Chuck Norris and Chun Kuk Do

The Chun Kuk Do | Chun Kuk Do Founder | Chuck Norris and Chun Kuk Do

Carlos Ray “Chuck” Norris (born March 10, 1940) is an American martial artist, action star, and Hollywood actor who is known for playing Cordell Walker on Walker, Texas Ranger and his iconically tough image.

Norris was born in Ryan, Oklahoma, the son of Wilma (Scarberry), who was eighteen when Norris was born, and Ray Norris, a truck and bus driver and mechanic. Norris’s paternal grandfather (an immigrant) and maternal grandmother were Irish, while his paternal grandmother and maternal grandfather were Cherokee Native Americans.

Norris was named after Carlos Berry, his father’s minister. He has two younger brothers, Weiland (deceased) and Aaron (a Hollywood producer). When Norris was ten, his parents divorced, and he later relocated to Prairie Village, Kansas and then Torrance, California with his mother and brothers. Norris describes his childhood as downbeat. He was nonathletic, shy, and scholastically mediocre.

Other children taunted him about his mixed ethnicity, and Norris daydreamed about beating up his tormentors. Norris mentioned in his autobiography that his father had a very serious problem with drinking and “wasn’t there” a lot for him growing up.

Norris admitted that he loved his father but did not like him. However, he professed that he only felt pity for the man because “that was just how he was, and he missed so much.”

Norris finished high school and soon married his girlfriend, Kim Durnthaler. He then joined the United States Air Force as an Air Policeman in 1958 and was sent to Osan Air Base, South Korea.

It was in South Korea that Norris acquired the nickname Chuck and began his training in Tang Soo Do (tangsudo), an interest that would lead to black belts in that art and the founding of the Chun Kuk Do (“Universal Way”) form.

He also created the education associations United Fighting Arts Federation and “KickStart” (formerly “Kick Drugs Out of America”), a middle school and high school–based program intended to give at-risk children a focus point in life through the martial arts.

When he returned to the United States of America, he continued to act as an AP at March Air Force Base California. Norris was discharged in August of 1962. He worked for the Northrop Corporation and opened a chain of karate schools, which Chad McQueen, Steve McQueen’s son, attended.

Rise to fame: Norris’ career in tournament karate began on a losing note. He was defeated in his first two tournaments, dropping decisions to Joe Lewis and Allan Steen and three matches at the International Karate Championships to Tony Tulleners. However, by 1967, Norris began to demonstrate his skill and scored victories over the likes of Joe Lewis, Skipper Mullins, Arnold Urquidez, Victor Moore, Ron Marchini, and Steve Sanders. In early 1968, Norris suffered the fifth and last loss of his career, losing an upset decision to Louis Delgado.

However, on November 24, 1968, he avenged his defeat to Delgado and in the process won the Professional Middleweight Karate champion (non-contact) 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. It was also in 1969 that Norris made his acting debut in the Dean Martin movie The Wrecking Crew.

In 1970, his younger brother Weiland was killed in Vietnam. Norris later dedicated his Missing in Action films to his brother’s memory. At a martial arts demonstration in Long Beach, Norris met the soon-to-be famous martial artist Bruce Lee whom he respects and considers as superior. In 1972, he acted as Bruce Lee’s nemesis in the movie Way of the Dragon (titled Return of the Dragon in its US distribution), which is widely credited with launching his way into stardom. In Asia, he is still known primarily for this role. In 1974, McQueen encouraged him to begin acting classes at MGM. Chuck Norris retired with a karate record of 65–5, having avenged all of his defeats.

Norris’ first starring role was 1977’s Breaker! Breaker!, and subsequent films such as The Octagon (1980), An Eye for an Eye (1981), and Lone Wolf McQuade proved his increasing box office bankability. In 1984, Norris starred in Missing in Action, the first of a series of POW rescue fantasies produced by Israeli cousins Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus and released under their Cannon Films banner.

Also in that year, he was offered the part of the sensei of the Kobra Kai dojo in the movie The Karate Kid, but declined the part. He reportedly did not want to take part in depicting martial artists in an unfavorable light. However, Norris disputes this story. On a February 9, 2006 episode of Adam Carolla’s radio show, Norris said that he was never offered the role. Norris noted that he was already playing leading roles by the time The Karate Kid was in production.

Over the next four years, Norris became Cannon’s most prominent star, appearing in eight films, including Code of Silence, The Delta Force, and Firewalker, in which he co-starred with Academy Award winner Louis Gossett, Jr.. Many of the aforementioned films were produced by Chuck Norris’ brother Aaron, as were several episodes of Walker, Texas Ranger. In 1986, he was involved in the production of the Ruby Spears cartoon Karate Kommandos.

Norris made history in 1997 when he was the first Westerner in the documented history of Tae Kwon Do to be given the rank of 8th Degree Black Belt Grand Master. On July 1, 2000 he was presented the Golden Lifetime Achievement Award by the World Karate Union Hall of Fame.

Walker, Texas Ranger: By the close of the 1980s, Cannon Films had faded from prominence, and Norris’ star appeal seemed to go with it. He reprised his Delta Force role for MGM, which had acquired the Cannon library after the latter’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Norris went on to make several more largely ignored films before making a transition to television. In 1993, he began shooting the series Walker, Texas Ranger, which lasted eight years on CBS and continued in heavy syndication on other channels.

On October 17, 2005, CBS premiered the Sunday night “Movie of the Week” Walker, Texas Ranger: Trial By Fire. The production was a continuation of the series, and not scripted to be a reunion movie. Norris reprised his role as Cordell Walker for the movie. He has stated that future Walker, Texas Ranger “Movie of the Week” projects are expected, however, this was severely impaired by CBS’ 2006–2007 season decision to no longer regularly schedule MOWs on Sunday night.

Personal life: In 1963, his first child with Holechek, a son named Mike, was born. A daughter, Dina, was born in 1964, and a second son, Eric, followed in 1965. After 30 years of marriage, Norris and Holechek divorced in 1988. He married again in 1998, this time to former model Gena O’Kelley, and she delivered twins in 2001: Dakota Alan Norris, a boy, and Danilee Kelly Norris, a girl.

Norris has always been a very loving family man; it was noted in People that his adult sons still hug and kiss him goodbye. “It’s great my boys aren’t afraid to show love,” Norris said, “nothing can buy that”. Norris’s son, Mike, said of his father: “Dad never had a lot of love growing up, but he has given me and my brother all that he should have had in multiples”. Both of Norris’s sons are married and he has 6 grandchildren including American actress Gabby Di Ciolli.

Currently, Norris lives in north Dallas and owns a ranch between Navasota, Texas and Anderson, Texas. He also has a small residence in Los Angeles for when he does films or television shows. He works for KickStart, which is located in Dallas and Houston.

Now an outspoken Christian, Norris is the author of several Christian books, such as The Justice Riders. He has also been in a few TV commercials promoting Bible study and prayer in public schools, in addition to efforts to reduce drug use.

In 2006, he began penning a column for the conservative news website WorldNetDaily. In his columns, he has expressed beliefs that evolution does not exist,those who are troubled should turn to Jesus, and is quoted as saying “true patriots” do not stay clear of discussing religion and politics.

Norris serves on the board of directors of the NCBCPS, an organization promoting the use of the Bible in public schools, and also speaks on behalf of organizations advocating prayer in public schools.

Norris is a political conservative, often championing values shared by the Republican Party. Norris has donated over $32,000 to Republican candidates and organizations since 1988.  On January 26, 2007 Norris filled in for Sean Hannity as a co-host on the popular Fox News Channel debate program Hannity & Colmes alongside Alan Colmes.

Norris in popular culture: On September 22, 2004 Norris told Entertainment Tonight’s Mary Hart that his daughter Dina, born in 1964 was the result of an extra-marital affair. He did not meet her until she was 26 although she learned that he was her father at the age of 16. She sent him a letter to his home informing him that she was his daughter, after meeting her he acknowledged that he knew she was his upon seeing her.

In 2004, Late Night with Conan O’Brien began a recurring sketch in which O’Brien would pull a Walker Texas Ranger Lever next to his desk, which would cause a brief, out-of-context clip from Walker: Texas Ranger to play. This became one of the more popular segments on O’Brien’s show and led to a guest appearance by Norris himself, who pulled his own “Conan O’Brien Lever” to play a clip of Norris beating up O’Brien. This segment has been credited as jump-starting the Norris craze and leading to enough interest to produce a Walker, Texas Ranger TV movie.

In late 2005, Norris became the object of an internet phenomenon known as Chuck Norris Facts, which document fictional, often absurdly heroic feats and characteristics about Norris himself. The phenomenon originally started in the “Vin Diesel Fact Generator”, and Chuck Norris Facts were created as a byproduct, often using the same facts featured in the Vin Diesel Fact Generator. In time, Chuck Norris Facts became wildly popular, even more so than the original Vin Diesel Fact Generator. Norris has written his own response to the parody on his website, stating that he does not feel offended by them, and finds some of them funny.

He made an appearance on The Best Damn Sports Show, Period, where he commented on 10 of them, with his favorite being: “They once tried to carve Chuck Norris’ face into Mount Rushmore, but the granite wasn’t hard enough for his beard.”

Norris rode out in a convertible on The Price is Right $1,000,000 Spectacular in 2003 to wish Bob Barker a happy 80th birthday. He also helped a contestant win the convertible playing the Lucky $even game. Norris had instructed Bob Barker in karate for years.

During the March 10, 2006 show of ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption, numerous references were made to Norris on his birthday, including all of the cut-out heads on the set, which are usually of current sports stars, being replaced with Chuck Norris heads. Also, several humorous comments in reference to Chuck Norris were made by co-host, Tony Kornheiser, in a similar tone to that featured on the Chuck Norris Facts website.

Norris served as a guest referee at the World Wrestling Federation’s Survivor Series 1994 for the casket match between The Undertaker and Yokozuna. A similar match took place at the Royal Rumble 1994 where ten other wrestlers beat down The Undertaker. Norris was called upon to ensure a similar situation didn’t take place. As guest referee, he kicked Jeff Jarrett in the stomach.

Norris starred in his own Atari 2600 videogame, Chuck Norris Superkicks. Norris also appears in Maddox (real name George Ouzounian)’s book: Alphabet of Manliness under the letter N; where he is described as “the greatest American ever to live”. In the video game magazine Nintendo Power, Volume 203’s Pulse section featured many references to Chuck Norris. He has since become a regular reference, along with Mr. T.

Norris has a regular column on WorldNetDaily, sharing his ‘musings about faith, family, freedom, country, loyalty – maybe even kickboxing.’