Related: The Grandmaster
Create a chart of the greatest martial artists ever and they would somehow all link back to Bruce Lee’s martial arts teacher Yip Man. In the new martial arts drama The Grandmaster, actor Tony Leung portrays the legendary teacher of Wing Chun school of kung-fu. Here’s a look at the Current’s picks for the top five martial arts masters of all time
#5 Donnie Yen
In 2008, Yen portrayed Yip Man in the semiautobiographical film Ip Man. He is scheduled to take on the lead role in the sequel to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon when production starts next year.
#4 Jackie Chan
While some may argue that what Chan does is only martial arts choreography, it’s still such a sight to see him perform all those amazing stunts, especially in his heyday when he starred in Chinese action films like Drunken Master and Police Story. If the only thing you’ve seen Chan do is dance to Edwin Starr hits with Chris Tucker, you’re missing out.
#3 Chuck Norris
Even without the Texas Ranger on his side, Norris, a Martial Arts History Museum Hall of Famer and the first westerner to earn an 8th degree black belt in in taewondo, was a legend even before internet memes spoofed his awesomeness. Anyone who creates his own martial art (Chun Kuk Do) and is brave enough to go up against Bruce Lee, deserves a top spot.
#2 Tony Jaa
This Thai martial artist made it his life’s mission to master the same moves as his heroes Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan, but he also brought his very own style to his skill. As the star of the Ong-Bak film franchise, Jaa is considered by many to be the best martial artist currently in his prime.
#1 Bruce Lee
The Chinese Connection, Enter the Dragon, The Return of the Dragon. It’s an obvious choice, but there are plenty of reasons to always put Lee at the pinnacle of any martial arts list. Example: His famous “One-Inch Punch,” a strike he would deliver from only an inch away that would knock any opponents on their ass.