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

52,076 views 66 items 13,287 votes 2,056 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 1126
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    the people's #1 &most listed
    Bruce Lee

    1940 More
    100
  2. 2
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    1963 More
    88
  3. 3
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    1954 More
    83
  4. 4
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    ranked low on reranks
    Yip Man

    1893 More
    80
  5. 5
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    73
  6. 6
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    1940 More
    71
  7. 7
    Up 279
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    1976 More
    71
  8. 8
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    1975 More
    65
  9. 9
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    1960 More
    65
  10. 10
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    ranked low on reranks
    tony jaa

    63
  11. 11
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    1966 More
    61
  12. 12
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    1942 More
    59
  13. 13
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    1981 More
    59
  14. 14
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    1967 More
    56
  15. 15
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    1952 More
    56
  16. 16
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    1913 More
    55
  17. 17
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    53
  18. 18
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  19. 19
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    1965 More
    52
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    1974 More
    51
  21. 21
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    1963 More
    50
  22. 22
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    1969 More
    50
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    1978 More
    49
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    1978 More
    48
  25. 25
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    1976 More
    47
  26. 26
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    No image

    ranked low on reranks
    Jason Statham

    45
  27. 27
    Up 54
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    1973 More
    43
  28. 28
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    1982 More
    43
  29. 29
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  30. 30
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    1976 More
    41
  31. 31
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    1977 More
    41
  32. 32
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    ranked low on reranks
    Morihei Ueshiba

    1883 More
    40
  33. 33
    Up 43
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    1970 More
    39
  34. 34
    Up 56
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    1972 More
    39
  35. 35
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    often listed
    Frank Mir

    1979 More
    37
  36. 36
    Up 77
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    Huo Yuanjia

    36
  37. 37
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    often listed
    Ken Shamrock

    1964 More
    35
  38. 38
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    Masutatsu Oyama

    35
  39. 39
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    1860 More
    35
  40. 40
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    often listed
    Andi Hug

    35
  41. 41
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    1799 More
    35
  42. 42
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    often listed
    Benson Henderson

    1983 More
    34
  43. 43
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    Gichin Funakoshi

    34
  44. 44
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    often listed
    Pat Miletich

    1966 More
    34
  45. 45
    Up 31
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    often listed
    Quinton Jackson

    1978 More
    33
  46. 46
    Up 40
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    1984 More
    33
  47. 47
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    33
  48. 48
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    32
  49. 49
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    often listed
    Shinya Aoki

    1983 More
    32
  50. 50
    Up 24
    Down 13
    1946 More
    32
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