From martial arts world titles to acting as stunt doubles in Hollywood blockbusters, when it comes to combat sports, the Bruce sisters have done it all, but they still have a lot of fight left
Sisters Chloe and Grace Bruce are a dynamic martial arts duo. Both competed at the highest level, and with numerous titles under their belts and Guinness World records to their name, separate chance meetings led them to become stuntwomen in some of the world’s biggest productions. Now with young families to juggle, there is still no letting up for this hardworking pair. Chloe is busy developing her online martial arts academy, which also offers other classes as she is a qualified PT and yoga teacher, while Grace cannot wait to start pushing herself again following the birth of her youngest son. Chloe and Grace talk Glorious through their destined career path, Chloe’s hilarious filming experience post-pregnancy and how we can all benefit from practising martial arts.
Glorious: Chloe, why did you choose martial arts as a child? Did you play other sports?
Chloe Bruce: The reason I chose martial arts as a child is because my brother, Danny, was already training within Tang Soo Do, a Korean art. I used to go along and watch him and asked my parents if I could join him. I have never looked back. I started at the age of 8, so at that time I wasn’t really interested in many sports outside of school, however in school I was into everything. I was in the netball team, and in athletics I ran the 200 metres and 4 x 100 metre relay for the school.
Glorious: Grace, did you simply follow in Chloe’s footsteps?
Grace Bruce: Yes. I learnt from a very young age when I was around 4-5 years old. I would stand at the back of Chloe’s lessons and naturally pick up all the moves.
Glorious: Chloe, who is the most competitive – you or Grace (although Grace might say otherwise!)? Did a healthy sibling rivalry encourage you to support each other and succeed?
Chloe Bruce: Grace and I are both hugely competitive, however, because of our 7-year age gap, we have never really competed against one another. Grace began competing in her late teens, so I was already in the adult divisions by then. Grace pursued a long journey of dance before crossing over into the world of martial arts. But we are both so supportive of one another, and of course super competitive and determined people.
Glorious: Grace, was it always your dream to become a stuntwoman and actress? What have been your highlights and any scary moments?
Grace: It actually happened by chance. I was always very passionate about dance or performing in general. When myself and Chloe reached the live semi-finals of Britain’s Got Talent in 2011, I was spotted by a stunt coordinator who was looking for someone small to double for Brad Pitt’s daughter (Daniella Kertesz) in World War Z. It then just escalated from there.
Glorious: Chloe, like Grace, after you retired from competition, you decided that you wanted to become a stuntwoman. Did your experiences live up to expectations – tell us about them.
Chloe Bruce: I never decided to become a stuntwoman, it is something that my journey in life led me to. A friend was auditioning female martial artists for a Disney movie John Carter of Mars, so I went along, got the role and from that job, I have not stopped working. I have been so fortunate to have had such a long run in the stunt industry and worked on so many huge productions alongside some of the best in the business. There are two big movies that stand out and I will always be grateful for; Guardians of the Galaxy V.1 – I doubled for Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and she was awesome. There was so much action in the film and Zoe trained with me so that I could mimic the way she moved, walked, ran etc, so on crossover within the film there were never any standout moments of, “Was that Zoe?” Another huge wow moment was when I got the job to stunt double Daisy Ridley on the latest Star Wars film. I met Daisy on The Force Awakens, and being heavily into martial arts my whole life I always wanted to do Star Wars. The first day on set when I was handed the light saber I turned into a kid at Christmas. I was super excited.
Glorious: Chloe, martial arts has played a huge part in your career path including acting, appearing in music videos, and now you have your own academy – did you envisage this from a young age, or were you planning another profession?
Chloe Bruce: I always knew I would have a future involved in or around my martial arts training. I had given too much to the sport for it not to take me into a career moving forward. However, if you had asked my younger self if it would be this crazy, fulfilling, exciting and fun, I definitely wouldn’t have predicted the life I have led up until now. I am so fortunate and I feel very lucky. I am so humbled by my career, but at the same time I have worked so hard to get to where I am today. I have put blood, sweat and tears into my training, I have poured my whole heart into my career and now my on-demand training academy. I always give 100% to whatever I am doing, so it’s no surprise that I have been successful. This is the start of a new chapter for me, entering motherhood and starting the Chloe Bruce Academy, and I know this is also the start of something very exciting and fun!
Glorious: Grace, if you could choose any actress(es) to double for, who would that be and why?
Grace: I’m really petite, so I’m limited to who I can double for, and that is why I often double for kids. I doubled for Maisie Williams for a day on Game of Thrones and then I almost doubled for her in a fight scene, which was exciting, but then I fell pregnant with my now 2-year-old. If I had the chance again, I would like to work with Maisie properly, as she’s super hard working and down to earth.
Glorious: Chloe, you hold two Guinness World Records including the most scorpion kicks in one minute (39 kicks) and the most rotations of a Bo staff within one minute, while standing on one leg. How difficult are these moves to learn and how long did it take you to perfect so many in one minute?
Chloe: My Guinness World Record titles are challenging and unique. The most scorpion kicks in one minute nearly broke my hips – haha. The scorpion kick is what I have been known for throughout my martial arts career so I thought it would be a great record to obtain. However, in training for the record, I never did the amount of kicks I achieved on the record day. I literally gave it my all and to achieve 39 scorpion kicks in one minute is amazing. My body definitely felt it afterwards though! With regard to the most Bo staff rotations whilst standing on one leg, this record was very different. I was unable to train for it because I was approached by Guinness whilst I was pregnant with my first child, my daughter Harriet. I had never had a child before, and was so naive as to what childbirth was or could be.
Ten weeks after giving birth I thought I would be fit as a fiddle and signed myself up. Cut to me ending up having a C-section, with 6 weeks of no training afterwards and a record to break in just 4 weeks. At around 5 weeks postpartum I began doing light stretching, and just moving the Bo staff around my body as fast as I could whilst standing. I only managed to try the full record (on one leg) once, before attempting it on camera in front of everyone, and I dropped my leg at 40 seconds in. I didn’t even make it to 60 seconds.”
Filming was interesting. I am so competitive, but I was really nervous. I wanted this record. I believed that on the day under pressure I would pull it out of the bag. I remember reaching around 45 seconds and I was in agony. Not really from the C-Section, but from being out of action for the last 8 months. I felt out of shape and unfit. But I heard my little girl cry in the room next door, and that cry gave me a second wind. It was as if she was saying, “Come on mummy, you can do this!” And I did. That cry is what saw me through the next 15 seconds and helped me to achieve my Guinness World Record.
Glorious: Grace, what advice would you give to any women that are considering trying martial arts – the benefits, how it makes you feel?
Grace: I believe any sport can be such a positive outlet and give you so much confidence in everyday life. Having a background in dance and martial arts gave me the strength mentally and physically to conquer anything that has come my way. I was also very fortunate to have an older sister who worked really hard at turning her childhood dream into her career, witnessing that gave me the willpower and determination to know that anything is possible if you put your mind to it.
Glorious: Chloe, how has martial arts changed for women since your childhood – have you noticed a significant increase in female participation – if so, why do you think this is/or what more can be done to attract women to the sport?
Chloe Bruce: Compared to when I first started, there are definitely more women participating in combat sports nowadays and much of this boils down to the internet. We have the ability to watch women in combat sports at the click of a button. We can follow our icons and idols on social media, we can be inspired and have virtual training partners all over the world. When I was competing, I had no idea what my competitors were up to or how their training was going until I arrived at the World Championships and saw them in action. In order to encourage more girls and women into martial arts, we need to continue spreading awareness. I recently did a demonstration and hosted a workshop at my daughter’s school and I was amazed at the number of young girls that wanted to give martial arts a try. The more good energy we can generate around the sport, the better.
Glorious: Grace, can you learn martial arts at any age, how flexible and fit do you need to be?
Grace: Absolutely you can learn at any age! Being fit and agile to begin with definitely helps. It depends on what level you want to take it. The younger you start, the less fear you have of trying new things or worrying about what others may think, therefore you are likely to pick up the moves quicker. However, everyone is different and has different strengths, so as long as you stay committed and consistent then it’s totally possible.
Glorious: Chloe, you are a qualified personal trainer and yoga instructor, so in addition to martial arts, you offer a variety of classes through your online academy. What’s next – how do you see your platform developing?
Chloe Bruce: I recently received my PT and yoga teaching qualifications. I want more tools under my belt, and even though I pretty much taught yoga through my flexibility classes, I want the ability to be able to use the word yoga in my academy. The academy is the training hub for hundreds of students all over the world. I love the fact that I can continue to train and motivate students of all ages and languages without any barriers. We all step in front of the screen together, train and learn, and that to me is just incredible. I love to inspire, I love to encourage and I love to watch progress made by all. My vision for the academy is to have a full team behind me, and to get combat sports known well enough to have an on-demand platform like the likes of Kayla Itsines of the fitness world.
Glorious: Grace, you have two young children, the youngest having just turned one, so do you still regularly practise martial arts or any other activities to help get your body back into shape?
Grace: To be honest, the past year has been incredibly tough with two boys that are aged just under one year apart. I gave myself time to make it through this first year with both of them and anything else has been a bonus! I have just started easing myself back into training and I’m super excited to start pushing myself again!
Glorious: Chloe, you are also a mother to two young children, so how do you juggle your schedule to achieve a work/family life balance?
Chloe Bruce: Since becoming a mum, I have had to focus a lot on the mental aspect of my health. Ways to stay focused and on track, but also the best mum that I can be. I had to learn how to slow down, even though I wanted to be running, I had to learn that small steps are actually ok. My life changed drastically overnight. That is why I decided to do my 200hr yoga course. I’ve always enjoyed yoga, and the feeling I experienced every time I finished a class, so I wanted to do the course to discover what helped me, and how I can potentially help others to unwind from the busy daily lives that we all seem to lead in the UK. It has helped me in more ways than one, and I am now much more aware of the importance of correct breathing patterns and body imbalances. There is so much more to yoga than the physical poses that we learn or see.
Glorious: Chloe and Grace, if you could invite four inspirational women to dinner, who would they be and why?
Chloe Bruce: I’m sure we will both agree on two of them being our parents. They are our rocks and our heroes. They believe in us when at times we have lost the belief in ourselves and have inspired us so much. We definitely are the women we are today because of them. Another would have to be Oprah Winfrey. I think she would have so many amazing stories to tell, and again, just so inspiring. I will let Grace choose the final one!
Grace Bruce: Beyonce as she is completely iconic! Kris Jenner as I love the fact that she is such a successful businesswoman and manages her five daughters who are also extremely successful. Allysin Michelle, as she reminds me a lot of myself, has an artistic background with two young children, is hard working and we have been through some similar life experiences. Chachi Gonzales because I have always admired her as a dancer growing up in the world of social media, plus she now has two young babies of her own so I feel like I can relate to her.