Jean-Claude Van Damme (born Jean-Claude Camille François Van Vaerenbergh, 18 October 1960(1960-10-18)) is a Belgian martial artist and actor who is best known for martial arts and action movies. His most successful films include Bloodsport (1988), Universal Soldier (1992), Hard Target (1993), and Timecop (1994). Due to his physique and his Belgian background, he is sometimes known as "The Muscles from Brussels."
After studying martial arts intensively from the age of ten, Van Damme achieved national success in Belgium as a martial artist and bodybuilder, earning the "Mr. Belgium" bodybuilding title. He emigrated to the United States in 1982 to pursue a career in film, and achieved breakout success with Bloodsport (1988), based on the alleged true story of Frank Dux. He attained subsequent box office success with Timecop (1994), which grossed over $100 million worldwide and became his most financially successful film.
Van Damme was born Jean-Claude Camille François Van Vaerenbergh (also spelled Varenburg) in Berchem-Sainte-Agathe (Brussels), Belgium, the son of Eliana and Eugène Van Vaerenbergh, who was an accountant and owned a flower shop. He began martial arts at the age of ten, enrolled by his father in a Shotokan karate school. His styles consist of kickboxing, Shotokan karate, Muay Thai, and taekwondo. He eventually earned his black belt in karate, later winning the European Karate Association's middleweight championship in a stunning upset versus the former champion Michael J. Heming (although he has claimed that he was "twice world champion"). He started lifting weights to improve his physique, which eventually led to a Mr. Belgium bodybuilding title.