Why are so many famous people gravitating towards BJJ
Celebrities that do BJJ is becoming quite normal as Brazilian Jiu Jitsu gains in popularity around the world. Actors, musicians and comedians are all becoming BJJ fanatics as they discover how effective it can be. Whether it’s getting into shape for a particular role, keeping fit on the road or authentically portraying techniques on the big screen. There’s also the added therapeutic benefits of the exercise itself that makes it attractive. Celebrities that want to switch up their training regime with something mentally stimulating are looking outside of the standard weight session. It’s for all these reasons that the number of celebrities who train BJJ is steadily growing.
The internet loves Keanu Reeves. His role as Neo in the Matrix propelled him into worldwide stardom. It wasn’t until his role as John Wick however that Keanu really got to show off his BJJ skills and cement his status as a bonafide action star. Utilizing techniques from Japanese Jiu Jitsu, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Judo and 3-Gun, John Wick’s action packed style has been described as ‘Gun Fu’ by director Chad Stahelski.
While he’s still early in his BJJ journey as a white belt, Keanu has shown his commitment to martial arts and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu with every John Wick sequel that gets released. This dedication has been recognised by top tier martial artists, with the actor even receiving an honorary Judo black belt from 3 x Olympic Gold medalist Nomura Tadahiro in Tokyo.
Keanu is just one of the many celebrities who train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu with the legendary Machado Brothers. With a gym conveniently located in Hollywood, it’s no surprise that you’ll find famous celebrity bjj practitioners on the mats on any given day.
If you’ve ever wondered why the fight scenes in John Wick are so authentic, just look at the team around Keanu that help prepare him for the role.
Representing the singers, Demi Lovato proves that actors aren’t the only celebrities that do BJJ. Earning her Brazilian Jiu Jitsu blue belt in 2017 from Orlando Sanchez, the pop star has stated that watching people grapple sparked her interest in BJJ. With such a high profile amongst the younger audience, Lovato has no doubt brought more awareness to BJJ through promoting it on her social media posts.
The American singer reveals that while she loves rolling, she mainly trains private sessions in BJJ. Celebrities commonly train this way to avoid any accidental injury that could occur while rolling in a general class. After relapsing in 2018 though, Demi Lovato has taken a break from Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. During her appearance on the Joe Rogan Podcast in May 2021, she told the comedian that she would love to get back to training as she ‘missed Jiu Jitsu so much’. Interestingly, Joe Rogan is also a celebrity that trains Brazilian Jiu Jitsu who was awarded his black belt in 2012. Click here to listen to Demi and Joe discuss their love for BJJ.
There is a lot of fun to be had on the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu mats. It’s clear that Demi really enjoyed her time training BJJ.
Ashton Kutcher began his BJJ journey in 2012 when he first started training in Rio de Janeiro. Currently a brown belt under the Machado Brothers, Ashton is one of the celebrities that is more active on the mats training mainly in Hollywood.
Earning a brown belt is no small feat, it takes years of dedication and sacrifice (click here to read about BJJ belts). Needless to say Kutcher was met with some scepticism when he was awarded his brown belt. Once videos emerged of him training with UFC middleweight Paulo Costa and Australian grappling superstar Craig Jones however, those criticisms subsided. While Kutcher is still exploring his abilities as a brown belt in BJJ, he’s one of the few high profile celebrities that do BJJ that has footage of him rolling. Unlike many celebrities, the ‘Dude, where’s my car?’ star doesn’t shy away from mixing it up with the rest of the class.
You can see below on Ashton’s face how much he respects the brown belt. It’s obvious that he doesn’t take the new rank lightly.
Scarlette Johanson is one the highest paid Hollywood celebrities doing BJJ. She took up Brazilian Jiu Jitsu to train for her role as Natasha Romanoff in 2010’s Iron Man 2. The Black Widow star has been seen training alongside a host of other famous celebrity BJJ practitioners at the Machado Brothers gym in Beverly Hills.
Anybody that’s familiar with the Marvel movies would be familiar with their epic fight scenes. Johanson trained Boxing, Judo and MMA along with BJJ in preparation for the physical nature of the action sequences. Unlike her fellow Marvel companions, Black Widow doesn’t have superpowers to rely on. She instead flexes her well trained unarmed combat skills to take down her enemies in a variety of ways. She came away impressing not just BJJ practitioners but fight fans worldwide.
It’s not easy being a boss on the red carpet while also being a boss on the mats. Check out the video below of Johanson training for her role as Black Widow.
Chuck Norris is considered to be one of the most influential celebrities that brought BJJ to Hollywood. Even though there is no chin behind Chuck Norris’ beard, only another fist, the actor was instrumental in introducing BJJ to the mainstream.
Chuck Norris is currently a third degree black belt under the famous Gracie clan. He gifted them their first school in a shopping centre in Encino when they arrived in the U.S. This was in the 80’s before BJJ existed outside of Brazil. Without Chuck Norris’ ground work promoting BJJ his Hollywood friends in the early days, the UFC would never have materialized and we wouldn’t be writing this article. Read more about the origins of the UFC here.
Chuck Norris is famous for many things. Starring alongside Bruce Lee in Way of the Dragon, starring in the hit series ‘Walker Texas Ranger’ and being the subject of some of the internet’s best jokes are just a few of his high profile credits. But for martial arts and combat sports practitioners, his influence in the world of BJJ and MMA is acknowledged worldwide as his greatest contribution.
Don’t be fooled by his on screen tough guy persona, Chuck Norris is well loved and respected in the martial arts community.
Ronny Chieng made his name doing stand up comedy around the Melbourne comedy scene in 2009. As Ronny rose through the Aussie comedy scene, he begun expanding his skillset onto the big screen as an actor. This eagerness to try new things also lead him into the world of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Ronny was a regular at Marcelo Garcia’s famous gym in New York City. Due to the pandemic it has unfortunately made it impossible for Chieng to continue his BJJ training there. It hasn’t stopped him from expressing his love for BJJ though. The comedian is one of the celebrities that do BJJ, who actively promotes it and is truly accepted by the community of BJJ. Ronny Chieng is known to drop into different gyms around the world where ever his work takes him. It’s for this humility and willingness to roll with everyone that makes the BJJ community embrace Ronny Chieng as one of their own.
While stand up and acting might be the first love for Ronny Chieng, BJJ seems like it’s a close second. We don’t have any footage of Ronny rolling so here’s a clip of one of his comedy bits.
The popularity of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is undeniable. Even Hollywood can’t help but embrace the martial art. From OG’s that were there from the beginning like Ed O’Neill and Joe Rogan to more recent additions like Jonah Hill and Travis Barker. You don’t have to be a Hollywood elite to enjoy the benefits of BJJ however, you just need to find your nearest local BJJ gym!
Interested in reading more about BJJ? Here are 3 more Brazilian Jiu Jitsu related articles to get you up to speed: