Celebrities and the martial arts

Not sure if anyone here is into the martial arts, but I have a question about whether or not you’ve heard of any celebrities that may have earned rank in karate, judo, aikido, and so on. I’ve heard anecdotes about, for example, Bob Barker being a black belt, but found no hard cites. FWIW, I have a purple belt in the form of karate known as Hawaiian kempo.

Martial Arts Celebrities

Ed O’Neill, TV’s Al Bundy, earned a black belt in brazilian jiu-jitsu from the Gracies, although it took him a long time.

al bundy gets black belt

Joshua Waitzkin, former chess prodigy, basis of the movie Searching For Bobby Fischer and (current?) spokesman for the Chessmaster computer games is a successful competitve martial artist.

Thanks for the replies!

The primary sensei at the dojo I attend is the son of a nationally known psychiatrist, who is himself a high ranking black belt in karate and was his son’s first instructor.

I haven’t met him yet, because I’ve always had a conflict on the times he’s visited our city. You know, foot surgery can really mess up your training schedule, and the last time he was here I was not able to get out to the clinic he held. Grrr.


That list is fascinating.

Joe Rogan trained in taekwondo when he was a teenager and now does jui-jitsu.

It IS! The internets have everything.

I don’t recall if he if he “belted” or not but according to his autobiography Bob Barker did indeed study Karate…


Under Chuck Norris. :eek:

No one mentions Chuck Norris yet? He was US karate champion before going into acting.

According to someone who used to know her, Daryl Hannah is proficient in one of the martial arts. Didn’t say which one.

Christ on a cracker, that page makes the average wikipedia list look like a peer-reviewed Scientific American article. There are not enough [citation needed] and [weasel word] superscripts in the world to salvage that abortion.

Assuming I’m not being whooshed, you should submit that. It would fit right in.

I think it was taekwondo.

Anyway, I don’t think it counts if they became celebrities due to their martial arts ability

Tang Soo Do, which was at one time considered Taekwondo’s less-sports-oriented (ie, more serious) cousin.

Kate Bush studied Aikido, though it’s not known how far she went with it. Her brother John Carder Bush ran a dojo and she incorporated it into her dance.

Not a whoosh. In a different online forum a while back, David Lindley was rather testily debunking the old story about Jackson Browne having “beaten up” Daryl Hanna. (Lindley and Browne are long time friends and musical collaborators.)

One of DL’s points was that Ms. Hannah (who was famously athletic) was proficient in martial arts, and had Jackson Browne ever hit her “she would have kicked his ass.”


As the liok above notes (and as he himself has confirmed) James Coburn studied under Bruce Lee. Must’ve come in handy for those Derek Flint movies.

I believe Chris Farley was a ninja.

Can’t remember which movie right now, but Jimmy Cagney displayed some of his awesome judo skill in a movie fight scene.

Not on the linked list, but Lauren Holly studied Tae Kwon Do (I think). Was always an inside joke amongst my friends that she would always throw a circle kick in any movie she was in.

Wow, that’s some hyper-critical commentary ya got going on there. Which of the entries are you prepared to debunk?

Scott Bakula apparently didn’t start in with any martial artistry until the second season of QUANTUM LEAP, which isn’t obvious until you notice that Sam Beckett pretty much only ever breaks out that one crescent kick.