Celebrities Who Train BJJ
With the popularity of BJJ increasing every year, we regularly see tabloid pieces about celebrities who train BJJ. It isn’t a new thing that celebrities are training Jiu Jitsu, but the exposure is still good for the martial art. BJJ is a life changing thing that benefits your physical and mental health, so it is no wonder more celebrities are discovering BJJ.
Here is our up to date list the most notable celebrities that train BJJ, where they train, and how they feel about Jiu Jitsu.
One of the most frequently mentioned celebrities that train BJJ is Ashton Kutcher. He began training with Rigan Machado at his school in LA around 2013. At the end of that year, he received his blue belt and later in 2014 received his purple belt.
People in the BJJ community were initially skeptical of him progressing so fast and assumed Kutcher got special treatment for being a celebrity actor. What people didn’t know is Ashton has a background in amateur wrestling competing for years in Iowa and allegedly has a strong wrestling game. This wrestling background helped advanced his progression.
For a while we didn’t hear much about Ashton training, but he received his brown belt in 2019 after 6 years of training. As expected there were lots of Redditers questioning the merit of his promtion to brown belt.
Jeff Glover was quoted jokingly saying, “You got punked, he’s never trained. What tournament did he win?” But then quickly added, “You think would just give a brown belt for nothing? Of course he’s good.”
An old quote by Rigan Machado resurfaced lately claiming that Ashton could beat Conor McGregor in a Jiu Jitsu match. “I put all my money on Ashton Kutcher. I think he could do really, really good. He’s 200lbs 6’2/6’3, he’s the best.”
Who knows for sure how that match would go, but one thing is for sure and that is Ashton Kutcher is a legitimate grappler. He trains consistently around 5 days a week and will continue to pursue his black belt. On BJJ, Ashton said, “If I lose, I double down on how I train and I won’t lose the same way twice.”
One of the most vocal celebrity advocates for BJJ has been singer and model Demi Lovato. She began training BJJ in 2016 and quickly fell in love with BJJ. She actually started MMA first, then began training more gi Jiu Jitsu after.
Since then, Demi has fallen in love with the martial art and it seems to have become one of her passions in life. Lovato constantly makes posts showing her post training pics and how much fun she had training.
“I started training MMA, and a part of MMA is Jiu-Jitsu, so when I started learning I just fell in love with the sport … Being able to do the moves that you do and flow with people, it’s an art form and it’s really beautiful, and it takes my mind off of things that I stress about, [because] I’m constantly thinking: ‘What do I need to defend? What move can I make now?’ It’s like a game of chess.”
As she said in the quote above, BJJ has really helped her in her personal life. Lovato like many battles stress/depression and has had bouts of substance abuse, but she always credits BJJ as something that always helps her live a better life.
After a year of training, Demi received her blue belt from instructor Chris Light and she was beyond ecstatic and honored to receive the promotion.
“This means so much to me and I couldn’t be happier. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a passion of mine and I can’t wait to learn more and more… thank you Chris Light for teaching me so much.. I can’t believe how far I’ve come since working together. You are a legend.” – Demi after receiving her second stripe on her blue belt.
Lovato clearly loves BJJ and will continue to train and be an outspoken advocate for the martial art.
Before his tragic death, travel host and chef Anthony Bourdain was one of the biggest ambassadors in the world for BJJ. He didn’t get into Jiu Jitsu until his late 50’s as a result of the encouragement of his then wife Ottavia Busia Bourdain, who is a professional grappler.
The encouragement was actually a bargain with Bourdain. He had a bad addiction to heroin/cocaine and a litany of health problems from bad eating, drinking, travel, and a lack of sleep. She wanted to wean Anthony off drugs and alcohol, so in exchange for training, he could do a small amount of drugs to take the edge off.
Anthony quickly took to Jiu Jitsu and it changed his whole life. He began training with his ex wife at Renzo Gracie’s academy and New York City and would consistently train 1-2 times a day when he was in town.
After a period of training, he looked like a transformed person. The once lanky, frail man was now a vibrant person that was in incredible shape with nearly all of his ailments gone. Bourdain became obsessed with training.
Since he became obsessed with training, he would then book his show, “Parts Unknown” around where there would be a good Jiu Jitsu school for him to drop in and train. He would partake in a morning or day class, then for the rest of the day go film his show.
Starting his BJJ training in his mid fifties showed that Jiu Jitsu can change anyone’s life no matter what their age is. Anthony was already a beloved chef and travel host, but was now embraced by the BJJ community.
When asked why he trained, Anthony answered with this. “I do it because it is hard. Because it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done and because it never ends. Every day presents me with a series of problems that I spend the rest of the day thinking about how I might solve or at least chip away at. Next day same. And the day after that.”
Keanu Reeves has always shown his passion for martial arts. In his action films, he always wanted the fights in his films to be realistic and authentic. After some time away from being an action star, Keanu returned with very popular John Wick movies. In the films, you can see him using BJJ and Judo that he clearly trained in preparing for the role.
He started training with Rigan Machado in preparation for John Wick 2. Before then he never formerly did BJJ or Judo training. Reeves would spend 5 hours a day training martial arts and shooting for the role.
He has also now developed a passion for Jiu Jitsu and trains regularly as it also helps him for the role as John Wick.
“As you get deeper and deeper into training, you get less of a normal life, which I enjoy the focus of it. My friends ask, where did I go and I say I’m in a training paradigm.”
Reeves is a great ambassador for Jiu Jitsu as he strives for authenticity in his film’s fight scenes and he enjoys the peace that comes with training BJJ and Judo.
Ed O Neil is probably best known as Al Bundy who was the star of the 1980’s sitcom Married with Children. He also stars in the hit TV series modern family in which he plays the character Jay Pritchett.
He is also a blackbelt under the legendary Rorion Gracie. He first began training over 20 years ago when his friend convinced him to visit the Gracie academy in Torrance, California. He continues to train to this day and has spoken a number of times about his passion for BJJ. His take on heelhooks: “If I get caught in a heel hook, I don’t give a shit; I’m tapping right now because I know what is coming.”
Jonah Hill came to prominence in the mid 2000’s after starring and appearing in a number of successful major comedy films such as Superbad and Knocked Up. Jonah started training BJJ at the end of 2018 and shared a post about his progress early in 2019 when he received the first stripe on his white belt.
He has spoken about how it has been a humbling experience for him and about the merit of jumping in and trying new things as you get older. Jonah currently trains at the Clockwork BJJ academy in New York.
View this post on Instagram
I started Brazilian Jiu Jitzu 2 months ago and try and train 4 or 5 times a week. In high school the dudes who did Jiu Jitzu used to beat the shit out of us at parties so it turned me off to it as an idea growing up. But quietly I always thought it was a beautiful art form . At 35 , I try and get over the stuff that made me feel weak and insecure as a teenager. It’s just wasted time and lessons you’ll never learn. Trying to let go of that. Nothing more humbling than getting your ass kicked by a 12 year old your first week . Got my first stripe today. I know it sounds corny but it’s pretty dope to jump in and do stuff you’d never think you’d be able to do. Much respect to Sensai Josh and @clockworkbjj and Anthony for getting me into it ❤️ 🥋
Russel Brand is a UK TV personality and movie star that has starred in a number of hit films such as Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Brand took up the martial art of BJJ a couple of years ago and has spoken at length about his passion for BJJ. When he was a guest on the Joe Rogan Podcast he told Joe about how it helps him with humility and his overall mental health.
Russel trains at RGA Bucks in the UK which is affiliated with Roger Gracies UK based academy. Brand received his blue belt from his coach Kev Capel and Roger Gracie in 2018. In the video below Russel eloquently describes what the promotion means to him and the insights into community and hierarchies that the ceremony gave him.
Spencer Pratt rose to fame during his time in the cast for the 2007 MTV reality show ‘The Hills’. He is known as the other half of Heidi Montag. The show was rebooted in 2019 and is regularly shown on MTV. Spencer has a large social media following on Snapchat and Instagram and has often showcased clips of his BJJ training.
Spencer has been training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu since he was 15 and initially was introduced to the sport by Rockson Gracie through a mutual friend. He trained with Rockson at his father Rickson Gracies BJJ gym in Palisades for a number of years. He has also spent a significant amount of time training at Paragon gym with Bill Cooper. Today he trains with top BJJ competitor Edwin Najmi at Gracie Barra where is he is a BJJ black belt. In interviews Spencer has revealed that he is a fan of Sport Jiu Jitsu and that he would love to see the martial art growing to rival other major sports .
Ok, so this one is not confirmed but it has long been rumored that Jim Carey has trained BJJ for a number of years. He has not spoken about it publicly and we are yet to see any of his skills on screen. According to a number of forums he is a private student of Royce Gracie and is a BJJ brown belt.
Guy Ritchie is one of the biggest directors in the world and is known for films such as Snatch, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, and King Arthur. Ritchie is also a keen Brazilian Jiu Jitsu enthusiast and has spoken about his appreciation for BJJ and the community that practice it. Guy is a legit BJJ blackbelt under Renzo Gracie which means you know that his skills are legit since Renzo would not be giving them away easy.
Charlie Hunnam is an actor who starred King Arthur, Crimson Peak and a number of other films. While working on King Arthur he was introduced to BJJ through Guy Ritchie. Guy taught him a number of techniques for the film and it seemed like they did a bit of training and and sparring together. Charlie kept up the training when he finished on King Arthur and began training with Rigan Machado in California since. He was awarded his blue belt in 2019.