MMA fighting styles

5 Actors Who Learned Martial Arts For A Movie

Thanks to the incredible Bruce Lee, there is an ongoing intersection between martial arts and film. It is now common that when incorporated into action films, actors receive some form of training in order to exhibit precise technique in all of the different forms of martial arts. Whether it’s a martial arts movie like Ip-Manor is it just a killer action movie like John Wickmartial arts has made its way into film, raising the expectations of viewers around the world for fight choreography to be not only precise but also exact.



It’s no secret that an actor’s physical abilities affect the roles they’re able to take on. It’s hard to run for your life on a battlefield if you can’t really run in real life. Many martial artists like Donnie Yen, by Screen Rant, Jet Li and, of course, Jackie Chan have taken their martial arts skills to the screen in order to not only show off their skills, but also to help maintain the grace of the martial arts alive. and keep people interested in the many fighting styles out there. That being said, not all actors were born with a black belt and many had to learn these skills in order to portray them accurately on screen. Here are five actors who learned martial arts for a movie.

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5 Wesley Snipes

Wesley Snipes is one of the original actors whose martial arts training shone on screen. While Snipes has already had martial arts training in Shotokan Karate and Hapkido since childhood, the number of disciplines he has learned has increased dramatically over the years, thanks to his involvement in films. Snipes showed off his skills in a number of movies, but learned even more for movies like To Wong Foo, US Marshalsand the iconic Blade franchise. His progressive action movie training has included things like capoeira, kung fu, and Brazilian jiu jitsu. As a result of all this training, Snipes has truly made a name for himself as one of the most talented actors with phenomenal martial arts skills.

Related: These Action Movie Stars Do Their Own Stunts (And Some Refuse)

4 Keanu Reeves

A veteran in the world of cinematic martial arts, Keanu Reeves has certainly earned his reputation as a Hollywood badass. First learn a variety of karate and kung fu to The matrix franchise, Reeves has continued his martial arts training over the years. Films that feature his skills include 47 Ronins, Constantineand the very popular John Wick franchise. Considering the fact that Reeves is in his late 50s, you’d think his martial arts training might be slowing down, but the opposite is true. In 2019, when it was announced that the two The Matrix Resurrections and Wick jeans 4 were due out in 2020, it was clear that Reeves was going to have his work cut out for him as he would be training and filming for two action movies. While the production of these films was delayed and separated due to the pandemic, Reeves still managed to train for the final installation of The matrix while preparing Wick jeans 4.


3 Michael Jai White

Michael Jai White is an underrated actor/martial artist who is often overlooked by bigger names like Reeves and Jason Statham. White’s martial arts resume is staggering, being a master of nine different styles of martial arts, blowing most of his competition away. This underrated actor has starred in dozens of action movies, showcasing his skills in his first big screen appearance in the HBO movie Tyson, playing the role of heavyweight champion Mike Tyson, before appearing in films like Exit wounds alongside Steven Seagal and making a name for himself in films like blood and bone and black dynamite. White’s Last Movie Welcome to sudden death debuted on Netflix in 2020 to widespread acclaim. At the same age as Reeves, it’s clear White shows no signs of slowing down in his acting career or his martial arts training.

Related: Best ’90s Martial Arts Movies, Ranked

2 Jason Statham

Another massive name in the action movie genre is Jason Statham. Statham made a household name for himself doing movies like To tear out and Italian workand playing the main role in The carrier trilogy. While he fell for a brief while, he saw a revival in his career after starring in The Expendables franchise before playing Deckard Shaw in many fast furious movies. Not only did these roles revive his acting career, but he trained and improved his martial arts skills, specializing in kickboxing and kung fu. Statham continues to release action-packed movies, making his fans extremely happy. Statham has a number of films planned for the future, including a return as Lee Christmas in a fourth Consumables the film is slated for release later this year.


1 Tom Hardy

Whereas Tom Hardy is best known for his dashing good looks and exceptionally charming voice, he is so much more than just a face. Debut in Black Hawk DownHardy continued to explore the big screen, gaining a lot of attention for his performance in Creation. Before appearing in the post-apocalyptic Mad Max: Fury RoadHardy discovered MMA in 2011 while training for the film Warrior. Since then, Hardy has continued to take on more physically demanding roles. Featured in movies like Legend, Dunkirk, andVenom, Hardy continues to impress audiences not only with his phenomenal acting skills, but also with his MMA skills, with a particular focus on jiu jitsu and kickboxing. Hardy’s Last Movie Ravaged is set to release sometime later this year on Netflix.