For her role as Black Widow in the Marvel superhero movies, Hollywood star Scarlett Johansson couldn’t rely on a superpowered suit like Iron Man or the Godlike strength of Thor. Instead, the character had to use her own fists and feet. Johansson trained in a variety of martial arts to hone her skills.
“We shot the fight scenes in four days, but we spent months training for it,” Johansson told reporters during the release of Iron Man 2.
“She was a strong and independent character, who reminded us women that we don’t have to always be fragile. That it’s nice to kick people’s butts every now and again. I loved it.”
In training for the film, Johansson trained in a variety of techniques that included a number of different martial arts.
“A lot of their training involved them working out together quite a bit,” said The Avengers fight choreographer Jonathan Eusebio, referring to Johansson and Jeremy Renner, who also needed to rely on his character’s own skills rather than superpowers as Hawkeye.
“We covered a mix of different martial arts, but more practical martial arts; a mix of karate, Jiu-Jitsu, judo, Filipino martial arts and Muay Thai boxing. It was a bunch of different elements from a bunch of practical martial arts.”
Johansson didn’t only utilize martial arts to train for her role. She walked away from Marvel movies with a love for Jiu-Jitsu. It’s one she shares with co-star Robert Downey Jr., who trained in the technique for another film franchise, Sherlock Holmes.
Since appearing as Black Widow on screen, Johansson has continued to train in with Master Rigan Machado. The trainer has also worked with other actors including Vin Diesel and Ashton Kutcher at the Gracie Academy in Beverly Hills.
The “gift” of martial arts training
Training in martial arts was at first a practical necessity for Johansson to become the on-screen superhero. Now, however, the star considers it a gift for her personal life.
“It’s actually been such a gift for me because I was probably, you know, maybe 23 or 24 at the time,” Johansson told Vanity Fair, referring to the time she got the role of Black Widow and immediately went into training.
“And it actually gave me this life of physical acumen I probably never would have had otherwise. I learned the base of a lot of different martial arts, and even how to be a sort of a very amateur stuntwoman.”
Now, Johansson combines her gift of martial arts training with a regular fitness regime and diet to stay in shape. Key to the diet? A consistent 12-hour fasting window between meals. For example no food intake between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m.
Johansson’s diet also includes high-carb and low-carb days that incorporate plenty of protein and include a daily pre-workout breakfast. Get the full Marvel Food Plan here.
“I am stronger and more capable now than I was 10 years ago. That’s so awesome to be able to say,” Johansson told The Hollywood Reporter after the filming of Avengers: Endgame.
“The gift of fitness has been one of the best parts about working for Marvel.”
Martial arts training is appreciated by many for its practical benefits, and can even give the average person the strength and confidence to become a superhero.
A fitness regime that includes martial arts can be great for fitness. Knowledge of martial arts techniques can also be key for self-defense. Simple practices such as observing aggressive body language can lead to avoiding confrontations entirely.
A consistent training regime combined with the right diet can also be key to weight management and maintaining peak physical form.
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Photo: Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution / Marvel Studios. Ilustration: Darina Achremenková