Chuck Norris was the second martial arts actor I remember seeing on television and was one of the main forces behind creating my interest in the martial arts. I remember watching the movie An Eye for an Eye when I was 12 years old. I was traveling from Vermont to Alaska with my parents and we were in a hotel where we had stopped for the night. I still remember how it felt to see him fearlessly face opponent after opponent and perform what seemed like amazing physical feats while knocking them down one by one. Over the following 32 years I watched almost every movie and television show that Chuck Norris made and it always brought back the feelings that were there during that first encounter with his martial arts abilities.
I’m relatively sure that everyone reading this knows about Chuck Norris and is familiar with most of his movies and television series. I want to tell you some of the things about his life that you may not be aware of.
Carlos Norris was born March 10, 1940 in Ryan, Oklahoma. While serving in the US Air Force in Korea he began studying martial arts. When he returned to the US he started teaching martial arts and starting to compete in martial arts tournaments to promote his school. He began to rise to fame through his successes as a tournament fighter. Norris met Bruce Lee at a martial arts demonstration in Long Beach, CA and they became friends. In 1972 he appeared in Return of the Dragon with Bruce Lee and acting on encouragement from Steve McQueen he began acting classes at MGM in 1974.
Chuck Norris’ martial arts school is called Chun Kuk Do (Universal Way). His primary styles are Tang Soo Do, Taekwondo, and Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. Norris had celebrity clients at his schools including Steve McQueen, Bob Barker, Priscilla Presley, Donny Osmond, and Marie Osmond. Among other programs, Norris established the United Fighting Arts Federation and KickStart in 1990. This organization was formed to develop self-esteem and focus in at-risk children as a tactic to keep them away from drug-related pressure by training them in martial arts. The hope is that by shifting middle and high school children’s focus towards this positive endeavor, they will have the opportunity to build a better future.
Written by: Dan Lagerstedt