Agent Coulson is a real-life BJJ black belt

In our new series: “BJJ Archive”, we will chronicle some of the forgotten moments of our sport’s history in popular culture.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is full of a veritable group of bad-asses, but it turns out that when the cameras stop rolling, the real beast is one of the most unassuming members of the film franchise. With Avengers: Endgame just around the corner, we’re going to take a look at how one of the franchise’s stars has an unlikely link to our sport.

Agent Phil Coulson has been a pivotal part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and while he recently appeared in Captain Marvel, it is rumoured that he will be returning to help the Avengers take down Thanos in Endgame. Not only is the character Agent Coulson a bad ass, it turns out the man who plays him, Clark Gregg is a force to be reckoned with.

While working on Spartan, Clark was introduced to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and received a baptism by fire. After struggling through a few classes, the actor took some time off the mats, but eventually the allure of grappling took him in and he became hooked.

Due to his filming commitments, Gregg was limited in how much rolling he could do, but maintained a steady schedule of privates with Renato Magno. While Gregg is a celebrity, he was shown no special treatment and it took him 5 years to get his blue belt.

Some might question the usefulness of training a physical sport like BJJ while having a high-pressure film career, but in an interview with FOX Sports, Gregg credited grappling as a positive influence on his cinematic career:

“It’s such a parallel to the things that happen the physical stuff happens on our show(Agents of Shield). The amount of dialogue you have to pull off, the pressure of shooting a small action movie in about eight days that would be at least two months on any film. I just started noticing myself going into similar breathing rhythms in life that I was doing in jiu-jitsu”

While the physical benefits of jiu jitsu have helped Gregg stay in shape, he credits the mental benefits of the sport as a reason he can endure long days on set:

“In Jiu-Jitsu, every instinct you have wants to do everything but relax or breathe when someone’s attacking you, and learning that takes a long time. I think that’s why a lot of people stop at blue belt because it’s really hard to do. It’s hard to take that next step. It took me a long time,” Gregg explained.

Eventually BJJ became a refuge for Gregg and after training tirelessly for years, Gregg was awarded his black belt by Renato Magno in December of 2015.

Make sure to check out Clark Gregg in Captain Marvel and keep your eyes open for a potential return of Agent Coulson in Avengers: Endgame.

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Roy Billington

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