With the popularity of the sport of mixed martial arts, especially the UFC, continually growing at an exponential rate, it is no surprise that there has been a direct correlation to the growth and popularity of people training martial arts, specifically Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. This does not exclude A-list celebrities, however; on average it takes a person around a decade to achieve the rank of black belt and that is with consistent training. To achieve the rank of black belt in BJJ is an honor, a privilege, and one of life’s greatest accomplishments for practitioners of the art. Below you’ll find five celebrities who have earned this distinguished rank.
5) Rikki Rockett
The drummer of the beloved band Poison not only has a background in wrestling, boxing, and Silat but is also a 2nd degree Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt under Renato Magno. Rockett began training in BJJ back in 1998 with Rigan and Jacques Machado and supplemented his classes with private lessons from Magno. Rockett is also a fierce competitor having competed in the 2010 Pan-American Championships.
4) Sean Patrick Flanery
The Boondock Saints and Dexter star Sean Patrick Flanery began training martial arts at the tender age of nine and continued with various disciplines through his college years. Flanery began his BJJ training with the legendary Rickson Gracie in 2000 and then continued his training with Renzo Gracie in 2003. For the next five years Flanery continued his diligent advancement through the ranks and on May 4, 2008 he received his black belt from one of Renzo’s top instructors, Shawn Williams.
3) Guy Ritchie
Guy Ritchie not only holds a brown belt in Karate but held that same rank in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu…for 8 years! That is until BJJ pioneer Renzo Gracie surprised Ritchie at the movie premiere of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and presented him with his black belt. Renzo had this to say in regards to Ritchie’s accomplishment, “No one has ever worked harder than Guy to get his black belt; he spent 8 years as a brown belt – training every day. He is my favorite.”
2) Joe Rogan
Most widely known as his role as the UFC’s primary color commentator, Joe Rogan is a very interesting and popular personality indeed. He is also widely known for his work as a standup comic and has one of the most interesting podcasts currently on the air, The Joe Rogan Experience. Rogan, a Taekwondo national champion and lifelong martial artist, is also a black belt under 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu founder Eddie Bravo.
1) Ed O’Neill
That’s right, Al Bundy is not only more of a man than you’ll ever be but could more than likely wrap you up like a pretzel and make you scream uncle with his hands literally tied behind his back. Ed O’Neill, famous for his role in the sitcom Married with Children, has been training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for more than 22 years and in 2007 received his black belt from one of the UFC and BJJ pioneers Rorion Gracie.
Do you know any celebs who are black belts in jiu-jitsu not listed here? If so, post it on The MMA UnderGround Forum.