In the mid 20th century, Taekwondo black belts and other martial artists were considered inferior by street fighters and other newer forms of fighting. But with the sudden rise of Mixed Martial Arts training in the late 1990’s into the main events of today with pay-per-view casting, certain martial art forms have experienced a revival of interest. With the support of mainstream media, people were exposed to martial arts training and have since contributed to the growing rise in popularity, particularly in taekwondo.
Chuck Norris, 8th degree black belt Grand Master in karate, heavily popularized the sport through film, not to mention the multiple world championship titles he achieved. He has dedicated his life to martial arts training and secured taekwondo as one of the world’s greatest forms of martial arts. Many grand master martial artists are well regarded within in the martial arts community, but Norris redefined everything. Other styles are similar but not considered as efficient as Taekwondo.
Even the beloved “Al Bundy,” Ed O’Neill from the TV Show “Married with Children,” off screen, is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu at the age of 67. Martial artists decorated by their many years of training, are generally confident and modest, and serve as a great role models for the community, especially children. O’Neill was training with one of the greatest names in MMA, the Gracie family, renown for their unique fighting style.
Another “actor” that is a notable fighter worldwide aside from Chuck Norris, is definitely Steven Seagal, a 7th-dan black belt. His action packed films and the fact he was a real life law enforcement officer has been a major influence in the martial arts community.
Arguably, one of the most famous known martial art practictioners, was Elvis Presley. The “King” was a black belt in Karate and studied under Ed Parker, a renown Kenpo martial artist as well as a celebrity trainer. Nowadays, the Mixed Martial Arts community is larger than ever expected.
Millions of Americans and Europeans fill up Sports Bars to watch the Pay-Per-Views on Saturday nights, especially of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. There are several Taekwondo styled athletes involved in the UFC. Forrest Griffin, the original “Ultimate Fighter” TV series winner is notably one of the most recognized as well as a first to come to mind. The Ultimate Fighter TV series is now on its 12th season and tops in the ratings amongst viewing pools. The climb to popularity has been steep for martial artists in the Western world. But, with such notable figures, Taekwondo and other forms have become more mainstream than ever.