Hello everybody. Happy to be writing the blog again, I think. Woke up this morning thinking about the past and a memorable moment flashed in my brain. That was the day I ran into martial arts great and film star, Chuck Norris. Following is my recollection of that event. I hope you enjoy reading it. – FB
Fate, chance, luck, whatever you want to call it, is pretty cool. It was July 1993 on a Wednesday morning. Chuck Norris was in the middle of filming the fall season of Walker, Texas Ranger and this particular day was one of just a few that he had off. It was also the day I took our Danish visitors, Shihan Kurt Oerum and his black belts (and one perpetual brown belt) to North Hollywood where they were to receive a two day private lesson with Bill “Superfoot” Wallace. I already knew Wallace as I had both trained at his seminars and hosted one at the dojo as well. Shihan Oerum, the founder of Daikihaku Karate, had traveled with his students from Viborg, Denmark, to embark on a martial arts holiday and see the sights in Cali. Sensei Martha and I made up a busy schedule for them: they’d spend most of a week here at the Santee dojo and nearby doing a myriad of karate activities, go to Angeles Oaks (near Big Bear) to a karate camp, share their style at a few schools up north, and attend the training with Wallace.
Wallace had arranged to conduct the lesson at the Jet Center near his home in Van Nuys. The Jet Center was the training hall of world champion kickboxing champion, Benny “The Jet” Urquidez, located in a revamped bowling alley. This was a really big dojo – large enough to host publicly attended kickboxing and boxing matches. When we got there we were very impressed with the layout and all the memorabilia decorating the lobby area. Soon after, Wallace appeared and met his eager group of students. Shortly thereafter, standing in the training area entrance was none other than “The Jet” himself, who had just finished a workout. Wallace introduced our group to “The Jet” who was very gracious and friendly, even allowing our visitors to snap some photos with him before he returned to the gym. It may seem funny, but our group would have been completely satisfied if that was all we did and went home. (Little did I know that one day I would return to the Jet Center to work with “The Jet” on behalf of Black Belt Magazine - but that’s an entirely different story.) Now it was training time and the students gi’d up and proceeded into the gym for day one’s lesson.
You’re probably wondering when Chuck Norris comes into the picture. I’m getting to it now. Oerum and I weren’t doing the training…we were there to observe, then spend time tending to some other martial arts matters that needed to be worked out that day, and of course – make things happen. The training had been going on for a while and I was pretty psyched, having just sponged a really cool kickboxing combo that Wallace was sharing with the boys. I decided to head back into the lobby and when I walked through the door, there stood Chuck Norris. I recognized him immediately and made my way over and began milling around near where the legend was standing. Turns out that Norris was there to talk with Wallace and was waiting for a break in the training to do so. Norris had tweaked his back, and Wallace who has a masters degree in kinesiology, was going to show him some exercises to help with the recovery. It may have been yin or yang, good karma, destiny, who knows, but it was something.
At some point I got Norris’s attention and began to speak to him, but nothing would come out. I was completely star struck. Fortunately, before making a fool out of myself or him thinking I was a complete idiot, Norris politely asked me to start over with what I was trying to convey. I calmed down and introduced myself and explained what our group was doing at the Jet Center. Norris asked me about our style and when I told him about our dojo philosophy, he started telling me about the “kick drugs out of America” program that was launched in Texas in conjunction with some outreach karate programs that he was part of. With some common ground established, we proceeded to have a wonderful chat about the physical, mental and psychological benefits that can be derived from karate programs that promote personal development along with all the kicking and punching.
It wasn’t long before Wallace finished his lesson and he and Norris had their meeting. Then Wallace asked Norris to meet the Danish and a couple other friends of the arts who’d joined in on the training. After the hand shaking, Wallace got everyone together for a group photo with Norris and himself. Norris was so cool to everyone, a real gentleman. We were all so stoked. It was like a dream. Meeting “The Jet”, doing (or observing) the training with Wallace, and then to meet the guy who was the star of films such as Lone Wolf McQuade, Force Of One, Good Guys Wear Black, and the Walker, Texas Ranger TV show. Wow! What a day – and we all have a photograph to go along with it. A truly memorable experience. That was the day I met Chuck Norris.
– Sensei Floyd Burk