Action movie and Martial Arts superstar Jean Claude Van Damme was on stage demonstrating his kicking techniques when the fan helping the demonstration strikes him in the face.
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Jean-Claude Camille François Van Varenberg (born 18 October 1960), professionally known as Jean-Claude Van Damme[a] and abbreviated as JCVD, is a Belgian actor, martial artist, screenwriter, film producer, and director best known for his martial arts action films. The most successful of these films include Bloodsport (1988), Kickboxer (1989), Lionheart (1990), Double Impact (1991), Universal Soldier (1992), Hard Target (1993), Street Fighter (1994), Timecop (1994), Sudden Death (1995), JCVD (2008) and The Expendables 2 (2012).
Van Damme was born Jean-Claude Camille François Van Varenberg, on 18 October 1960, in Berchem-Sainte-Agathe, Brussels, Belgium, the son of Eliana and Eugène Van Varenberg, who was an accountant and florist.His father is Walloon (French-speaking) from Brussels, and his mother is Flemish (Dutch-speaking). Van Damme’s paternal grandmother was Jewish.
He began martial arts at the age of ten, enrolled by his father in a Shōtōkan Karate School. His styles consist of Shōtōkan Karate and Kickboxing. He eventually earned his black belt in karate at 18. He started lifting weights to improve his physique, which eventually led to a Mr. Belgium bodybuilding title. At the age of 16, he took up ballet, which he studied for five years. According to Van Damme, ballet “is an art, but it’s also one of the most difficult sports. If you can survive a ballet workout, you can survive a workout in any other sport.” Later he took up both Taekwondo and Muay Thai.
Van Damme began his full-contact career in 1977, when Claude Goetz promoted the first ever full-contact karate tournament in Belgium. From 1977 to 1982, Van Damme compiled a record of 18 victories (18 knockouts) and 1 defeat. He was even named “Mr. Belgium” in a bodybuilding competition. In 1980, Van Damme caught the attention of Professional Karate Magazine publisher and editor Mike Anderson, and multiple European champion Geert Lemmens. Both men tabbed Van Damme as an upcoming prospect. Van Damme retired from competition in 1982.
Since 2009, Van Damme has been planning to make a comeback to fight former boxing Olympic gold-medalist Somluck Kamsing. The fight was a focal point in his ITV reality show Jean Claude Van Damme: Behind Closed Doors. The fight has been repeatedly postponed, with many critics doubting it will occur, especially due to the difficulty of booking the venue. December 2012, Van Damme was seen as part of Kam Sing’s ring crew when Kam Sing fought against Jomhod Kiatadisak.
In 1982, Van Damme and childhood friend Michel Qissi moved to the United States in the hope of becoming action stars. They did a variety of jobs to support themselves; their first role in a Hollywood film came when both were cast as extras in the film Breakin’ (1984), which was released by Cannon Films. Van Damme also had a small part in Cannon’s Missing in Action (1984). Van Damme’s first sizeable role came when he was cast as the Russian villain in the martial arts movie No Retreat, No Surrender (1986), directed by Corey Yuen and released through New World Pictures.
Van Damme worked for director John McTiernan for the 1987 film Predator as an early (eventually abandoned) version of the titular alien, before being removed and replaced by Kevin Peter Hall. Van Damme also had a non-speaking part as a Secret Service agent who carries a polio-crippled President Franklin Roosevelt (Ralph Bellamy) out of a pool in the 1988 TV miniseries War and Remembrance.