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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 some of the greatest fighters like 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!

The Best Martial Artists in History People In Sports
  • 33 ReRanks
    • Women
    • Men
    • Age
    • Region
  • 2 See list ranked by
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  1. 51
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    - 153


    ;
  2. 52
    + 9
    - 14

    added by CapoAssKickerMikey95
    age 34

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  3. 53
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    age 36

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  4. 54
    + 117
    - 205

    often listed & Ranked High on Reranks
    age 45

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  5. 55
    + 89
    - 180

    often listed
    age 40

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  6. 56
    + 61
    - 50


    Joe Lewis

  7. 57
    + 123
    - 123


    Don the Dragon Wilson

  8. 58
    + 124
    - 70

    ranked low on reranks & added by Richard777
    age 59

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  9. 59
    + 118
    - 65

    ranked low on reranks & added by Richard777
    age 79

    ;
  10. 60
    + 120
    - 118


    Died at 59 (1931-1990)

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  11. 61
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    age 37

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  12. 62
    + 57
    - 168


    age 51

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  13. 63
    + 17
    - 5

    added by CapoAssKickerMikey95
    Died at 39 (1103-1142)

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  14. 64
    + 82
    - 187

    often listed
    age 32

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  15. 65
    + 66
    - 151

    often listed
    age 32

    ;
  16. 66
    + 61
    - 28
    No image

    ranked low on reranks & added by marcel.hildering
    Miyamoto Musashi

  17. 67
    + 15
    - 7

    added by CapoAssKickerMikey95
    Zhang Sanfeng

  18. 68
    + 14
    - 6

    added by CapoAssKickerMikey95
    Chen Shixing

  19. 69
    + 67
    - 153

    often listed
    age 57

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  20. 70
    + 16
    - 6

    added by CapoAssKickerMikey95
    Wang Lang

  21. 71
    + 63
    - 188

    often listed
    age 49

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  22. 72
    + 15
    - 7

    added by CapoAssKickerMikey95
    Ti Lung

  23. 73
    + 16
    - 9

    added by CapoAssKickerMikey95
    Gordon Liu

  24. 74
    + 23
    - 26


    age 59

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  25. 75
    + 15
    - 9

    added by CapoAssKickerMikey95
    Died at 67 (1914-1981)

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  26. 76
    + 33
    - 7
    No image

    added by Barry Bird
    Brandon Lee

  27. 77
    + 10
    - 18


    Jack Wong Man

  28. 78
    + 15
    - 28
    No image


    Ji,han Jae

  29. 79
    + 14
    - 28


    age 28

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  30. 80
    + 6
    - 14

    added by CapoAssKickerMikey95
    age 42

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  31. 81
    + 14
    - 1

    ranked low on reranks & added by xiaoli-song
    Chen Wangting(Chen Tai Chi)(陈王廷)

  32. 82
    + 1
    - 3

    new! & added by Switchdoctor
    age 34

    ;
  33. 83
    + 8
    - 13

    added by CapoAssKickerMikey95
    age 62

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  34. 84
    + 13
    - 22
    No image


    Kazushi Sakabara

  35. 85
    + 17
    - 2

    added by xiaoli-song
    Sun Lutang(Xing Yi quan & Ba gua zhang & Sun Tai Chi)(孙禄堂)

  36. 86
    + 16
    - 32


    age 42

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  37. 87
    + 19
    - 4

    added by CapoAssKickerMikey95
    Wong Fei Hung

  38. 88
    + 43
    - 155

    often listed & Ranked High on Reranks
    age 35

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  39. 89
    + 17
    - 4

    added by xiaoli-song
    Wang Ziping(Tan Tui, Cha quan,Tai Chi)(王子平)

  40. 90
    + 17
    - 4

    added by xiaoli-song
    Zhang Sanfeng(wu dang)(张三丰)

  41. 91
    + 16
    - 3

    added by xiaoli-song
    Chen Xiaowang (chen Taichi)(陈小旺)

  42. 92
    + 16
    - 3

    added by xiaoli-song
    Dong Haichuan(Ba Gua zhang)(董海川)

  43. 93
    + 18
    - 6

    added by xiaoli-song
    Pan Xiaojie(xing Yi Quan)(潘小杰)

  44. 94
    + 9
    - 31

    Ranked High on Reranks
    age 38

    ;
  45. 95
    + 16
    - 4

    added by xiaoli-song
    Zhao Wenzhuo(赵文卓)

  46. 96
    + 7
    - 26

    Ranked High on Reranks
    age 41

    ;
  47. 97
    + 14
    - 3

    added by xiaoli-song
    Liang Yiquan(shaolin)(梁以全)

  48. 98
    + 13
    - 2

    added by xiaoli-song
    Wu Zhong(Ba Ji Quan)(吴钟)

  49. 99
    + 13
    - 2

    added by xiaoli-song
    Guo Yunshen(Xing Yi Quan)(郭云深)

  50. 100
    + 15
    - 5
    No image

    added by bugs-bunny
    Huo Yuanjia

172 +

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