(Video) Edward Norton was an avid practitioner of Aikido until he saw Royce Gracie win UFC 1

In a fascinating interview with Joe Rogan, acclaimed actor Edward Norton opened up about his longtime interest in martial arts and how watching Royce Gracie’s historic victory at UFC 1 in 1993 changed his perspective.

Norton, known for his intense commitment to roles like the one he played in Fight Club, shared that he had been an avid student of the Japanese martial art Aikido while in college. He was drawn to Aikido’s emphasis on using an attacker’s momentum against them through grappling, joint locks, and throws.

However, Norton admitted that as a relatively small person back then, he often felt that traditional striking-based martial arts left him vulnerable against larger, faster opponents. Aikido made him feel more confident in authentic self-defense situations without promoting aggressive behavior.

Everything changed for Norton when he witnessed Royce Gracie, a expert in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and member of the famous Gracie family, win the first Ultimate Fighting Championship tournament in 1993 at just 176 pounds.

“It melted everybody’s mind,” Norton told Rogan, describing how Gracie defeated much larger opponents using leverage-based grappling techniques. This cemented Norton’s belief in the efficacy of grappling styles for self-defense, especially for those outweighed by their opposition.

Years later, when preparing for his role as Bruce Banner/The Hulk in The Incredible Hulk, Norton specifically sought out the legendary Rickson Gracie to help him portray someone obsessed with maintaining control through breathing and emotional mastery.

The scene where Rickson Gracie teaches Banner remained one of Norton’s most treasured experiences from that film. He continues to be in awe of the Gracie family’s insights into cultivating an unperturbable mind and spirit through martial arts mastery.