Celebrities. Who doesn’t love them? And when you find out that they have been practicing the same martial art as you and not just for the sake of being in a movie but with a dedication that inspires, then it just adds to their appeal even more. These are some of the most notable celebrities who have been practicing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and have impacted the sport in their own way
Remember watching Sherlock Holmes the movie in 2009? Or Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, two years later? Remember the scene where Robert Downey Jr. fights the bare knuckle boxing match? Turns out the martial art used in the movie, called Neo Bartitsu, takes a lot of inspiration from Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Could this be because the director of the movies, Guy Ritchie earned his black belt in 2015 after spending 7 years as a brown belt. Apparently he has been training since he was 7. He even introduced Jason Statham, star of his movies Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, to the martial art who has now been practicing it for 13 years.
This should not even be surprising. Of course he does Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. In fact, in 2015, at the age of 75 he earned his third black belt under the Machados. This came after 30 years of training. Every facet of this fact is amazing and something to be truly proud of. However this all began with a really humbling experience. Once he was vacationing in Rio de Janerio and working out in different martial arts schools. Throughout this, he kept coming across the name of Gracie. He decided to pay them a visit and being a black belt in Judo, was pretty confident about himself. But the patriarch of the school, Helio Gracie choked him out. He choked out the most dangerous man in the world. There is a really amusing video on YouTube where he tells of his experience in an interview. He couldn’t stay in Brazil and train with the Gracies but went on to train with the Machado brothers who are their cousins. They even appeared in an episode of Walker Texas ranger with him.
Anthony Bourdain is a certified badass. As a TV, presenter, chef extraordinaire and traveler he has had a very wholesome life. He was roped into Brazilian Jiu JItsu by his wife, Ottavia Bourdain in 2014. She herself is a Purple belt holder and a master of the art. Anthony has become obsessed with the art now and practices it every day that he is not working. He earned his blue belt in 2015 and even won a gold medal in IBJJF New York Spring International Open Championship. For someone that became 60 years old in 2016 this is no mean feat. Arguably he has lent the most visibility to the martial art. He has centered episodes of his shows Parts Unknown and No Reservations on it. He even appeared with Kurt Osiander on his YouTube series “Move of the Week” where Kurt used Bourdain to show the Lapel Choke. And he doesn’t even go soft on him. Anthony gets thrashed.
Keanu Reeves has come a long way from his Bill and Ted’s Adventure days. Believe it or not it has been 40 years. And most of it has been through the vehicle of action movies. The Machado brothers have been working with him for the movie John Wick 2 and as such they have spent a lot of time on the mats. He has built his reputation as an action star through his performance in movies like the Matrix Trilogy he has had to learn a number of martial art styles including Kung Fu, Judo, Sambo and Sword fighting. However he confesses that he is not an expert in any of them. But nevertheless because of his movies the martial art gets a lot of screen time and exposure.
And now for something completely different. Unlike the other celebrities on this list Steve actually used his Brazilian Jiu Jitsu skills in life or death situations. He trained under the Australian MMA star and black belt Dan Higgins and Greg Jackson. He practiced for three years and had earned a blue belt before he passed away from the sting of a sting ray. He was reported to have dad like or Bushman like strength. Guess that’s what happens when you wrestle with crocodiles for a living. He claimed to have based his crocodile grappling and wrestling moves on the over under hooks from Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Steve was even dedicated enough to sponsor some MMA events. Guess the Jiu Jitsu world lost a big star with his death.