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Van Damme was born Jean-Claude Camille François Van Varenberg in Berchem-Sainte-Agathe, Brussels, Belgium, to Eliana and Eugène Van Varenberg, an accountant.
“The Muscles from Brussels” started martial arts at the age of eleven. His father introduced him to martial arts when he saw his son was physically weak.
At the age of 12, Van Damme began his martial arts training at Centre National De Karate (National Center of Karate) under the guidance of Master Claude Goetz in Ixelles, Belgium.
Van Damme trained for 4 years and earned a spot on the Belgium Karate Team. He won the European professional karate association’s middleweight championship as a teenager, and also beat the 2nd best karate fighter in the world.
His goal was to be number one but got sidetracked when he left his hometown of Brussels. In 1976 at the age of sixteen, Jean-Claude started his Martial Arts fight career.
Who Is Jean-Claude Van Damme?
Jean-Claude Van Damme is a champion martial artist and bodybuilder as a teenager, he used his physical abilities to become the star of such American action flicks as Bloodsport (1988) and Double Impact (1991). Van Damme endured personal and professional difficulties beginning in the 1990s, but has since regained some of his star power.
Early Years and Career
Jean-Claude Camille François Van Varenberg was born on October 18, 1960, in Berchem-Sainte-Agathe, Brussels, Belgium. A skinny child, he began studying Shotokan karate at age 11, and also eagerly took to weightlifting and ballet. As a teenager, Van Damme won the middleweight championship of the European Professional Karate Association and was named “Mr. Belgium” in a bodybuilding competition.
Van Damme opened a gym in Brussels and earned some modeling work, but he was enthralled with the idea of becoming a film star. After briefly attempting to break into the thriving martial-arts movie industry in Hong Kong, China, he moved to Los Angeles, California, in the early 1980s to pursue his Hollywood dreams.