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‘Instructors did things that are considered illegal nowadays’: Robert Downey Jr Revealed He Practices ‘Traditional Wing Chun’ – Kung Fu Legend Ip Man’s Fighting Style

robert downey jr

Robert Downey Jr. is a renowned Hollywood talent. Most recognized for his MCU endeavors, the actor exudes passion, dedication, and ambition. Throughout the years, with his grounded, honest, and straightforward nature, he has opened up about various aspects of his life that have inspired fans all across the world.

Robert Downey Jr.
Robert Downey Jr. has been practicing martial arts for years

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What is, however, the most intriguing fact about him is that he has been practicing traditional Wing Chun for nearly two decades now. He has, on numerous occasions, revealed that martial arts gave him the strength to overcome the various troubles of his life. In his arduous journey, this particular form of Kung Fu motivated him to face the struggles head-on.

Therefore, his gratitude for the combat style, which was particularly popularized by Cantonese martial artist, Ip Man, knows no bounds.

Martial Arts Helped Robert Downey Jr. In His Creative Life

Robert Downey Jr.
RDJ and his Kung Fu journey

When Robert Downey Jr. made an appearance on Joe Rogan’s podcast in 2020, he revealed some interesting tidbits surrounding the importance of martial arts in his life. It was in 2003 that the Dolittle alum took up the fighting art form and it has been a constant part of his everyday existence ever since. He has considerable experience in both Thai martial art Muay Thai and traditional Wing Chun Kung Fu.

The MCU star has nothing but praises to sing in favor of this particular passion. He affirmed that it not only helps one harness physical strength, but it also transforms the mind of a person. Therefore, it did not come off as a surprise to see one of the topics of discussion in the podcast centered around RDJ’s love, admiration, and devotion to martial arts.

Robert Downey Jr. is the most expensive actors
RDJ is passionate about traditional Wing Chun Kung Fu

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On the podcast, Robert Downey Jr. emphasized that it was in the past fifteen years that he truly started taking martial arts seriously. He furthermore elaborated that whatever he has been able to accomplish in his creative life can be credited to the principles he “learned on the mat” with his Sifu.

Sifu, in Cantonese, refers to a title denoting a skilled master or teacher. They disseminate their expertise and assist their students to learn the various techniques of combat.

When the Sherlock actor was asked how often he would engage in martial arts, he stated that he is used to doing it multiple times a week, sometimes in long stretches where the MCU legend ends up practicing it every day with his Sifu.

Joe Rogan, amused by his answer, had another query in his mind. What type of martial arts style is the Iron Man star most accustomed to? To this, Robert Downey Jr. replied, “Traditional Wing Chun Kung Fu.” Rogan commented that this particular form happens to be quite underrated, to which the actor wholeheartedly agreed. Additionally, the Due Date alum mentioned that Wing Chun happens to be quite technical. In his words, it is “difficult to build and easy to use.”

RDJ Believes Life Problems Are Wing Chun Problems

Joe Rogan Experience ft. Robert Downey Jr.
Joe Rogan Experience ft. Robert Downey Jr.

Moments after, Downey Jr. recounted the first few years of his Wing Chun experience — which proved to be quite challenging. He told Joe Rogan that he got his “a** kicked” by a wooden dummy for almost three years. It was only when he understood the principle of “don’t fight force with force” that he could tackle one of the first obstacles to his martial arts journey. He then, once again, affirmed the importance of Wing Chun in his life, specifically in the artistic field.

Following is what he had to say:

“So anyway, half the time if I would be in a critical artistic situation, I would just say because Wing Chun problems are life problems; life problems are Wing Chun problems. I would just go back to how did this kind of relate to…? [a specific experience]”

He then detailed how he and his Sifu sometimes do not use a mouthpiece. This allows Robert Downey Jr. to get a closer look at what a realistic Wing Chun experience would be. The actor also affirmed how the way some of the instructors would teach the students, “a few clicks back down the road”, would surely be considered illegal to do to a group of students nowadays.

Robert Downey Jr. is aging backwards
Robert Downey Jr. recounts his Wing Chun experiences

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Here’s the full quote:

“It’s certainly not because he’s very good at pulling his punches and he’s also even better at making sure that I don’t accidentally hit him, but we get as close as we can to what the real experience would be. But again, it’s like everything. I’m sure a few clicks back down the road, there are things that instructors were doing that would be considered illegal to do to a group of students nowadays.”

Joe Rogan was in complete agreement. He then added, “Not just a few clicks while I was coming up.” The environment in those training grounds would be brutal, yet quite normalized. As rightfully said by the podcast host, “The students would get beat up. It was a normal thing.”

Robert Downey Jr.

There is no doubt that the Iron Man star finds a level of solace through such a skilled, technical activity. It has not only allowed him to transform himself physically, but it helped him during the toughest moments of his life. If you’re wondering where in his Ip Man-style martial arts journey the actor currently is, he stated in the podcast that it is the kind of thing that you’re never quite done with.

After having received his black belt for another grade years ago, he is now working around with different weapons. It would be interesting to see the actor grow more and more in this particular field.

Nonetheless, Robert Downey Jr. is nothing short of a Kung Fu expert!

The Joe Rogan Experience is available for streaming on Spotify.

Source: PowerfulJRE

Written by Debdipta Bhattacharya

Always having had a deep fascination for content creation and pop-culture, Debdipta joined as a writer at FandomWire in 2022. Currently pursuing an undergraduate Mass Communication degree, Debdipta enjoys the intricacies of cinema and film-making, with a year of screenwriting experience to account for. Besides her knack for writing, she's also an avid reader, a connoisseur of music across all genres, and a die-hard fan of Charlie Kaufman.