One question that I commonly hear from casual MMA fans is, “Is Joe Rogan really good at martial arts?” Yes.
If you’ve been around the MMA world for a while, this will probably seem like a silly question to you. But believe it or not, there are actually people that do question the legitimacy of Joe Rogan’s martial arts skills.
As I will show in this post, Joe Rogan’s martial art credentials are as good as they come. Joe Rogan has excelled as a UFC commentator, comedian, podcaster, and yes – as a martial artist. I’m going to give you a full breakdown of his martial arts background and he got to where he is. I’ll also predict how well he would do fighting in MMA.
Joe Rogan’s Stats
- Age: 52 at the time of writing (born August 11, 1967)
- Height: 5’8″
- Weight: 195-205 lbs
- Martial Arts Experience: 38 years of training in Taekwondo, Karate, Kickboxing, Wrestling, BJJ, Muay Thai, and MMA.
- Ranks Held: Black belts in Taekwondo, Karate, and 2 black belts in BJJ (under Jean Jaques Machado, and Eddie Bravo)
- Fight Record: 2-1 (Amateur Kickboxing), 100+ Taekwondo matches
- Martial Arts Accomplishments
- Massachusetts State Full Contact Taekwondo Champion (4 years in a row)
- US Open Taekwondo Champion in 3 divisions (lightweight, middleweight and heavyweight
- 2nd Place National Taekwondo Championship
Joe Rogan’s Martial Arts History
Joe Rogan has been practicing martial arts for nearly 40 years. His journey training took some unique paths, and he gives a full rundown of his martial arts background in this JRE podcast episode:
Joe Starts Wrestling and Karate
Joe got into martial arts after an altercation with a bully when he was around 13. He and this other kid were talking trash to each other acting like they were going to fight.
Rogan wasn’t serious about wanting to get into a fight, but the other kid was. The other kid also happened to have a background in wrestling that Joe didn’t know about.
That kid grabbed Joe in a headlock and slammed him to the ground. He acted like he was going to punch Joe, but didn’t. In the end, this was even more humiliating for Joe.
After the altercation, Joe hated that feeling of being helpless and never wanted to feel that way again. Realizing he needed to learn self defense, Rogan started taking Karate lessons and joined his school’s wrestling team.
Joe Takes up Taekwondo
About a year after he started wrestling and karate, Joe began learning Taekwondo. Being the obsessive person he is, Joe became immersed in training Taekwondo and picked it up quickly.
Within a year of training, he was already competing in big tournaments and would later earn his blackbelt. Joe’s life revolved around Taekwondo, and he was driven to be the best he could at it.
Rogan Wins Major Taekwondo Tournaments
After Rogan received his Taekwondo blackbelt, he really started taking competitions seriously. From ages 18 to 21 he was at his competitive peak, entering Taekwondo tournaments nearly every weekend. He was also an instructor at his academy.
Joe was a legit competitor and to prove it, here is a KO from one of his matches.
Rogan would go on to win 4 straight Massachusetts state titles in full contact Taekwondo. He also won the Taekwondo US Open in 3 different divisions, as well as a 2nd place at Nationals.
Joe Takes Up Kickboxing
While he was doing Taekwondo, Joe had friends that were dabbling in kickboxing and invited him to train. Joe thought his Taekwondo ability would be more than enough to hang with kickboxers, but he couldn’t have been more wrong.
The moment he got hit with a leg kick, he knew that there were major holes in his martial arts skillset. Taekwondo was great for stylish kicks, but had no answer for leg kicks and boxing.
After his first experience kickboxing, Joe became jaded with Taekwondo and steered his training more towards kickboxing.
He would go on to compete in 3 amateur fights, going 2-1. While he was competing in these amateur fights, his comedy career also began to take off. Realizing he couldn’t do both, Rogan chose comedy over kickboxing (mainly due to the lack of money in the sport and the high risk of injury).
Rogan Discovers BJJ
In 1994, Joe Rogan got his first taste of BJJ and MMA while watching UFC 2. He was amazed to see the smaller Royce Gracie decimate the competition with a fighting form called Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Seeing Jiu Jitsu’s effectiveness in action made Joe want to start training. At age 29, while he was living in LA, he got his first chance to train BJJ and started taking classes under the legendary Carlson Gracie.
Joe would later move to Master Jean Jaques Machado’s school in ‘97. Shortly after that, he also began working for the UFC as an interviewer.
During this time, he also first met his best friend Eddie Bravo. Watch this video for the full story on how they met:
Joe Rogan Earns 2 BJJ Black Belts
After training Jiu Jitsu for 15 years, his friend and coach Eddie Bravo awarded Joe with a 10th Planet black belt. A few short months later, Jean Jacques Machado awarded Joe with a Gi BJJ blackbelt in Machado’s system.
Joe still trains and is considered a highly respected martial artist. He has trained with some of martial arts’ best athletes including Georges St Pierre and John Wayne Parr.
How Would Joe Rogan do in an MMA Fight?
Since Joe is 52 years old and trains mostly for health and fitness, my answer here is pure speculation. It’s hard to nail down a concrete fight prediction since Joe didn’t get into BJJ at 29, and he retired from fighting competition 8 years prior.
But let’s say Joe started BJJ 10 years earlier than he did, and MMA was huge at that time. How would he do at MMA then?
If Joe decided to do MMA rather than stand up comedy, I believe he could have been successful. Rogan has top-level striking and many top athletes in MMA and BJJ say his ground game is good. He’s also just clearly a sharp guy that takes pride in excelling at anything he does.
Rogan’s downfall in MMA competition would be his size. Joe is only about 5’8, yet he walks around at 195lbs. He’s also vocally against weight cutting.
That would mean he would be fighting in the UFC’s middleweight division. He’d have to fight monsters like Paulo Costa and Yoel Romero. They would literally throw Joe out of the Octagon.
So, I think Joe made the right choice to focus on stand up comedy than sticking with fighting. The $100 million he made with Spotify ain’t too bad either.
Is Joe Rogan a Legit Martial Artist?
Yep. Anyone with common sense, or who has heard Joe call fights, knows he is as legit as they come. The man has been training for nearly 40 years, and is definitely quite skilled at martial arts.
You don’t just get 2 black belts in Jiu Jitsu from legends like Eddie Bravo and Jean Jacques Machado without having some serious fighting chops.