The rich and the famous are flocking to BJJ in droves these days. Stars of Hollywood blockbusters and award-winning musicians are coming into contact with a lethal martial art that is shrowded in intrigue.

BJJ is empowering to everyone, regardless of class or financial status.

Here is a list of 16 of the most famous jiu-jitsu practitioners and their stories.

 

The first celebrity on our list unfortunately is no longer with us. Anthony Bourdain was a fan of this page and follower on Twitter.

One of our first celebrity followers. RIP.

He was a famed Chef, Author and TV Show Host. A blue belt who trains primarily out of the Renzo Gracie Academy in Manhattan, Bourdain can be found on the mat no less than seven days a week. Yes, seven! When asked how he manages it, he says “You’ve just got to get past the first couple of days, which sucks. Then after that, it’s OK. You just keep going.”

Anthony not only rolls with the public but he competed in the IBJJF with them as well.

Anthony was also very vocal in interviews about his love for BJJ.

 

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Demi Lovato is a famous pop singer and an inspiration to millions around the world. Most recently she gave a beautiful performance at the Super Bowl.

She is also public about her self image issues and problems with addiction. She does therapy for her issues and like many of us, supplements her treatment with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Demi Lovato has earned two stripes on her blue belt. The 26-year-old has been hard at work studying the Brazilian martial art since she left rehab following a near-fatal overdose over the summer.

She is a student under Orlando Bloom and others at Gracie Barra.

 

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Ashton Kutcher is one of the more controversial figures in celebrity BJJ because of his high rank. He is currently a brown belt under Rigan Machado.

Ashton Kutcher wrestled in school which is going to help with learning Jiu-Jitsu.

He is an American actor, producer, and entrepreneur. He began his acting career portraying Michael Kelso in the Fox sitcom That ’70s Show.

He made his film debut in the romantic comedy Coming Soon, followed by the comedy film Dude, Where’s My Car?, which was a box office hit.

 

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Rikki Rockett is the drummer from the band Poison.

While many rock and rollers lead a life of partying and drugs, Rikki chose to practice BJJ.

He is now a black belt with multiple stripes.

Rikki is also no stranger to BJJ competition. Check him out in action below!

 

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Maynard James Keenan, BJJ practitioner, and Tool lead vocalist & singer. “Puscifer”, “A Perfect Circle” and “I” legend is a long time practitioner of martial arts and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is the martial art he loves the most. He’s a purple belt right now and he let the world know about his love for BJJ and everything coming with it. In this interview, he tries to explain what BJJ really gives you and why it is one of the best martial arts to be trained at. Here is everything Maynard James Keenan said in this great interview that you can watch below. Also, you can see how he found out what Stockton Slap is in a hard way by Nate Diaz.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. It’s a long journey and very humiliating and you have to proceed in that manner. You have to accept that there is always someone better, more technical, faster, stronger. It’s just a wonderful journey that I would recommend to everyone.

Oxygen in the Brain in the brain is important for creativity and productivity so you have to be conscious and present on the mat to be successful. You can’t phone it in. If you’re snoozing your training partner is going to put you to the sleep.

 

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Igor Graziano Cavalera (born September 4, 1970) is a Brazilian musician. He is best known as the former drummer for Brazilian heavy metal band Sepultura, which he co-founded with his brother Max in 1984. Max left the band in 1996, and Cavalera himself would depart ten years later, making him the last original member of Sepultura to leave the band. The brothers have since reunited in the band Cavalera Conspiracy.

Cavalera collects toys and football shirts and has many hobbies, including Brazilian jiu-jitsu, snowboarding, surfing, drawing and supporting Brazilian football club Palmeiras.


(Igor’s band Sepultura with the Gracie Family)

 

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Kate Upton is apparently among the celebrities who have hit the mats to train jiu-jitsu, and it seems like she’s been sticking with it.

In a social media post earlier today, the model shared a photo of the moment she received the first stripe on her white belt at Houston’s Elite MMA, which came after “months” of training according to the academy’s Instagram page.

Upton’s instructor, “Coach J,” also shared the photo and took the opportunity to praise Upton’s work in the gym.

Almost as beautiful as Mackenzie Dern. Almost…

“I am very proud and honored to have @kateupton as a student. She is one of the hardest workers in the room, expects nothing but gives everything in every training session. From rolling 10 hard rounds to sparring Muay Thai for a hour she is the definition of a fighter. Congratulations on your first stripe”

 

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Paul William Walker IV was an American actor and philanthropist best known for his role as Brian O’Conner in The Fast and the Furious franchise. Walker began his career as a child actor during the 1970s and 1980s, but first gained recognition in the early 1990s after appearing in the television soap opera The Young and the Restless. He soon transitioned into film, and received praise in 1999 for his performances in the teen films She’s All That and Varsity Blues, which helped kickstart his career. Walker then gained international fame after starring in The Fast and the Furious.

Looking back on the time he spent with Walker, there was one goal that the actor and father always had from the first day he started grappling and that was to earn his black belt. Miller warned him that he wasn’t going to be given or handed anything in his gym, and Walker was more than happy to earn each stripe he achieved all the way to the moment he received his brown belt from the instructor.

“He was determined to become a black belt. He said ‘I will get my black belt, even if I need to get it in my coffin’. Now in the wake of his death, I would like to reward Paul Walker the black belt that he wanted so much during his life,” Miller said.

Miller awarded Walker his black belt at a memorial held in his memory this week as the world still mourns his passing. Walker was just 40 at the time of his death.

When he passed away, Walker was already a brown belt studying under instructor and mentor Ricardo ‘Franjinha’ Miller at the Paragon Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu academy in California. Following the news of his tragic death, Miller decided to honor Walker’s memory by giving the actor his black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu posthumously at a memorial held by his family after his passing.

Miller talked about his long time friendship with Walker, which developed over the years after he first wandered into his academy looking to learn something about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. According to his coach, Walker regularly asked for his movies to feature grappling instead of the standard fight fare you might see in a film production, and Miller was right there with him every step of the way to give guidance and support.

“He always wanted to showcase jiu-jitsu in his movies,” Miller wrote in a blog. “Rather than the punches and kicks so common to many action films, he wanted to use his movies as a stage for jiu-jitsu. Some of the jiu-jitsu techniques from our training sessions were utilized in the Fast and Furious series. Paul would always tell me that he did not just want to be known for fast cars. He wanted to be known for fast cars and jiu-jitsu. He wanted to be an ambassador for jiu-jitsu.”

 

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Keanu Reeves, the Matrix star and the highest paid actor, is a long-time BJJ practitioner. However, he also trains kung fu and sword fighting. Pictured training with the Machado brothers.

Keanu Reeves practices a lot of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for not only his self-enrichment but because his roll in the John Wick movie series demands it!

 

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Ed O’Neill has starred in Married with Children and Modern Family. This American actor and comedian is a black belt in Jiu-Jitsu under the Gracies.

“I remember watching and they were just laying on top of each other. I thought it was bizarre.”

The Gracie saw a headstrong actor with little respect for the sport in front of him. The solution was simple: a challenge.

Rorion: Let me give you one free class. It is only going to take fifteen minutes.

Ed: Jesus Christ.

Ed was not happy about it. He had to put on a gi – a uniform that consisted of a heavy cotton jacket and trousers with a belt worn over it to signify the rank of the practitioner and keep the uniform intact. He still thought it was a pair of glorified pajamas.

After being outfitted, Rorion asked Ed to lie on his back. He explained that Rorion was about to sit on his chest and stomach – the mount position – with one leg on each side of him. As explanation, Rorion simply stated: “I just want you to get me off of you. Do you think you could do that?”

6’1″ and 225-pounds at the time, Ed towered over Rorion, who was a lean 175-pounder. The actor thought the task was simple enough.

Ed: If my life depended on it, I could probably get you off of me. I don’t know what would happen after that.

Rorion: That is all I want you to do. Just do that and get me off you. Do whatever you want-whatever you need to do if your life depended on it.

Ed allowed Gracie to climb onto him. Then, he bucked his hips, exploded off the ground…and found himself exactly where he started. He twisted and struggled under the smaller man, but it was hopeless-Rorion was not going anywhere.

Ed: God damn it.

He was exhausted within ten seconds. He didn’t even notice Gracie leap off of him and lay on his back.

Rorion: Breathe and relax. Now, I want you to sit on top of me the same way I did to you.

Ed obliged. At this point, he could not refuse. He had already been embarrassed once and needed to make this one count.

Rorion: Do you think you can hold me down for four seconds?

Surprised by the short duration, Ed scoffed at the suggestion. Of course, he could!

Rorion: That is all you have to do. That will be the end of the lesson. Just hold me down.

Having sensed no foul play at hand, Ed grabbed Rorion’s shoulders and hunkered down, confident that he would succeed in pinning the Brazilian.

Rorion: You ready?

Ed: Yes.

Sweep, roll, and mount – all it took was two seconds for Ed to find himself staring at the ceiling once again.

Ed: You’ve got to be kidding me.

Ed had the look of a man who had just been the recipient of a smack across the face. His befuddled mind was swarming; how did this aging Brazilian – fifty pounds lighter – toy with him in such a way? Ed was astounded-and he was intrigued. Suddenly, the pajamas no longer troubled his thoughts, and he needed some answers.

Rorion: That is what we do. That is what we teach here.

Ed: I’ve got to learn this. Let me make an appointment. I’m going to come back.

And he did.

Years later, as he continued to develop his understanding of the martial art, Ed realized that he had been hoodwinked by one of the oldest tricks in the book.

“(The Gracies) have an expression: ‘That is how we sell our fish.’ Their test was kind of rigged. If you watch them, they do certain things that make you play right into their tactics. They pull you right close to them so that you are one with them, and then they block your foot, block your arm and then you’re gone.

“It is physics, yet you don’t see it coming.”

There was a lot that Ed didn’t see coming in his life. And in many ways, his jiu-jitsu trajectory mirrored his acting career-beginning with hesitancy, but eventually becoming a source of deep personal satisfaction. In both forums, the initial struggle only added to the ensuing gratification.

The Married With Children show would come out shortly after this.

 

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So who is the next A-list star to be added to this list?

Turns out funnyman Vince Vaughn has been training in BJJ under Rener and Ryron Gracie earning his white belt.

Vincent Anthony Vaughn (born March 28, 1970) is an American actor, producer, screenwriter and comedian.

Vaughn began acting in the late 1980s, appearing in minor television roles before attaining wider recognition with the 1996 comedy-drama film Swingers. He has appeared in a number of films in the 1990s, including the sports film Rudy (1993), the sci-fi adventure dinosaur film The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997), and the drama-thriller Return to Paradise (1998).

Other than his dramatic role in The Cell (2000), in the 2000s he acted primarily in comedies, including Old School (2003), Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004), Wedding Crashers (2005), The Break-Up (2006), Fred Claus (2007), and Four Christmases (2008). He continued his comedic roles in the 2010s with The Dilemma (2011), The Watch (2012), and The Internship (2013).

In 2015, he starred as Frank Semyon in the second season of the HBO anthology crime drama television series True Detective alongside Colin Farrell, Taylor Kitsch and Rachel McAdams, and since then has taken dramatic roles such as in Hacksaw Ridge, Brawl in Cell Block 99 and Dragged Across Concrete.

Yesterday, Vince Vaughn earned his blue belt. He began with us in Feb 2016 and he’s been training consistently for 2 years. Occasionally he would need to travel to film a movie, but he always finds a place to train on the road. Vince is one of the kindest people I’ve ever met and always takes time to connect with other students on and off the mat. We’re honored to train him and his kids, and if I had to bet I’d say he’s in it for life!

 

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In this original interview for Bloody Elbow by Team One Productions, BJJ Black Belt Chuck Norris relates the story of the first time he met and trained with the legendary Gracie family in Brazil. Chuck describes grappling with Royce, Rickson and Helio Gracie.

In this segment Chuck tells the tale of his first meeting with the legendary Gracie family while in Rio de Janeiro many years ago. Chuck grappled with brothers Royce Gracie and Rickson Gracie and their father Helio Gracie and his description of getting tapped out by each of them is hilarious. Especially when the elderly Helio has to apologize to Chuck after choking him out.

Chuck Norris deserves a ton of credit for expanding BJJ in the USA. He personally put up the money for the Machados to open their first academy.

 

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Dave Mustaine of Megadeth is the latest famed musician to enjoy the joys of jiu jitsu. Mustaine is 57 years old – he is best known as the co-founder, lead vocalist, guitarist and primary songwriter of the American heavy metal band Megadeth, as well as the original lead guitarist of Metallica.

Dave also does karate.

 

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After studying acting at the Drama Centre London, Tom Hardy made his film debut in Ridley Scott’s Black Hawk Down (2001) and has since appeared in such films as Star Trek: Nemesis (2002), RocknRolla (2008), Bronson (2008), Warrior (2011), Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011), Lawless (2012), Locke (2013), The Drop (2014), and The Revenant (2015), for which he received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. In 2015, Hardy portrayed “Mad” Max Rockatansky in Mad Max: Fury Road and both Kray twins in Legend. He has appeared in three Christopher Nolan films: Inception (2010), The Dark Knight Rises (2012) as Bane, and Dunkirk (2017) as an RAF fighter-pilot. He starred as Eddie Brock / Venom in the 2018 anti-hero film Venom.

Hardy’s television roles include the HBO war drama mini-series Band of Brothers (2001), the BBC historical drama mini-series The Virgin Queen (2005), Bill Sikes in the BBC’s mini-series Oliver Twist (2007), ITV’s Wuthering Heights (2008), the Sky 1 drama series The Take (2009), and the BBC historical crime drama series Peaky Blinders (2013–). He created, co-produced, and took the lead in the eight-part historical fiction series Taboo (2017) on BBC One and FX.

Tom Hardy recently earned his 2nd stripe on his brazilian jiu jitsu white belt. The 39yr old actor started training BJJ with the Royal Marines back in 2011 to prepare for his fight scenes in the movie Warrior. He’s also become an ambassador for REORG to help bring attention to combat veterans that suffer from PTSD.

 

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Travis Landon Barker (born November 14, 1975) is an American musician, songwriter, and record producer, best known as the current drummer for the rock band Blink-182. Barker has also performed as a frequent collaborator with hip hop artists, is a member of the rap rock group Transplants, founded the rock bands +44 and Box Car Racer, and most recently joined Antemasque and Goldfinger. He was a frequent collaborator with the now-late DJ AM, and together they formed TRV$DJAM. Due to his fame, Rolling Stone referred to him as “punk’s first superstar drummer” as well as one of the 100 Greatest Drummers of All Time.

Born in Fontana, California, Barker began drumming at an early age. He began playing for the Aquabats in 1996, but left to join Blink-182 in 1998, which encountered mainstream success with Enema of the State (1999). Barker established himself as a versatile drummer, producing and making guest appearances in music projects of numerous music genres including hip hop, alternative rock, pop and country. He also starred in an MTV reality series named Meet the Barkers. He was involved in a plane crash in 2008, but he recovered and released his debut solo album, Give the Drummer Some, in 2011. He has continued to work with rappers, releasing extended plays with Yelawolf and Asher Roth and Nottz, as well as with Blink-182 and the Transplants.

Aside from drumming, he founded clothing company Famous Stars and Straps in 1999 and LaSalle Records in 2004. Companies such as DC Shoes and Zildjian cymbals have co-designed products in his name. He released a memoir, Can I Say: Living Large, Cheating Death, and Drums, Drums, Drums, in 2015.

​Famous Blink 182 drummer Travis Barker is also a big fan of the sport. This inked up bad boy frequently trains with his two kids at the Gracie Academy in Torrence, California.

 

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After beginning his career as a stand-up comedian and later becoming an MTV presenter, Russell Brand first achieved renown in 2004 as the host of Big Brother’s Big Mouth, a Big Brother spin-off. In 2007, he had his first major film role in St Trinian’s, and the following year he landed a major role in the romantic comedy-drama Forgetting Sarah Marshall; the film led to him starring in a spin off, the rock comedy Get Him to the Greek, alongside Jonah Hill in 2010. He also worked as a voice actor in the animated films Despicable Me in 2010, Hop in 2011, and Despicable Me 2 in 2013, and played the title character of the 2011 remake of the romantic comedy Arthur. In 2013, he released the successful stand-up special Messiah Complex.

Since guest editing an edition of British political weekly New Statesman in 2013, Brand has become known as a public activist and campaigner, and has spoken on a wide range of political and cultural issues, including wealth inequality, addiction, corporate capitalism, climate change, and media bias. In 2014, Brand launched his political-comedy web series The Trews, released a book entitled Revolution, and began work on a documentary about financial inequality with Michael Winterbottom.

Over the course of his career, Brand has been the subject of frequent media coverage and controversy for issues such as his promiscuity and drug use, his outrageous behavior at various award ceremonies, his dismissal from MTV and resignation from the BBC, and his two-year marriage with singer Katy Perry. He has incorporated many of his controversial public antics into his comedic material. A biographical documentary called Brand: A Second Coming was released in 2015.

Russell is also famed for being the ex-husband of pop star Katy Perry.

Comedian Russell Brand was awarded his Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Blue belt this week under his main instructor at RGA Bucks Kev Capel. Russell is under the Roger Gracie lineage so UK BJJ pioneer Mauricio Gomes and BJJ GOAT Roger Gracie were also in attendance.

I had to overcome my fear about getting smashed. It’s good to learn about how to channel your aggression. Life is struggle and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu teaches you how to deal with it. – Russell Brand

Brand has spoken about the benefits BJJ has brought to both his physical and mental-health extensively and over the last few years and is part of the growing wave of celebrity BJJ advocated across the globe.

 

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The 12-year-old actress, who shot to fame this year after appearing in the Netflix series, was pictured today receiving a stripe on her white belt at a gym in Bournemouth, United Kingdom.

Brown rose to fame in Stranger Things playing a mysterious young girl with a shaved head known only as ’11’. The show combined elements of science fiction and supernatural horror with many beloved themes of 1980’s movies, drawing inspiration from the works of Spielberg movies and other iconic sources.

Released on Netflix, the ten-part series become a surprise hit and propelled the many unknown child actors to fame.

Brown trains at Phoenix BJJ — a club affiliated to former world champion Fernando ‘Terere’ — alongside her coach, black belt Trevor Chamberlain.

 

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