The best martial arts actors

by yhvhentertainment | created - 23 Feb 2014 | updated - 23 Feb 2014 | Public

1. Bruce Lee

Actor | Meng long guo jiang

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 ...

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.

The influence of East Asian martial arts cinema can be seen today in so many other film genres including comedies, action, drama, science fiction, horror and animation.....and they all have their roots in the phenomenon that was Bruce Lee.

Lee was born "Lee Jun Fan" November twenty-seventh 1940 in San Francisco, the son of Lee Hoi Chuen, a singer with the Cantonese Opera. Approximately one year later the family returned to Kowloon in Hong Kong and at the age of five years, a young Bruce begins appearing in children's roles in minor films including The Birth of Mankind (1946) and Fu gui fu yun (1948). At the age of 12 Bruce commenced attending La Salle College. Bruce was later beaten up by a street gang, which inspired him to take up martial arts training under the tutelage of "Sifu Yip Man" who schooled Bruce in wing chun kung fu for a period of approximately five years. This was the only formalized martial arts training ever undertaken by Lee. The talented & athletic Bruce also took up cha-cha dancing and at the age of 18 won a major dance championship in Hong Kong.

2. Jet Li

Actor | The One

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,...

Jet Li 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, and before he was 20 he had starred in his first movie: _Shao Lin tzu (1979)_ (Shaolin Temple), which started the 1980s Kung-Fu boom in mainland China. He relocated to Hong Kong, where he was the biggest star of the early 1990s Kung-Fu boom as well.

3. Jackie Chan

Actor | Ngo si seoi

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 after his start in Hong Kong's manic martial arts cinema industry.

Jackie was born Kong-sang Chan on April 7, 1954, on Hong Kong's famous ...

Apprenticed to the China Drama Academy (or "opera school") by his parents at the age of 6, Jackie Chan was rigorously trained in music, dance, and traditional martial arts. A visiting filmmaker offered Chan his first (tiny) role as a stunt player. Chan took the part, and soon left the Opera to pursue the world of film. Fellow Opera students Biao Yuen and Sammo Hung Kam-Bo would also have careers in film, and the three would star in several films together in the following years. Chan's talent and enthusiasm soon saw him taking larger and more important roles, graduating first to stunt coordinator, and then to director.

4. Jean-Claude Van Damme

Actor | Double Impact

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 ...

When Jean-Claude Van Damme became an international film star, there was some debate as to his kick-boxing accomplishments. Former multiple World Kickboxing Champion Don "The Dragon" Wilson even offered Jean-Claude a "$100,000" bounty match to get into the ring and fight him. Van Damme brushed off the "challenge" as a publicity stunt. But, the truth of the matter was that Jean-Claude Van Damme was a successful semi-contact and full-contact fighter who competed in Europe and briefly in the United States from 1976-1982.

At the age of 12, Van Damme began his martial arts training at Centre National De Karate (National Center of Karate) under the guidance of Master Claude Goetz in Ixelles, Belgium. Van Damme trained for 4 years and earned a spot on the Belgium Karate Team.

In 1976 at the age of sixteen, Jean-Claude started his Martial Arts fight career. Over the next 6-years, he competed in both full-contact and semi-contact matches.

He debuted under his birth name of Jean Claude Van Varenberg. In his first match, Jean-Claude was staggered by a round-house kick thrown by fellow countryman, Toon Van Oostrum in Brussels, Belgium. Van Damme was badly stunned, but came back to knockout Van Oostrum moments later.

In 1977, at the WAKO Open International in Antwerp, Belgium, Jean-Claude lost a decision to fellow team mate Patrick Teugels in a semi-contact match.

At the 1978 Challenge De Espoirs Karate Tournament (1st Trials),Jean-Claude placed 2nd in the semi-contact division. He defeated twenty-five opponents during the week long tournament, but lost in the finals to Angelo Spataro from the Naha Club.

Later in 1978,Jean-Claude lost a 3-round match for the Belgium Lightweight Championship (semi-contact) to his fellow team-mate to Patrick Teugels.

In 1979, Jean-Claude traveled to the United States of America, to Tampa, Florida. In his first and only match against a United States opponent, Van Damme faced 'Sherman 'Big Train'Bergman', a kick-boxer from the Miami Beach, Florida. For the first and only time in his career, Jean-Claude was knocked to the canvas after absorbing a powerful left hook from Bergman. However, Jean-Claude climbed off the canvas and with a perfectly timed ax-kick, knocked Bergman out in 56 seconds of the first round.

5. Tony Jaa

Actor | Ong-bak 3

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 at the local ...

Panom Yeerum was born on February 5, 1976, in the northeastern province of Surin, Thailand. His parents were elephant herders. Panom 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. After seeing the Thai action film Born to Fight (2004) ("Born to Fight"), Panom met and studied martial arts and stunt work as a teen under the director of that film, Panna Rittikrai. Panom went to university where he studied a variety of martial arts, from tae kwondo to judo. It was not long before Panom would get work, doubling for Robin Shou and James Remar in Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997), and when his demo reel was seen by director Prachya Pinkaew, the film Ong-bak (2003) was created for Panom, who is now going by the name of Tony Jaa in hopes of bringing his style of action to international audiences.

6. Scott Adkins

Actor | Doctor Strange

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 ...

Scott Adkins was born in Sutton Coldfield, England, on June 17th, 1976, into a family that for generations were Butchers. Along with his elder brother Craig, he was raised by John and Janet Adkins, a loving middle-class family. It is worth mentioning that Scott's great, great grandmother was of Spanish descent. Scott attended Bishop Vesey's Grammar School in Sutton Coldfield. Probably not the best of students, he used to sneak downstairs after his parents had gone to bed and watch films all night then fall asleep during lessons. A natural athlete, Scott enjoyed a variety of sports as he grew up, but when he was 10 years old, he accompanied his father and brother to the local Judo club. The attraction was instantaneous. Idolising stars such as Bruce Lee and Jean-Claude Van Damme, Scott began to train everyday. He took over his Dad's garage and turned it into his own Dojo. He even had a shrine to Bruce Lee in there that he would bow to. He remembers being mugged on a bus when he was around 13 and that really kicked his training into overdrive. He wasn't ever going to let that happen again. At the age of 14, Scott went on to train in Tae Kwon Do under the instruction of Ron Sergiew with the T.A.G.B. After a few years, he moved on to Kickboxing under Anthony Jones. He is now a fully trained Kickboxing Instructor for the P.K.A. A self confessed "film junkie" Scott's attention was drawn to acting through the Hollywood Greats. He enrolled in a drama class at Sutton Coldfield College. Being a shy lad he initially found it difficult to be put on stage in front of an audience. Finally, at the age of 21, Scott was offered a place at the prestigious Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art. However, as an impoverished student, he found it hard to make ends meet without a grant and was forced to leave without completing the course. Very dejected he thought that was the end.

7. Michael Jai White

Actor | Black Dynamite

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 ...

Michael Jai White was born on November 10, 1967 in Brooklyn, New York, USA. He is an actor and writer, known for The Dark Knight (2008), Spawn (1997) and Blood and Bone (2009). He was previously married to Courtenay Chatman.

8. Donnie Yen

Actor | Yip Man

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, Master Bow-sim ...

Martial artist and Hong Kong action star Donnie Yen was born in Canton, China, on July 27, 1963 to newspaper editor Klyster Yen and martial arts master Bow Sim Mark. At the age of four, Donnie started taking up martial arts from his mother who taught him tai chi and wushu until he was eleven when he moved to Boston, MA, with his family. From there, Donnie continued with tai chi and wushu but soon also began experimenting with various others martial art styles, such as taekwondo, kickboxing and boxing, after developing a huge interest in martial arts. When he was sixteen, his parents sent him to Beijing Wushu Academy so he could train Chinese MA under Master Wu Bin, well known as the coach of Jet Li. He underwent intensive training for three years.

9. Chuck Norris

Actor | Walker, Texas Ranger

Chuck Norris is familiar to fans worldwide as the star of action films such as The Hitman (1991), The Delta Force (1986) and Delta Force 2: The Colombian Connection (1990). He also starred in Missing in Action (1984) and its sequels, Firewalker (1986) and Sidekicks (1992). He was an executive ...

Chuck Norris is an Executive Producer of Walker, Texas Ranger (1993) as well as the star. Norris is familiar to fans worldwide as the star of action films such as The Hitman (1991), The Delta Force (1986) and Delta Force 2: The Colombian Connection (1990). He also starred in Missing in Action (1984) and its sequels, Firewalker (1986) and Sidekicks (1992). Norris was born Carlos Ray in Ryan, OK. The eldest of three children, he helped his mother raise his two younger brothers in Torrance, CA, where his family moved when he was 12. Norris joined the Air Force after graduating from high school. During a stint in Korea, he began to study the Asian martial art of Tang Soo Do. After returning home, he worked for Northrop Aviation and moonlighted as a karate instructor. Two years later he was teaching full-time and running a number of martial-arts schools. His students included Steve McQueen, Priscilla Presley and the Osmonds. In 1968, he became the Professional World Middleweight Karate Champion, holding the title undefeated until he retired in 1974. He is a black belt in Tang Soo Do and Tae Kwan Do.

10. Steven Seagal

Actor | On Deadly Ground

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 (1988).

Steven Frederic Seagal was born in Lansing, Michigan, to Patricia Anne (Fisher), a medical ...

Steven Seagal is a striking and somewhat boyishly handsome looking (often with ponytail) and usually impeccably dressed action star who burst onto the martial arts film scene in 1988 in the fast-paced Warner Bros. film Above the Law (1988). The enigmatic Seagal commenced his martial arts training at the age of seven under the tutelage of well-known karate instructor and author Fumio Demura, and in the 1960s commenced his aikido training in Orange County, CA, under the instruction of Harry Ishisaka. Seagal received his first dan accreditation in 1974, after he had moved to Japan to further his martial arts training. After spending many years there honing his skills, he achieved the ranking of a 7th dan in the Japanese martial art "aikido" and was instructing wealthy clients in Los Angeles when he came to the attention of Hollywood power broker Michael Ovitz.

11. Wesley Snipes

Actor | Blade

Wesley Trent Snipes was born in Orlando, Florida, to Maryann (Long), a teacher's assistant, and Wesley Rudolph Snipes, an aircraft engineer. He grew up on the streets of the South Bronx in New York City, where he very early decided that the theater was to be his career. He attended the High School ...

Wesley Snipes grew up on the streets of the South Bronx in New York City, where he very early decided that the theater was to be his career. He attended the High School for the Performing Arts (popularized in Fame (1980)). But dreams of the musical theater (and maybe a few commercials) faded when his mother moved to Orlando, Florida before he could graduate from high school. But after graduation from a Florida high school he appeared in local dinner theaters and regional productions. An agent saw him in a competition and got him his first movie role with Goldie Hawn in Wildcats (1986). Athletic roles such as that gave way to tough guy roles as in New Jack City (1991), and to the action hero in Passenger 57 (1992). Wesley feels that at least with the Hollywood heavyweights he must be doing something right - Sylvester Stallone, Robert De Niro, Dennis Hopper and Sean Connery all had veto power over casting and all approved his role.

12. Yun-Fat Chow

Actor | Wo hu cang long

Chow Yun Fat is a charismatic, athletically built and energetic Asian-born film star who first came to the attention of western audiences via his roles in the high-octane/blazing guns action films of maverick HK director John Woo.

Chow was born in 1955 on the quiet island of Lamma, part of the ...

Chow Yun Fat is a charismatic, athletically built and energetic Asian-born film star who first came to the attention of western audiences via his roles in the high-octane/blazing guns action films of maverick HK director John Woo. Born in 1955 on the quiet island of Lamma, part of the then British colony of Hong Kong near its famous Victoria ...

13. Geovanni Gopradi

Actor | Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2

Gopradi was born Geovannie Gomez on May 27, 1983, in Florida, and raised between Miami,Venezuela, France, Peru and Costa Rica. Gopradi attended different schools around the world and acquired a bachelor in History and International Law at Nova Southeastern University. Gopradi decided to use acting ...

Gopradi was born Geovannie Gomez on May 27, 1983, in Florida, and raised between Miami,Venezuela, France, Peru and Costa Rica. Gopradi attended different schools around the world and acquired a bachelor in History and International Law at Nova Southeastern University. Gopradi decided to use acting classes to help him conquer his fear of public speaking but continued until completing a two year acting conservatory program. He learned Spanish, French and martial arts, his discipline provided him with the foundation to build up his acting career. With theatre being the core of his craft, he has appeared on T.V, commercials and over twenty films.

14. Mark Dacascos

Actor | Le pacte des loups

Mark Dacascos was born on February 26, 1964 in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA as Mark Alan Dacascos. He is known for his work on Brotherhood of the Wolf (2001), Only the Strong (1993) and Drive (1997). He has been married to Julie Condra since January 5, 1998. They have three children.

Mark Dacascos was born on February 26, 1964 in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA as Mark Alan Dacascos. He is known for his work on Brotherhood of the Wolf (2001), Iron Chef America: The Series (2005) and Cradle 2 the Grave (2003). He has been married to Julie Condra since January 5, 1998. They have three children.

15. Iko Uwais

Actor | Serbuan maut 2: Berandal

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...

Born in Jakarta, Indonesia, Iko Uwais has been learning Indonesian traditional martial arts, Silat, since he was 10 years old. He became National Champion in 2005 in Silat Demonstration category. Iko's talent as a martial arts actor was discovered by Welsh film Director, Gareth Evans, who visited Iko's Silat school for a documentary in 2007.

16. Allen Warchol

Actor | Revenge

Allen Warchol (born November 18 1976) is an American film actor. He appeared in well known shows and as Prison Break, Chase, Dallas, Films like Zombie Love and Lone Star. Allen is also known for numerous commercials and independent films.

His parents didn't have any influence in his acting career ...

Allen Warchol (born November 18 1976) is an American film actor. He appeared in well known shows and as Prison Break, Chase, Dallas, Films like Zombie Love and Lone Star. Allen is also known for numerous commercials and independent films.

17. Jason Statham

Actor | Crank

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 ...

ason 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, black market salesman and finally of course, actor. He got the audition for his debut role as Bacon in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998) through French Connection, for whom he was modeling. They became a major investor in the film and introduced Jason to Guy Ritchie, who invited him to audition for a part in the film by challenging him to impersonate an illegal street vendor and convince him to purchase fake jewelery. Jason must have been doing something right because after the success of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998) he teamed up again with Guy Ritchie for Snatch. (2000), with co-stars including Brad Pitt, Dennis Farina and Benicio Del Toro. After Snatch. (2000) came Turn It Up (2000) with US music star Ja Rule, followed by a supporting actor role in the Sci-Fi film Ghosts of Mars (2001), Jet Li's The One (2001) and another screen partnership with Vinnie Jones in Mean Machine (2001) under Guy Ritchie's and Matthew Vaughn's SKA Films. Finally in 2002 he was cast as the lead role of Frank Martin in The Transporter (2002). Jason is also in the summer 2003 blockbuster remake of The Italian Job (1969), The Italian Job (2003), playing Handsome Rob.



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