Sabreblade is an MMA blogger and enjoys writing about female superheroes and supervillains.
Beautiful but Deadly—Don't Mess With These Actresses
It turns out that many famous movie and television stars train in martial arts. We see countless pieces of media where famous actresses slice and dice their enemies, but I figured a lot of them had no training, and they looked good because of very skilled stunt people. (I have a world of respect for stuntmen and women.)
But what surprised me, after doing a bit of research, was that a lot of the female stars did have at least some martial arts training. And some of these actresses and models were actually pretty good. Of course, a lot of actresses and models do cardio kickboxing to stay in shape (remember Billy Blanks and his Tae Bo exercise program?), but I tried to find celebrities that had gotten into martial arts and stuck with it.
Some just learned enough to get by for a role (like Michelle Yeoh, who originally was a dancer but was taught martial arts on the set by Jackie Chan after they met in the 1980s; she has done much of her own stunt work since then), but some have enrolled in schools and devoted time to learning.
So here are some beautiful but deadly actresses and models that you might want to be careful around when you go up and ask for an autograph. Especially if you're paparazzi . . . beware.
Turns out Madonna takes karate classes, and why shouldn't she? From number one albums and songs to hit films, it feels like she has conquered everything else there is to do in the world. Apparently, her ex-husband Guy Ritchie got her into it, and Ritchie is no slouch himself. He started training in Shotokan Karate at the age of seven, he has a black belt in judo and a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Madonna also has a black belt in Shotokan Karate and is a regular participant in dance, barre, and yoga.
2. Jessica Alba
I have read that Jessica Alba practices Tae Bo, but that is more of an aerobic exercise than a martial art. Although . . . the creator of Tae Bo, Billy Blanks, was a seven-time world karate champion, and he has a seventh-degree black belt in tae kwon do.
Since I have never done it, I can't speak to how well a Tae Bo-trained person would do with self-defense. But nevertheless, you can add tae kwon do and Krav Maga to Jessica's skills list. She's also noted she's a fan of hot yoga classes that integrate weights as a way to keep her stomach toned.
3. Kylie Minogue
I have heard that Australian actress and singer Kylie Minogue has studied tae kwon do. She did play Cammy in 1994's Street Fighter (where the photo above came from), and even if the movie didn't end up doing as well as the studio or fans hope, she was still able to demonstrate some of her skills.
4. Adriana Lima
Victoria's Secret Angel Adriana Lima supposedly takes boxing, mixed martial arts classes, and Capoeira (an Afro-Brazilian art form that combines martial arts, games, music, and dance). MMA? Her? It's kinda hard for me to believe she does MMA; I can see Capoeira . . . but okay!
Turns out, she's quite keen on boxing. Lima talked about how sometimes she doesn't feel like it should be her priority, like when her children are at home sick, but her trainer will text her to motivate her to show up. She discussed working out and seeing her body's strength as a motivating force for her to keep going.
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5. Sharon Stone
The Basic Instinct beauty studies (or studied) tae kwon do with master Jhoon Chang in Beverly Hills when she did the original Total Recall with Arnold Schwarzenegger. A few years ago, she discussed in an interview with Conan O'Brien she would still practice with her sons but had to stop when they got big enough to pick her up!
6. Milla Jovovich
The beautiful (and talented) Milla Jovovich now practices Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu after practicing various other types of martial arts like tae kwon do and wushu. Check out her fight scene from the film Ultraviolet below. She does a lot of her own stunts in films!
7. Courteney Cox
Courteney Cox started her training in Budokan karate after the birth of her first child. At one time, she was practicing multiple times a week! She felt so empowered by it she shared it with Friends co-star and good friend Jennifer Anniston (we'll get to her in a bit), who got hooked as well. It's unclear how far she progressed, but at one time, she was going for her black belt.
8. Sarah Michelle Gellar
Well, of course, the star of Buffy the Vampire Slayer had to pick up a few things after battling the forces of evil from 1997 to 2003. When she was on Buffy, she kept in shape with a combination of kickboxing, tae kwon do, basic street fighting, gymnastics, and even did some of her own stunt work. Eventually, she got her black belt in tae kwon do! Good girl.
9. Brenda Song
Actress, singer, film producer, Disney Channel teen idol, and model Brenda Song has a black belt in tae kwon do since at least 2009 when she proudly told audiences on Live With Regis and Kelly. She even went into intensive kung fu training for the movie Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior.
10. Lucy Liu
Lucy doesn't go for the mainstream; she goes for martial arts weapons! It shouldn't come as too much a surprise if you remember how natural she looked, slicing up her enemies in Kill Bill. Liu has studied the Filipino martial art kali-eskrima-silat, a weapons-based technique typically with blades and sticks. Kali-eskrima-silat is actually an umbrella term that encompasses the traditional martial arts of the Philippines. It involves blades and knives, as well as hand-to-hand combat and weapon disarming techniques.
You can see a bit of her martial arts stunt work in the clip from the 2012 film The Man with the Iron Fists below.
11. Laetitia Casta
Here's another Victoria's Secret model that knows how to take care of herself.
Casta, the gorgeous French supermodel, has a brown belt in judo and has said that the practice has led her to have more discipline in her career.
12. Catherine Bell
JAG and Army Wives star Catherine Bell does kickboxing, boxing, and martial arts.
She also likes to blow off steam at the gun range. She's also talked about her love for action roles and would love to play a female bodyguard someday. If you run into her on the street, she's definitely one you should approach with caution . . .
13. Evan Rachel Wood
Actress and singer Evan Rachel Wood started Taekwondo instruction at the age of 12 and has a black belt. Of course, she has been in a lot of movies, but my favorite role of hers was the vampire queen of Louisiana in the show True Blood. More recently, she's starred in the HBO series Westworld, where during season three, her scenes were altered due to martial arts capabilities. She spoke with People and talked about how she was happy to finally be able to use her skills on screen.
14. Kelly Hu
The stunning Kelly Hu (Lady Deathstrike in X2) has been involved in martial arts since she was a little girl. Well, she kinda had to be. Her older brother would arrange for her to fight neighborhood boys and was her first martial arts teacher. It wasn't until 1995, ten years after being the first Asian woman to win Miss Teen USA, did she begin training formally.
She has a black belt in Kanzen Budo Kai (a derivative of Shotokan), and she still trains in karate and kickboxing. She got her black belt at Alborz Karate Academy under the United Karate Federation. Truly a multifaceted woman!
15. Emma Bunton
Now this one caught me totally off guard. Did you know that Baby Spice (from the legendary Spice Girls, of course) is evidently pretty dangerous? Her mother is a karate instructor, and she said that she trained Bunton to a "very high standard." Bunton's mum, Pauline, runs a Gojukai martial arts school. Gojukai Karate is very similar in techniques to Goju Ryu. It figures the "cute one" would be the one you'd have to look out for.
16. Melanie C
And speaking of the Spice Girls . . . Melanie Chisholm—I mean, Sporty Spice—had to pull out of the TV series The Games (a Channel 4 reality TV show in the U.K. ) back in 2003 because she injured her knee in a judo competition against 2002 Miss World Azra Akin. Yes, Mel and Azra are both judokas. After her injury, the release of her single "Yeh Yeh Yeh" was postponed due to her not being able to perform such an upbeat track with her injury.
17. Maggie Q
Maggie Q, the star of The CW's spy drama Nikita has downplayed her knowledge of martial arts many times in the press, saying, "I had never done a day of martial arts in my life when I started in the business."
But you have to remember she trained for years with Jackie Chan (his team actually reached out and proposed submitting her for films), and she has been trained several more times for movie roles. Even Bruce Willis said in an interview, "I hit her with a light switch, I give her my best left-hook, and she gets up, and I'm like, damn, this girl is rough. So, she really sold it. Well done, really well done." So even though she may not have a lot of formal training, I bet she's able to take care of herself.
18. Jennifer Aniston
Jennifer Aniston has been one of the hottest actresses in Hollywood for years.
And she attributes her body to pilates, yoga, The Zone diet, and Budokon. You can thank her best friend (both in Friends and in real life), Courteney Cox (number seven on this list), for getting her hooked.
19. Jessica Biel
The beautiful Jessica Biel is trained in and practices kickboxing and various other martial arts like karate. She began practicing for her role in the 2004 film Blade Trinity and has continued, saying it's a great workout and gives her a sense of empowerment.
20. Angelina Jolie
Angelina Jolie has done quite a few action roles, and although she learned some basic self-defense for her roles in the Tomb Raider movies, she and Brad Pitt both practice Krav Maga. From what I understand, she started before Pitt, as he was doing the training technique for their 2015 film By The Sea. Though their relationship has come to an end in the years since, this does make for somewhat of a real-life Mr. & Mrs. Smith situation—the film where they first met.
In the video below, you can see clips of Jolie training and getting in shape prior to filming the first Tomb Raider film back in 2001.
21. Carrie-Anne Moss
Yes, the lady that played Trinity in The Matrix series has trained in Shaolin Kung Fu and actually knew it before the first film came out, likely helping her prove to the casting directors that she was the perfect choice for the role.
Beautiful But Deadly 3 Comments
Ian Stuart Robertson from London England on March 28, 2017:
In my adolescence there were few girls took up judo although there were classes in the martial arts at youth club. This was the pre Women's Liberation Movement's days. Then many women decided to take up karate as a means of self defence. There were three ladies in my home town who particularly excelled in their craft and became instructors in their on right. Each had a different approach for doing this. Jan was into girls protecting themselves from threats, Catherine steered in the 'anger management direction and Suzanne was into crime fighting.
Ian Stuart Robertson from London England on December 09, 2016:
In the 1967 'Deadlier than the male' two no three gorgeous ladies use their feminine wiles to lure their victims to destruction. . Karate their specialty.
Ian Stuart Robertson from London England on December 08, 2014:
The glamorous English actress Honor Blackman had flattened two boys at boxing before she was even 16. On the film set for the T.V. series The Avengers. Miss Blackman is credited with knocking out cold a prominent actor (who won't be named) who was unconscious for several minutes. She recalls this with an awry smile on her lips.
SRIMAL JAYAKODY on April 04, 2012:
Brennan on January 11, 2012:
I love Brenda Song, and Lucy Liu. They are awesome martial artist
Dr. Electro on May 20, 2011:
I love Kelly Hu and Emma Bunton both. I love the idea that together they could kick everybody's ass and come up smiling without a smudge or mark anywhere.
My hat's off to you, ladies. All of these ladies are awesome.
sabrebIade (author) from Pennsylvania on July 14, 2010:
jonathan t: Well she's certainly pretty, but she hates doing martial arts...http://www.contactmusic.com/new/xmlfeed.nsf/story/...
jonathan t from Burlingame, CA on July 14, 2010:
how about maggie cheung? she's absolutely terrific.... you might want to check out some of her works!
catfightreport on July 10, 2010:
These 3 articles were great! Thought you did a great job especially with the MMA and female wrestler types.
Phillyfreeze69 on June 28, 2010:
Jaime Edmondson of Amazing Race fame(season 14) would be an excellent addition to this wonderful hub. Jaime was a former Police Officer with the Boca Raton, FL. police department and a Playboy Playmate(Miss January 2010).
basejumper on June 16, 2010:
@wissenstransfer: "Heart" or "hurt"?
wissentransfer on June 11, 2010:
Laetitia Casta - she can heart me, no worries ;-)
captainchris on May 26, 2010:
Interesting! I would never have guessed at some of those on the list!
ShaneRQR from Switzerland on May 11, 2010:
Very cool hub!
That Kelly Hu picture rocks. She also has the coolest name on the list.
Eskrima, Kali and Arnis are, as far as I know, three names for the same thing. For all practical purposes, anyway (Phillippino martial art involving short sticks and knives). Silat would be something else, though.
earnestshub from Melbourne Australia on May 01, 2010:
Kylie has great shoulders for boxing.
A very nice line-up of the dangerously beautiful!
I guess being big stars it would help to be handy protecting yourself. Nice looking girls, all of them.
omar911 on April 30, 2010:
woow its so coool
nightstalker on March 03, 2010:
Nice Hub and formidable pictures. Catherine Bell as my vote.
Tim from Los Angeles, CA on January 13, 2010:
very interesting. Learned a lot from this. I would have pegged Scary Spice as the Spice Girl who could hurt you.
HIGHLANDERGKM from GRAPEVINE on December 11, 2009:
Great, I wonder if anyone of them knows a thing about defending themselves. I once heard that Crows go for shinny objects well they are shinny but can they walk the walk. It's nice that they keep in shape with marital arts but is it just to further their career?
Eastern Rainbow on December 07, 2009:
I look forward to reading your hubs
Thank you for the FM and the add
Callum1 on November 23, 2009:
watch movies on November 09, 2009:
i am biggest fan of Laetitia Casta and same thing between me and her is we bot are brown belter.
sukhera143 from Home on October 19, 2009:
sabrebIade (author) from Pennsylvania on October 17, 2009:
one2get2no: MMA is "mixed martial arts"
Paradise7: Thank you!
Paradise7 from Upstate New York on October 17, 2009:
I'm a fan of Lucy Liu ever since "Kill Bill". It didn't surprise me, somehow, that she's a martial artist. Thanks for an interesting hub.
Philip Cooper from Olney on October 17, 2009:
I never knew that...interesting stuff. What is an MMA blog?