Best Martial Arts Actors of All Time

Unranked list

I'll also keep adding a Movies To Watch in the description based on which movies I liked for the fight scenes so check those out

Note: This is a list of people that I've actually seen fight in movies and feel like they deserve to be on the list based on their skill level. For example someone like David Carradine would not be on this list

If you feel there's a good martial artist that I'm missing let me know

And once again this list is NOT RANKED (and never will be). There just too many factors to consider in order to rank them fairly so a ranked list will always be subjective
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1.
Jackie Chan
Actor, Rush Hour
Hong Kong's cheeky, lovable and best known film star, Jackie Chan endured many years of long, hard work and multiple injuries to establish international success via his early beginnings in Hong Kong's manic martial arts cinema industry. Jackie was born Kong-sang Chan on Hong Kong's famous Victoria Peak on April 7...
“ Movies to watch: Drunken Master 1 & 2, Dragons Forever, Snake in the Eagle's Shadow, Police Story (series), Wheels on Meals, Armor of God 1 & 2, Project A 1 & 2, First Strike ” - FearlessHyena
 
2.
Bruce Lee
Bruce Lee remains the greatest icon of martial arts cinema and a key figure of modern popular media. Had it not been for Bruce Lee and his movies in the early 1970s, it's arguable whether or not the martial arts film genre would have ever penetrated and influenced mainstream North American and European cinema and audiences the way it has over the past four decades...
“ Movies to watch: The Way of the Dragon, The Big Boss, Fists of Fury, Enter the Dragon, Game of Death ” - FearlessHyena
 
3.
Jet Li
Actor, Ying xiong
Jet Li born Li Lian Jie in Beijing, China. He started training at the Beijing wushu academy (wushu is China's national sport, largely a performance version of various martial art styles) at age eight. He won five gold medals in the Chinese championships, his first when he was only 11. In his teens, he was already a national coach...
“ Movies to watch: Fist of Legend, Contract Killer, The Enforcer, Once Upon a Time in China (series), Danny the Dog, Hero ” - FearlessHyena
 
4.
Biao Yuen
Yuen Biao is regarded as one of the most acrobatic martial artists ever. Unfortunately, he is still underrated and not as popular as other contemporaries such as Jackie Chan, Sammo Kam-Bo Hung, and Jet Li even though he is the most critically acclaimed out of all of them and the most talented as well...
“ Movies to watch: Righting Wrongs, Dragons Forever, Wheels on Meals, Prodigal Son, The Champions, Shanghai Shanghai, Knockabout, Project A, Shanghai Express, Eastern Condors ” - FearlessHyena
 
5.
Sammo Kam-Bo Hung
Actor, Ip Man 2
Born in Hong Kong, Sammo Hung's acting career began while he was training in acrobatics, martial arts and dance as a child at the China Drama Academy, and he received acclaim for his performance with a troupe called "The Seven Little Fortunes." He made his feature film debut as an actor at the age of 12...
“ Movies to watch: Pedicab Driver, Dragons Forever, Magnificent Butcher, Wheels on Meals, Encounters of the Spooky Kind, Winners and Sinners, Shanghai Shanghai, Knockabout, Shanghai Express, Eastern Condors, Ip Man 2 ” - FearlessHyena
 
6.
Tony Jaa
Actor, On-Bak 2
Japanom Yeerum was born on February 5, 1976, in the northeastern province of Surin, Thailand. His parents were elephant herders. Jaa watched martial arts films as a young kid and began to emulate some of his idols, from Bruce Lee to Jackie Chan to Jet Li. Jaa studied martial arts...
“ Movies to watch: Ong Bak (series but 1 is the best), Tom Yum Goong ” - FearlessHyena
 
7.
Donnie Yen
Actor, Yip Man
Biography Early Life Donnie Yen was born in Guangzhou, China. His mother, Bow-sim Mark, was a kung fu master and his father, Kylster Yen, a newspaper editor and amateur musician. When Donnie was just two years old, the family moved to Hong Kong and then, when he was 11, to Boston, Massachusetts. There...
“ Movies to watch: Ip Man 1 & 2, Iron Monkey 1 & 2, Flashpoint, Killzone, Dragon Tiger Gate ” - FearlessHyena
 
8.
“ Movies to watch: The 36th Chamber of Shaolin, Return to the 36th Chamber, Eight Diagram Pole Fighter, Clan of the White Lotus, Heroes of the East ” - FearlessHyena
 
9.
“ Movies to watch: Drunken Master 2, Mad Monkey Kung Fu, Legendary Weapons of China ” - FearlessHyena
 
10.
Jing Wu
Born in Beijing China in 1974, he was sent to train at Beijing Wushu Academy when he was 6 years old as both his Father and Grandfather were also Martial artists. In 1995 he was spotted by Yuen Woo-Ping who had come to the academy to look for a martial artist for the film Tai Chi 2 (aka Tai Chi Boxer)...
 
11.
Hiroyuki Sanada
Actor, Life
Hiroyuki Sanada was born on the 12th of October, 1960 in Tokyo. He made his film debut when he was 5 in Game of Chance (Shin'ichi Chiba played the lead role.) Sanada's father died when he was 11. Sanada joined Japan Action Club, organized and run by Sonny Chiba, when he was 12. Sanada first became famous as an action star for his role in The Shogun's Samurai...
 
12.
Scott Adkins
Scott Edward Adkins was born on June 17, 1976 in Sutton Coldfield, England, into a family that for generations were butchers. Along with his elder brother Craig, he was raised by their parents, John and Janet (Sanders) Adkins, in a loving middle-class family. Scott attended Bishop Vesey's Grammar School in Sutton Coldfield...
“ Movies to watch: Undisputed 2 & 3, Ninja, Ninja: Shadow of Tear (one of the most underused and underrated martial arts stars) ” - FearlessHyena
 
13.
Jang Lee Hwang
Hwang Jang-Lee is the ultimate bootmaster. Known for his powerful and deadly kicks on screen as well as off, Hwang has a reputation as the Lord of the Superkickers. Born in Japan, Hwang's family moved back to their native Korea, where at the age of 14, Hwang began taking the national martial art of Tae Kwon Do...
“ Movies to watch: Drunken Master, Snake in the Eagle's Shadow, Secret Rivals 1 & 2, Dance of the Drunken Mantis, Hitman in the Land of Buddha ” - FearlessHyena
 
14.
Hou Hsiao
Hsiao Hou was born in Henan China in 1958 and was schooled in the Chinese Opera by the famous Fan Kuk-Fa in Bejing as a very young child. He was discovered by Lar Kar-Leung (Liu Chia-Liang) in 1978 and later became a disciple of the martial artist/director for a number of years. His astonishing acrobatics and martial artistry also earned Hsiao a contract with Shaw Brothers...
 
16.
Siu Tin Yuen
Already a veteran of the Peking Opera, he starred in countless black and white costume dramas before son Woo-Ping Yuen cast him in _Snake in Eagle's Shadow_ , the film which launched Jackie Chan's career. He then went on to feature alongside Chan and Jang Lee Hwang(_Snake in Eagle's Shadow_'s main villain and the villain again in this film) in the sequel _Drunken Master_...
“ Movies to watch: Drunken Master, Snake in the Eagle's Shadow, Dance of the Drunken Mantis ” - FearlessHyena
 
17.
Dan Inosanto
Noted Filipino-American martial arts practitioner, who studied "jeet kune do" from fellow martial artist and actor Bruce Lee. Always seeking to improve his knowledge, Inosanto holds numerous belts in various martial arts including Asian, American & Brazilian disciplines such as Muay Thai, Pentjak Silat & Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu...
“ Movies to watch: The Game of Death ” - FearlessHyena
 
18.
Ing-Sik Whang
Ing-Sik Whang is a Grandmaster of hapkido and a student of legendary hapkido Grandmaster Ji Han-jae (generally regarded as one of the two "fathers" of hapkido). For those who may be unaware, hapkido is a Korean martial art employing both grappling and striking techniques to disable an opponent. To film audiences...
 
21.
 
22.
Yukari Ôshima
Daughter of a Chinese woman, who spent her childhood in Nishi Ku (Fukuoka City). When she was in elementary school, her parents divorced and she went to live with her mother, who ran a little restaurant. Being a child she practiced karate in junior high school, represented Kyushu in several competitions and finally won the woman national karate championship...
“ Movies to watch: A Book of Heroes, Outlaw Brothers, Iron Angels, Shanghai Express (my favorite action actress, and way underused in terms of fighting screen time :( ) ” - FearlessHyena
 
23.
Yayan Ruhian
Yayan Ruhian was born in Tasikmalaya (West Java) on October 19, 1968. He found his passion in Pencak Silat and other martial arts, becoming a professional martial arts instructor. Ruhian is also known as an instructor of an inner breathing technique designed to condition of the body to withstand any impact...
 
24.
Iko Uwais
Iko Uwais was born in Jakarta, Indonesia, to Maisyaroh and Mustapha Kamaluddin. His grandfather, H. Achmad Bunawar, was a master of silat, an Indonesian traditional martial art, and founded a silat school. Iko himself has been learning silat since he was 10 years old. He became National Champion in 2005 in Silat Demonstration category...
 
25.
David Belle
David Belle is the founder of Parkour, an actor, film choreographer, and stunt coordinator. Belle was introduced to his acting career in a meeting with Hubert Koundé ("La Haine") and then in the play Pygmalion. Belle starred in "Les gens du voyages" and "Un monde meilleur", followed by "L'Engrenages" and "Femme Fatale"...
 
27.
Ray Park
Actor, X-Men
Raymond Park was born in Glasgow, Scotland. He moved with his parents, younger brother and sister to London, England. He was raised in London from the age of seven. His father introduced him into Martial Arts from a young age. Ray always wanted to be in the movies, or be like the heroes in movies but he was most inspired by martial arts...
 
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29.
Ching-Ying Lam
Ching-Ying Lam was born on December 27, 1952 in Shanghai, China, the third of six children. He attended Shun Yi Association Elementary School in Hong Kong for 2 years. He later attended the Chun Chau Drama Society to learn Peking Opera, where he portrayed female roles and did stunt-doubling for actresses...
 
30.
Darren Shahlavi
Actor, Ip Man 2
Darren Shahlavi started his training at the age of 7. He traveled to Hong Kong where he began his movie career, mostly as an actor, stunt double and later as a villain in the early 1990s. Later he made the step from Hong Kong to Western cinema. His resume is growing and now he has had the opportunity to be a good guy...
 
31.
 
32.
Michael Jai White
Michael Jai White is an American actor and martial artist who has appeared in numerous films and television series. He is the first African American to portray a major comic book superhero in a major motion picture, having starred as Al Simmons, the protagonist in the 1997 film Spawn. White portrayed Jax Briggs in Mortal Kombat: Legacy...
 
33.
Johnny Nguyen
Stunts, Spider-Man 2
Johnny left Vietnam at the age of 8, uncertain of what destination lied ahead. As a boy, he already loved Hong Kong cinema. Johnny would soon start training in martial arts and now has over 18 years of experience in Kung Fu, Tai Chi and Japanese Aikido. Johnny is now also an expert in Wushu, which he does for over 10 years. Johnny has won a gold medal from Pan America Form and Sword...
 
40.
Benny Urquidez
Stunts, 1408
Benny Urquidez was raised in a very athletic family. His mother was a professional wrestler and his father a professional boxer, with all of his siblings black belts. He has earned black belts in nine different martial arts and trained in other styles. The Jet decided to pursue full-contact karate as a career in 1974...
 
41.
Joe Lewis
Blond, muscular, tall, handsome, and the greatest heavyweight point-fighter and kick-boxer of the 1960s and 70s, Joe Lewis coined the phrase,"American Kickboxing". He fought in the first kick-boxing heavyweight title fight in 1970. Had one of the greatest point-fighting careers in history. Lewis is one of only 5 men to defeat the legendary Chuck Norris...
 
42.
Brandon Lee
Actor, The Crow
Born in Oakland, California, USA, Brandon Lee spent the first eight years of his life in Hong Kong. By the time he was able to walk, he was already involved in learning about martial arts from his father, martial arts expert and famed actor Bruce Lee. After Bruce Lee's untimely death, Brandon...
 
44.
Tak Sakaguchi
Actor, Versus
It seems that right at birth, Tak Sakaguchi was bound to be a force to be reckoned with. From an early age, he exhibited excellent motor skills and cat-like reflexes; putting these skills to use and excelling in martial arts such as Judo and boxing. Surprisingly, even with his stunning looks and charisma...
 
45.
Chuck Norris
Chuck Norris is familiar to fans worldwide as the star of action films such as The Hitman, The Delta Force and Delta Force 2: The Colombian Connection. He also starred in Missing in Action and its sequels, Firewalker and Sidekicks. He was an executive producer of Walker, Texas Ranger as well as the star. Chuck Norris was born in Ryan...
 
46.
Steven Seagal
Producer, Under Siege
Steven Seagal is a striking and somewhat boyishly handsome (often with ponytail) action star who burst onto the martial arts film scene in 1988 in the fast-paced Warner Bros. film Above the Law. Steven Frederic Seagal was born in Lansing, Michigan, to Patricia Anne (Fisher), a medical technician...
 
48.
Conan Lee
Actor, Mulan
 
49.
Siu-Wong Fan
Actor, Yip Man
Siu-Wong Fan was born in Hong Kong in 1973, the son of 1970s kung fu film actor Mei-Sheng Fan. At the age of 14, Siu-Wong traveled to Xushou on the request of his father to take up martial arts because he was virtually a toothpick. There, Siu-Wong studied gymnastics, kung fu, and taekwondo. Fan made his film debut as a teen in Zhi fa xian feng (1986)...
 
50.
Shin'ichi Chiba
Pivotal figure in the 1970s explosion of martial arts cinema as lethal "fists for hire" trouble shooter, Takuma (Terry) Tsurugi, starring in the phenomenally popular and ultra violent "The Street Fighter" series of action films. Sonny Chiba wasn't a graceful, fluid fighter like screen icon Bruce Lee...
 
52.
Marko Zaror
Marko Zaror Aguad (Santiago, Chile) is a Chilean martial arts action star and fight choreographer, currently residing in Los Angeles, California, and Santiago, Chile. His career began as a young boy with a passion for martial arts and fighting, inspired by Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and Jean Claude Van Damme...
 
54.
Panna Rittikrai
Stunts, On-Bak 2
Panna Rittikrai is the man behind Thai action star Tony Jaa, whose work in Ong-Bak, astounded viewers across the globe. Panna Rittikrai was born in the small village of Khon Kaen in Thailand. At a young age, he was a fan of martial arts films and he knew it would be his dream to become involved in the martial arts industry...
 
55.
Matt Mullins
Stunts, Divergent
From his humble beginnings of watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Matt Mullins has risen to become world renown in martial arts, and as a star in the CW4Kids show "Kamen Rider: Dragon Knight". With 5 martial art world titles in hand, Matt moved from Naperville, IL to Hollywood and quickly began booking national spots for top brands such as Nike...
 
57.
 
59.
Richard Norton
A powerful screen presence, Richard Norton wins the applause of international audiences with his engaging ability to play either the hero or the heavy. Rare versatility and focused work ethic have enabled him to build an expanding library of almost 100 film and television titles. The disciplines that brought Norton success originated in his hometown of Croydon...
 
61.
 
63.
Gary Daniels
Action film star Gary Daniels was a real-life kick-boxing champion. With rugged good-looks, a muscular build and a charming personality, it was a natural for him to move from the world of fighting to that of acting. Born Gary Edward Daniels on May 9, 1963 in Woking, Surrey, England, Daniels was a childhood fan of legendary martial arts film star Bruce Lee...
 
64.
Andy On
Actor, San taam
Andy On was born on May 11, 1977, in Providence, Rhode Island. A non-martial artist, Andy had always loved Jackie Chan movies and emulated his moves from flips and kicks at his home. In early 2000, while working as a bartender in Rhode Island, someone suggested he should become an actor. Andy, who didn't like the bartending job anyway...
 
65.
Loren Avedon
After graduating from Beverly Hills High School in 1980, while attending college Loren Avedon signed up at the Jun Chong Tae Kwon Do Karate school in Los Angeles. He received his first "break" while training late one night at the Karate school. Producer Roy Horan was looking for an actor/martial artist to be the star of No Retreat, No Surrender 2...
 
66.
Kuan-Chun Chi
Actor, Qi jian
Chi Kuan-Chun was one of the top Shaw Brothers stars to have a successful post-Shaws career in the 1970s. Chi began studying martial arts at the age of 12 and after learning for nearly a decade, was chosen to play a stuntman in a Hollywood film. Soon after, he became one of the top talents for Shaw Brothers...
 
67.
Stephen Chow
Born Chow Sing-Chi in Hong Kong on June twenty-second, 1962, Stephen Chow spent his youth days with three sisters in Shanghai, China. He developed an interest in the martial arts after witnessing the talent of Bruce Lee, where he began training in the style of Wing Chun, which was one of Bruce Lee's specialties...
 
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70.
Keith Cooke
Keith Cooke is a man of many qualities, accomplished in the arts of Wushu, Tae Kwon Do and Karate. He started his WuShu training in 1973, under Roger Tung. In 1980 he went to China and he trained for 5 hours a day and entered the competition circuit in 1983. He immediately gained a second place in both Weapons and Forms Divisions (lost to George Chung)...
 
71.
Jeff Pruitt
Stunt coordinator/director/actor Jeff Pruitt was born in the mountains of north Georgia and graduated high school in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He grew up racing motorcycles from the age of ten and competed in Karate tournaments - eventually receiving his black belt in Tang Soo Do. While in college he began working as a production assistant...
 
72.
Michiko Nishiwaki
Michiko Nishiwaki is a multi-talented lady. An actress, martial artist, stunt woman, fight choreographer, and Japan's first Woman's Bodybuilding and Power lifting Champion. She held these titles for three consecutive years. While still keeping her femininity and not bulking up with the aid of anabolic steroids or other drugs...
 
73.
Michelle Yeoh
Born as Yang Zi Qiong in the mining town of Ipoh, in West Malaysia, in the lunar year of the Tiger, Michelle is the daughter of Janet Yeoh and Yeoh Kian Teik, a lawyer and politician. She is of Han Chinese (Hokkien) descent, and spoke English and Malay before Chinese. A ballet dancer since age 4, she moved to London...
“ Movies to watch: Police Story 3: Supercop, Yes Madam, In the Line of Duty, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon ” - FearlessHyena
 
74.
Bolo Yeung
Bolo Yeung was born in China. He began his martial arts training at the age of 10. Growing up he took an interest in bodybuilding. Later he became know as Chinese Hercules after becoming Mr. Hong Kong bodybuilding champion. He held the title for ten years. Because of his impressively muscular physique he was chosen for several bad guy movie roles...
 
75.
Sophia Crawford
Sophia Crawford was born in Hammersmith, London, and is one of Triplets. She left England in 1986 and took an incredible journey on a bus overland from London to India. After spending some time in India and Nepal, Sophia headed to Thailand, where she began her movie career. At first she was an editorial model and an extra in American productions such as: Kickboxer and Around the World in 80 Days...
 
76.
Bill Wallace
Bill "Superfoot" Wallace is a living legend in the world of martial arts and professional kickboxing. A pioneer in the sport, he began his martial arts career as a Karate point-fighter. He competed along with such immortals as Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris, Joe Lewis, and Skipper Mullins. After an incredible career in point-fighting...
 
77.
JeeJa Yanin
Actress, Chocolate
Yanin "Jeeja" pronounced "ChiCha" Vismitananda was born in Bangkok, Thailand. Her mother is Prasita Vismitananda and her father, Pawadol Borirak, was a businessman who died when his daughter was 17, she has an older brother, Nantapong "Jeed" Vismitananda. She is mainly of Thai descent with some English and Burmese ancestry...
 
78.
 
79.
Sheng Chiang
Born Chiu Kang-sang on April 4, 1951 in Taiwan. Chiang had family problems from a young age. His family was too large and his parents could not look after him properly, so he was sent to the Fu Sheng Opera School in Taipei, Taiwan. During his time here, he had met friends which would become part of the Shaw Brothers studio with him...
 
80.
Ho-Sung Pak
Stunts, Nightcrawler
Korean-American born Ho Sung-Pak is best known for two accomplishments in martial arts. A wushu champion, Ho was inducted into the Black Belt Hall of Fame in 1991. His first accomplishment was that he played both Liu Kang and Shang Tsung in the video game that started a fad and 2 movies, Mortal Kombat...
 
81.
Robin Shou
Robin Shou is the fourth child of a Shanghai tailor and homemaker. His family moved to the US in 1971. Their first home in Los Angeles was a 2 bedroom apartment near Olympic and Vermont, today known as Koreatown. Shou didn't start attending martial arts classes until he was 19. He took Kenpo (Karate) classes while attending California State University...
 
83.
Jean-Claude Van Damme
Van Damme was born Jean-Claude Camille François Van Varenberg in Berchem-Sainte-Agathe, Brussels, Belgium, to Eliana and Eugène Van Varenberg, an accountant. "The Muscles from Brussels" started martial arts at the age of eleven. His father introduced him to martial arts when he saw his son was physically weak...
 
84.
Karen Sheperd
Stunts, Angel
Karen Sheperd is an American actress in film, television and theatre. Her recurring guest-star role as "The Enforcer" on television's "Hercules, The Legendary Journeys", opposite Kevin Sorbo, received the highest ratings ever for the entire series. Karen recently appeared on "Criminal Minds" with Joe Mantegna...
 
87.
Jason Statham
Jason Statham was born in Shirebrook, Derbyshire, to Eileen (Yates), a dancer, and Barry Statham, a street merchant and lounge singer. Statham has done quite a lot in a short time. He has been a Diver on the British National Diving Team and finished 12th in the World Championships in 1992. He has also been a fashion model...
 
89.
Tak-Hing Kwan
When he was 13 years old, he joined an entertainment troupe on tour of Singapore. During these years he began to study performing. In 1932 he debuted in the film "Gor Nui Ching Chiu" ("Sentimental Song of Companions' Tide") playing a bit part, shot in San Francisco (USA). Soon he came back to Hong Kong to participate in anti-Japanese opposition movement...
 
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92.
Jim Kelly
With his funky Afro hairstyle, super cool attitude and superb karate skills, Jim Kelly was instantly identifiable, and one of the top martial arts film stars of the early 1970s. After appearing in a minor film role, Kelly's second screen effort was as one of the invited guests to the deadly Han's Island in Enter the Dragon...
 
93.
Ron Hall
Actor, Orgazmo
 
94.
Jon Foo
Actor, Tekken
Jon Foo is an artist working in Los Angeles. He was born in London where he studied art and design at Harrow collage, focusing on product design, sculpture and fine art. Jon had many part time jobs and eventually began a career as an acrobat after being talent scouted at a local open training gym. Jon...
 
95.
Sheng Fu
Born Chang Fu-Sheng to a wealthy family on October 20th, 1954, in Hong Kong. His English adopted name was Alexander. He was the ninth of 11 siblings. He was considered his father's favorite. Unlike the rest of his family, he showed little interest in academic and had no desire to try his hand in business...
 
96.
Phillip Rhee
Phillip Rhee is a master martial artist, actor and filmmaker best known for creating the "BEST of the BEST" film franchise with his producing partner and mentor Peter E. Strauss (Executive VP and Mandalay Pictures) and Frank Giustra, a Canadian Billionaire and founder of Lions Gate. The first "Best of the Best" starring academy award nominated actors...
 
97.
Cynthia Khan
After studying Chinese and jazz dance from elementary school, at 17 years old Yeung won a national contest to find new talents, organized by the Taiwainese TV, and shortly after she made several appearances on TV and a bit part in the Taiwanese film of 1985 "Taipei Story", directed by Yang De-Chang...
 
98.
 
99.
Nicholas Tse
Nicholas was born in Hong Kong, China. He attended school in Vancouver, Canada. He also attended school for a short time in Phoenix, Arizona before moving back to Hong Kong with his parents Patrick Yin Tse and Deborah Dik, and his sister, Jennifer (Ting Ting). Nicholas started his singing career around 1997.
 
100.
Jerry Trimble
Actor, Heat
Jerry Trimble Jr. was born in Newport, Kentucky. At age 13 he was inspired by the late Bruce Lee and began studying the Korean art of Taekwon-Do. In six months he began teaching the art. At 15 Jerry earned the rank of first-degree black belt and became the number one point fighter in the Midwest U.S. At 18, he started Kickboxing and won the "Kentucky State Championship"...