The Best Martial Artists in History People In Sports
Ultimate List
13  reranks 17,721 votes 2,904 voters 118,201 views 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
  • 13 ReRanks
    • Women
    • Men
    • Age
    • Region
  • See list ranked by
</> Rerank List
Score
  1. 1
    Up 1579
    Down 177

    the people's #1 &most listed
    Bruce Lee

    1940 More
    100
  2. 2
    Up 740
    Down 321
    1963 More
    88
  3. 3
    Up 755
    Down 285
    1954 More
    80
  4. 4
    Up 704
    Down 153
    1893 More
    74
  5. 5
    Up 485
    Down 349
    1940 More
    70
  6. 6
    Up 352
    Down 263
    1976 More
    70
  7. 7
    Up 452
    Down 172

    ranked low on reranks
    donnie yen

    67
  8. 8
    Up 284
    Down 282
    1960 More
    63
  9. 9
    Up 358
    Down 257
    1975 More
    59
  10. 10
    Up 243
    Down 191
    1966 More
    56
  11. 11
    Up 225
    Down 173
    1967 More
    56
  12. 12
    Up 344
    Down 148

    ranked low on reranks
    tony jaa

    55
  13. 13
    Up 239
    Down 174
    1981 More
    52
  14. 14
    Up 252
    Down 276
    1952 More
    52
  15. 15
    Up 230
    Down 133
    1942 More
    51
  16. 16
    Up 173
    Down 120
    50
  17. 17
    Up 124
    Down 130
    1963 More
    46
  18. 18
    Up 119
    Down 89
    1913 More
    46
  19. 19
    Up 138
    Down 106
    46
  20. 20
    Up 129
    Down 152
    1969 More
    45
  21. 21
    Up 105
    Down 132
    1978 More
    44
  22. 22
    Up 131
    Down 130
    1965 More
    44
  23. 23
    Up 131
    Down 127
    1974 More
    43
  24. 24
    Up 138
    Down 118

    Jason Statham

    43
  25. 25
    Up 116
    Down 124
    1978 More
    42
  26. 26
    Up 89
    Down 141
    1976 More
    42
  27. 27
    Up 72
    Down 85
    1982 More
    41
  28. 28
    Up 72
    Down 118
    1973 More
    41
  29. 29
    Up 133
    Down 41

    ranked low on reranks
    Morihei Ueshiba

    1883 More
    37
  30. 30
    Up 66
    Down 101
    1977 More
    37
  31. 31
    Up 65
    Down 99
    1976 More
    37
  32. 32
    Up 76
    Down 80
    1972 More
    36
  33. 33
    Up 76
    Down 101
    35
  34. 34
    Up 109
    Down 50

    ranked low on reranks
    Huo Yuanjia

    34
  35. 35
    Up 44
    Down 101
    1979 More
    34
  36. 36
    Up 49
    Down 108
    1964 More
    33
  37. 37
    Up 16
    Down 54
    1964 More
    33
  38. 38
    Up 6
    Down 12
    1966 More
    33
  39. 39
    Up 54
    Down 86
    1970 More
    33
  40. 40
    Up 28
    Down 79

    often listed
    Pat Miletich

    1966 More
    33
  41. 41
    Up 88
    Down 47
    1860 More
    32
  42. 42
    Up 34
    Down 55

    often listed
    Andi Hug

    32
  43. 43
    Up 87
    Down 49

    Masutatsu Oyama

    32
  44. 44
    Up 76
    Down 39
    1799 More
    32
  45. 45
    Up 45
    Down 83

    often listed
    Benson Henderson

    1983 More
    31
  46. 46
    Up 72
    Down 41

    Gichin Funakoshi

    31
  47. 47
    Up 29
    Down 60

    often listed
    Shinya Aoki

    1983 More
    31
  48. 48
    Up 60
    Down 32
    1984 More
    30
  49. 49
    Up 36
    Down 82

    often listed
    Quinton Jackson

    1978 More
    30
  50. 50
    Up 47
    Down 22
    1946 More
    30
  51. 70 +

    Something missing? Add it!

Is this list missing something?
RANKERS WHO ADDED ITEMS

items 1 - 50 of 69

think you can do better?

Rerank This List
why?

got a blog or website?

embed this list
why?

viewers of this list also saw

more popular lists