The Best Martial Artists in History People In Sports
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The Best Martial Artists in History

50,952 views 68 items 13,160 votes 2,033 voters 20 followers 13reranks
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 Criteria: Only Martial Arts stars, MMA is fine. No boxers nor fictional characters

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  Name
Score
  1. 1
    Up 1115
    Down 128

    the people's #1 &most listed
    Bruce Lee

    1940 More
    100
  2. 2
    Up 514
    Down 231

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Jet Li

    1963 More
    88
  3. 3
    Up 520
    Down 208
    1954 More
    83
  4. 4
    Up 494
    Down 108

    ranked low on reranks
    Yip Man

    1893 More
    80
  5. 5
    Up 306
    Down 126
    73
  6. 6
    Up 328
    Down 272

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Chuck Norris

    1940 More
    71
  7. 7
    Up 279
    Down 194
    1976 More
    71
  8. 8
    Up 271
    Down 197
    1975 More
    66
  9. 9
    Up 195
    Down 212

    often listed &controversial
    Jean-Claude Van Damme

    1960 More
    65
  10. 10
    Up 236
    Down 107

    ranked low on reranks
    tony jaa

    63
  11. 11
    Up 177
    Down 147

    often listed
    Royce Gracie

    1966 More
    61
  12. 12
    Up 127
    Down 76
    1942 More
    59
  13. 13
    Up 176
    Down 131
    1981 More
    59
  14. 14
    Up 172
    Down 204

    often listed &controversial
    Steven Seagal

    1952 More
    56
  15. 15
    Up 147
    Down 129

    controversial
    Michael Jai White

    1967 More
    56
  16. 16
    Up 82
    Down 66

    ranked high on reranks
    Hélio Gracie

    1913 More
    55
  17. 17
    Up 105
    Down 83
    53
  18. 18
    Up 117
    Down 93

    ranked low on reranks
    scott adkins

    53
  19. 19
    Up 100
    Down 105
    1965 More
    53
  20. 20
    Up 101
    Down 97
    1974 More
    51
  21. 21
    Up 85
    Down 101
    1963 More
    50
  22. 22
    Up 99
    Down 123
    1969 More
    50
  23. 23
    Up 80
    Down 105
    1978 More
    49
  24. 24
    Up 87
    Down 98
    1978 More
    49
  25. 25
    Up 72
    Down 111

    often listed &controversial
    Wanderlei Silva

    1976 More
    47
  26. 26
    Up 79
    Down 85
    No image

    controversial &ranked low on reranks
    Jason Statham

    45
  27. 27
    Up 54
    Down 95

    often listed &controversial
    Matt Hughes

    1973 More
    43
  28. 28
    Up 54
    Down 62
    1982 More
    43
  29. 29
    Up 62
    Down 81
    43
  30. 30
    Up 55
    Down 74
    1976 More
    42
  31. 31
    Up 50
    Down 77

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Vitor Belfort

    1977 More
    41
  32. 32
    Up 92
    Down 29

    ranked low on reranks
    Morihei Ueshiba

    1883 More
    40
  33. 33
    Up 43
    Down 63

    ranked high on reranks
    Dan Henderson

    1970 More
    39
  34. 34
    Up 55
    Down 67

    ranked low on reranks
    Cung Le

    1972 More
    39
  35. 35
    Up 37
    Down 75

    often listed
    Frank Mir

    1979 More
    37
  36. 36
    Up 76
    Down 38

    Huo Yuanjia

    37
  37. 37
    Up 38
    Down 86

    often listed &controversial
    Ken Shamrock

    1964 More
    35
  38. 38
    Up 65
    Down 37

    Masutatsu Oyama

    35
  39. 39
    Up 65
    Down 38
    1860 More
    35
  40. 40
    Up 56
    Down 31
    1799 More
    35
  41. 41
    Up 24
    Down 40
    35
  42. 42
    Up 36
    Down 67

    ranked high on reranks
    Benson Henderson

    1983 More
    34
  43. 43
    Up 54
    Down 34

    Gichin Funakoshi

    34
  44. 44
    Up 20
    Down 62

    often listed
    Pat Miletich

    1966 More
    34
  45. 45
    Up 31
    Down 62

    often listed
    Quinton Jackson

    1978 More
    33
  46. 46
    Up 39
    Down 24
    1984 More
    33
  47. 47
    Up 43
    Down 30
    33
  48. 48
    Up 38
    Down 27
    32
  49. 49
    Up 23
    Down 47

    often listed
    Shinya Aoki

    1983 More
    32
  50. 50
    Up 23
    Down 13
    1946 More
    32
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