Legendary martial arts figure Chuck Norris is beloved and respected by fans worldwide for being one of godfather’s of martial arts. Before there was ever a UFC, Norris had already been a popular figure in television and movies for decades. He also holds multiple black belts in various disciplines, one of which is Brazilian jiu jitsu.
Norris recalled the first time he ever stepped on the mats to learn about BJJ and how humbling of an experience it was.
“So I tracked them down in Rio, and I went to their school. And I met Mr Gracie, the father. I met Rickson Gracie, who was the world champion at that time, and Royce Gracie.
“So I asked if I could work out with them. And they said–very cordial–, ‘Of course.’ And I was a black belt in judo, so I thought I had some pretty good grappling skills. Anyway, I got on the ground with Rickson Gracie, and it was like I’d never had a lesson in my life. He played with me. And then I went and worked out with Royce for a while. And then Mr Gracie said, ‘Chuck, let’s you and I grapple.’ Mr Gracie’s about this big [gesturing that he is short with his hand]. So we started working out, and I mounted him. And he says, ‘Okay, Chuck, punch me.’ And I said, ‘Mr Gracie, I’m not going to punch you.’ And he said, ‘No, no, no. Punch me.’ So I brought my hand back [to punch him], and that’s the last thing I remember.
“The next thing I know, I’m waking up. I’d been choked so hard I could hardly swallow. He said, ‘I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to do it so hard.’ Then he says, ‘I want you to stay here. You’ve got great potential. I can make you a great Jiu-Jitsu person.’ Unfortunately, I was getting ready to do a movie and couldn’t stay there. But I went back to LA and started training with Rorion Gracie, who had a school in Los Angeles. And I started training with the Machado brothers, who are the cousins of the Gracies, and I’ve been with them now for 28 years.”
Chuck was also able to share the mat with the master himself, Rickson Gracie and found out just how good he really. Take a look at this old footage of Chuck Norris getting choked out by Rickson.