Jonathan Lipnicki: From Child Star to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt

Jonathan Lipnicki, the child star who played the nerdy kid in the movie ‘Jerry Maguire’ has grown up into a tough young man and BJJ black belt competitor!

Lipnicki made his film debut in 1996’s Jerry Maguire as the son of Renée Zellweger’s character. Lipnicki started training 14 years ago and is now a BJJ black belt. His family is actually involved in MMA owning an MMA promotion. His mom is a blue belt and even has a cauliflower ear!

He received his black belt in BJJ just a few weeks ago. Jonathan wrote on his IG:

I’m in shock. I don’t know how express exactly how I feel. Brazilian Jiu- Jitsu Blackbelt!!!! I have been training roughly 14 years, and jiu-jitsu has been there for me through the good, the bad, and the ugly. It is a huge part of my life and a lot of my growth as a human being as been a result of training. Since I was a teenager, I have been surrounded by Men and Women in the gym who have pushed me way beyond my comfort zone. I am an actor, so people often assume I’m going to suck or have been exclusively privately trained. That is not the case here, but that has sure made me work harder! I roll with everybody! I have had my as* kicked since I was 15 years old, and it has both simultaneously built my confidence and kept me humble. I have had to take time off when I do film, but I have always made an effort to come back when I’m done and get back into the mix. Thank you to my coach @legend_of_cyberbully for being a friend, coach and mentor! Thank you to @streetsportsbjj for teaching my coach and passing on this beautiful art. Thank you to Alan Zborovsky for teaching me throughout my teens and early twenties. Thank You to @saeksonmuaythai for being a constant figure who checks me when I need it, and continually pushes my toughness. If you have ever thought about trying BJJ, do it! I wouldn’t be the person I am today without it!

BJJ Skills:

Jonathan spoke to Charles Curtis of ESPN:

My family actually owns an MMA promotion company, so it’s kind of a family deal. It’s called Fight Sports Entertainment and they throw amateur fights in California. Because of that, I’ve given my mom a lot of the fighters to fight in a show. I’m actually training one of my friends right now, he’s fighting a jiu-jitsu guy. So I’m his sparring guy. If it’s someone way better, I won’t be a good sparring partner.

I really call myself a student who helps out when need be. If we have a fighter who’s getting ready for a fight, who’s around 155 and needs help on their ground game, I’ll help them out. I wouldn’t call myself an instructor by any means. I wouldn’t want to give myself that kind of credit because there are black belts out there who are phenomenal. But I do help out.

My focus is really acting right now, and jiu-jiitsu is a passion of mine. I feel like that is what keeps me very level and very concentrated. There’s a certain level of concentration that’s required that makes me a better actor.

I’ve competed mostly as a white belt, competed once as a purple belt and got a gold and bronze in the tournament. I got gold in my division because no one in my weight showed up and I got a bronze in “absolute,” which is all of the top competitors from their belt level at any weight class. Probably the biggest thing I did was Gracie Nationals in 2007 when I was a white belt.

My mom has been a huge fan for a long time. She got a blue belt in jiu-jitsu and one of her ears is a cauliflower ear. She’s kind of a bad*ss. My mom would do muay thai and come out with bruises and people would look at her weird, but it was from training. It was this passion of hers. Her boyfriend was a boxing promoter and they decided, ‘We both love this sport, why don’t we just do it?’ They saw a lot of the amateur organizations weren’t treating fighters right. They’re all about fighters first and treat their fighters so well. Their shows have been phenomenal, I do a lot of their play-by-play and a little announcing.

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