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Joe Rogan Recounts the Biggest Dangers of Martial Arts That Forced the Lifelong Practitioner to Step Away From It – “My Life Gets Ruined”

Published 11/21/2023, 9:16 AM EST

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Joe Rogan loves martial arts. And as most fans know, the JRE podcast host is a bona fide martial artist, having even won some national competitions. Also, the internet was set ablaze a few years ago when videos of Rogan kicking pads savagely came out.

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This raises the question of why Rogan quit a promising martial arts career for comedy and podcasting. And in conversation with Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, the Texas resident revealed the factors that led him to bid adieu to a potential career in martial arts.

Why Joe Rogan quit martial arts


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Rogan said that when he started doing kickboxing, he realized he was getting brain damage, which scared him. He remembered young people around him whom he saw decline cognitively within a few years. In addition, there was very little money in kickboxing back when Joe Rogan started out. All of this made him decide to quit martial arts.

“First of all, I started doing kickboxing… And I was realizing I was getting brain damage… I still had these competition aspirations. And then the brain damage thing was scary. And I knew that was coming for me,” Rogan told ‘The Rock’


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Because I knew quite a few people around me that from the time I was 16 till the time I was 21, I saw them deteriorate, like noticeably… And I knew that’s coming for me… And I was like I gotta stop doing this,” he added.

Instead, the Italian-American decided to pursue a career in comedy. He said that he was simultaneously doing open mics, the first step in any budding stand-up comics’ career, along with his martial arts. And once he gave up kickboxing, he dedicated himself to making it in the vibrant comedy scene at the time. In the conversation, Rogan also pointed out the exact reason that led to this brain damage.

Rogan and the fear of brain damage


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Rogan felt that the reason behind the brain damage was that the gym he was at was not sparring responsibly. He told Johnson that they did not wear headgear and would spar hard, almost like fighting, with fighters getting knocked out regularly during practice. This scared Rogan, who felt that his life would get ruined if he continued taking brain damage.

‘Coz we weren’t sparring smart. We were going like no headgear… most of the time it was just going to war and you weren’t really sparring, you were fighting. We were fighting all the time and just guys getting dropped all the time… And I was realizing like okay, I got to get out of this, like this is going to ruin me. And then if my mind gets ruined, my life gets ruined” the podcast host revealed.


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But all’s well that ends well, as they say. Rogan became the most successful podcaster in the world and a UFC commentator, having brought countless new fans to the sport of MMA and popularized the sport. What do you think about Joe Rogan’s revelations? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Written by:

Kanishk Thakur


One take at a time

Hi, I am Kanishk and I am a UFC Writer at EssentiallySports. I love telling the stories of these magnificent fighters and this wildly unpredictable sport that is so frustrating and yet so joyous at the same time. I never really used to watch MMA, thinking it too crude or brutal a sport to deserve respect.
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Edited by:

Abhishek Kumar Das