They Inspire

Chuck Norris: Air Force Veteran, Martial Arts Star, and Legendary Badass

Isabel Smail

Fun fact: when Chuck Norris does a pushup, he doesn’t push himself up, he just pushes the world down. Rumor has it that Norris can beat the sun in staring contests, and people even claim that he’s the only man alive who can defeat a brick wall in a game of tennis. 

The man of many talents was born in 1940 in Oklahoma. Once he turned 18, Norris joined the United States Air Force immediately after graduating from high school. Upon enlisting, Norris was quickly sent to serve in South Korea and was stationed at Osan Air Base as an air policeman. It was there in the midst of the war that Norris ignited his love for martial arts. 

At first, Norris focused primarily on Judo and joined Osan Air Base’s Judo team. Norris quickly became a master in the art of aggressively flinging people to the ground, but suffered a shoulder injury during training that stunted his training. The temporary setback had Norris switching to Tang Soo Do, another form of martial arts with similarities to Taekwondo and Karate. During the 13 months he served in South Korea, Norris utilized all his free time training in martial arts, and by the time he returned home, he was a black belt in Tang Soo Do and a brown belt in Judo. 

Norris was stationed briefly in California at the March Reserve Air Base following his time in South Korea, and in 1962, he was honorably discharged with the rank of an airman first class. Now a civilian, Norris applied for a job as a policeman but was promptly placed on the waitlist, so he decided to open a martial arts studio. 

To promote his studio, Norris began competing in Karate competitions. Norris won his first World Middleweight Karate Championship in 1968 and continued to hold the champion title for the next six years. Norris’ success in his competitions eventually drew national attention, including recognition from superstars like Bruce Lee. A few years later, Norris had not only risen to stardom in the martial arts world, but also in the entertainment industry.

In 1972, Norris starred in his first blockbuster movie, “Way Of The Dragon”, alongside Lee. Despite losing the fight in the famous movie scene, Norris’ acting career took off, and subsequently starred in roles as gritty Vietnam POWs, Texas Rangers, soldiers, and other characters that all highlight fierce and rugged fighters. His persona — created by Hollywood — paired with his military history and his successful martial arts career enabled Norris to become the current renowned tough guy that he is today. 

Throughout his life as a cinema star, Norris has continued to train hard in martial arts, earning himself a third-degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and even became the first American to ever earn an eighth-degree black belt in Taekwondo. Norris further proved his devotion to martial arts by creating his very own fighting style, known as Chun Kuk Do, and in true “Chuck Norris fashion”, he also has a tenth-degree black belt in Chun Kuk Do. 

Now, at the age of 83, Norris is jokingly known on the internet as the most badass man alive, who can not only count to infinity three times but also slam revolving doors. Norris has certainly earned the title of one of the greatest martial artists of all time.

Photo credit(s): Courtesy of Shutterstock, Flickr