Famous Wrestlers Who Have Tried Their Hands At Martial Arts – TJR Wrestling

Pro wrestlers aren’t known for being soft and pliable, but you may not realize just how ruthless and highly trained some of the best wrestlers really are. You may be surprised to learn that many of your favorite WWE characters have undergone extensive martial arts training, often in multiple disciplines, including freestyle wrestling, mixed martial arts, jiu-jitsu and capoeira. This type of martial arts training can create a devastating force in the ring, often powerful enough to win major tournaments and earn hard-working grapplers a position in the upper echelons of WWE Kings. Take a look at this list of famous wrestlers who have dabbled in martial arts to see if you can guess what disciplines they trained in:

Kurt Angle (Freestyle/Greco-Roman/Shoot Wrestling)

Kurt Angle is truly a “wrestler’s wrestler” having trained and competed in both competitive freestyle wrestling and classic Greco-Roman wrestling. He’s also one of the few professional wrestlers to have won a gold medal in freestyle wrestling, which he did at the 1996 Summer Olympics – the weirdest thing is that he’s probably the only wrestler to ever pull off the feat with a break is neck!

Angle first stepped into the ring professionally in 1996, signed with WWE in 1999 and has since become one of the most popular figures in professional wrestling – his dramatic showdown with Shawn Michaels has become one of the most popular WWE matchups of all time. While Angle has the diverse martial arts skills of some of the other wrestlers on this list, he is unchallenged when it comes to the art of wrestling.

Santino Marella (Shoot Wrestling / MMA)

Best known as one of WWE’s most extravagant personalities, you may remember Santino Marella for his “Cobra Strike” signature and the green sock puppet that became his trademark humor. What you may not have realized is that prior to attaining the position of WWE Jester, Marella enjoyed a career in martial arts. Marella originally trained in the art of shoot wrestling at the prestigious Japanese BATTLEARTS school (which was a fighter hotbed from 1995 to 2011) and later fought in MMA. Although Marella has claimed his MMA record stands at 6-1, his only officially documented appearance ended with him losing to Takashi Ishino by KO. While his pre-WWE stint in martial arts may not have been the most successful, Marella still harbors a love of pro wrestling and MMA, most recently serving as the director of the prestigious Battle Arts Academy, modeled after the famous Japanese school this popular wrestler initially graduated from his martial arts training.

wwe wrestlemania 19 brock lesnar kurt angle

Brock Lesnar (Freestyle/MMA/Shoot Wrestling)

Widely regarded as one of the most successful pro wrestlers of all time (and a budding movie star at that), Brock Lesnar needs little introduction. Although his record in the ring is currently unmatched (Lesner has previously won tournaments including the WWE Primary Heavyweight Championship, Ultimate Fighting Championship, New Japan Pro-Wrestling and the National Collegiate Athletic Association), you may not realize that Brock Lesner is a Man of many talents: The famous track and field athlete is also a professional soccer player and a former mixed martial artist.

There is evidence of Lesnar’s MMA training and freestyle wrestling experience in the ring, particularly in his effective use of single and double leg takedowns, submissions and his trademark ankle lock. One of Lesnar’s most famous fights took place in 2009 when he faced Tito Ortiz at Vegas Casino. Those who have a penchant for slots and table games would have enjoyed watching this event. Speaking of which, if you want to play no deposit at the best US casinos, here is a list of sites that offer it new players with free bonuses. The list was recently updated.

Daniel Bryan (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu)

While the martial art of Jiu-Jitsu is best known in its original Japanese form, you might be surprised to learn that it is the Brazilian variant (BJJ) that is actually most well known in MMA and other hand-to-hand combat sports today. Perhaps the most famous proponent of BJJ is Daniel Bryan, the superstar whose Grudge match with the mighty Triple H is now considered the all-time classic match in WWE. Bryan applies his BJJ training to brutal effect in the wrestling ring, particularly when it comes to performing effective incapacitating or “terminating” moves like locks, pins, and chokeholds.

Kofi Kingston (Capoeira)

Known for his acrobatic style (which involves lots of fancy flying footwork), Kofi Kingston is a much-loved WWE character who appears in the ancient Brazilian martial art known as Capoeira. Capoeira was first popularized and brought into the international mainstream by the now legendary practitioner Mestre Bimba. Capoeira is a graceful and measured martial art that perfectly complements Kingston’s stunning, swaggering style. In the ring, Kingston’s Capoeira training can be used to devastating effect, especially when it comes to aerial attacks, punches and mat rolls.

Aleister Black (Muay Thai / Kickboxing)

Aleister Black is another larger than life wrestling personality who quickly became one of the most talked about new stars in WWE in 2017 before joining AEW in 2021. This Dutch wrestling star is known for his close and measured fighting style, which is inspired by training in kickboxing and muay thai. His controlled and precise style benefits from a lack of “overstretch” that plagues many wrestlers, especially those untrained in the art of strike-heavy fighting. Black’s menacing muay thai punches mean he can often do more damage in the ring without announcing his next move and losing that all-important element of surprise. Though he may have left WWE, this martial arts-loving wrestler will certainly not be forgotten anytime soon.

Taka Michinoku (MMA)

A pro wrestler, Taka Michinoku started out in ECW before making waves as part of the WWE collective Kai En Tai. Before breaking into the wrestling scene, this popular WWE character tried his hand at MMA, where he was defeated by Keiichiro Michinoku in his only officially recorded match. While Michinoku’s MMA career may not be the most famous in terms of his record, his wrestling style shows that he has learned from his mistakes and continues to employ certain MMA-inspired strategies when fighting in the ring. Today, Michinoku trains the next generation of fighters at the renowned Kaientai Dojo in his native Japan, and he remains a legend of the WWE scene.

See you in the ring!

Hopefully this list has opened your eyes to the hard work and extensive training that pro wrestlers must put in to dominate their opponents in the ring and stay at the top of their game. Stay up to date with WWE Raw to find the best new fighters (many of whom have diverse martial arts training) and catch the hottest new fights as they air. See you in the ring!

Leave a Comment