Pin # 2819
Grandmaster Norris began his martial arts study in
Judo while serving as an MP at the Osan Air Base in
Korea. After only two weeks of training he broke his
shoulder in a fall on the mat. While walking through
a local town a few nights later, he came upon a
group of martial artists practicing outdoors and was
amazed by their acrobatic skills. He asked his Judo
instructor Mr. Ahn about it and was told it was an
art called Tang Soo Do. Master Norris asked his
instructor what he thought about his training in
karate until his shoulder healed. Thinking it a good
idea, Mr. Ahn introduced him to Master Jae Chul Shin
(# 698). While he did continue to study Judo one day
a week, it was Tang Soo Do that appealed to him
After a year of training for 5 hours daily, Master
Shin told him he was ready to test for black belt in
Seoul. Grandmaster Hwang Kee presided at the
testing. Although he did not pass his test that day,
he did pass three months later. Upon returning to
the U.S., he continued to train on his own as there
were no Tang Soo Do schools at that time. When
others on the base showed an interest in his Tang
Soo Do practice, he began a karate club on the base.
He was 21 years old at the time. After his discharge
in 1962, he opened a school in Torrance, California
with his brother Aaron who was also training.
Master Norris's competitive career began in 1964 at
a small tournament in Salt Lake City, Utah. He lost
his first three tournaments but went on to defeat
some of the biggest names competing on the
tournament circuit - Joe Lewis, Louis Delgado,
Skipper Mullins, Victor Moore and others. His fight
record was 65-5 by the time he retired as undefeated
Professional Full-Contact Middleweight Champion in
In 1969 he earned the Triple Crown for the most
tournament wins and was named fighter of the year by
Black Belt Magazine. He also became the first
Westerner to earn an 8th Degree in Tae Kwon Do.
By age 34,
Grandmaster Norris had established 32 schools and among his many
students were Priscilla Presley, the Osmonds, and Steve McQueen. It
was Steve McQueen who urged him to get into acting. His first role
was in "The Wrecking Crew" in 1969. His next role in 1973 would put
him on the road to stardom. It was the classic fight scene at the
Colosseum in Rome opposite Bruce Lee in "Return of The Dragon".
founded the National Tang Soo Do Congress (now headed by Pat
Johnson) and the United Fighting Arts Federation (UFAF). He also
developed two of his own martial arts systems, "Chun Kuk Do" (the
Universal Way), and American Tang Soo Do.
To help battle drugs and violence in schools, he created KickStart,
a non-profit organization that provides martial arts training in the
school system for at-risk kids. Instructors in the program work full
time and are part of the school curriculum, another first in the
martial arts world.
Grandmaster Norris has also retired from the series Walker, Texas
Ranger after eight successful years.