Celebrities are taking up Brazilian jiu jitsu (BJJ) in large numbers. Some do it to help them prepare for fight scenes in movies, but many do it just for themselves. In this article we tell you which celebrities do BJJ and how far along their journey they are.
Do Celebrities Really Train BJJ?
Before I tell you which celebrities train BJJ, you should know something. Most of them don’t really train jiu jitsu, as in, they don’t compete and they don’t spar hard. Legendary grappling coach Rigan Machado explains:
I created a new jiu jitsu system for people who can’t get hurt. It’s technical training. They learn jiu-jitsu and technically train, but it’s all safe. I created a type of jiu-jitsu for the Beverly Hills clientele. Competition, sparring… these guys can’t do that. I can’t even take a 1% chance of them getting hurt. I have 18 celebrities doing this program. Some guys have to sign disclosure agreements; others like Ashton Kutcher and Mickey Rourke come in regularly, while Usher comes in once and a while and Vin Diesel when he’s in townRigan Machado – Celebrity grappling coach
So although I love the fact that the celebrities below train jiu jitsu (and some of them are quite good), we shouldn’t hold them to the same standard as us ‘normal people’.
Keanu Reeves trains BJJ to prepare for his movies. He shows some impressive BJJ tchniques in John Wick and to a lesser extent in the Matrix. Keanu only trains jiu jitsu for his movies, he doesn’t train or spar in his normal life. Nevertheless, his demonstrations are of a high level.
Ashton Kutcher trains BJJ and he’s decent. He’s a brown belt and he spars at a high level gym. He doesn’t use jiu jitsu for his acting career at all, he trains purely for himself. In the video below, you can see Ashton get gestroyed by professional BJJ athlete Craig Jones.
Rener Gracie is an example of someone who started in BJJ and then became a mainstream celebrity. He’s probably the only BJJ practitioner to ever do that. He became well known outside of the jiu jitsu and fighting community through a very impressive and successful shark tank pitch.
Jason Statham trains BJJ seriously. He’s a purple belt under Renzo Gracie, which is the third belt in the BJJ rank system, and he also trains under Roger Gracie in London. He doesn’t really use his jiu jitsu in his movies, despite him often having fight scenes. He trains and spars like normal BJJ practitioners.
Ed O’Neill is the most seasoned BJJ celebrity. He’s been training jiu jitsu with the Gracie family for around 20 years now. He doesn’t really use this in his acting career aside from one rear naked choke once in Modern Family. He’s a true BJJ practitioner and he earned his black belt a long time ago.
Joe Rogan is the most vocal proponent of the benefits of Brazilian jiu jitsu. He talks about this a lot on his podcast, in his UFC commentary and even in his comedy specials. Joe Rogan is a dual black belt in both gi and no gi. He’s been training many years and he’s definitely legit.
Guy Ritchie is a movie director who is also a black belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu. He’s been seen training together with Jason Statham at the Roger Gracie academy in London. He also appeared on the Joe Rogan podcast and talked extensively with Joe about his jiu jitsu experience. Apparently, Guy is a legit BJJ black belt.
Ari Shaffir started doing BJJ after Joe Rogan mentioned it to him over and over again. The last time they spoke about it Ari Shaffir was a BJJ purple belt, and Joe said he’s legit. He said he would definitely beat up Bert Kreisscher. Ari trains jiu jitsu in New York, but he didn’t mention at which academy.
Wiz Khalifa picked up some BJJ classes recently as well. He might have done this after talking to Joe Rogan about it on his podcast, because at that time Wiz was only training Muay Thai. As far as I can tell, Wiz Khalifa is still a white belt in BJJ. But It’s nice to see main stream celebrities dabbling in jiu jitsu.
Celebrities that don’t train BJJ
I also want to address some false rumors about celebrities that train BJJ. I can’t prove it, but I’m pretty sure that the rumors that Nicolas Cage and Jim Carrey train BJJ aren’t true. I researched it, and there seems to be no evidence at all to support these suspicions. Also, there’s no evidence that Bruce Lee trained BJJ explicitly during his life.