Jean-Claude Van Damme was born on October 18, 1960, in Brussels, Belgium. He began studying martial arts at the age of 11 to build his confidence. Van Damme earned his black belt at age 18 and was successful in many martial arts tournaments due to his speed, agility and leg power. His physical prowess led him to become an international success as an action movie star, where he's been nicknamed "The Muscles from Brussels."
Over the years, Van Damme has learned to listen to his body to know how to best provide for it, like fuel for a car. He learned very early on about supplementing with vitamins and minerals, such as calcium and B vitamins. Today Van Damme eats a lot of vegetables, stating that "plant-based foods are the best things for you."
Jean-Claude Van Damme's flexibility is almost legendary due to achievements such as the 360-degree jumping split kick he showcased during the movie "Bloodsport." His flexibility came from years of practice. With a background in martial arts, Van Damme developed his flexibility with daily stretches. His famous splits were derived from stretching the leg muscles in the inner thigh, groin, hamstrings, quadriceps and gluteal muscles consistently.
Van Damme's weight-training schedule can vary, but he is still a proponent of lifting weights for overall fitness. His approach went from training extremely heavily with weights when he was just starting out to now feeling the muscles with slow, methodical movements. "I've just learned over the years to train very meticulously and slowly with weights," Van Damme says. "Let me tell you, a person can totally change the shape of his or her body by training very precise and correct."
Jean-Claude started his relationship with martial arts by beginning with Shotokan Karate. He became a student of various disciplines throughout later years, including kickboxing, taekwon-do and Muay Thai, all of which emphasize strength and aerobic conditioning. Van Damme won the European Professional Karate Association's middleweight championships at age 18. He continues to practice martial arts daily for overall conditioning.