“Martial arts is not about fighting, it is about being fit and healthy, both physiologically and psychologically.”
― Abhijit Naskar
Martial art is an ancient discipline that has gradually gained popularity in the modern world. Martial arts are not merely action sports. It is an art form that helps you to be fit both physically and mentally. A martial artist is active, disciple, patient, and has the prowess to defend himself. Karate, Judo, Kung Fu, Taekwondo, Jiu-Jitsu, and Muay Thai Wushu among others are some popular forms of martial arts. If you want to be fit and healthy, you can easily take up a form of martial arts. That way, you can also learn to defend yourself when in need.
The world has seen a number of talented martial artists over the years. They have mesmerized everyone with their clean moves and deadly techniques.
Let us have a look at some of the greatest martial artists in the world.
We have all heard of Bruce Lee. Though he passed away at a young age, his contributions to the field of martial arts are insurmountable. It was Bruce Lee who popularized martial arts on the world stage. He developed an innovative technique called Jeet Kune Do by blending kung fu with fencing and boxing. The Chinese American revolutionized the way Asians were portrayed on Hollywood screens with his immense talent. His films Enter the Dragon, The Fist of Fury, etc have all achieved cult status. Undoubtedly, many considered the legendary Bruce Lee to be the God of Martial Artists.
Jackie Chan has been reigning supreme over our hearts for decades. The charming and humble action star is one of the exponents of martial arts on the world stage. His slapstick fighting style and perfectly choreographed innovative stunts always leave you in awe. Chan has developed a uniquely choppy style wherein he blends Hapkido, Judo, Wing Chun, Taekwondo, and Hei Long. His superfast kung fu is indeed mesmerizing. Chan is one of those rare stars who performs his own risky stunts even at his advanced age. Some of his noteworthy films are Drunken Master, The Legend of Drunken Master, Who Am I, Rush Hour, and Police Story among others.
Li Lianji, aka Jet Li, has always been a prodigy. Trained by Wu Bin-the, the wushu champion had become a national coach when he was merely a schoolboy. His fighting prowess impressed US President Richard Nixon so much that he asked him to be his personal bodyguard. The actor and producer first tasted fame in the Chinese film industry. He went on to achieve stardom in Hollywood with movies like Lethal Weapon 4, Kiss of the Dragon, Unleashed, War, and The One. Jet Li’s powerful and flowing kickboxing-influenced style continues to astound audiences.
Donnie Yen is a talented Hong Kong Chinese martial artist, actor, film director, and stuntman. The wushu champion made Wing Chun popular. He brought mixed martial arts to the limelight by showcasing his amazing skills in cinemas. His portrayal of the title character of the film, Ip Man, is swoon-worthy. You would never guess that he only took eight months to master Bruce Lee’s teacher’s signature snake-meets-crane style. Yen continues to deliver stellar performances. The beautiful way in which he played the blind battle monk Chirrut in Rogue One: A Star Wars is applause-worthy.
Justifiably or justifiably, the world of martial arts is deemed to be the domain of men. Michelle Yeoh is one of the few women who have proved their prowess in the field. The Malaysian actor is the perfect combination of beauty and strength. She won the Miss Malaysia pageant in 1983 before making her name as one of the greatest action heroines of all time. She makes use of her dancing skills to add an edge to her action sequences. Yeoh gained popularity in Hong Kong films before getting international recognition for her performance in the Bond film, Tomorrow Never Dies. Her martial arts films and series like Hidden Dragon, Star Trek: Discovery, and Crouching Tiger further propelled her to fame.
Jean-Claude Van Damme
Jean-Claude Camille Francois Van Verenberg, also known as Jean-Claude Van Damme, is a veteran martial artist, fight choreographer, and filmmaker. He was only twelve when he started learning Karate at the National School of Karate. After four years of training, he went on to learn kickboxing and full-contact Karate. His debut film, The Quest, is a brilliant martial arts movie. Kickboxer, Death Warrant, Street Fighter, and Maximum Risk are some of Damme’s noteworthy films.
Wesley Snipes is a renowned martial artist, actor, and film producer hailing from America. Starting at the age of twelve, Snipes has gained expertise in a number of martial arts forms like Hapkidi, Shotokan Karate, Capoerira, kickboxing, Kung Fu, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He became a star due to his stunning performances in movies like New Jack City, Passenger 57, Blade trilogy, and The Expendables 3.
Vidyut Jamal made his way among the top stars of martial arts only recently. The Bollywood actor achieved this feat through hard work and resilience. He started training at a very young age. At the tender age of three, he began learning Kalaripayattu, a little-known form of martial arts that is performed on the battlefield with weapons. The Indian actor has taken it upon himself to uphold the significance of fitness and strength. His Commando series best portray his prowess as an action star.
Martial art is beautiful and tough. It takes sheer determination and disciple to master any form of the art. Over the years, there have been many who have earned a name in the field. Among them, there are a select few who have brought the sports of martial arts to the world’s eye through their breathtaking movie presence and shows. This list only consists of a few of my favorite martial artists of all time.
Do comment and let me know who among these stalwarts you look up to.
One thought on “Haiyaa!: Top Martial Artists of All Time”
I’m very glad a woman was included here. And I didn’t know Bollywood did the whole martial arts thing. It’s always nice to learn something new.