Celebrity BJJ – Complete List of Stars Who Train! [2023]

Last updated on 31.08.2023 by

Whether it is Hollywood, the music industry, reality TV, or social media icons, everyone has celebrities they like and follow. And, let’s be honest, it’s always cool to find out you’ve got something in common with your favorite stars. You may be surprised to learn just how many A-list celebs train the Gentle Art!

Check out the ultimate list of celebrity BJJ practitioners below. 

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu: A Trend Among Celebrities

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Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is not new to the world of movies. One of the most iconic Hollywood BJJ representations is Mel Gibson’s unforgettable choke in the first Lethal Weapon movie (1987). The choke was no coincidence as Rorion Gracie was the fight choreography consultant for the film.

As the BJJ evolved and gained popularity, more and more fight choreography consultants pointed famous actors towards Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in order to prepare them for their roles. What they probably didn’t count on is the celebrities themselves getting hooked on BJJ. 

What started as just another task of role preparation, ended up turning into a Hollywood, and then a worldwide trend. Celebrity BJJ practitioners are all over the show business world now, from actors and singers to comedians and YouTube personalities.

The Ultimate List Of Nearly Every Celebrity BJJ Practitioner

Our BJJ celebrity list won’t include every celeb who has taken a trial lesson or has done a few private classes for a role. For example, an actor/actress training for a role and never again visiting a Jiu Jitsu class on their own, does not constitute a celebrity BJJ practitioner. For our purposes celebrity BJJ practitioners must have trained with some degree of regularity. As you’ll soon find out this doesn’t mean that the list of celebrities who do Jiu Jitsu is short!

Is your favorite celebrity on the list? Read on to find out. 

Mario Lopez

Actor Mario Lopez is best known for his role as AC Slater in the TV series Saved by the Bell, but today he is known for competing in BJJ alongside his son. Lopez recently posted a picture of him and his son posing with medals at a local competition – making him somewhat unique amongst celebrities who train! Its relatively uncommon for actors to put everything on the line, but Mario walks the walk!

Academy: Gracie Barra Glendale, California

Belt Rank: Blue (four stripes)

Status: Actively training AND competing

Demi Lovato

Demi Lovato is one of the greatest ambassadors of Jiu Jitsu. The famous singer really took to the sport, constantly sharing her experiences all over social media and talking about it passionately during interviews. Lovato is extremely proud of her blue belt rank and remains a huge admirer of the sport and one of the most recognizable celebrity BJJ practitioners. 

Academy: Unbreakable Gym in West Hollywood (also visit’s Renzo’s NYC academy every chance she gets).

Belt rank: Purple , under Orlando Sanchez.

Status: Actively training (took a long break during Covid). 

Ashton Kutcher

The popular actor (My Bosses’ Daughter, Dude Where’s my Car, That 70’s Show) is a really avid BJJ practitioner. His coach, Rigan Machado claims he could even beat Connor McGregor in grappling. While some might think that is a bold statement, you should check out Kutcher rolling with huge BJJ names like Craig Jones… he is good! Not too surprising as Kutcher has a background in wrestling as well. 

Academy: Rigan Machado’s Beverly Hills Academy.

Belt rank: Brown, under Rigan Machado.

Status: Actively training.

Tom Hardy

Hardy is not just a tough guy on the screen, he is also one in real life. Tom started training Jiu Jitsu way back in 2011 with the Royal Marines in preparation for his role in the movie Warrior. He didn’t immediately fall for BJJ, only really getting into it during the last few years, when he became an ambassador of the REORG foundation which helps veterans through BJJ classes. 

Academy: REORG Jiu Jitsu (https://reorgcharity.com/).

Belt rank: Blue.   

Status: Actively training. 

Keanu Reeves

Keanu is probably one of most recognizable celebrity BJJ practitioners as a result of the John Wick movie trilogy. Keanu, a black belt in Judo, has been intermittently training Jiu Jisu under Rigan Machado for the past decade. Keanu reports that it was the intense training for the role of John Wick that got him to engage in BJJ more frequently.

Academy: Rigan Machado’s Beverly Hills Academy

Belt rank: White.

Status: Intermittently training.

Maynard James Keenan

The lead singer of Tool and Perfect Circle, Keenan seems to be really embracing the Jiu Jitsu lifestyle. He has been training since the ‘90s (started training at Rickson’s at the same time as Henry Akins (a very popular black belt YouTuber) and was awarded his blue belt 20 years ago. He did not train regularly throughout the years, mostly due to injuries and his career engagements, and only received his purple belt in 2015. 

Academy: Maui Jiu Jitsu Academy.

Belt rank: Purple, under Luis Heredia.

Status: Intermittently training. 

Margot Robbie

Here’s one of the more surprising celebrity BJJ practitioners. The gorgeous Aussie actress initially got involved in grappling in preparation for her popular role as Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad. It seems she got hooked though and has kept up training with the Machados ever since. 

Academy: Rigan Machado’s Beverly Hills Academy.

Belt rank; White.

Status: Intermittently training.

Ashiko Westguard

The famous Canadian actress/model is actually notorious for her prowess with triangle chokes, according to AJ Agazarm. She got involved in Jiu Jitsu through a project on traveling and BJJ she did with Agazarm. 

Academy: Gracie Barra Pasadena.

Belt rank: White. 

Status: Intermittently training.

Chris Gethard

This NYC-based actor, comedian, and writer has been spotted training out of the Renzo’s Blue Basement. Gethard is a BJJ evangelist, having penned an article for Medium espousing how BJJ has shown him how resilient he can be as well as advocating for the sport on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

Academy:  Renzo Gracie Academy

Belt rank: Blue (last spotted at blue in 2019 – current rank unknown)

Status: Unknown

Millie Bobby Brown

The young Stranger Things and Enola Holmes star has been training for a while now under black belt Trevor Chamberlain. She is aware that BJJ is a must for her future in action movies, so instead of only cramming before roles, she enjoys being involved in regular training. In addition to BJJ, Millie also practices MMA. 

Academy:  Phoenix MMA.

Belt rank: White (two stripes).

Status: Actively training.

Nicolas Cage

Okay, I’ll be honest. Nicolas Cage did not do himself any favors in the celebrity BJJ practitioners department with THAT movie. You know the one I am talking about (Jiu Jitsu, 2020). And yet, the truth is that Mr. Cage is actually quite fond of grappling. According to his official IMDB biography, he has been training under Royce Gracie for years. 

Academy: Royce Gracie Jiu Jitsu Academy.

Belt rank: Unknown.

Status: Unknown.

Jenna Marbles

Jenna Marbles is a very famous YouTube personality, and a celebrity BJJ enthusiast! Her boyfriend is a blue belt, and as can be seen on her channel, they have a pretty sweet setup for training at home. She has a short video series dubbed “My boyfriend teaching me Jiu Jitsu”. 

Academy: Home Gym.

Belt rank: White.

Status: Unknown.

Russell Brand

The popular British comedian, actor, and activist Russel Brand is also a huge fan of BJJ! He has been training for 5+ years and has been very vocal about the benefits of Jiu Jitsu, how it changed his life, and trying to get people to try it. He is one of the celebrity names that instantly get connected to BJJ. 

Academy: Roger Gracie Buckinghamshire Academy.

Belt rank: Purple belt, under Kev Capel.

Status: Actively training.

Tori Spelling

The way that Tori Speeling got into Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was through her kids, who have been training under Jean Jacques Machado for years. The “Beverly Hills” star posted a couple of photos of her in a gi on her social media accounts. 

Academy: Jean Jacques Machado Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Academy.

Belt rank: White.

Status: Unknown.

Jim Carrey

Jim Carrey may not be someone you imagine grappling on the ground with a gi on, but the famous actor is actually very much into BJJ. He has been training for years under Royce Gracie and people also report him as quite a regular at Jorge Gurgel’s MMA gym. 

Academy: Unknown.

Belt rank: Brown, under Royce Gracie.

Status: Unknown.

Herman Li

The guitarist of Dragonforce is yet another celebrity that enjoys the benefits of Jiu Jitsu both on the mats and when playing. Li started training in a Carlson Gracie academy back in 2005, but also spent time training at Roger Gracie’s Mill Hill in London. Touring obligations, though, have interfered with his desire to train on a more constant basis. 

He did manage to roll while on tour once (had mats with him on the tour bus) with Zoltan Bathory from Five Finger Death Punch. Herman also used to compete a lot around 2008. 

Academy: Roger Gracie Academy.

Belt rank: Blue (forever). 

Status: Intermittently training.

Naomi Watts

It is no big surprise that the English actress has picked up on the Jiu Jitsu trend. After all, she is an accomplished Judoka who competed at a world championship level. Naomi is one of those celebrity BJJ practitioners that is very private about her training, and not too much is known except that she is a real badass at grappling. 

Academy: Unknown.

Belt rank: Unknown.

Status: Actively training.

Spencer Pratt

The reality TV star is obviously dedicated to Jiu Jitsu (he is a brown belt) but is also known to be very inconsistent, so much so that his professor Ricardo “Franjinha” Miller has had to guilt him into coming to training. He was claimed to have requested a Metamoris match against Ashton Kutcher in 2014. That one would’ve been great to see. 

Academy: Paragon BJJ.

Belt rank: Brown belt under Ricardo “Franjinha” Miller.

Status: Intermittently training.

Theo Rossi

Rossi (famous for his role in the Sons Of Anarchy TV series) is a huge MMA fan and has ended up training Jiu Jitsu constantly as a result. He trains with Royce Gracie on a weekly basis and is behind co-star Charlie Hunnam’s introduction to the sport. He used to take the cast of SOA to UFC fights at every opportunity. 

Academy: Royce Gracie Jiu Jitsu Academy.

Belt rank: Unknown.

Status: Actively training.

Kevin James

As you probably already know, Kevin has skills when it comes to grappling! Those are not just skills he got from preparing for Here Comes The Boom though. He has trained with Chris Weidman and Romulo Barral and is very active in MMA and grappling training. 

After all, anyone hanging out with Joe Rogan and Bas Rutten is bound to know some Jiu Jitsu! 

Academy: Kings MMA gym.

Belt rank: Unknown.

Status: Actively training.

Scarlett Johansson

The beautiful actress started training MMA and BJJ for her role as Black Widow in the Marvel movies, but ended up developing a taste for Jiu Jitsu in particular. Today, she attributes her looks and physical shape to BJJ, which she actively takes part in. 

Academy: Rigan Machado’s Beverly Hills Academy.

Belt rank: White belt.

Status: Actively training.

Mel Gibson

I already mentioned Mel Gibson as one of the celebrity BJJ pioneers. Similar to lots of other famous people that came across Jiu Jitsu through professional engagements and fell in love with it, Mel kept training after Lethal Weapon.  He trains with the Machado brothers (Rigan and Carlos).  

Academy: Rigan Machado’s Beverly Hills Academy.

Belt rank: Purple belt (maybe – wears a ranked rashguard in a photo with Carlos Machado).

Status: Unknown.

Travis Barker

The Blink 182 drummer has made BJJ a family affair – he trains with his two kids, Alabama and Landon. Barker constantly tweets about training with Rener and Ryron Grace and regularly posts pictures of him training. 

Academy: Torrance Gracie Academy.

Belt rank: White belt.

Status: Actively training.

Kelly Slater

The legendary surfer is a real BJJ addict, training constantly with the likes of the Mendes brothers, Buchecha, and all other killers that regularly show up at AOJ and Studio 540. As an ambassador of the sport, he loves saying “Put your kids in Jiu Jitsu before other sports”. 

Academy: AOJ and Studio 540.

Belt rank: Blue (2 stripes).

Status: Actively training.

Vince Vaughan

The American actor, producer, and comedian is one of those celebrity BJJ practitioners that take Jiu Jitsu as seriously as he does his job. Rener Gracie (his professor) refers to him as one of the hardest-working students in the gym. His kids also training with the Gracies.  

Academy: Torrance Gracie Academy.

Belt rank: Blue, under Rener Gracie.

Status: Actively training.

Vin Diesel

What do you do when you hang out with Guy Ritchie and Jason Statham? Well, among other things, you get to train BJJ with some of the best in the world. Diesel trains under Marcus Vinicius at the popular Rigan Machado Academy. According to Vinicius, Diesel “is very fond of Jiu Jitsu” but his busy schedule prevents him from establishing a regular routine. 

Academy: Rigan Machado’s Beverly Hills Academy.

Belt rank: White (At blue belt level according to Minotauro Nogueira).

Status: Unknown.

Henry Cavill

Even Superman trains Jiu Jitsu! Henry Cavill is yet another celebrity BJJ practitioner that proves that even superheroes need grappling skills. He has said on multiple occasions that he adores the sport and trains with Roger Gracie when in England, and Renzo Gracie in the USA.

Academy: Roger Gracie Academy / Renzo Gracie NYC Academy.

Belt rank: White belt.

Status: Actively training.

Wesley Snipes

A black belt in several martial arts, it is no wonder that Wesley Snipes would become a big BJJ fan. Training where most of his fellow celebrities in LA go for Jiu Jitsu (Rigan Machado’s Academy), Snapes is certainly getting world-class training. Whether that would’ve been enough to fight Joe Rogan in the Octagon (which almost happened at one point several years ago) is not clear, though. 

Academy: Rigan Machado’s Beverly Hills Academy.

Belt rank: Unknown.

Status: Intermittently training.

Matt Heafy

Training with Herman Li, the Trivium guitarist loves BJJ so much that he is sponsored by PeelGI and proudly sports their grappling gear. He rolls as regularly as he can while on tour, even in parking lots with members of his band and friends. He likes to say that “Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is like being in a band – the only way to get good at these things is to put in the time.”

Academy: Gracie Barra Orlando.

Belt rank: Brown.

Status: Actively training.

Dave Batista

Batista is not just a WWE star, but actually has some impressive grappling skills. He trains out of Pleasant Hill, California and apparently he is extremely dedicated. Of course, being such a powerhouse also works in his favor. 

Academy: Cesar Gracie’s gym.

Belt rank: Purple, under Cesar Gracie.

Status: Actively training.

Joey “CoCo” Diaz

If there is one celebrity BJJ practitioner that blows the Jiu Jitsu horn as loudly as possible (along with his best friend Joe Rogan) it is Joey “CoCo” Diaz. Training out of Legacy LA as his main spot, Diaz also regularly visits Eddie Bravo’s 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu HQ and Rigan Machado’s academy. 

Academy: Legacy BJJ (LA).

Belt rank: Blue, under Alberto Crane.

Status: Actively training.

Russell Peters

The comedian and actor has some legitimate BJJ skills. Skills which we onced used to stop a thief in a jewelry store in New York. Joe Rogan vouches for him being a legit blue belt, as the pair trained together under JJ Machado. Not surprising, given that he has been putting in the hours, training 3 to 4 times a week. 

Academy: Jean Jacques Machado Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Belt rank: Blue, under Jean Jacques Machado.

Status: Actively training.

Jonah Hill

Jonah is one of the latest celebrity BJJ practitioners. He has been training for a couple of years now and is trying to get on the mats 4-5 times a week, according to some of his social media posts. The American actor, director, producer, screenwriter, and comedian trains with UFC legend Kenny Florian.

Academy: Florian Martial Arts Center.

Belt rank: White (two stripes).

Status: Training actively.

Scott Eastwood

There seems to be a common thread among Suicide Squad stars, just like his colleague Margot Robbie, Scott Eastwood trains BJJ. Eastwood is a bit more experienced, already having a blue belt rank and seems to be really serious about it. He has been quoted as saying “Jiu Jitsu promotes a healthy ego” and “gives you a real sense of confidence.“ 

It was the late Paul Walker that got Clint Eastwood’s son into BJJ. 

Academy: Gracie Humaita HQ.

Belt rank: Blue belt.

Status: Actively training.

Freddie Prinze Jr.

In 2015, the American actor, writer, and producer, stated that he’s retired and all he does is “BJJ, surf, and hang out with his kids”. He trained in the Gracies’ Torrance academy before ending up with celebrity BJJ practitioners’ favorite Jean Jacques Machado. 

Academy: Gracie Academy in Torrance / Jean Jacques Machado Academy.

Belt rank: Purple, under Jean Jacques Machado.

Status: Actively training.

David Akers

The man who held the shared record for the longest field goal in NFL history is actually very dedicated to martial arts, more precisely Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and karate. Akers claimed that BJJ gives him a whole different set of physical attributes that helped him with football. 

Academy: Unknown.

Belt rank: Unknown.

Status: Actively training.

Milla Jovovich

The unmistakable Resident Evil superstar is no stranger to martial arts. Throughout her life, she has trained extensively in Taekwondo and Wushu, but is now completely focused on Jiu Jitsu. She was rumored to train with Eddie Bravo, but that has not been corroborated. What is certain is that she has more than 20 years of experience in martial arts and does most of her own stunts in movies. 

Academy: Unknown.

Belt rank: Unknown.

Status: Actively training.

Chris Conrad

Not much is known about the Hercules‘ star’s grappling adventures, but he has been reported to train at Jean Jacques’ academy. He also has mentioned Professor Rodrigo Carvalho as his coach in a social media post promoting Carvalho’s charity “Fight For a Kid.”

Academy: Jean Jacques Machado Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Academy.

Belt rank: Unknown.

Status: Unknown.

Charlie Hunnam

The Sons Of Anarchy, King Arthur, and Green Street Hooligans star is committed to Jiu Jitsu and trains with the rest of the stars with the Machados. Whether it was Roger Gracie black belt producer Guy Ritchie or fellow SOA actor Theo Rossi who roped him in, it seems that Hunnam is one of those celebrity BJJ practitioners that are here to stay in the sport. 

Academy: Rigan Machado’s Beverly Hills Academy.

Belt rank: Blue, under Rigan Machado.

Status: Actively training.

Steve Aoki

What is certain is that famous DJ Aoki was training a few years ago at Saulo Ribeiro’s academy in San Diego. He was sharing training photos on social media for a while, but has gone silent as of late. A big martial arts fan, Aoki is probably dabbling in another art if he is not training BJJ on a regular basis. 

Academy: Ribeiro Jiu-Jitsu Association.

Belt rank: White belt.

Status: Unknown.

Synyster Gates

The Avenged Sevenfold guitarist is one of those BJJ celebrity practitioners that really loves Jiu Jitsu, but has a hard time training regularly because of constant travel obligations. He is known to enjoy grappling at Cleber Luciano’s academy in Huntington Beach whenever he is home. 

Academy: Cleber Jiu Jitsu. 

Belt rank: White belt.

Status: Unknown.

Robert Duvall

The Godfather star also seems to be training with Rigan Machado, despite his age. His wife Luciana is an accomplished martial artist and is thought to have introduced Robert to the ways of the Gentle Art. She trains regularly at Pedro Sauer academy, where Robert sometimes accompanies her.  

Academy: Rigan Machado’s Beverly Hills Academy.

Belt rank: White belt.

Status: Unknown.


One of the greatest RnB stars of our time, Usher has been training in both Jiu Jitsu and MMA. Already very athletic because of his dancing skills, Usher also joins the list of BJJ celebrity practitioners. Moreover, he is training with some of the best in the business – Andre Galvao and Rigan Machado. He is also a friend of Anderson Silva. 

Academy: Atos / Rigan Machado’s Beverly Hills Academy.

Belt rank: White belt.

Status: Intermittently training.

LL Cool J

Marcus Vinicius, coach at Rigan Machado popular Beverly Hills Academy has confirmed that LL Cool Jay also trains there (along with a huge list of other celebrities). Given the actor/musician’s fascination with MMA and impressive physical fitness in general, this comes as no real surprise. 

Academy: Rigan Machado’s Beverly Hills Academy.

Belt rank: Unknown.

Status: Unknown.

Prince Jackson

Prince Jackson, the son of the king of pop Michael Jackson, also trains Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. He trains with Rener and Ryron Gracie on a regular basis, and they report that he is an “extremely dedicated and attentive student.” 

Academy: Gracie Academy in Torrance.

Belt rank: Blue, under Rener Gracie.

Status: Actively training.

Marlan Wayans

Wayans is a comedian and actor (Scary Movie, Requiem For A Dream) that has been pictured training in a gi on several occasions. He is a huge fan of BJJ and has a famous story about witnessing Nick Diaz beat someone up in a street fight. There is very little information on where he trains, or what his belt rank is. 

Academy: Unknown.

Belt rank: Unknown.

Status: Unknown.

Wiz Khalifa

The multi-platinum, Grammy-nominated rap star Wiz Khalifa is a huge MMA and BJJ fan and takes Jiu Jitsu training very seriously. He famously managed to get jacked (gained about 35 lbs) attributing his gains to BJJ training and is even interested in having an MMA fight. He still has a long way to go, though. 

Academy: Unbreakable Performance Center, Rigan Machado’s Beverly Hills Academy.

Belt rank: White belt.

Status: Actively training.

Shaquille O’Neal

If there’s one person I wouldn’t want to be caught in a crossface by, it has to be Shaq. He is so strong that he even managed to tap a couple of black belts out on one occasion. He has been training on and off, so he has an understanding of the game, but his brute strength means he can pretty much toy with most people. 

He is not all power and size though, and has been seen training with the likes of Nate Diaz, Royce Gracie, and a bunch of other BJJ and MMA stars. 

Academy: Unknown.

Belt rank: Unknown.

Status: Unknown.

Mickey Rourke

Mickey Rourke is an actor famous for having an amateur boxing career (27-3), but he is also a part of the ever-growing list of celebrity BJJ practitioners as well. According to the 68-year-old actor starting Jiu Jitsu was “one of the best decisions of his life.” He even goes as far as calling 10th Planet West LA his second home. 

Academy: 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu West LA / Rigan Machado’s Beverly Hills Academy.

Belt rank: Blue, under Scott “Einstein” Epstein.

Status: Actively training.

Donnie Yen

Perhaps most known for his role in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Donnie Yen is an accomplished martial artist. His fighting skills are very versatile, ranging from Kung Fu, through Muay Thai to BJJ. Yen is also an action choreographer and producer, which makes it easy for him to bring his love for JIu Jitsu to the big screen (the movie Flashpoint is a great example). 

Academy: Unknown.

Belt rank: Purple belt.

Status: Actively training.

Halle Berry

The Oscar-winning actress started training BJJ actively for John Wick 3, which is clearly showcased throughout the movie. It seems that she has found the art to her liking and has kept training. Part of this is due to her leading role in the MMA movie Bruised, for which she trained with UFC fighter and BJJ wizard Brian “T-City” Ortega.

She had her sights set on earning a blue belt a year ago, but there’s no information on whether or not she achieved this goal. 

Academy: Unknown.

Belt rank: Unknown.

Status: Intermittently training.

Barack Obama

The former US president is also on the list of celebrity BJJ practitioners. He has the rank of blue belt (at least) while training under professor Alberto Crane. Not much is known about his BJJ journey since he left office, but we do hope he continues to train! 

Academy: Gracie Barra.

Belt rank: Blue, under Alberto Crane.

Status: Unknown.

Wagner Moura

Even Pablo Escobar (or, at least his TV screen alter ego) is into Brazilian Jiu Jitsu! Actor Wagner Moura, famous for his role as Escobar in the ultra-popular TV series Narcos, is a BJJ purple belt. It is not too surprising though, given that the actor was born in Brazil. There is video footage of him rolling with Royler Gracie and he has also trained with Anderson Silva. 

Academy: Unknown.

Belt rank: Purple belt.

Status: Unknown.

Jason Statham

Statham is a lifelong martial artist, as is clear from every movie he has acted in. While his striking is his main prowess, he has showcased impressive grappling skills on the big screen as well. That is no fluke, as he has been training Jiu Jitsu for 10 years, albeit intermittently. 

Statham was introduced to the Gentle Art by his friend Guy Ritchie, himself a BJJ black belt. Given his hectic travel schedule, there’s no one academy where Statham regularly trains out of. 

Academy: Unknown.

Belt rank: Purple, under Renzo Gracie.

Status: Intermittently training.

Alex O’Loughlin

The Hawaii 5-0 star is one more celebrity BJJ practitioner that seems to be in it for the long run. Given that Hawaii is a hotspot for Jiu Jitsu it is no wonder that O’Loughlin ended up training on a regular basis. After all, he is constantly exposed to BJJ, with his partner in the series, Scott Caan also training very actively (Scott is a black belt). 

Alex trains with the Machado brothers whenever he is on the mainland. 

Academy: Egan’s Grappling Unlimited Academy.

Belt rank: Brown, under Egan Inoue.

Status: Actively training.

Famous BJJ Black Belts

Most of the celebrity BJJ practitioners train for fun or physical fitness. Some, however, fall so much in love with the sport, that they keep on working hard, eventually earning their black belts in the Gentle Art. 

Babs Olusanmokun

Babs may not have been a household name, but his recent role as Jamis in the film Dune is changing that. The Nigerian-born actor has also starred in Roots and Black Mirror, among others.

In addition to his acting career, Babs is a 3rd degree Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt under Fabio Clemente. He ran his own school, Babs BJJ, in New York although the school has closed in recent years.

Rikki Rockett

The drummer of the legendary band Poison might not be the first famous person that comes to mind when it comes to owning the rank of a BJJ black belt. Yet, he holds a third-degree black belt rank under Renato Magno. 

According to him, the moment he saw Royce Gracie in the early UFCs, he was hooked. Rikki started training with the Machados, and trained in their Tarzana school until purple belt. He then moved to Renato Magno’s “Street Sports BJJ” and has been with him ever since. 

Joe Rogan

Even the mention of the name Joe Rogan will get you thinking about Jiu Jitsu. Okay, also about DMT, MMA, podcasting, elk meat, and a bunch of other things, but BJJ is definitely right there at the top.

The comedian is a black belt under Eddie Bravo and Jean Jacques Machado since 2012, having come through the ranks at the 10th PLanet Jiu Jitsu headquarters in LA. He is one of the biggest advocates of the sport among celebrity BJJ practitioners and has an immense understanding of the Gentle Art.

John “Jocko” Willink is a celebrity who is probably better known within the BJJ community than outside of it, but as an accomplished author and podcaster this retired Navy SEAL is undeniably a celebrity in his own right. Jocko was received his BJJ black belt from Dean Lister, and is undeniably one of the scariest black belts on this list of celebs.

Jocko served in the Iraq War where he commanded SEAL Team 3. He was awarded a Silver Star and Bronze Star for his service. His books and podcasts offer no-nonsense lifestyle advice revolving around self-discipline. He is a co-owner of the American gi manufacturing company, Origin Maine.

Clark Gregg

You probably know him better as Phil Coulson from S.H.I.E.L.D. Well, he is just as bad-ass in real life (if not more), given that he is a BJJ black belt under Renato Magno (just like Rikki Rockett). 

Training out of the Street Sports BJJ academy in Santa Monica, he got his black belt in 2015, after practicing BJJ for 11 years. He first came into contact with BJJ when working on the movie Spartan in 2004. It took him 5 years to get his blue belt. 

Clark says about BJJ: “I really liked it right off. I found a lot really useful about it. Being able to relax and breathe when you’re under great pressure, it comes in handy all around your life.”

Ed O’Neill

Ed O’Neill is probably the one name among celebrities that is most surprising for being a BJJ black belt, mostly because people find it really unusual, given the comedic characters he usually portrays when acting. 

Ed is one of the earliest celebrity BJJ practitioners and he did not have an easy journey on his way to black belt. It took him a long time and lots of training, but eventually he earned a black belt from Rorion Gracie way back in 2007. 

It was his friend writer/director John Milius that introduced Ed to BJJ. O’Neil went for a free trial class with Rorion in the Gracie Torrance Academy more than 25 years ago and has never looked back. He is still active in training, although manages to get to just one class per week due to his professional engagements with the TV show Modern Family.  

The coolest part about Ed O’Neill Jiu Jitsu journey? He started training when he was 42! 

Jonathan Lipnicki

You certainly know Lipnicki’s roles as a kid star in movies like Stuart Little, Jerry Maguire and The Little Vampire, but you probably don’t know that he is also a BJJ black belt! He started training when he was 15 years old and received his black belt from Timmy Bonds in 2020, after 14 years of training. 

Jonathan trains in Renato Magno’s Street Sports Academy. While his focus is mainly on acting, Jiu Jitsu remains a big passion for him, as well as a family legacy – his family owns an MMA promotion in California (Fight Sports Entertainment). Even his mother is a blue belt, proudly sporting cauliflower ear

John is one of the rare celebrity BJJ practitioners that has actively competed in Jiu Jitsu (mostly as a white and blue belt, and once as a purple belt), winning several medals along the way. 

Teri Reeves

Her Instagram description reads “Actress. Trainer. Real Woman. Sucker for black coffee, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, weightlifting,…” Pretty self-explanatory, right? The actress many know from hit series like Chicago Fire and Punisher received her black belt from Romulo Barral in 2019. 

Teri practices Jiu Jitsu very regularly, training multiple times a week at Gracie Barra Encino. Her dedication is inspiring, given that she has returned to the mats over and over again, even after going through serious injuries. 

She gave one of the most inspiring speeches about what Jiu Jitsu means to her, and how it can help everyone, when she received her black belt.    

Chuck Norris

We all know how legendary Chuck Norris’ strength is. Do you know why? He is a BJJ black belt, of course. In fact, he is one of the earliest celebrity BJJ practitioners and black belts, if not the earliest one (outside of Brazil). The 80-year-old martial artist and actor is a third-degree black belt under David Dunn, one of the most decorated students of the Machado brothers.

Chuck Norris plays a pivotal role in the history of BJJ in America. He famously gave the Machado brothers space to set up their first big school in the valley, simply because it was more convenient for him than traveling to the garage they taught out of in Redondo Beach. 

Make no mistake, Norris is no pushover. He was already a Judo black belt when he started training with Rickson and Helio in Brazil. His first encounters with Jiu Jitsu were not the most pleasant of experiences, as Helio put him to sleep and Rickson “made him feel like he had never trained anything before.” 

Guy Ritchie

One of the most famous UK celebrity BJJ black belts and the person responsible for getting other famous folks like Russel Brand and Jason Statham hooked on grappling. The famous filmmaker was promoted to the rank of black belt by Renzo Gracie in 2015, after spending 7 years as a brown belt. 

Ritchie, who is based out of London, started training BJJ Roger Gracie and Gracie’s father Maurição Gomes. He still trains actively at the Roger Gracie Academy.  He is all about the BJJ lifestyle, corroborated by his ex-wife Madonna stating that Guy “was obsessed with Jiu Jitsu and he would spend hours rolling in his homemade mat area.”

In the words of Guy Ritchie: “Jiu Jitsu becomes a way of life; it influences and affects every part of what you do, right the way through to the way you make decisions and the way you view things.”

Sean Patrick Flanery

Sean Patrick Flanery is another name on the celebrity BJJ black belts’ list of folks that take their training very seriously. He started training in Renzo’s academy in Manhattan and received his black belt way back in 2008 from Ricardo “Franginha” Miller, after just 7 years of training. At the moment, he holds the rank of second-degree black belt. 

During that time, Flanery also competed extensively and had some impressive results, including winning the IBJJF Pans and the American Nationals. 

Sean showcases some highly impressive grappling skills in his latest movie Born A Champion which portrays him as an MMA fighter with a grappling background.

Apart from training and promoting Jiu Jitsu through his acting career, Flanery also teaches BJJ on his ranch outside of Houston. In addition to that, Sean owns the “Hollywood BJJ” Academy in LA. 

Scott Caan

It took the Hawaii 5-0 star 15 years to become a member of the celebrity BJJ black belts’ club, but he managed to get there in 2016, earning a promotion from Marcus Vinicius. In a statement to The Tolucan Times, Caan said “If I’m not working I’ll try to practice three or four times a week; if I am working, once a week–that is what holds me back.” 

He currently trains at Egan Inoue’s “Grappling Unlimited” academy in Hawaii with fellow co-star Alex O’Loughlin. 

Johnny Strong

Johnny Strong is an American actor and musician who you probably know from flicks like Black Hawk Down and The Fast & The Furious. Well, he also happens to be an accomplished martial artist, with vast experience in boxing, kickboxing, and Judo. It was BJJ though, that really fascinated the action star, so much so that he earned a black belt under Chris Lisciandro.

Currently, he holds the rank of second-degree black belt and is actively training. 

Richard Norton

Richard Norton is a 5th-degree black belt under the Machado brothers. The Australian action movie star and stuntman has been training martial arts for over 55 years and holds several black belts in different arts. 

Norton began training in the late ‘80s with Rickson Gracie after Chuck Norris made him curious about BJJ. He took a lesson with Rickson Gracie who challenged Norton to try and stay in mount against Royce and later try to escape Royce’s mount. That’s all it took for Norton to dedicate the next 30 years of his life to Jiu Jitsu. 

Today, he runs the Richard Norton Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Association which has affiliate gyms all across Australia. 

Alain Moussi

You most likely recognize Moussi from his role in the movie Kickboxer: Vengeance. The Lebanese – Canadian actor and stuntman has also appeared in movies such as X-Men: Days of Future Past and Brick Mansions.

What you probably did not know is that he is also a BJJ black belt under the Machado brothers with 22 years of experience. Moussi trained Japanese Ju Jitsu too, and is the youngest Japanese Ju Jitsu practitioner to be awarded the honorary title of renshi

Currently, he runs the “NX Martial Arts and Fitness Academy” in Orleans, Ottawa, Canada.

Vicente Lizarazu

A celebrity BJJ black belt that is not an actor, producer, or musician, Lizarazu is a professional soccer player who was part of the French national team that famously won the World Cup in 1998. He has been training since 2009 and has a European title to his name as a blue belt. 

Yannick Beven and Ze Marcello promoted him to black belt in 2019. Bixente currently trains in Capbreton in South-West France. Despite having a very successful TV career, he still manages to get to the mats at least three times a week. 

Billy Graziadei     

Biohazard guitarist and frontman Billy Graziadei has been training Jiu Jitsu since 1993. He is a black belt under Rener and Ryron Gracie and trains at the Gracie Torrance Academy. 

His commitment to the sport is really unique for someone in his profession. Namely, Billy managed to organize regular training sessions even while on an 18 months-long world tour, bringing in instructors the likes of Luis Heredia and Kazeka Muniz. Billy has also trained with pretty much every Gracie family member of note, and he is always sporting a BJJ themed T-shirt wherever he goes. 

Celebrity Jiu Jitsu Practitioners who are no Longer with us

Among the celebrity BJJ practitioners of our time, there are a few names that have to be mentioned, even though they are no longer among the living. Still, they were ambassadors of the sport during their lifetime and have to be included in our list of celebrity BJJ practitioners. 

Anthony Bourdain

The legendary chef, author, and TV personality was extremely dedicated to Jiu Jitsu in the final few years of his life. He started training as the result of a practical joke but quickly fell in love with the sport. Namely, his ex-wife, who is a black belt, invited Antony and three other people who have never been in a gym before to try BJJ as a prank. The prank changed Bourdain’s life.

Not long after, he was training twice a day, and he was visiting academies wherever he went. Bourdain got to blue belt and even competed at the age of 59. He won gold in the Masters 5 blue belt division at the IBJJF New York Open in 2016. 

Bourdain took his own life in 2018. 

Steve Irwin

The ultra-popular “Crocodile Hunter” was a blue belt in BJJ with several years of experience. He trained with legendary MMA coach Greg Jackson and MMA fighter Dan Higgins on a regular basis. I guess BJJ was right up his alley, given his tendencies to grapple with crocodiles and other wild animals. 

Irwin lost his life in a tragic incident when he was stung by a stingray in the chest in 2006. 

Paul Walker

The unforgettable Fast & Furious star was one of those celebrity BJJ practitioners that are extremely dedicated, if not obsessed with Jiu Jitsu. He was a brown belt under Ricardo Miller and was quoted to have a very nasty bow and arrow choke, in addition to a powerful guard game. 

Walker, like many others, began training after watching the first few UFC events. He practiced all over the globe, whenever he could. After ten years of active training, he was close to getting his black belt before his untimely death in a car accident in 2013. 

He was posthumously awarded his black belt. 

Michael Clarke Duncan 

The actor from classic flicks the likes of The Green Mile, Armageddon, Planet of The Apes and many more was a bonafide BJJ blue belt as well. He was promoted by Rener and Ryron Gracie and was one of the students that extremely rarely missed a class at the Gracie Torrance Academy . 

Duncan succumbed to the effects of a heart attack in 2012. 

Can You Roll With a Celebrity?

As you can see, most of the celebrities train at just a handful of academies. Still, knowing where they train doesn’t mean you will get to run into them. Most of the celebrity BJJ practitioners take private classes or train in small select groups. 

Moreover, the majority also avoid actively rolling, given that an injury could massively impact their professional careers. In fact, Rigan Machado has developed a special style for celebrity BJJ practitioners, called “Flow Jiu Jitsu” that has over 700 techniques and took him more than 9 years to put together. It is a system that celebrities can train without having the risk of injuries that might happen during live rolling. 

The bottom line is that you would be hard-pressed to get a chance to roll with a celebrity, even if you dropped in for a class in the hotspot academies for famous people. That said, you might get a shot at rolling with one of the regular training black belt celebrities that go to group classes, but I don’t like your odds in that roll. 

Quiz: Which Celebrity Would Win in a BJJ Match? 

Let’s end this article on a funny, yet curious note. I will offer several potential celebrity matchups, based on belt level and experience. Who are your picks of the following celebrity BJJ superfight matchups? 

  1. Male superfights:


Vin Diesel VS. Henry Cavill.


Tom Hardy VS. Barack Obama.


Wagner Moura VS. Maynard James Keenan.


Ashton Kutcher VS. Spencer Pratt.


Scott Caan VS. Guy Ritchie.


Chuck Norris VS. Richard Norton.

  1. Female superfights:


Margot Robbie VS. Scarlett Johanson.


Halle Berry VS. Milla Jovovich.


Demi Lovato VS. Naomi Watts.


Celebrity BJJ practitioners are far more numerous than most people think. Jiu Jitsu is a sport that can get anyone hooked, as proven by the extensive list of both grappling newcomers and seasoned black belts from the world of show business, professional sports, social media personalities and every other type of celebrity. 

If your favorite celebrities inspire you to do things in everyday life, then try to follow in their footsteps and maybe give Jiu Jitsu a try. Who knows, maybe one day you get to roll with your idol(s). 

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