ByMatt Juul, writer at
MMA and Entertainment Writer
Matt Juul

If you're an older MMA enthusiast who's iffy about starting martial arts training just because you're getting up there in years, well think again. Proving that age is just a number, there are plenty of famous fight fans who've taken the leap and actually stepped on the mats, despite no longer being spring chickens.

From world-class musicians to master chefs, here are five celebrity martial artists who prove that it's never too late for anyone to start training.

5. Willie Nelson

Country legend Willie Nelson earned his 5th degree black belt in GongKwon Yusul a day before celebrating his 81st birthday in 2014. That's pretty remarkable, regardless of the style.

According to USA Today, the music icon has been training in the art for almost two decades, which means he was in his 60s when he started. "It's just good for you physically," Nelson said in an interview with KVUE. "For your lungs. The more you're breathing, exercising, the better you're going to feel."

4. Anthony Bourdain

Chef and Parts Unknown host Anthony Bourdain has become obsessed with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu thanks to his wife and grappling enthusiast Ottavia, who convinced him to start training at the Renzo Gracie Academy in New York City.

Although Bourdain would be the first to admit that his spouse has the better skills on the mats, the 60-year-old blue belt is no slouch either. Bourdain recently took home a gold medal at the IBJJF Spring Open in New York this past April.

3. Ed O'Neill

As a black belt in BJJ under the legendary Rorion Gracie, Married... with Children star Ed O'Neill is still a serious practitioner of the artform at the ripe old age of 70.

Although Al Bundy has been wearing a gi for decades, it's cool to see that the actor has stayed devoted to training over the years.

2. Vince Vaughn

A newer convert to world of BJJ enthusiasts, Wedding Crashers star Vince Vaughn has recently began training and earned his white belt under Rener Gracie earlier this year.

Although Vaughn isn't the oldest guy on the list, it still takes a lot of heart to start a martial art at the age of 46, especially something as intense as BJJ.

1. Clark Gregg

Your eyes don't deceive you. Yes, Agent Coulson is a BJJ black belt, so watch out Loki.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. actor Clark Gregg is a certified killer on the mats at the age of 54, although he only started training in his 40s. He said in a 2014 interview with Fox Sports that it took a lot of effort to continue moving up in the ranks over the years.

"In Jiu-Jitsu, every instinct you have wants to do everything but relax or breathe when someone's attacking you, and learning that takes a long time," Gregg said. "I think that's why a lot of people stop at blue belt because it's really hard to do. It's hard to take that next step. It took me a long time."


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