Tony Jaa is the international name of Japanom Yeerum. He is known as Jaa Phanom in Thailand. He is an actor, Thai martial artist, choreographer, director, stuntman, and a Buddhist monk. He worked for many films like Tom-Yum-Goong, Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior, Tom Yum Goong 2, etc. He was belonged to a rural area of Surin province in Thailand. He completed his graduation in the bachelor's degree in Physical Education from Maha Sarakarm Institute. He used to watch many films by Jackie Chan, Bruce Lee, Vince Lam, etc. at temle fairs. These movies inspired him to learn martial arts. He was so much influenced by such movies that he used to imitate the moves of martial arts while playing with his friends. He practiced the moves till he could do it exactly as done by the masters. He started training in a combat sport called Muay Thai in Thailand when he was ten years old. When he was 15 years old, he requested Panna Rittikrai to give him a chance as a protege of the stuntman. He also took training in other martial arts like Judo, Taekwondo, and Aikido. Though he was born in Thailand, he is actually a Kuy descent.
He can speak languages like Norther Khmer, Thai, and Kuy. He was the stuntman in Mortal Kombat Annihilation for the role of Liu Kang. He worked as a stuntman for about 14 years appearing mostly in Panna's films. He worked as a stunt double in Insee Daeng, the Thai television series. Panna and Jaa put a short film together, showing all that Jaa could do under the guidance of the instructor Mark Harris. They showed to Prachya Pinkaew, a producer, and director, who was very impressed with it. This lead to the birth of martial arts action film named Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior, in which Jaa was a leading man. His second movie Tom-Yum-Goong was named after a variety of Thai Soup.
It included a style imitating elephants in muay thai. In the year 2006, he went to
New York to carry on the promotion work of The Protector. He directed and starred the film named Ong-Bak 2, a sequel to the film Ong-Bak, which was released in the year 2008. Jaa took part in a small character in the King Naresuan film series' third installment, which was directed by Chatrichalerm Yukol. But, the film was eventually canceled. To give a conclusion to Thai trilogy, Ong Bak 3 was released in the year 2010. Though he was asked to be cast in the film Rush Hour 3, in which his hero, Jackie Chan was the star hero, he couldn't participate in it because of the conflicts in the schedules as he was shooting Ong Bak 2 at the same time. He became a Buddhist monk in a Buddhist temple on 28th May 2010 in a town named Surin in Thailand. He left the monastery and accepted a deal with the Thai motion picture production and distribution company named Sahamongkol film company. He teamed up with the Swedish director
Dolph Lundgren in the film A Man Will Rise.
In the year 2014, he again teamed up with the project named
Skin Trade, which was directed by Ekachai Uekrongtham. He then teamed up with Wu Jing, his fellow actor in SPL II, a Hong Kong-Chinese action film. He was also attached briefly to the remake of the film Kickboxer: Vengeance. In 2014, he left the project. His next project is planned with Win Diesel in the film xXx: The Return of Xander Cage. He had an official register marriage with his longtime girlfriend named Piyarat Chotiwattananont in the year 2011. He celebrated his wedding ceremony on 3rd May 2012. They have a daughter.