Ron van Clief: American martial artist (1943-) | Biography
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Ron van Clief
American martial artist

Ron van Clief

Ron van Clief
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro American martial artist
Is Actor Karateka Athlete Mixed martial artist
From United States of America
Field Film, TV, Stage & Radio Sports
Gender male
Birth 25 January 1943, Brooklyn, USA
Age 80 years
Star sign Aquarius
The details (from wikipedia)


Ron Van Clief (born January 25, 1943 in Brooklyn, New York) is an American martial artist and an actor in Hollywood and Hong Kong action films. He is best known for starring in 1970s blaxploitation and kung fu films. He is the father of poet Shihan van Clief.

Early life

Ronald Van Clief was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York City. On November 16, 1960, he joined the United States Marine Corps, serving at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, NC from March 30, 1961 to March 21, 1962. He was stationed in Okinawa with the Third Marine Division from June 6, 1962 to June 1, 1963. He returned to Camp Lejeune and served there from August 3, 1963 until April 16, 1964, at which time he was sent on Temporary Additional Duty to the Marine Barracks at U.S. Navy Base Guantanamo, Cuba until September 12 that year. He returned to Camp Lejeune once more, where he remained until his release from Active Duty on April 16, 1965. His military decorations include: Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, and Rifle "Sharpshooter" Badge.

Martial arts

Ron van Clief began his martial arts career competing in both full-contact and non-contact karate tournaments in New York then internationally, going on to win several national tournaments and world championships.

Van Clief was a student of Gōjū-ryū masters Peter Urban, Frank Ruiz and Moses Powell, as well as WingTsun founder Leung Ting, Modern Arnis (Remy Presas) and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (Joe Moreira). In 1971, Van Clief created his own style of martial arts, called "Chinese Goju", attempting to unify Japanese style gōjū-ryū with its roots in Chinese martial arts. He currently holds the rank of 10th degree red belt (shidoshi or grandmaster), in this system.

On December 16, 1994, Ron Van Clief returned to the ring to fight in the 4th Ultimate Fighting Championship, as the oldest competitor to date to fight in the UFC at the age of 51. Van Clief's sole fight in the tournament was against Brazilian jiu-jitsu exponent Royce Gracie. Gracie won the match by submission with a rear naked choke near the four-minute mark. Ron went on to serve as the commissioner of the UFC. Ron Van Clief retired from competition in 2002 after winning the All American Karate Championship at 60 years old. Ron competed in over 900 tournaments in over 40 years on the tournament circuit. Ron Van Clief retired as a 5 time world karate/kungfu champion and 15 time all American champion. Ron Van Clief has been competing in BJJ tournaments since 2015 and still competes today. Van Clief is also the author and creator of a number of instructional books and video recordings. He was a member of the Screen Actors Guild for over 3 decades.

  • Black Belt Magazine
    • 2002 Instructor of the Year

Film career

Ron Van Clief's first acting job came when he was selected to star in the 1974 Hong Kong film The Black Dragon (aka Super Dragon) opposite Jason Pai Piao. Some of his film roles during the 1970s were Blaxploitation films which capitalized on the then-novelty of an African-American martial artist, following in the tradition of Jim Kelly's role in Enter the Dragon. He starred alongside Leo Fong in a Filipino action film called Bamboo Trap in 1975. Van Clief's film roles earned him the nickname "The Black Dragon", and the name inspired the titles of his films The Black Dragon's Revenge (aka The Black Dragon Revenges the Death of Bruce Lee) (1975) and Way of the Black Dragon (1979). He appeared in the 1977 Italian crime film The Squeeze opposite Lee Van Cleef and Karen Black, and was also the fight choreographer for the 1985 film The Last Dragon.

Van Clief has earned over 5 different black belts in his martial arts career. Those include black belts in Gōjū-ryū, Jujutsu, Judo, Kung Fu and Taekwondo. One film that was never released was "The Art of Cliefing", directed by Jason Dash. The producers pulled the funding at the last minute, due to widespread protests in Korea.

Ron Van Clief also performed various voice-over roles for the international television series titled Kung Faux.

Mixed martial arts record

Professional record breakdown
1 match 0 wins 1 loss
By knockout 0 0
By submission 0 1
By decision 0 0
Res. Record Opponent Method Event Date Round Time Location Notes
Loss 0-1 Royce Gracie Submission (rear naked choke) UFC 4 December 16, 1994 1 3:49 Tulsa, Oklahoma, United States
The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 10 Jun 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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