The Best Martial Artists in History People In Sports
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12  reranks 16,471 votes 2,646 voters 95,508 views by  more info

The Best Martial Artists in History

List Criteria: Only Martial Arts stars, MMA is fine. No boxers nor fictional characters

The best martial artists in history are some of the most successful, most famous and toughest fighters to ever compete. These tough guys are UFC champions, movie stars and icons in the fighting world. Whether you're a fan of the Chinese greats like Bruce Lee, the MMA front-runners like Chuck Liddell or anywhere in between, it's hard to argue that all of these men are highly skilled in their various disciplines.

Martial arts is one of the widest classifications for combat sports out there. Typically, martial arts describes fighting styles originating in Asia but can describe everything from activities containing strike attacks like tae kwon do, karate, kung fu ad capoeira to grappling activities like judo, Brazilian jiu-jitsu and even sumo wrestling. It is perhaps the wide range of disciplines that makes mastering martial arts so difficult.

Action movie fans may enjoy seeing stars like Jackie Chan and Jet Li compete on the silver screen but some may not know that before these talented men were Hollywood favorites, they were leaders in the Chinese martial arts world. Bruce Lee is arguably one of the best martial artists ever and helped the sport gain popularity. In part, Lee opened the door for tough guys, such as Jean-Claude Van Damme and Chuck Norris, to become some on-screen martial arts legends.

But there's much more to martial arts than what you see in movies. In modern times, the UFC, or Ultimate Fighting Championship, is the largest mixed martial arts (MMA) company in the world and is home to some of the best MMA fighters to ever compete. UFC Hall of Fame members such as Randy Couture, Royce Gracie and Ken Shamrocks have inspired younger fighters like Anderson Silva, Georges St. Pierre and Fedor Emelianenko to become some of the toughest professional fighters ever.

Is it fair to compare Bruce Lee to Anderson Silva without having the two men compete head to head? Maybe not but that's where you come in, folks. Tell us which fighters you think are the best in history by voting for your favorite, adding those not listed and re-ranking this list your way below!
List is ranked by a combination of each item's votes & positioning in reranks
  • 12 ReRanks
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Score
  1. 1
    Up 1435
    Down 167

    the people's #1 &most listed
    Bruce Lee

    1940 More
    100
  2. 2
    Up 672
    Down 293
    1963 More
    88
  3. 3
    Up 679
    Down 266
    1954 More
    79
  4. 4
    Up 640
    Down 139
    1893 More
    74
  5. 5
    Up 425
    Down 335
    1940 More
    68
  6. 6
    Up 409
    Down 164
    66
  7. 7
    Up 333
    Down 245
    1976 More
    64
  8. 8
    Up 255
    Down 268
    1960 More
    62
  9. 9
    Up 328
    Down 242
    1975 More
    59
  10. 10
    Up 220
    Down 177
    1966 More
    56
  11. 11
    Up 308
    Down 138
    54
  12. 12
    Up 221
    Down 162
    1981 More
    52
  13. 13
    Up 223
    Down 258
    1952 More
    51
  14. 14
    Up 193
    Down 158
    1967 More
    50
  15. 15
    Up 195
    Down 121
    1942 More
    49
  16. 16
    Up 154
    Down 113
    49
  17. 17
    Up 113
    Down 123
    1963 More
    46
  18. 18
    Up 129
    Down 99
    45
  19. 19
    Up 106
    Down 86
    1913 More
    45
  20. 20
    Up 120
    Down 145
    1969 More
    45
  21. 21
    Up 97
    Down 124
    1978 More
    44
  22. 22
    Up 126
    Down 118
    1974 More
    43
  23. 23
    Up 121
    Down 126
    1965 More
    43
  24. 24
    Up 117
    Down 107

    Jason Statham

    42
  25. 25
    Up 85
    Down 134
    1976 More
    41
  26. 26
    Up 109
    Down 118
    1978 More
    41
  27. 27
    Up 66
    Down 113
    1973 More
    40
  28. 28
    Up 64
    Down 92
    1976 More
    37
  29. 29
    Up 63
    Down 95
    1977 More
    37
  30. 30
    Up 120
    Down 40

    ranked low on reranks
    Morihei Ueshiba

    1883 More
    36
  31. 31
    Up 68
    Down 81
    1982 More
    35
  32. 32
    Up 70
    Down 77
    1972 More
    35
  33. 33
    Up 75
    Down 99
    34
  34. 34
    Up 43
    Down 96
    1979 More
    33
  35. 35
    Up 100
    Down 48

    ranked low on reranks
    Huo Yuanjia

    33
  36. 36
    Up 44
    Down 103
    1964 More
    33
  37. 37
    Up 53
    Down 82
    1970 More
    33
  38. 38
    Up 27
    Down 74

    often listed
    Pat Miletich

    1966 More
    32
  39. 39
    Up 33
    Down 51

    often listed
    Andi Hug

    32
  40. 40
    Up 82
    Down 46

    Masutatsu Oyama

    32
  41. 41
    Up 73
    Down 37

    ranked low on reranks
    Yang Lu-ch'an

    1799 More
    31
  42. 42
    Up 80
    Down 46
    1860 More
    31
  43. 43
    Up 43
    Down 81

    often listed
    Benson Henderson

    1983 More
    31
  44. 44
    Up 67
    Down 41

    Gichin Funakoshi

    30
  45. 45
    Up 28
    Down 57

    often listed
    Shinya Aoki

    1983 More
    30
  46. 46
    Up 36
    Down 76

    often listed
    Quinton Jackson

    1978 More
    30
  47. 47
    Up 55
    Down 32
    1984 More
    29
  48. 48
    Up 53
    Down 36
    29
  49. 49
    Up 41
    Down 20
    1946 More
    29
  50. 50
    Up 51
    Down 35
    28
  51. 65 +

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