Monday, July 4, 2022

15 Top Martial Artists in the World in 2022 – [Updated]

Martial arts have been a common fixture on the silver screen. But ever wondered who are the top martial artists in the world as of now? Join us to be in the know.

The Top Martial Artists in the World: Overview

Martial arts are a self-defense skill or sport, typically originating from the Far East. You use them to defend yourself or attack, depending on the situation. Martial arts help develop self-discipline, an active lifestyle, and better reflexes while also boosting your confidence and self-expression.

The variety of martial arts is astounding since every country has a native combat style. Karate, boxing, wrestling, judo, taekwondo, and kickboxing, you name it. They are categorized into two parts, soft martial arts and hard martial arts. Hard martial arts include some intentional beatings in a tactical way to make the opponent give up. Examples include karate, kickboxing, etc. On the other hand, soft martial arts apply less aggressive tactics to prompt the opponent to surrender.

No one can stay immune to the lure of martial arts and martial artists, not even cinema. It even has a separate genre dedicated to martial arts and artists. Here’s a comprehensive list of the top martial artists in the world. If you adore martial artists, the list is a must-read for you.

15 Top Martial Artists in the World

1. Bruce Lee

Bruce LeeWho else but Bruce Lee!

He was a Chinese-American martial artist famous for his astounding moves, agility and powerful performances. But martial arts is not the only reason why we know Bruce Lee. He was an actor, director, martial arts instructor, and inventor all rolled into one. How’s that for versatility!

Bruce Lee died on 23 July 1973 at 32. The stated cause of death was a medication he used for relief from headaches. However, for many, his death is still a mystery. Lee was not only one of the top martial artists in the world but an icon with a lasting legacy. As a side note, Hollywood studios were initially apprehensive about casting Asians as the leads. Bruce Lee broke that glass ceiling.

Notable Contributions: They credit him with inventing the “Jeet Kune Do,” a mixture of Kung Fu, boxing and fencing. As an instructor, he promoted the technique through martial art classes.

Body of Work: His notable directorial work includes Hong Kong, a worldwide hit and a cult movie in the martial arts genre. as an actor, he featured only in five flicks, including Game of Death (1978), Enter the Dragon (1973), The Boss (1971), Way of the Dragon (1972), and Fist of Fury (1972).

Documentaries: Bruce Lee was the topic of several documentaries that celebrated his genius, iconic status and legacy. These include Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, Birth of the Dragon, and more.

Personal Details:

  • DOB: 27 November 1940
  • Death: 20 July 1973 in Hong Kong
  • Height: 1.72 m
  • Born in: San Francisco, California, USA
  • Spouse: Linda Lee Cadwell

2. Jackie Chan

Jackie ChanJackie Chan is second on the list of the top martial artists in the world. His slapstick acrobatic fighting techniques make us laugh while his incredible moves leave us awe-struck. Jackie was trained in Wushu and Hapkido techniques and uses them to full effect in his movies.

Body of Work: The actor began his career in the 1960s and, on the last count, has featured in 150 plus movies. He even featured in the movie, Hong Kong, directed by Bruce Lee. Some of his notable movies include The Karate Kid, Rush Hour, The Foreigner, Police Story, Drunken Master, Rumble In The Bronx, Snake In The Eagle’s Shadow, Big and Little Wong Tin Bar, and so on.

Recognitions: In a long prolific career, awards and recognitions have come thick and fast for Jackie, including the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Hong Kong Avenue of Stars, and more.

Personal Details:

  • DOB: 7 April 1954
  • Height: 1.74 m
  • Hailing from: Hong Kong
  • Spouse: Joan Lin

3. Vidyut Jammwal

Vidyut JammwalVidyut Jammwal is an Indian martial artist who has set the silver screen on fire with his hourglass body and some impossible stunts. Born in December 1980, Jammwal is an expert in kalarippayattu, a popular martial art originating in South India. Jammwal redefined the action hero with his out-of-the-world moves and athleticism. It’s not for nothing they call him the New Age Action Hero of Bollywood.

Body of Work: He debuted with the TV series, CID in 1998 and but had to wait till 2011 to bag the leading role in the movie, Force. There has been no looking back for him since then. He went on to feature in commercial successes like the Commando franchise, Baadshaho, Anjaan, Junglee, Khuda Hafiz, Billa 2, and more. The actor also featured in two music videos, Tumhe Dillagi and Gal Ban Gaye.

Recognitions and Awards: Stardust Awards, FICCI Frames Awards, Filmfare Awards, IIFA Awards, SIIMA Awards, Zee Cine Awards, and Jackie Chan Action Movie Awards.

Personal Details:

  • DOB: 10 December 1980
  • Height: 1.8 m
  • Hailing from: India
  • Spouse: Nandita Mahtani

4. Jet Li

Jet LiJet Li is Li Lianjie’s stage name, a Chinese-Singaporean actor, director, and martial artist. He has a solid background in martial arts, being a Wushu champion in Beijing and later a Wushu teacher in the Beijing Wushu Team – all before he turned 19. He had started training 3 years before he won his first national championship trophy in Wushu. After winning the trophy and retiring from the training team, he started his acting career in China.

Notable Contributions: A four decade long acting career and his credentials in Wushu make him one of the top martial artists in the world. His movie franchisee, The Shaolin Temple, triggered the revival of the legendary Shaolin Temple in China. The monastic order is the cradle of Kung Fu.

Body Of Work: The English audience saw Jet Li for the first time in the movie, Shaolin Temple (1982). He later went on to star in many successful martial arts movies, including Zhang Yimou’s Hero (2002), Fist of Legend (1994), and the Once Upon a Time in China series (1991–1993).

Awards and Nominations: Golden Horse Film Festival, MTV Movie Awards, Hundred Flowers Awards, Hong Kong Film Critics Society Awards, Hong Kong Film Awards, Shanghai Film Critics Awards, Asian Film Awards, and more.

Personal Details:

  • DOB: 26 April 1963
  • Height: 1.68 m
  • Hailing from: Beijing, China
  • Spouse: Nina Li Chi (Present)

5. Steven Seagal

Steven SeagalSteven Seagal is more than just a martial artist from Michigan. Rather, he is also an actor, a screenwriter, a producer, and a musician. Seagal as a musician has gained quite a popularity. He is also an accomplished guitar player and lyricist with his lyrics featuring in some of his movies, including Fire Down Below, Ticker, etc. Seagal started his martial art career late but instantly emerged as one of the top martial artists in the world. His charm and skills helped his emergence.

Notable Contributions: Steven Seagal is an aikido specialist. However, acting, martial arts, and music are not the only things he was involved in. Steven Seagal also joined the force in the 1980s, and during his stint, taught his deputies martial arts, marksmanship, and unarmed combat.

Body of Work: He debuted on the celluloid with “Above the Law” in 1987. Some of his smash hits include Hard to Kill, Marked for Death, Under Siege, On Deadly Ground, Executive Decision, The Glimmer Man, Fire Down Below, The Patriot, Ticker, Half Past Dead, Today You Die, Maximum Conviction, Code of Honor, The Asian Connection, and Sniper: Special Ops.

Personal Details:

  • DOB: 10 April 1952
  • Height: 1.93 m
  • Hailing from: Michigan, United States
  • Spouse: Erdenetuya Seagal

6. Wesley Snipes

Wesley SnipesLike other martial artists on this list, Wesley is a martial artist, a film producer, and an actor. Speaking of his martial arts career, Snipes started training when he was 12. He won a 5th-degree black belt in Shotokan Karate before winning the 2nd-degree black belt in Hapkido. Also, he has received training in Hapkido, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Kickboxing, Capoeira, and Shotokan.

Body of Work: His body of work is extensive, including movies like New Jack City (1991), Blade trilogy (1998–2004), The Expendables 3 (2014), White Men Can’t Jump (1992), Demolition Man (1993), Passenger 57 (1992), The Player (2015), and U.S. Marshals (1998). Most of these films fared well at the box office and generated decent reviews as well. He also has been a regular fixture on TV.

Awards and Nominations: Snipes was nominated for the Independent Spirit Award in the Best Supporting Male category for “The Waterdance.” But it was his role in One Night Stand that fetched him the Volpi Cup Award. Other recognitions include CableACE Awards, MTV Movie Awards, Image Awards, Gold Special Jury Awards, Independent Spirit Awards, and Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Personal Details:

  • DOB: 31 July 1962
  • Height: 1.75 m
  • Hailing from: Orlando, Florida, USA
  • Spouse: Nakyung Park

7. Jean-Claude Van Damme

Jean-Claude Van DammeJean-Claude Camille François Van Varenberg (Jean-Claude Van Damme) was born on October 18 1960 in Belgium. He is a film producer, an actor, a fight choreographer, and a martial artist. Jean-Claude got trained at age 12 from the Centre National de Karaté or National Center of Karate in Belgium. There, he trained and practised for four years and gained entry into the Belgian Karate Team.

Later, he also got trained in karate as well as kickboxing. At 15, he started his karate career in Belgium and won 44 matches between 1976 to 1980. Jean also won the European Karate Championship in 1979 when he was still in the Belgium Karate Team. He earned the second spot in the Coupe des Espoirs Karate Tournament after defeating 25 contestants. But in the final, Angelo Spataro got the better of Jean to emerge as the champion.

Body of Work: Bloodsport (1988) was his debut flick, followed by Cyborg. as his career progressed, he starred in Kickboxer (1989), Lionheart (1990), Death Warrant (1990), Double Impact (1991), Universal Soldier (1992), Nowhere to Run (1993), Hard Target (1993), Timecop (1994), Street Fighter (1994), Sudden Death (1995), The Quest (1996), Maximum Risk (1996), etc.

Personal Details:

  • DOB: October 18 1960
  • Height: 1.77 m
  • Hailing from: Sint-Agatha-Berchem, Belgium
  • Spouse: Gladys Portugues

8. Donnie Yen

Donnie YenBorn on 27 July 1963, Donnie Yen is a Chinese martial artist, actor, director, producer, action choreographer, world wushu tournament champion, and stuntman. Donnie was one of the leading action movie actors in his heyday and one of the top martial artists in the world.

Donnie is skilled in tai chi, kickboxing, boxing, judo, wushu, jeet Kune do, Hapkido, karate, wrestling, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Muay Thai, Taekwondo, and Wing Chun. If you search for the highest-paid actors in Asia, you may find Donnie Yen on the list.

Notable Contributions: You can credit him with introducing mixed martial arts (MMA) in Asian cinema through his choreography styles in the 2000s.

Personal Details:

  • DOB: 27 July 1963
  • Height: 1.73 m
  • Hailing from: Yuexiu District, Guangzhou, China
  • Spouse: Cissy Wang

9. Tony Jaa

Tony JaaTony Jaa, the screen name of Tatchakorn Yeerum, is an international artist based in Thailand. Here, he is also known as Jaa Phanom. Experienced in martial arts, acting, choreographing and film direction, he is a stuntman, a traceur, and a former monk.

At the age of 10, he started training Muay Thai at a temple, and at the age of 15, he became a protégé of stuntman and an action film director, Panna Rittikrai. Jaa also joined Maha Sarakham College of Physical Education for a bachelor’s degree.

Body Work: Jaa has been featured in Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior (2003), Ong Bak 2: The Beginning (2008), Tom-Yum-Goong (2005), Furious 7 (2015), SPL II: A Time for Consequences (2015).

10. Johnny Trí Nguyễn

Johnny Trí NguyễnJohnny Trí Nguyễn, born in Vietnam, is an American martial artist. But that is not the only thing he is fond of doing. He is a film director, an action choreographer, and also a stuntman. But he is more into Vietnamese movies rather than Hollywood.

He previously worked as a martial artist in the U.S. national team before taking up an acting career. You can find him in Spider-Man 2 as well as Jarhead as a superb stuntman. Besides, he has featured in Tony Jaa‘s Tom-Yum-Goong (A Thai film) and 7aum Arivu and Irumbu Kuthirai (Indian movies).

11. Iko Uwais

Iko UwaisIko Uwais is an Indonesian martial artist who started his training at the age of 10. But unlike the other martial artists in this list, he wasn’t that good before a Welsh movie director, Gareth Evans, saw him, and casted him in his movie, Merantau in 2009.

Uwais is an expert in a fighting style named ‘Sumatran tiger style.’ If you want to know about it, watch the movies The Raid and The Raid 2, where he portrayed his fighting skills. He even played a small part in Star Wars: Episode VII, The Force Awakens. Obviously, he finds mention among the top martial artists in the world.

12. Chuck Norris

Chuck NorrisCarlos Ray Norris is the full name of Chuck Norris, who wasn’t always an athlete. He took Soo Do lessons when he was in the U.S. Air Force. Later, he developed his unique hybrid fighting style, Chun Kuk Do that earned him black belts in the World Karate Champion in 1968. Later, Steve McQueen motivated him to start a film career. However, he could taste commercial success only in the 80s with Texas Ranger, an American TV show that ran from 1993-2001.

13. Toshiro Mifune

Toshiro MifuneToshiro Mifune and Akira Kurosawa partnered to come up with 16 movies. The most famous of all was Seven Samurai, released in 1954. Herein, Toshiro displayed his macho fighting style to enthrall the audience. With time, his popularity soared as one of the world-famous martial artists. Even George Lucas invited him to play a part in Obi-Wan Kenobi. He also almost played Mr. Miyagi in Karate Kid (1984), but that couldn’t happen.

14. Bolo Yeung

Bolo YeungBolo Yeung is an expert in tai chi, wing Chun, and crushing bones that helps him play awesome badass villains in movies. Not to mention he also had a great muscular body and had trained Bruce Lee in entering The Dragon and Jean-Claude Van Damme as well.

15. Phillip Rhee

Phillip RheePhillip Rhee has practiced martial arts since he was 4. His preferred fighting techniques are Hapkido, taekwondo, and kendo. However, his acting career couldn’t pull off. That’s why he took the opportunity to make his own series Brutal, Best Of The Best (1989-1998). The classic cult series went on to display his awesome stunts and agility.


If you are joining martial arts yourself or want your kid to practice the fighting techniques, these Top 15 Martial Artists in the world in 2022 are enough inspiration for you. If we haven’t included your favorite artist in the list, don’t mind us. You can tell us in the comment box below.

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