Ron van Clief
|Ron van Clief|
|Born||January 25, 1943|
Brooklyn, New York City, United States
|Other names||Black Dragon|
|Height||5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)|
|Weight||182 lb (83 kg; 13.0 st)|
|Fighting out of||New York City, U.S.|
|Teacher(s)||Moses Powell, George Coffield|
|Rank||10th Dan (Founder of Chinese Goju)|
|Mixed martial arts record|
|Mixed martial arts record from Sherdog|
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.
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 Goju-Ryu masters Peter Urban, Frank Ruiz, and Moses Powell, as well as WingTsun founder Leung Ting Modern Arnis (Remy Presas) Brazilian jiu-jitsu (Joe Moreira). In 1971, Van Clief created his own style of martial arts, called "Chinese Goju," attempting to unify Japanese style goju-ryu 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.
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 karate (Goju-ryu), jujutsu, judo, kung fu and tae kwon do. 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|
|Loss||0-1||Royce Gracie||Submission (rear naked choke)||UFC 4||December 16, 1994||1||3:49||Tulsa, Oklahoma, United States|
- Manual of The Martial Arts (1981)
- Ron Van Clief White Belt Guide Book (1984)
- Ron Van Clief Green and Purple Belt Guide Book (1984)
- The Black Heroes of The Martial Arts (1995)
- The Hanged Man: The Story of Ron Van Clief (2012)