Female fighters are great in the cage, ring or on the mat, but sometimes perhaps even greater to be seen on the silver screen - and we're not talking about actresses who learned a few tricks, used stunt doubles to perform their dance and call it a fight. We're talking about actual martial artists turned actresses who have transposed their true skill into their roles. One of the most recent examples of a female fighter taking her talent to the silver screen is Ronda Rousey, fighting her way into The Expendables 3 and going to the worst places to drive in Furious 7. But the history of Hollywood is filled with prolific female martial artists who turned out to be popular actors, too.
Cynthia Rothrock was one of the most popular action heroines in the 1980s and beyond. Between 1985 and 1988, she did seven films in Hong Kong and became one of the few Western actresses to achieve genuine stardom there. Her first US role was in "Martial Law", starring David Carradine and Chad McQueen, a movie that kicked off her career as an action movie star. To date she has racked up over an incredible fifty film credits
Rothrock was a martial artist before she became an action movie heroine. She holds black belts in Taekwondo, Karate, Eagle Claw, Wu Shu, Pai Lum Tao Kung Fu, Northern Shaolin, and Tang Soo Do. She won in forms 32 times and in weapons 12 times in her first 38 tournaments. Today, she is a martial arts instructor and is considered a living legend by many. In 2012 she gained the accolade of Awakening Outstanding Contribution Award.
Chloe Bruce is a female martial artist you've probably seen countless times on the silver screen but never heard her name. Her roles as an actress mostly go uncredited (she played a Zodangan soldier in 2012's John Carter and a Snatcher in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1). She is, in turn, a prolific stunt double, having stood in for actresses like Daisy Ridley (Star Wars: The Last Jedi), Sylvia Hoeks (Blade Runner 2049), Ariane Labed and Michelle Lin (Assassin's Creed), and Jaimie Alexander (Thor: The Dark World), among others.
Off the silver screen, Chloe is 4th Dan in Tang Soo Do, has several championship titles under her belt (many of them in her native UK and Europe but overseas, too), and at one point, she held the Guinness World Record for the most kicks in one minute (212).
Last but not least, let's leave the silver screen for a while and turn to a smaller but equally important medium: TV. Katheryn Winnick may be familiar for those in love with long-running TV series - she showed up in many such productions, from House MD to Bones, CSI, and many others. More recently, she joined the cast of History Channel's series "Vikings" in the role of Lagertha, a legendary female warrior who eventually becomes the wife of the famous Viking Ragnar Lodbrok.
Few people know that there's a lot of training behind her moves on the screen: Winnick holds a third-degree black belt in Taekwondo and a second-degree black belt in Karate, and by the age of 21, she founded and owned three martial arts schools in New York and Toronto.
We would love to allocate some resources to creating more profiles for actors and the unsung women being the stunts.