How Many Black Belts Does Jackie Chan Really Have?

Jackie Chan has dished out acrobatic beatdowns with punches, kicks and the occasional stepladder in over 140 movies, so it makes sense to assume that the man knows his way around a Kung Fu fight. Well, a staged and elaborately choreographed one, in any case. We'll probably never know how well he'd do in a real one unless he develops a sudden interest in MMA, but given that the man is well into his sixties, that seems a little unlikely. 

Let's settle for the next best thing, then, and look into Chan's formal fight training. As Biography tells us, Chan was once considered to be the "next Bruce Lee." He has been training since he was seven, and even ended up developing his own fighting style. That hints at a fairly robust face-kicking pedigree. However, apart from martial arts, his studies involved "drama, acrobatics and singing," the style he created leaned heavily on "screwball physical comedy," and his training took place at the Chinese Opera Research Institute of Hong Kong. This focus on entertainment makes him seem considerably less hardcore as a fighter, unless you consider someone belting opera arias while jump-kicking a particularly heinous offensive maneuver (which, come to think of it, might be true). So, let's look at the ultimate tale of the tape: How many black belts does Jackie Chan have?

Jackie Chan has one black belt (and it's not what you think)

Jackie Chan has only one "official" black belt, and as Hammerhead MMA informs us, it's a fairly surprising one. Despite being traditionally associated with various forms of Kung Fu, that part of his training is performative Chinese opera instead of actual combat training. Because these techniques looked somewhat unrealistic in movies and lacked impressive kicks (especially after Bruce Lee introduced his high-kicking style), Chan took up the South Korean martial art of Hapkido to improve his game. His instructor was initially unimpressed with Chan's kicks, but the movie star worked hard, improved quickly, and earned a black belt. In fact, Chan came to enjoy Hapkido techniques so much that he has been known to teach them to his stunt men for added realism.  

So, yeah. Maybe Chan's "traditional" martial arts pedigree doesn't exactly rival that of Chuck Norris. However, he does still have that one black belt, countless onscreen demonstrations of his physical prowess, some pretty extensive stuntman experience, and a well-documented ability to soak incredible amounts of damage — Erie News Now tells us he's suffered over 50 nasty injuries between 1975 and 2005 alone. Regardless of his official training, we'd say that's more than enough to allow him his status as a bona fide martial arts legend.