jean claude van damme
Wikicommons/Public Domain
  • Faith: Christian - Catholic
  • Career: Actor
  • Birthday:  October 18, 1960

Jean-Claude Van Damme is an actor and Belgian martial artist. Born and raised in Brussels, his father enrolled him in martial arts classes at 10 years old, which led Van Damme to hold the rank of 2nd-dan black belt in karate and compete in several karate and kickboxing competitions. With the desire to become an actor, he moved to the United States in 1982, where he did odd jobs on several films until he got his break as the lead in the martial arts movie “Bloodsport.”

He became a famous action movie star and followed up with commercially successful movies like “Cyborg,” “Kickboxer,” “Lionheart,” “Death Warrant,” “Double Impact,” “Universal Soldier,” “Nowhere to Run,” “Hard Target,” “Timecop,” “Street Fighter,” “Sudden Death,” “The Quest,” which marked his directional debut, and “Maximum Risk.” After a decline in popularity in the late 1990s and early 2000s, he returned to prominence with the critically acclaimed crime drama “JCVD.” His return to the action genre was in “The Expendables,” in which he starred as the villain opposite Sylvester Stallone. From thereon, he continued starring in action movies and doing extensive voice work.

Regarded as an icon of action and martial arts in cinema, Van Damme’s films have grossed over $1 billion worldwide, making him one of the most successful action stars of all time. Outside of acting, Van Damme has publicly supported various conservationist causes and animal rights organizations. Van Damme was born in Brussels, Belgium. He started martial arts when he was 10; his father enrolled him in a Shotokan karate school, with his styles consisting of kickboxing and Shotokan karate. He eventually earned his black belt in karate at 18 and earned the rank of 2nd-dan black belt.

Van Damme started lifting weights to improve his physique, which eventually led to a Mr. Belgium bodybuilding title. At 16 years old, he took up ballet, which he studied for five years. According to Van Damme, ballet “is an art, but it’s also one of the most difficult sports. If you can survive a ballet workout, you can survive a workout in any other sport.” Later, he took up both Muay Thai and Taekwondo. At 12 years old, Van Damme joined the National Center of Karate in Belgium under the guidance of Claude Goetz. He trained for four years and earned a spot on the Belgian Karate Team. He later trained in full-contact karate and kickboxing with Dominique Valera. According to Van Damme, “It was tough growing up. I was kind of geeky, and physically I was not gifted.”

What religion is Jean Claude Van Damme?

Van Damme is a devout Roman Catholic who’s happy to talk about how much God means to him. In an emotional rant about how he’ll come back from a mid-career loss of prestige, he talks about how much God means to him. Van Damme said, “Without God, I’m nothing. It’s because God I’m going to win this fight. I’ll show you God exists.”

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