 Lucy Liu

    Lucy Liu Hilarious Hippo

    Lucy Liu is an American actress, model, artist and occasional film producer and director. She is well known for her role as Ling Woo in Ally McBeal, which won her a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress in 1999. Her other notable roles include Monica Chang in Charlie's Angels, O-Ren Ishii in Kill Bill Volume 1 & 2 and Jade Fox in Kung Fu Panda. 

    Liu attended Stuyvesant High School before transferring to LaGuardia High School of Performing Arts where she graduated with a degree in fine arts. Liu has had a career spanning over two decades which includes numerous roles on stage and television as well as four feature films released since 1997; most notably The Last Emperor(1987), A Kiss Before Dying (1991), Payback (1999) and Kill Bill Volumes 1&2(2003).

  2. 2 Star Trek's George Takei

    Star Treks George Takei Hilarious Hippo

    Star Trek’s George Takei is a renowned actor and activist, who played Hikaru Sulu in the original Star Trek series. Born in Los Angeles, California, he was the first Asian-American to appear on American television.

    Takei has appeared in many other shows and movies throughout his career including The Twilight Zone, Heroes, and most recently Agents of Shield where he had a recurring role as General Takei.

  3. 3 Jackie Chan

    Jackie Chan Hilarious Hippo.

    Jackie Chan is a martial arts actor, stunt performer, and filmmaker from Hong Kong. He is known for starring in several martial arts films such as Rush Hour and Shanghai Noon.

    Chan has been in more than 100 films and won many awards for his work. He has also done his own stunts throughout his career including jumping from one building to another with a cardboard box on his head or flipping over an elephant’s back!

  4. 4 Michelle Yeoh

    Michelle Yeoh Hilarious Hippo

    Michelle Yeoh is a Hong Kong actress, film producer and former fashion model. She was born in Ipoh, Malaysia on August 6th, 1962. Her family moved to London when she was three years old.

    She started her martial arts training at the age of 13 years old under the tutelage of her father who was a martial artist himself and trained with him for seven years before moving to England at 18 years old. After leaving school and working as a model for some time, Michelle decided that she wanted to pursue acting as a career in 1986.

  5. 5 Chuck Norris

    Chuck Norris Hilarious Hippo

    Chuck Norris has been a martial artist since he was a child. In fact, his father was also a martial artist and taught him discipline when he was just three years old. He later became the youngest person ever to earn a ninth-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do.

    It comes as no surprise that Chuck is well-known for his roles as an action hero in films like Walker, Texas Ranger and Lone Wolf McQuade (he also had small parts in several other films). But what many people don't realize is his incredible skill at martial arts. He has written several books about it as well!

  6. 6 Will Smith

    Will Smith Hilarious Hippo

    You probably know Will Smith as the star of some of your favorite movies, like Independence Day and Men In Black. What you might not know is that he’s a black belt in Karate, Jiu-Jitsu, and Krav Maga—and he also founded the Will Smith Foundation.

    Will Smith started taking martial arts classes when he was 10 years old. Today he holds belts in three different styles: Karate (3rd degree), Jiu-Jitsu (2nd degree) and Krav Maga (1st degree).

  7. 7 Jean-Claude Van Damme

    Jean Claude Van Damme Hilarious Hippo

    Jean-Claude Van Damme is a Belgian actor and martial artist. He's best known for his kickboxing and action movies, like Bloodsport, Kickboxer and Universal Soldier.

    Born on October 18, 1960 in Brussels, Belgium, Jean-Claude Van Damme moved to Los Angeles when he was 17 years old with dreams of becoming an actor. His first role came in the form of a small role on a daytime soap opera called "The Young And The Restless." It wasn't until he appeared in the film "Bloodsport" that he gained fame as an actor and martial artist.

  8. 8 Michael Jai White

    Michael Jai White Hilarious Hippo

    You might know him as Spawn, but Michael Jai White is also an accomplished martial artist. In fact, he was the first African American actor to portray a major comic book superhero in a major motion picture.

    He's starred in the movies The Dark Knight and Iron Fist, and has written two books on self-improvement.

  9. 9 Rosamund Pike

    Rosamund Pike Hilarious Hippo

    Rosamund Pike is an English actress who has appeared in such films as Die Another Day, Hannibal and The World Is Not Enough. She is also married to actor Tom Cruise, an avid practitioner of martial arts himself.

    Pike was trained as a ballerina before taking up karate at the age of 17. She holds a black belt in Shotokan karate and continues to train regularly with her students in London.

  10. 10 Jean Reno

    Jean Reno Hilarious Hippo

    Jean Reno is a French actor who was born in Casablanca, Morocco. He has been acting since the late 1970s and is well known for his roles in The Professional, Ronin and The Pink Panther.

    He was trained at the National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts in Paris and began his career on stage before getting his big break when he starred opposite Bruce Willis as Dr. Alexander Cocteau in Die Hard (1988). He was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor in 1999’s Chocolat.


    That's our list of actors with martial arts skills. As you can see, there are many more than just these 10. We hope that this gave you some insight into some new actors or actresses to follow and watch out for their next projects!

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