Chuck Norris – The legend, In today`s blog we look at his martial arts and acting career in detail. Carlos Rey Norris (real name) was born in Ryan, Oklahoma on March 10, 1940. His father was a World War II army soldier, mechanic, bus and truck driver. He has two younger brothers, one of which was killed in Vietnam. As a child, Norris was shy, quiet and nonathletic. His father had a drinking problem, and he went on binges sometimes for months at a time.
When Chuck Norris was 16, his parents divorced, and he moved together with his mother and brothers to Torrance, California. In 1958, Norris joined the army and was sent to Osan Air Base in South Korea. It was there when he started his training in Tang Soo Do. Norris was discharged from the army in 1962.
Martial Arts Career
Following his military service, Norris started to participate in Martial Arts competitions. He was defeated in his first two tournaments, dropping decisions to Joe Lewis and Allen Steen and three matches at the International Karate Championships to Tony Tulleners. By 1967 Norris had improved enough that he scored victories over the likes of Lewis, Skipper Mullins, Arnold Urquidez, Victor Moore, Ron Marchini, and Steve Sanders. Norris would be a two-time winner at S. Henry Cho‘s All American Championship.
In early 1968, Norris suffered the tenth and last loss of his career, losing an upset decision to Louis Delgado. On November 24, 1968, he avenged his defeat to Delgado and by doing so won the Professional Middleweight Karate champion title, which he held for six consecutive years. In 1969, he won Karate’s triple crown for the most tournament wins of the year, and the Fighter of the Year award by Black Belt magazine.
Norris also worked for the Northrop Corporation and opened a chain of Karate schools including a storefront school in his then-hometown of Torrance on Hawthorne Boulevard.
Way of the Dragon and first book: Winning Tournament Karate In 1969, Norris made his acting debut in the Dean Martin film The Wrecking Crew.
In 1972, he acted as Bruce Lee‘s nemesis in the widely acclaimed Martial Arts movie Way of the Dragon (titled Return of the Dragon in its U.S. distribution). The film is credited with launching him toward stardom. Of course, it wasn’t a full-fledged death-match. Lee and Norris weren’t trying to hurt each other. They’d been training partners for over three years at the time and had sparred often enough that they were familiar with each other’s style and moves. They coordinated the scene on the spot, and the result is iconic!
In 1973, he had a small role in the comedy The Student Teachers, and played the main antagonist in the Lo Wei film Yellow Faced Tiger.
In 1974, actor Steve McQueen, who was his martial art student at the time, saw his potential and encouraged him to begin acting classes at MGM.
In 1975, he wrote his first book Winning Tournament Karate on the practical study of competition training for any rank. It covers all phases of executing speedy attacks, conditioning, fighting form drills, and one-step sparring techniques.
First Starring role
Breaker! Breaker! and Breakthrough: Good Guys Wear Black Norris’ first starring role was 1977’s Breaker! Breaker! an action trucking film. After turning down many offers to do many Martial Art films, Norris decided that he wanted to do films that had story and where the action would take place when it is emotionally right. The low budget film turned to be very successful.
In 1978, Norris starred in thriller Good Guys Wear Black, which he considered his first real film. No studio wanted to release it so Norris and his producers four-walled it and rented the theaters and took whatever money came in. They did very well, shot on a $1 million budget they made over $18 million at the box office.
In 1979, Norris starred in A Force of One, where he plays Matt Logan, a world Karate champion who assist the police in their investigation. The film was developed while touring for Good Guys Wear Black. Again, no studio wanted to pick it up, however it out-grossed the previous film by making $20 million at the box office.
In 1980, he released The Octagon, where he must stop a group of terrorists trained in the ninja style. Unlike his previous films this time the studios wanted The Octagon. American Cinema Releasing is the group distributed it making almost $19 million at the box office.
The following films were both distributed by major studios. An Eye for an Eye (1981) by Embassy Pictures, and Silent Rage (1982) by Columbia Pictures.
Shortly afterwards MGM gave him a three-movie deal, and in 1981 they released Forced Vengeance. Norris was unhappy with the direction
In 1983, Norris made Lone Wolf McQuade with Orion Pictures. He plays J.J. McQuade is a reckless Texas Ranger who’d rather works alone but gets a new partner because his captain would like to have him supervised. They end up against investigating an arms dealer played by David Carradine.
The film was a worldwide hit and the movie had a positive reception from movie critics, often being compared to Sergio Leone’s stylish spaghetti westerns. The film became the inspiration for Norris’s future hit TV show Walker, Texas Ranger. Film Critic Roger Ebert gave the film a 3.5 star rating, calling the character of J.J. McQuade worthy of a film series and predicting the character would be a future classic.
That same year, he also published his second book about general exercising called Toughen Up! the Chuck Norris Fitness System.
Also, in 1983, Xonox produced the video game Chuck Norris Superkicks for the Commodore 64, Commodore VIC-20, Atari 2600, and Colecovision. The game combines two types of gameplay: moving through a map and fighting against enemies. The player takes control of Chuck Norris who has to liberate a hostage. It was later sold as Kung Fu Superkicks when the license for the use of the name Chuck Norris expired.
In 1984, Norris starred in Missing in Action, the first of a series of POW rescue fantasies themed around the Vietnam War POW/MIA issue that were produced by Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus and released under their Cannon Films banner, with whom he just signed a multiple movie deal. He plays Colonel James Braddock is a US military officer who spent seven years in a North Vietnamese POW camp, which he escaped 10 years ago.
After the war, Braddock accompanies a government investigation team that travels to Ho Chi Minh City to investigate reports of US soldiers still held prisoner. Norris later dedicated these films to his younger brother Wieland, who was a private in the 101st Airborne Division, had been killed in June 1970 in Vietnam while on patrol in the defense of Firebase Ripcord. The film was a huge success and Norris became Cannon’s most prominent star of the 1980s.
In 1985, Cannon Films released Missing in Action 2: The Beginning and Invasion U.S.A. which were extremely successful. Missing in Action 2: The Beginning is a prequel to the first installment, where Colonel James Braddock is held in a North Vietnamese POW camp run by sadistic Colonel , who forces the POWs to grow opium for a French drug runner, and tries to get Braddock to admit to and sign a long list of war crimes. During his team’s time in captivity, they are relentlessly subjected to various forms of torture. This led to escape attempt rom the camp, and plots to free his fellow prisoners and destroy the prison camp.
Invasion U.S.A. takes place during the Cold War area. A Soviet operative leads a band of Latin American communist guerillas in Florida. The invasion force spreads out into the South and causes havoc by shooting bazookas into suburban homes, inciting race riots by impersonating the police and attacking ethnic events and planting bombs in churches and on school buses. With terror spreading everywhere, martial law is declared. A former CIA agent played by Norris, had previous encounters with Rostov, and can take him on.
That same year Orion Pictures released Code of Silence who received positive reviews and was also a box office success. Code of Silence is a crime drama, It features Norris as a streetwise plainclothes officer who takes down a crime czar responsible for officers being wounded in a botched drug raid. It’s considered by fans and critics as Chuck Norris’s best film to date.
In 1986, he made two films co-starring with Academy Award winners: The Delta Force with Lee Marvin, and Firewalker with Louis Gossett, Jr.. The Delta Force was a box office success. In the film Norris and Marvin are leaders of an elite squad of Special Forces troops based on the real-life U.S. Army Delta Force unit, who face a group of Lebanese terrorists who has hijacked a Boeing 707.
That same year he was involved in the production of the Ruby-Spears cartoon Karate Kommandos, which was published as a comic by Marvel Comics.
In 1987, he published the book The Secret of Inner Strength: My Story is explanation of his personal philosophy of positive force and the psychology of self-improvement is interspersed with anecdotes about international karate competitions, training with Bruce Lee, and Norris’s acting career. It became a New York Times Best Seller.
In 1988, he did his last two films of the eighties, Hero and the Terror, and Braddock: Missing in Action III which marks his brother Aaron Norris‘s directorial debut, who was either or both stunt and fight coordinator in the vast majority of his filmography up until that year. Aaron would direct most of his films from that point on.
Turning to television: Walker, Texas Ranger
By 1990, MGM acquired the Cannon Films library, and Norris made the sequel Delta Force 2: The Colombian Connection where his character leads his Delta team into the fictional South American country of San Carlos to rescue hostages and stop the flow of cocaine into the United States.
In 1991, he starred in The Hitman, were he plays a cop who’s been brutally shot by his crooked partner. He’s in a coma for several years and when he wakes up, he assumes a new identity and infiltrates a drug-smuggling operation run by the local Mafia.
In 1992, he did Sidekicks, his most successful film of that area. It is about a loner boy, who lives with his widowed father. He has vivid daydreams about being Chuck Norris’ sidekick, battling against Norris’s movie enemies, who are often personified by his everyday bullies.
In 1993, he began shooting the action series Walker, Texas Ranger. The show is centered on Sergeant Cordell Walker (Norris), a Dallas–Fort Worth–based member of the Texas Rangers, a state-level bureau of investigation and is about his adventures fighting criminals with his partner James Trivette. It lasted eight seasons on CBS and continued in syndication on other channels, notably the Hallmark Channel.
The show was very successful in the ratings throughout its run, ranking among the Top 30 programs from 1995 until 1999, and ranking in the Top 20 in both the 1995–1996 and 1998–1999 seasons. His character Walker had cameos in the spin-off Sons of Thunder, and the TV show Martial Law.
During the prime of Walker, Texas Ranger, he made the movies Hellbound (1994), Top Dog (1995), Forest Warrior (1996), and Logan’s War: Bound by Honor (1998).
At the 1994 edition of the World Wrestling Federation (WWF)’s Survivor Series event, Norris was the special outside enforcer for the casket match between The Undertaker and Yokozuna. During the match, Norris delivered a roundhouse kick to an interfering Jeff Jarrett.
In 1996, he published the book The Secret Power Within: Zen Solutions to Real Problems where he explains how the ancient system of Zen, the core philosophy behind the martial arts, can help each of us achieve spiritual tranquility and real self-confidence. Once attained, those strengths can be accessible in everyday situations.
In 1997, Norris has appeared with Christie Brinkley in a long-running series of cable TV infomercials promoting Total Gym home fitness equipment.
Chuck Norris married his first wife Dianne in 1958. The couple had their first child in 1963. In 1964, his daughter Dina was born out of an extramarital affair, but Norris didn’t meet her until she was 26 years old. In 1965 he had a second son with his wife. The couple divorced after 30 years of marriage in 1988. Ten years later Norris remarried to former model Gena O’Kelley. In 2001, the couple had twins. Norris has nine grandchildren.
Chuck Norris is known for his contributions towards several organizations, like Funds for Kids, Veteran’s Administration National Salute to Hospitalized Veterans, United Way, and the Make-A-Wish foundation. He has also established the United Fighting Arts Federation and Kickstart Kids. These organizations work to develop self-esteem for kids and keep at-risk kids away from possible negative influences.
In 2005 he founded the World Combat League – a full-contact, team-based martial arts competition. The proceeds of the game are given to Kickstart Kids program. He also supports pediatric HIV/AIDS homes in Delhi, a school for blind children in Karnataka and mission that helps mentally ill patients in Cochin.
For his time in the army, Chuck Norris has been awarded several medals: National Defense service medal, Korea Defense service medal, Air Force Outstanding Unit awards, Air Force Longevity Service award and Small Arms Expert Marksmanship.
As a martial artist, Norris has gained several high-level black belts. He is the 10th-degree black belt in Chun Kuk Do, 9th-degree black belt in Tang Soo Do, 8th-degree black belt in Taekwondo, 5th-degree black belt in Karate, 3rd-degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and a black belt in Judo.
Chun Kuk Do
Norris created the martial art Chun Kuk Do, which is based primarily on Tang Soo Do and includes elements from every combat style he knows. Like many other martial arts, Chun Kuk Do includes a code of honor and rules to live by. These rules are from Norris’ personal code. They are:
I will develop myself to the maximum of my potential in all ways.
I will forget the mistakes of the past and press on to greater achievements.
I will continually work at developing love, happiness and loyalty in my family.
I will look for the good in all people and make them feel worthwhile.
If I have nothing good to say about a person, I will say nothing.
I will always be as enthusiastic about the success of others as I am about my own.
I will maintain an attitude of open-mindedness.
I will maintain respect for those in authority and demonstrate this respect at all times.
I will always remain loyal to my God, my country, family and my friends.
I will remain highly goal-oriented throughout my life because that positive attitude helps my family, my country and myself.
3 Things You May Not Know About Chuck Norris
- Norris is an outspoken Christian that serves on NCBCPS’s board of directors. The NCBCPS promotes the use of the Bible in schools.
- Norris has taught stars like Steve McQueen, Bob Barker, Priscilla Presley, and Donnie and Marie Osmond martial arts.
- Norris is also known for his offshore powerboat racing in some circles. In 1991, his team won the World Offshore Powerboat championships.