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What Martial Arts Does Joe Rogan Know?

Joe Rogan is best known for being a commentator and interviewer for the UFC, as well as for hosting one of the most popular podcasts on the internet, The Joe Rogan Experience. However, Joe Rogan is also an expert martial artist himself, training in many different disciplines and fighting styles.

If you came to this post, you’re probably looking for a comprehensive list of martial arts known and practiced by Joe Rogan. In the post, I’m going to detail each martial art known by Joe, how got started, and his history in training.

So what martial arts does Joe Rogan know?

Joe Rogan knows several martial arts, including Karate, Taekwondo, Wrestling, Boxing, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai. Rogan started training Karate when he was 14, to gain confidence and learn about himself. Around the same time, he started training in Taekwondo and Wrestling, transitioning to Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in his late 20’s.

Let’s go into detail on Joe’s history and experience with each martial art.

Wrestling

First, let’s talk about Joe’s background in wrestling. Unfortunately, Joe doesn’t talk about his wrestling background too often, so not much information is available on how he got started.

Joe Rogan's first martial art was wrestling, which is a sport practiced in most American high school.
Joe Rogan’s first martial art was wrestling, which is a sport practiced in most American high school.

However, during an episode of his podcast, Joe revealed a key event that got him interested in not just wrestling, but training in general. During the episode, Joe recounts the event in detail:

You know, I was scared of this one kid. One of the reasons why I got into wrestling. This kid, we had this confrontation in the locker room. And I didn’t think we were going to fight, I was just totally bluffing, I don’t know what I said, or what he said, I don’t remember.

But I do remember him getting me in a headlock, throwing me on the ground, and then leaning like he was going to punch me in the face, but deciding not to. And I didn’t know what to do. I had no martial arts skills, I had never wrestled anybody before, I didnt know anything.

I panicked, I had no idea what to do. I thought “I gotta learn how to wrestle, I gotta learn some martial arts or something.”

-Joe Rogan Experience #1141

Shortly after this event, Joe started wrestling. Joe also revealed that he wrestled at both 128 and 134 pounds when he started, as that was his weight at 14 years old. On his wrestling days, Joe says that wrestling drills made him realized what hard work looked like. He wrestled for his school until he started fighting in Taekwondo, which was at around age 15.

Around the same time, Joe Rogan began to train in another martial art: karate.

Karate and Taekwondo

It seems Karate was one of Joe’s first disciplines as a martial artist, starting when he was 14. I couldn’t find much on Joe’s history surrounding karate, except for the fact that he started training karate first, and then later started wrestling, which makes karate his first martial art.

I’ve decided to combine Joe’s history in karate with his Taekwondo history, simply because they are similar disciplines, and there isn’t much information on each one specifically. We do know that Joe transitioned to Taekwondo at around age 15.

This image depicts a 20-year-old Joe Rogan (left) landing a spinning back kick on his opponent in a Taekwondo tournament in 1987.
This image depicts a 20-year-old Joe Rogan (left) landing a spinning back kick on his opponent in a Taekwondo tournament in 1987.

In another episode of his podcast, Joe revealed that he had competed in Taekwondo as early as 17 years old, although he started competing at 15. On the about section of his website, it states that he also received his black belt at age 15.

Joe has also stated that he didn’t cut much weight for wrestling, but that he did once he started competing in taekwondo. On his weight cutting, Joe said, “I cut a lot of weight, up until I was seventeen, and then when I was seventeen I was still trying to make 140 pounds, but I’d be walking around at like 150-something. I would starve myself and dehydrate myself, it was terrible.”

And so at 17, Joe began competing at 154 pounds, which improved his performance due to the minimal weight cut. From ages 15 to 19, Joe Rogan was the Massachusets Full Contact Taekwondo champion for four consecutive years.

This is a picture of Joe Rogan training Muay Thai at age 26, back in 1993.
This is a picture of Joe Rogan training Muay Thai at age 26, back in 1993.

At the age of 19, Joe won the US Open Taekwondo Lightweight championship, and at the same tournament also won the Middleweight and Heavyweight championships.

At around this time, Joe began competing in amateur kickboxing events (going 2-1), and also became a taekwondo instructor.

However, when Joe was 21 years old, he decided to retire from martial arts competition. Joe had started to develop an interest in stand-up comedy, and felt that he was unable to compete effectively while also being a comedian.

In an interview with Black Belt Magazine Joe stated, “when I felt myself starting to get distracted and thinking about comedy, and trying to focus all my energy in that direction, I knew there was no way I could do either one of them right. I knew I was always going to train, but as far as competition, there was no way I could do both.”

Joe Rogan on the cover of Black Belt Mag in December of 2002 (age 35).
Joe Rogan on the cover of Black Belt Mag in December of 2002 (age 35).

As stated, Joe continued to train and expand his knowledge of martial arts in the coming years. In terms of striking arts, Joe learned some aspects of Muay Thai, such as low kicks. However, it is unknown when exactly Joe started learning Muay Thai, although I presume that it came shortly after the success of Muay Thai in the UFC, sometime in the mid to late 90s.

I should also note that in the previously shown black and white image, Joe is wearing Sandee shirts, a popular Muay Thai brand, leading me to believe he started training Muay Thai in his mid-20s, as he is 26 in the image (taken 1993).

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Joe continued to train the same disciplines he already knew, and wouldn’t find a new one until the age of 27. This is when he discovered Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Joe witnessed his first UFC event (UFC 2) in 1994, where he watched Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu expert Royce Gracie win the tournament, despite being the smallest fighter competing in the event. From this point on, Joe became interested in the effectiveness of Jiu-Jitsu, and sought to learn this martial art.

Here's a recent picture of Joe Rogan drilling a Jiu-Jitsu technique with former UFC champion TJ Dillashaw.
Here’s a recent picture of Joe Rogan drilling a Jiu-Jitsu technique with former UFC champion TJ Dillashaw.

In 1996, when Joe was 29 years old, he began to learn Jiu-Jitsu from Carlson Gracie, the cousin of Royce Gracie. Joe recounts his early BJJ days in another episode of his podcast: “By the time the UFC came around, on the ground I was useless. I was a straight white belt, I would get ripped apart every day. I was going with blue belts, purple belts, and brown belts, and those guys would always tap me.”

In the same video, Joe mentions that he was a BJJ brown belt for 8 years, before finally receiving his black belt. His promotion to black belt is a well-known event that happened in 2012, meaning he received his brown belt in 2004, when he was 37.

As mentioned, Joe was later promoted to black belt in 2012, at the age of 45.

He was first promoted to black belt in 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu (a style of No-Gi Jiu-Jitsu), by his good friend Eddie Bravo, on June 26, 2012. The video of Rogan receiving his black belt has over 5 million views on YouTube.

Joe Rogan (left) pictured with Jean Jacques-Machado after receiving his black belt.
Joe Rogan (left) pictured with Jean Jacques-Machado after receiving his black belt.

He was later promoted to black belt in Jiu-Jitsu with a Gi by Jean Jacques-Machado, on September 17, 2012.

Joe has praised Jiu-Jitsu as one of the best martial arts, mainly for its effectiveness, and emphasis on technique, through which a smaller fighter can beat a larger opponent.

Conclusion

Joe Rogan has a vast experience in many different martial arts. He has gained his experience through his lifelong search for effective fighting techniques, as well as through his job as a commentator for the UFC. Joe attributes much of his success in life to martial arts.

“I wouldn’t have achieved anything in life without martial arts. Martial arts was definitely the best vehicle for me to develop my human potential. I developed so much discipline and so much insight about life that I don’t think I really would have learned otherwise.”

Joe Rogan interview by Black Belt Mag.

Joe knows many martial arts, including Taekwondo, Boxing, Kickboxing, Wrestling, and Jiu-Jitsu. He earned a black belt in Taekwondo at age 15, and a black belt in Jiu-Jitsu at 45. He has wrestling experience from high school, and has continued to train and develop his striking martial arts since his kickboxing days in his early 20s.

If you liked this post, check out the Martial Arts History page, where I write articles similar to this one. Thanks for reading!