Teacher, Competitor, Author, Actor
Born and raised in the Bronx, Ron “The Black Dragon” Van Clief started his martial arts training in his early teens. Ron Van Clief served in the U.S. Marine from 1960 to 1965 with a tour in Vietnam during that year. After military service, he became a New York City Transit Police Officer from 1965 to 1968.
Ron Van Clief was a five-time karate and kung fu world champion and 15-time All-American Champion. He competed in full-contact and non-contact tournaments in New York and several national tournaments.
He began his martial arts training in the 50’s and eventually trained with Bruce Lee. He was christened the “Black Dragon” during this time.
Van Clief was a student of Goju-Ryu masters Peter Urban, Frank Ruiz, and Moses Powell as well as WingTsun founder Leung Ting. He also studied Modern Arnis (Remy Presas) and Brazilian jiu-jitsu (Joe Moreira).
On December 16, 1994, at the age of 51, he competed in the 4th Ultimate Fighting Championship. In this fight, he faced off against Royce Gracie, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu champion.
Van Clief is an author of many instructional books and video recordings as well as a film choreographer and actor appearing in several films. He continues to conduct seminars and attend training with his son in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Ron Van Clief’s first major acting job was as the lead in a 1974 Hong Kong film called The Black Dragon (which was renamed to Super Dragon for its US release). Playing opposite Jason Pai Piao, Van Clief had a very positive reception from audiences.
Some of his film roles during the 70s were for Blaxploitation films which capitalized on the then-novelty of an African-American martial artist. It was a style that had previously been explored by Jim Kelly in the prequel to Enter The Dragon. He starred alongside Leo Fong in a Filipino action film called Bamboo Trap in 1975. Van Clief’s roles in films earned him the nickname “The Black Dragon” and the name inspired the titles of his films The Black Dragon’s Revenge (aka The Black Dragon Revenges the Death of Bruce Lee) (1975) and Way of the Black Dragon (1979). He appeared in the 1977 Italian crime film The Squeeze opposite Lee Van Cleef and Karen Black and was also the fight choreographer for the 1985 film The Last Dragon.
Ron Van Clief provided various voice-over roles for the international TV series titled Kung Faux.
He has been a member of the Screen Actors Guild for over 3 decades.
Don’t miss out on the opportunity to train with the Black Dragon at Deadly Art of Survival’s 2nd Convention, happening on September 10, 2022. He will be instructing an Official Chinese Goju training on the event.