Famous Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Black Belts
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is such a popular sport these days. In fact, action movies such as John Wick are even integrating Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in their choreography. You can say that the popularity of BJJ came from the growth of MMA as a sport. Since the first UFC, it has been proven that BJJ is an equalizer. It has the potential to neutralize an opponent who is much bigger and much stronger.
There are key personalities that made it possible for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu to become what it is today.
Royce Gracie is probably the very first member of the Gracie family that you’ve heard in case BJJ caught your attention during the first UFC. Royce Gracie was obviously the underdog considering his size during the first UFC event. Unlike MMA today that have weight classes, UFC then has “no rules”. With the use of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, he was able to submit opponents in a no-holds-barred eliminations match. After this event, the popularity of BJJ has skyrocketed.
Another popular Gracie figure is Rickson Gracie. Dubbed as the best Gracie family member, Rickson holds a mythical status especially after his success in Japan. Rickson’s son Kron Gracie, for a time, also had his own share of hype during his lower belt years competing in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. He was able to win world championships up to Brown belt refusing to play a more modern game such as Spider guard and other open guards.
Rickson Gracie appeared in the Marvel Movie The Incredible Hulk alongside Edward Norton as Bruce Banner’s martial arts instructor.
Renzo Gracie is another popular black belt from the Gracie Family. His charismatic personality made him a favorite among many Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioners. He is popularly known for his fights with Sakuraba in Japan when he refused to tap when Sakuraba caught him in a submission.
He is also a UFC veteran. His last appearance in the Octagon was against ex-Welterweight Champion Matt Hughes. Renzo Gracie is known for beating a number of former UFC champions including Carlos Newton, Frank Shamrock, Pat Miletich, Maurice Smith, and Oleg Taktarov.
Celebrities that train and help the sport gain mainstream popularity
You may have seen Ed O’Neil as the funny dad in Modern Family. But this Emmy nominated actor is also a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Black Belt training in the famous Gracie Academy in Torrance, California. According to him, he was hooked immediately in the sport and even took private lessons with Rorion Gracie himself.
Aside from being known as the ex-husband of Madonna, actor Guy Ritchie is also a prominent figure in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Guy Ritchie has trained with Roger Gracie. He started training alongside actor Jason Statham in the early 2000s.
Joe Rogan has been a constant figure in the UFC commentary table. And more recently, he is known for his popular podcast Joe Rogan Experience. Joe Rogan received his black belt from Eddie Bravo. In his podcast, he was able to guest a number of popular figures including Mike Tyson, Elon Musk, and scientist Tyson DeGrasse to name a few. He constantly brought up Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in his podcast on several occasions.
More Recent Celebrities Training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu:
Considering the popularity of the sport, there are a growing number of black belts that also hold celebrity status. It isn’t surprising if we also see more of them in the future considering celebrities such as Keano Reeves, Maynard James Keenan, and even Demi Lovato are now practicing the sport.
Learn more about the origin of BJJ:
What do you think about the growth of this Martial Art around celebrities?