‘Big Sky’ Star Katheryn Winnick Was a 13 Year Old Black Belt Badass: How she Learned to Fight

by Liz Holland

“Big Sky” star Katheryn Winnick may be a fantastic actress, but that’s only one of her many skills. The 44-year-old Canadian is also an entrepreneur and has an impressive history with martial arts. Surprisingly, it’s Winnick’s skill with taekwondo that initially got her into the entertainment industry. 

Winnick had a desire to get into acting for a long time but wasn’t necessarily in a rush to get there at first. The performer developed a passion for taekwondo and karate at a very young age– and she was good at it. The actress told Collider,  “I started training in martial arts when I was 7 years old.  I got my first black belt at 13.  I started my own martial arts school at 16.  And by the time I was 21, I had three different schools.  So, I grew up having a very physical background.”

While earning a black belt at 13 is already impressive, Winnick didn’t stop there. She added, “I’m a 3rd-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do and 2nd degree in karate, and I’m a licensed bodyguard.”

Katheryn Winnick Has Martial Arts To Thank For Her Acting Career

Her skill was undeniable especially as she began teaching others. She was so good, in fact, that film producers began hiring her to teach actors martial arts. “I started in the [entertainment] field by teaching actors martial arts on movie sets. I was their trainer as well as their stunt double,” she told Composure. “That’s how I got a chance to see what a stunt life is like, and I realized it’s amazing and I would love to be a part of it in front of the camera. That was really my journey.”

To this day, Winnick performs her own stunts. When she starred on the History Channel show “Vikings,” her background with martial arts gave her a certain special edge when it came to how she approached her character. She once commented at a convention that performing her own stunts usually means she risks getting hurt, but she didn’t let that stop her from doing ALL of her own stunts. “It’s just part of the job and you have to embrace it and accept it,” she said.

Katheryn Winnick also once shared with Vanity Fair how acting allowed her to open up her emotions. “Martial arts was a hard upbringing in a sense, where women weren’t allowed to show any emotion, especially since I trained four hours a day,” she explained. “So I saw acting as an opportunity to get to know myself, more as therapy, and then it worked out to be in front of the camera and to have a career in it.”

Clearly, the actress has been able to weave her two passions together pretty seamlessly! It’s not every day that you see an actress performing so many of her own stunts, and with the level of skill that Winnick does. If there’s one thing for certain, it’s that Katheryn Winnick is an absolute badass.