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Learn about these brave and greatest martial artist female actresses of all time. Though they acted in movies based on different genres, martial arts is something for which they are internationally known and won many awards on international platforms for the same. Come on, let us have a look and know them in a, much better way.
1. Kara Hui Ying-hung
Hong Kong actress, Kara Hui Ying-hung has portrayed various roles on screen, but she is best-known for doing Kung Fu roles in the Shaw Brothers Studio. Already trained in martial arts, Kara gave her best to the action movies and proved herself to be one of the best female martial artist actresses. Despite from being a poor family, her hard work helped her reach international heights within a few years of her career. She has acted in movies as well as TV Series. She is known for her roles in My Young Auntie, Mad Monkey Kung Fu, The Lady is the Boss, and Martial Club.
2. Michelle Yeoh
Chinese-Malaysian actress, Michelle Yeoh is world-famous for doing her own stunts in the action films of Hong Kong. She has also been credited as the greatest action actress of all time by Rotten Tomatoes in 2008. She began her film career by the movie Yes Madam in the year 1985. American Pierce Brosnan was so impressed by her talent and combat abilities that he used to call “female James Bond”. She has also acted as nationalists in many films. She was honored and awarded multiple times by French President, JCI and Malaysian Film Festival as well as she also received the award for “Outstanding Contribution to Asian Cinema”.
3. Gina Carano
American television personality and actress, Gina Carano is also known for being a great mixed martial artist and kickboxer. She began her combat training with Muay Thai (Thailand martial arts) to competitive Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). She has participated and won in many competitions such as World Extreme Fighting, Strikeforce and EliteXC and successfully established herself as one of the greatest martial artists in history. She was given Awakening Outstanding Contribution Award (AOCA) as well as Best Female Action Star both in 2012. She has mostly acted in action movies such as Fight Girls, Blood and Bone, Haywire, In the Blood and many more.
4. Cynthia Rothrock
American actress, Cynthia Rothrock holds seven black belts in different styles which are Tang Soo Do, Taekwondo, Karate, Eagle Claw, Wu Shu, Northern Shaolin and Pai Lum Tao. She is also known for winning World Championship in weapons and forms five times in a row between 1981 and 1985. She was also credited as “Female Competitor of the Year” in Black Belt Magazine, 1983. She is said to be the first lady who appeared on the cover of a martial arts magazine. Rothrock has also acted in American as well as Hong Kong movies that include Yes Madam, Martial Law, Guardian Angel, Xtreme Fighter and many others.
5. Karen Sheperd
American actress, Karen Sheperd had been entitled as Number one in Women’s Black Belt Championship. She also brought recognition to female martial arts. Competing against male competitors most of the time, Sheperd finally organized a request to promote a separate forms division in which female competitors could participate. She was the first woman to win the title of Grand championship over all female and male competitors in 1980, at the US Open Battle of Superstars, Florida. In 1992 and 1997, she had been voted as the Most Popular Woman Martial Arts Superstar in Inside Kung Fu Magazine and Woman of the Year in Black Belt Hall of Fame respectively. She has acted in movies such as The Concrete Jungle, Above the Law and many others.
6. Yuen Qiu
Chinese actress and Beijing opera expert, Yuen Qiu, also called as Cheung Cheun-Nam, is a great martial artist as well as a stuntwoman. Though she did not received any big role in her movies, yet her action scenes were quite noticeable and received lots of appreciation by film critics. She is mostly remembered for her role in Kung Fu Hustle as a martial artist landlady for which she received Golden Horse Awards and Hundred Flowers Awards. She was also nominated in many other award functions. She has appeared in other movies; The Lady Iron Chef, Kung Fu Mahjong to name few. She has also acted in TV series such as Wudang Rules, A Fist within Four Walls and many more.
7. Maggie Cheung
Hong Kong actress, Maggie Cheung is quite famous for her successful work in movies based on action genre. She has received award at world-famous Cannes Film Festival. She is known outside Asia for her work in Hero, Clean, Chinese Box, Centre Stage, Irma Vep and 2046. She had been awarded at international platforms such as Berlin International Film Festival, Cannes Film Festival, Torino Film Festival, Hong Kong Film Awards, Shanghai International Film Festival (for Outstanding Contribution to Chinese Cinema), Chicago International Film Festival, Asia-Pacific Film Festival and Montreal World Film Festival as well as at Hawaii International Film Festival.
8. JeeJa Yanin
Thai actress, Yanin “Jeeja” Vismitananda, JeeJa Yanin in short, has her specialization in Taekwondo and also holds third Dan Black Belt for the same. She has not worked in many films, but she is still famous as a great martial artist and people remember her for her role in Chocolate as Yanin Mitananda. She has also bagged role in famous movies such as Hard Target 2, Never Back Down, Tom Yum Goong (The Protector in United States), This Girl is Bad-Ass and The Kick. She has also contributed in Raging Phoenix by playing the character of Deu.
9. Chang Pei-pei
Chinese actress, Chang pei-pei is widely known as a swordswoman and martial artist. In Chinese cinema, she is known to bring thrill to her movies and surprise audience with her each movie. She has acted in more than twenty wuxia (martial arts) movies. Her character Jade Fox in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon helped her to gain international fame. She is also known for movies; Come Drink with Me, Golden Swallow and Dragon Swamp. She is also referred to as “Queen of Swords”. Besides her portrayal as action woman, Chang is also an amazing dancer which she proved in the movie, Hong Kong Nocturne.
10. Zhang Ziyi
Chinese actress, Zhang Ziyi started learning dance at the age of 8 and won dance championship at national level when she was 15. Though she did not join any school to get training for martial arts, she is among the top twenty martial artists in the world. She received most of her martial arts training during the films shooting. She initially started with acrobatics that she performed in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Later on, she did martial arts in movies like House of Flying Daggers, The Grand-master and many more. Zhang never degraded her personality by doing poor roles; she always took extremely careful steps before doing the film. She has won many awards including “Outstanding Contribution to Chinese Cinema” award at Shanghai International Film Festival.
Ian Stuart Robertson from London England on April 06, 2019:
The FEMALE of the species is deadlier than the mere male !
Ian Stuart Robertson from London England on February 28, 2017:
Following Miss Blackman's role in the Avengers as Cathy Gale the 'new commer' in the series was Dianna Rigg portraying Emma Peel who when ever performing karate did so with a style and panache incredibly like her saucy character. The cult T.V. series did spawn a number of similar ones having a woman able to use her karate skills to either protect herself or to neutralise some villain. One such was Sharon MaCready portrayed by Alexandra Basteedo in the Champions.
Ian Stuart Robertson from London England on February 27, 2017:
The first actress to use her karate skills frequently was the glamorous Honor Blackman in the cult T.V. series The Avengers. Miss Blackman already held the yellow belt in judo but had to take karate lessons for her role as Doctor Catherine Gale a female sleuth in a highly secretive department. This came in handy when a male intruder broke into her house. She throttled him on the spot. On another occasion a chap tried to get 'fresh' with her and she told him would he like to see her judo holds. He subsequently backed away.
Prachi Sharma (author) from Seattle, WA on September 08, 2016:
Yes, it requires extreme hard work and concentration to become a great Kung Fu master. I am also a trainee yet.
Ian Stuart Robertson from London England on September 08, 2016:
I once saw the Hong Kong actress Lilly Ho give a kung fu demonstration for the public where she demolished four male opponents in a row. Her promoters for the film Lady Kung Fu had arranged for a judo black belt holder, a middleweight boxer a heavyweight wrestler as well as a stuntman to act as her opponents in a fighting contest. Miss Ho started with the judo exponent who she put flat on his back. Then she floored the boxer before grappling with the wrestler restraining him in a hold. The stuntman knew he hadn't s chance but at least knew how to fall down. A modest Miss Ho stated she was only a novice and wasn't really that good.