Joe Rogan Explains Why He Started Doing Martial Arts

Joe Rogan martial arts

Joe Rogan isn’t just the host of the mega-popular Joe Rogan Experience, he’s also an experienced martial artist. With experience in taekwondo, BJJ, kickboxing, Muay Thai, and wrestling, Joe Rogan is not a person you want to mess with. On episode 1141 of the Joe Rogan Experience, Joe explained why he started training martial arts. We recount some of the highlights of the episode below.

Joe Rogan Experience

Joe’s Martial Arts Origins

Joe first explained how a childhood confrontation led him to take up wrestling:

“[One of the reasons I got into wrestling was] I was scared of this one kid. We had this confrontation in the locker room. And I didn’t think we were going to fight. I was just totally bluffing. I don’t know what I said or what he said. I don’t remember. But I do remember him getting me in a headlock, throwing me on the ground, and then leaning like he was going to punch me in the face, but deciding not to. And I didn’t know what to do. I had no martial arts skills. No nothing. I had never wrestled anybody before. I didn’t know anything. I panicked. I had no idea what to do. I thought, ‘Sh*t, I didn’t think he was going to do that, and now here I am on my back. I’m trapped.'”

Joe Rogan martial arts
Joe Rogan martial arts

Joe’s Scary Realization

Joe then described the scary realization he had during the encounter with the other kid:

“But it’s one of those things where when something like that happens to you, and for me, again, it was very minor. I was just scared of this guy. He didn’t do anything to me horrible. He just threw me on the ground. I mean, if someone can hold you down like that…that dude could have beat my face in.”

Joe’s Gratitude for the Encounter

Rogan then said that he was ultimately grateful for the encounter because it led him to take up martial arts:

“The fact that the [other kid did that to me] led to one of the biggest decisions of my whole life—getting into martial arts.”

Joe Rogan’s Taekwondo Knockout

Want to see the results of Joe Rogan’s martial arts training? Watch the video of Joe Rogan’s taekwondo tournament knockout here!

Joe Rogan TKD
Joe Rogan’s taekwondo knockout

Joe Rogan Knocks Opponent Out in Taekwondo Fight

Joe Rogan Taekwondo

In addition to being a UFC commentator, comedian, and popular podcast host, Joe Rogan is a serious martial artist. Rogan holds black belts in taekwondo and BJJ, and he has experience in kickboxing, boxing, and Muay Thai.

In episode 1005 of the Joe Rogan Experience, Rogan watched and discussed an old clip of him knocking out an opponent with a spinning back kick in a taekwondo tournament. Rogan had this to say about his spectacular knockout:

“[Y]ou have to walk away and make it look like it’s no big deal. That is how my thought process was. Don’t get excited. Make it look like this is what I’m going to do to everybody. Just relax, just walk off, and have everybody so nervous that you don’t even care. Like this is just a normal thing for you; you kick people that go unconscious, they fall down, and they can’t get up.”

Joe Rogan Taekwondo

Joe Rogan Taekwondo Background

Rogan discussed his taekwondo background again in episode 1227 of the Joe Rogan Experience. Speaking with boxing legend Mike Tyson, Rogan said:

“I did kickboxing and taekwondo tournaments. I was pretty good at Taekwondo; I won a bunch of state championships and won a few national tournaments.”

Joe Rogan taekwondo
Joe Rogan Taekwondo

Rogan also discussed how bullies and fear led him to take up taekwondo:

“[F]or these full-contact taekwondo fights, I was always scared. But I was scared before that. I was bullied. I moved around a lot I was a little kid. I was never very big, and we moved from New Jersey to San Francisco when I was seven, from San Francisco to Florida when I was 11, and from Florida to Boston when I was 14 or 13. So, it’s just always moving to new schools, always dealing with new kids, and I wasn’t big, and I didn’t know how to fight, and I got picked on, and I didn’t like it. So, I said, ‘I want to figure out how to fight.’ And so I started getting into martial arts, and I just became obsessed with it.”

Joe Rogan Taekwondo

Joe Rogan Taekwondo History

When he was 19 years old, Joe Rogan won the US Open Championship taekwondo tournament as a lightweight. Rogan was a Massachusetts full-contact state champion for four years in a row and taught taekwondo for several years. Rogan also practiced amatuer kickboxing amateur and compiled a 2–1 record. Rogan retired from competition at the age of 21 due to fear of long-term physical damage, particularly head injuries.

Joe Rogan taekwondo
Joe Rogan taekwondo

What is Tae Kwon Do?

Taekwondo is a Korean martial art of unarmed combat that is based on an earlier form of Korean self-defense called tae kyon. The art also has roots in karate. The name taekwondo was officially adopted in 1955 after the name was proposed by the South Korean general Choi Hong-Hi, the principal founder of taekwondo.

The Spinning Side Kick

Joe Rogan is well known for his use of the spinning side kick. The spinning side kick is performed by stepping forward and spinning backwards before throwing a kick from a sideways stance. This spin generates extra momentum and results in a more powerful kick. The spinning side kick is similar to the spinning back kick. However, with the spinning side kick, the foot is kicked laterally as opposed to backwards.

In the following video, Joe Rogan teaches the spinning side kick to legendary UFC fighter Georges St-Pierre.

Joe Rogan Taekwondo

Chuck Norris: I Was a Fighter-Bruce Lee WASN’T!

Bruce Lee vs. Chuck Norris

Bruce Lee vs. Chuck Norris: who would win? On November 19th, 1986, Chuck Norris discussed this issue on a television program called Nightlife. Nightlife was an American syndicated late-night talk show hosted by comedian David Brenner. The program aired from September 8, 1986, to June 19, 1987.

Bruce Lee vs. Chuck Norris
Nightlife Logo (Bruce Lee vs. Chuck Norris)

Chuck Norris Discusses Bruce Lee vs. Chuck Norris on Nightlife

During the interview, host David Brenner eventually asked the question that fans of Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris have always wondered: what would happen in a Bruce Lee vs. Chuck Norris fight?

Bruce Lee vs. Chuck Norris
Bruce Lee vs. Chuck Norris

Bruce Lee vs. Chuck Norris in the Way of the Dragon

Years before the Nightlife interview, Lee and Norris had famously battled onscreen in the Way of the Dragon. The Way of the Dragon, originally released in the United States as Return of the Dragon, is a 1972 martial arts film written, co-produced, and directed by Bruce Lee. The Way of the Dragon is Bruce Lee’s only complete directorial film.

The Way of the Dragon
The Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris in the Way of the Dragon

In addition to Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris, the film co-stars Nora Miao, Robert Wall, and Wei Ping-ou. Although the Way of the Dragon allowed Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris to showcase their skills in a choreographed fight, it failed to answer the question of what would happen in a real Bruce Lee vs. Chuck Norris fight.

Bruce Lee vs. Chuck Norris in the Way of the Dragon

Chuck Norris On Whether He Could Beat Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee vs. Chuck Norris
Norris discusses Bruce Lee vs. Chuck Norris on Nightlife

During his Nightlife interview, Chuck Norris had this to say about a hypothetical Bruce Lee vs. Chuck Norris matchup:

“Well you know that’s that’s an unanswerable question, because the thing is, you don’t know until you do it. The thing is, I was a fighter. I fought for years. Bruce never competed. He never fought professionally. But he was one of the best technicians and one of the best conditioned guys I had ever fun into. He would have been a phenomenal fighter. It just wasn’t the route he took. You know, he went into films early. Well, into that TV series The Green Hornet. And so he didn’t have to go the fighting route like I had to go.”

Norris discusses Bruce Lee vs. Chuck Norris on Nightlife

Chuck Norris on What It Takes to Be a Great Fighter

In addition to discussing what would happen in a Bruce Lee vs. Chuck Norris matchup, Norris had this to say about what it takes to be a great fighter:

“Well, you know it’s a hard thing to answer. But I think the main thing is, you have to be ready. You must be physically, mentally and psychologically prepared. A lot of fighters would be physically prepared, but not mentally or psychologically or vice-versa. And what that means is physically be in the very, very best shape you can possibly be in. Mentally means that you have the intellect to know what the weaknesses of your opponent is. What is his weakness, how can you penetrate his weaknesses, or what are his strengths that you have to watch out for. And then psychological, it means believing in yourself that you can win.

The Way of the Dragon
Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris in the Way of the Dragon

Norris continued:

“A lot of fighters, it’s amazing, would go into the ring, and you could see it in their eyes that they weren’t going to win. And so you’ve got to have that belief in yourself that there’s no one that can beat you. You must go in there believing that you can win.”

Chuck Norris discusses Bruce Lee vs. Chuck Norris on Nightlife

Bolo Yeung (Chong Li Bloodsport): Martial Arts Icon

Chong Li Bloodsport
Bolo Yeung now
Bolo Yeung then / Bolo Yeung now

Bolo Yeung, born Yang Sze on July 3, 1946, is a Chinese bodybuilder, martial artist, and martial arts film star. During his career, Bolo Yeung was primarily cast as a villain in his film roles. Bolo Yeung is best known for his performances as Bolo (Enter the Dragon), as Chong Li (Bloodsport), and as Chang Lee (Bloodfight). Yeung’s muscular frame and intimidating aura have made him a favorite of martial arts fans for decades.

Bolo Yeung Early Life

Bolo Yeung began his training in the martial arts at the age of 10 in Guangzhou, Guangdong, where he learned under the tutelage of several kung fu masters. As Bolo Yeung got older, he became interested in bodybuilding, and he eventually earned the Mr. Hong Kong bodybuilding title. Bolo held this title for a decade, earning him the nickname “Chinese Hercules.”

Bolo Yeung child
Bolo Yeung

Bolo Yeung Film Career

Following his competitive bodybuilding career, Bolo Yeung tried his hand at acting, eventually earning roles in martial arts films. Due to his muscular physique, Bolo Yeung was often chosen to play a villain, beginning his acting career in films like the Heroic Ones, the Deadly Duo, and Angry Guest.

Bolo Yeung the Heroic Ones
Bolo Yeung Heroic Ones

Bolo Enter the Dragon

Bolo met the legendary Bruce Lee when the two martial artists starred in a Winston cigarette commercial. The two quickly struck up a friendship. Bolo Yeung’s friendship with Bruce Lee eventually earned him the role of Bolo in Enter the Dragon.

Bolo Enter the Dragon
Bolo Enter the Dragon

Bolo Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee and Bolo Yeung took advantage of their time on set during the filing of Enter the Dragon to refine their techniques. According to Bolo, “During the filming of Enter the Dragon, Bruce Lee and I worked very closely on technique training. We experimented, trying to decide what worked and what wouldn’t. You see, Bruce was always learning, always experimenting, always changing.”

Bolo Bruce Lee
Bolo Bruce Lee

Bolo would comment years later on their friendship, saying, “There will never be another Bruce Lee, and I am privileged to have had the honor of calling him friend.”

Bolo Enter the Dragon
Bolo Enter the Dragon / Bolo Bruce Lee

Bolo on Bruce Lee’s Fight on the Set of Enter the Dragon

During the filming of Enter the Dragon, an extra challenged Bruce Lee to a real fight. Bolo, who witnessed the incident, had the following to say about the incident:

“On the set of Enter The Dragon, a Hong Kong contract extra challenged Bruce Lee. This extra wanted to test out Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do and see if it was any good. Bruce accepted the challenge. They began to fight and hit each other a bit. Then Bruce Lee kicked him up high. Bruce’s speed was too much for the extra. After he kicked the extra, the fight was stopped. His speed was just incredible.”

Chong Li Bloodsport

Following Yeung’s role in Enter the Dragon with Bruce Lee, he appeared in countless other martial arts movies throughout the 1970s and 1980s. However, he is best known for his work with Jean-Claude Van Damme. In 1988, Bolo played the role of Chong Li in Bloodsport. Shot on a relatively low budget of $1.5 million, Bloodsport became a huge hit in the United States.

Chong Li Bloodsport
Chong Li Bloodsport

In the film, a young Frank Dux (played by Jean-Claude Van Damme) and a group of his friends break into ninjutsu expert Senzo Tanaka’s home (played by Roy Chiao) to steal a katana. However, Frank Dux is caught by Tanaka when breaking back into his home to return the weapon. Impressed by Frank Dux’s integrity, Senzo decides to train him alongside his son, Shingo (played by Sean Ward). Following Shingo’s death, Senzo Tanaka trains Frank Dux in the ways of ninjutsu .

Chong Li Bloodsport
Chong Li Bloodsport

Years later, Frank Dux is invited to participate in the Kumite, an illegal martial arts tournament in Hong Kong. After arriving in Hong Kong, Dux becomes friends with an American fighter named Ray Jackson (played by Donald Gibb) and their guide Victor Lin (played by Ken Siu). On the first day of the Kumite tournament, Frank Dux finds himself in the crosshairs of Yeung’s character, Chong Li, after Dux breaks Chong Li’s record for the fastest knockout in Kumite history.

Chong Li Bloodsport Fight Compilation

Ultimately, Dux defeats Chong Li to become the Kumite champion. Of all the roles Bolo has played in his legendary career, Chong Li (Bloodsport) is his most iconic.

Chong Li Bloodsport
Chong Li Bloodsport

Van Damme and Yeung formed a strong friendship during the filming of Bloodsport, and this led to Yeung’s role opposite Van Damme in 1991’s Double Impact.

Chong Li Bloodsport
Bolo Double Impact

Bolo Yeung Later Career

Following Bolo’s work in Enter the Dragon, Bloodsport, and Double Impact, he continued to appear in successful martial arts and actions films like Tiger Claws, TC 2000 and Tiger Claws II. However, by the late 1990s, Bolo’s film activity significantly declined.

Bolo Yeung Tiger Claws II

In 2007, after nearly a decade of inactivity, Bolo made a rare appearance in the film Blizhniy Boy: The Ultimate Fighter. And although Bolo didn’t appear in another film until 2017, his legacy continues to impact the martial arts world. For example, in the 2019 Cinemax series Warrior, actor Rich Ting portrays a Hong enforcer named “Bolo,” which is clearly a tribute homage to Bolo Yueng’s role in Enter the Dragon. Warrior, which was developed from Bruce Lee’s initial writings for the series, features the fictional Bolo as a rival to Ah Sahm, who is a character based on Bruce Lee.

Bolo Yeung Blizhniy Boy: The Ultimate Fighter

Bolo Yeung Now

Despite the fact that he is in his 70s, Bolo Yeung now still looks great, and he still regularly trains at his local gym. Bolo Yeung now lives in California, and martial Arts and bodybuilding clearly remain an integral part of his life.

Bolo Yeung now
Bolo Yeung now
Bolo Yeung now