Malaysian actor/comedian Ronny Chieng, best known for his role as “Eddie” on the blockbuster Hollywood film “Crazy Rich Asians,” is one of the biggest Asian celebrities today. He is also a correspondent on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.
The 34-year-old star was recently a guest on the ONE Championship podcast show, “Franklin Speaking,” hosted by former UFC middleweight world champion Rich “Ace” Franklin, where he touched upon a multitude of topics including how he learned to deal with keyboard warriors on the internet, and his love for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ).
Chieng, who grew up in a Malaysian-Chinese household in Singapore, got his start in the entertainment business doing standup, radio, and television before making it big on the silver screen.
Early in his career, Chieng reveals he had multiple encounters with keyboard warriors on the internet who didn’t particularly like his brand of comedy. Admittedly, Chieng said comments from strangers initially affected him and made him upset, and that it wasn’t until he discovered martial arts that he learned to deal with his critics.
“I found a place to channel all my aggression. After [training] Jiu-Jitsu, I was just exhausted. I was like, ‘you know what, I don’t want to fight with people on the internet. I don’t have energy for it,’” said Chieng.
Franklin, with his fair share of critics throughout his professional athletic career, acknowledged Chieng’s experiences, likening them to his own. Chieng then went on to say that he feels the only people with the right to critique a work of art are those who have had experience in creating themselves.
“If you don’t make something, if you don’t create, there’s no way you have any perspective on what it takes [to create]. That’s why I don’t like people who critique without creating. Because it’s so easy to critique anything. It’s easy to critique pro athletes [for example]. To me, it’s insane,” said Chieng.
“You know, people will tell you, ‘yeah you should have gone to the ground with Anderson Silva a little bit more.’ It’s like, ‘oh really? You think I should have choked out Anderson Silva? Yeah, that’s a really good game plan man.’
“It’s just so insane to me. Sports is rife with that, especially professional fighting. It’s just made for the keyboard warriors to come out. I just respect anyone who makes anything or tries to do stuff, pro athletes especially.”
Chieng started his martial arts journey with Wing Chun, but after suffering specific injuries that prevented him from further training in the art, he turned to BJJ instead and found that it helped him deal with critics because of the positive effects it had on his confidence and self-awareness. He’s been training in BJJ since 2008 and hasn’t stopped since.
Chieng, who has championed meditation in the past, elaborated more on the mental benefits that training in martial arts brought into his life.
“The idea of martial arts [training] for mental health, I don’t think that’s focused enough on. We know the physical benefits and obviously the self-defense elements. But [in terms of] pure mental health, martial arts for mental health is a huge thing, for me. It’s like meditation,” said Chieng.
“You stay in the present. When someone’s trying to take your head off, you’ve gotta be reacting to that, in the ‘now.’ I really see martial arts as a form of meditation for mental health.”
When invited by Franklin to come by Singapore to roll with him on the mats, Chieng declined jokingly.
“No way that’s happening,” he said.
Check out the Full Episode of “Franklin Speaking” above.