Actor, martial artist, and honorary Texas Ranger Chuck Norris’ turned 71 yesterday. (Of course, Chuck Norris doesn’t have birthdays. It’s merely the number of times he’s pushed the Earth around the sun.) His larger than life image has propelled him to new heights of popularity even though he hasn’t starred in many movies in recent years. His last notable role was a reprisal of his most well known character: Cordell Walker in the made for TV movie Walker, Texas Ranger: Trial By Fire in 2005. It was around that time, that the well known Chuck Norris facts, the crux of his current popularity, began to pop up all over the Internet.
Believe it or not, the facts began as merely an offshoot of the “Vin Diesel Fact Generator.” More and more people began swapping Diesel’s name out for Norris, and a phenomenon was born. Chuck Norris himself wasn’t doing much in the public light, but according to the meme laden Internet he was pulling off superhuman, sometimes blatantly impossible feats. These began to spill into popular culture, to the point were Chuck himself was very aware of them. He never found them offensive, and even found some of them to be funny!
But not even this new superhuman image can shake his foundation of being a humble man. Long before the scripts of his many feature films were written, Chuck Norris was a star in the martial arts world. He won many championships, and even created his own martial arts style, Chun Kuk Do, Korean for “The Universal Way. The art itself is similar to Tang Soo Do, but contains bits and pieces of the many martial art styles he’s learned over time, like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. At its heart, like the heart of many other styles, is a code of honor. This code contains 10 rules to live by on and off the mat, which reflect Chuck’s personal moral codes. The one that stands out to me in particular is the fifth rule: “If I have nothing good to say about a person, I will say nothing.” Being able to hold your tongue when your enemies verbally smite you is a superhuman feat in and of itself.
Chuck Norris hasn’t personally announced any big plans to return to the silver screen or the martial arts scene, though Sylvester Stallone has announced interest in working with Norris in a planned sequel to The Expendables, currently slated for 2012. But even if we never see Norris again in the public limelight, he will certainly be remembered, not just as an action star or a martial arts star, but as a person; a person who treated himself as an ordinary man while the rest of the world saw him as an extraordinary man.