Top 10 Best Martial Artists of All Time

The Top Ten
1 Bruce Lee Bruce Lee (November 27, 1940 – July 20, 1973) was a Hong Kong and American martial artist, martial arts instructor, actor, director, screenwriter, producer, and philosopher. He was the founder of Jeet Kune Do, a hybrid martial arts philosophy drawing from different combat disciplines that is often... read more

Anyone who disputes Bruce Lee as the best martial artist is a fool. He trained harder, longer, and smarter than anyone. I always seem to run into people trying to tell me that Bruce wasn't a real fighter and he would get his ass handed to him in a real fight. If those people, whose willingness to give an opinion increases along with their ignorance on the subject, were to read a book or two or watch interviews with people who have fought Bruce and watched him fight, they would surely realize how stupid it is to claim that.

2 Yip Man

Yip Man is the very existence of Bruce Lee, and it is stupid not to categorize him higher than Bruce Lee. Look at yourself being trained. Would you ever really be better than your master? The man who taught you? No matter the hours, your master is your master, and he will win hands down, blindfolded, and so on. And before you vote, watch Yip Man. He was thought to be a stupid fool for training what was originally a female martial art, which has now become one of the most popular martial arts today.

You all are crazy to think that the top three are Bruce Lee, Jet Li, and Jackie Chan. Bruce Lee should be number two at best. Any true fan of martial arts would recognize Grandmaster Ip Man as the best. He was the master of Bruce Lee and the originator of Wing Chun, which is the founding technique used by Bruce Lee himself. A young Ip Man versus Bruce Lee in his prime would clearly lead to an Ip Man victory outcome. Besides, a lot of Bruce Lee's skills derived from theatrics. You can't claim fights in movies to be accurate enough to claim one to be the best.

3 Jackie Chan Chan Kong-sang known professionally as Jackie Chan, is a Hong Kong martial artist, actor, film director, producer, stuntman, and singer. He is known for his acrobatic fighting style, comic timing, use of improvised weapons, and innovative stunts, which he typically performs himself, in the cinematic... read more

Personally, I'd say Jackie Chan is my favorite martial artist of all time because of his charismatic personality that he portrays in films and in real life. Unlike many martial artists, Jackie Chan has a comedic side to his character in movies and films, and he knows how and when to make people laugh. This guy is an inspiration to millions of people, and he'll be officially known as the greatest Kung Fu artist in history. Other than that, his skill and speed are phenomenal.

Jackie Chan, aka "The Drunken Master," was a phenomenal fighter. Through mastering Zui Quan, he established himself as a fighter comparable to Bruce Lee, Jet Li, and Donnie Yen, or perhaps even better. Jackie has become a leading actor known for his stunts and fights. He has faced formidable opponents like Jet Li and Benny The Jet. Jackie Chan deserves to be ranked at least second or first on this list. "The Drunken Master" is the king of the Drunken Fist in Zui Quan!

4 Jet Li Li Lianjie, better known by his English stage name Jet Li, is a Chinese film actor, film producer, martial artist, and wushu champion who was born in Beijing.

For me, Jet Li should be on top of the list, and these are my reasons why. He transformed the image of Hong Kong movies into genuinely interesting movies to watch. He took on the role of acting, real acting mixed with martial arts. That's something that movie directors in China never understood. They initially thought martial arts movies were just about fights, running, and kicking.

When Jet Li stars, he mixes all that, but most importantly, and I think he learned this from American movies, he knew he had to be a good actor, with a good writer to connect with the viewers and get the viewers to like you. His best movies were "Once Upon a Time in China I" and "Fist of Legend." I can watch those two movies forever and never stop liking them.

5 Wong Fei-hung

Wong Fei-hung was a courageous and respected fighter, as well as a significant figure in Chinese and Shaolin history. More stories should be told about him. I am currently just beginning to learn about his life and training. He was one of the last monks to leave Shaolin at the turn of the century, and many great techniques died with him.

6 Mas Oyama

I saw Mas Oyama's team, including Sonny Chiba, fight full contact, with no head strikes allowed, while I was stationed in Hawaii. It was some brutal and very hard-hitting fighting, and there was great respect as well. Sonny Chiba is no fake. He won his bout with great technique and a true warrior spirit.

Mas Oyama fought 50 bulls and broke off their horns with a knife-hand technique and won nearly every one of his 200-plus full-contact bouts. He beat many of his opponents with one punch, and most fights lasted less than three minutes. Read some of his training books. They describe some of the most intense, painful, and innovative methods. These were on par with Bruce Lee and were developed in the early 1950s! Mas Oyama was one of the best and toughest real fighters ever.

7 Chuck Norris Carlos Ray "Chuck" Norris (born March 10, 1940) is an American actor and martial artist. He is a black belt in Tang Soo Do, Brazilian jiu jitsu and judo. After serving in the United States Air Force, Norris won many martial arts championships and later founded his own discipline Chun Kuk Do. Shortly... read more

I will be honest, I'm torn between Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris. They are both my favorite martial artists. Sadly, Bruce Lee died when I was only three years old, so he was just a little before my time in a way. I grew up on Chuck Norris movies and I absolutely love him in Walker, Texas Ranger. Chuck is an awesome person in real life, and he has given back as much as he ever got from his career.

Chuck Norris is a prime example of what a person can do with their life if they only have the courage and determination to follow their dreams. Bruce Lee thought enough of Chuck Norris to ask him to star in one of his movies with him. Like Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris worked and trained hard to become one of the best martial artists of his time. Even at 74 years old now, I still wouldn't mess with Chuck Norris. Laugh out loud.

8 Huo Yuanjia

Yip Man was not the only grandmaster because Huo Yuanjia was one way before him. Huo was considered a hero in China for defeating foreign opponents... a true hero.

Whoever posted this knows their fighters. He is no doubt the greatest of all. His fight record speaks for itself.

9 Donnie Yen

Donnie Yen should be ranked higher than Chuck Norris and Jackie Chan based on martial art skill. However, Jackie Chan still excels overall due to his greater success in the film industry and mastery of many arts. Chuck Norris is good, but not as skilled as both Donnie and Jackie. He is primarily known for his role in Return of the Dragon, which required Bruce Lee's help to gain recognition. In conclusion, Donnie Yen deserves a higher ranking than both Chuck and Jackie.

Should be 3rd on the list. Chuck Norris is good but not that great. The real Yip Man didn't do half the things the movie portrayed, and Jackie Chan was never even that great of a martial artist. He was mostly a stunt man.

10 Gichin Funakoshi
The Contenders
11 Jigoro Kano

Mr. Kano codified and modernized Japanese Jiu-Jitsu, creating Judo. He helped promote Karate. Without Jigoro Kano, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu would never have existed.

12 Tony Jaa

Tony Jaa is undoubtedly one of the best. I admire him as much as Jean-Claude Van Damme. If he aimed for the number one spot, he could likely achieve it. However, I think he has other pursuits in life. Bruce Lee's life revolved around martial arts from a young age, and his dedication is why he deserved the first spot.

Tony Jaa is a rising star of our generation. While martial artists like Jackie Chan, Jet Li, and Chuck Norris are aging, Tony Jaa is poised to become the number one martial arts superstar of this generation!

13 Chojun Miyagi

A great man and the founder of Goju-Ryu Karate. The example for Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid movies.

14 Helio Gracie
15 Keith Black

Honestly, I think Keith Black is the greatest martial artist in the world. He can kick anyone's butt who ever steps up to him. Ain't that right, Tyler?

16 Jean-Claude Van Damme Jean-Claude Camille François Van Varenberg, professionally known as Jean-Claude Van Damme and abbreviated as JCVD, is a Belgian actor, martial artist, screenwriter, film producer, and director best known for his martial arts action films.

Jean-Claude Van Damme was okay. He actually competed in karate competitions and was also a skilled gymnast. This background gave him the flexibility and agility he used in movie performances. However, during his prime time in movies, Van Damme wasn't even a black belt.

Van Damme is the greatest. The way he executes his punches and kicks is incomparable. They are realistic. And he's got both style and substance.

Some people have rude and disrespectful comments about JCVD, often out of jealousy! Give the man his well-deserved credit. He has the looks, the skill, and the class that a true martial artist should have.

17 Bill "Superfoot" Wallace

A true sportsman and a great teacher. I've seen Bill "Superfoot" Wallace hold back not to make his opponent look bad.

18 Anderson Silva Anderson da Silva (born April 14, 1975) is a Brazilian professional mixed martial artist currently signed with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). He is a former UFC Middleweight Champion and had the longest title reign in UFC history at 2,457 days. This started in 2006 and ended in 2013 and included... read more

Everyone else voted for a movie star. I voted for someone who actually proves his skills for a living, laugh out loud! Bruce Lee is cool, but he is a movie star, not a martial arts fighter. And for everyone who keeps saying, "There's a difference between a competition with rules and the street," do you really think that MMA fighters aren't trained with techniques to fight dirty? MMA fighters also have unmatched athleticism compared to any other martial arts style. They do it for a living.

Anderson Silva is the greatest by far! Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris, and those other fakes don't come close.

19 Masahiko Kimura
20 Georges St-Pierre Georges St-Pierre (born May 19, 1981) is a Canadian retired professional mixed martial artist. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest fighters in mixed martial arts (MMA) history. He is a two-division champion in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) having won titles in the welterweight and... read more

"Best martial artist" can mean a lot of things, but one of those things has to be most effective. There is no more potent professional martial artist than Georges St-Pierre in history. End of story. On top of this, he is also a prime exemplar of the more philosophical aspects of martial arts: discipline, humility, and a constant desire to learn and improve. That anyone could vote for a movie star who has never been in an actual fight in their lives over GSP blows my mind and indicates to me a drastically different understanding of the martial arts than my own.

21 Vidyut Jamwal

Vidyut Jamwal learnt the Indian martial art of Kalaripayattu since the age of three. His understanding of its philosophy is not only to protect and fight, but also to use it to heal. He is the best in the world.

He deserves the top spot on the list. He is the best martial artist right now in the world.

Number 1 on the list should be Vidyut Jamwal. A trained artist since the age of 4 in Kalaripayattu.

22 Michael Jai White

He is one of the few true martial artists on the screen. He still goes back to the dojo to teach and share his knowledge. Most are too busy with their fame to remember where they came from.

Put any of them in a ring, and Michael Jai White has the speed, accuracy, strength, and knowledge. In my opinion, he would beat them all.

This list isn't supposed to be based on movies and how good they act in a fight. I agree with Bruce Lee being up top, but come on, White would kill Jet Li or Chuck Norris.

23 Jacky Wu

He is one of the best and most unique martial artists. Some people call him the new Jet Li, but he was too good compared to Jet Li. His moves are so cool but fatal. He must be in the top 5.

24 Scott Adkins

For me, you're the best martial artist in the whole world because you're the most complete fighter in the world. I love all your movies, especially Undisputed 4. Awesome, you're amazing! I love you, idol! Scott Adkins forever!

I first saw Scott's awesome skills in Ninja 2: Shadow of a Tear. I realize it was a movie, but I was blown away by his skills. He is part of the reason I started taking up martial arts recently. A big fan.

Scott Adkins should at least come in second because of his vast knowledge of martial arts. Plus, if he had to go against some of the people at the top of the list, he'd most probably win. For more proof, watch "Boyka: Undisputed," coming out in 2017, and his previous movies such as "Ninja" and "Ninja: Shadow of a Tear."

25 Morihei Ueshiba

O Sensei, the creator of Aikido. He is by far the best martial artist who ever lived.

This man was like people such as Bruce Lee,... Superhumans! One of the few who could actually achieve something unique in martial arts. He should be ranked in the top 3 at least!

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