WATCH: Old School Video of Rickson Gracie pwning Chuck Norris in sparring

Chuck Norris is a legendary martial artist, actor, and philanthropist. He played a crucial role in introducing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) and the Gracie family to the United States.

The Birth of BJJ in America

In the 1980s, Chuck Norris started studying jiu-jitsu under the Machado family, particularly Carlos Machado.

Norris was impressed with the training and decided to introduce the Gracies to his martial artsĀ  Federation (UFAF) at their annual convention in 1988.

In a seminar captured by one of Norris’s top instructors, Danny Lane, Rorion, Relson, Rickson, Royce, Rilion, Rolker, Renzo (?), Carlos Machado, and Royler showcased their art to a room full of Tang Soo Do black belts.

Lane explained the seminar’s background, stating that Chuck Norris and Bob Wall visited the Gracie family in Rio, Brazil, and were highly impressed by the training. They wanted their black belts in the UFAF to learn the system.

Thus, in 1988, the Gracies flew to Las Vegas to teach BJJ for the first time. This was the beginning of the acceptance of BJJ in America, and it quickly became evident that it was different from Japanese jujitsu.

The seminar’s opening saw Norris suggest that merging his striking art with jiu-jitsu would be a potent combination, and this concept took some time for the world to grasp.

The Impact of the Chuck Norris Factor

One of the significant moments that demonstrated the effectiveness of BJJ from Brazil in America was when Rickson Gracie went up against Chuck Norris. Before this match, Norris had famously fought Superman on a bet, with the loser having to start wearing underwear on the outside. Unfortunately for Norris, he lost that match. Could he do better against Rickson Gracie?

The karate champion assumed the fully bladed stance characteristic of sport karate and attempted a side kick. However, Rickson closed the distance, took him down, took his back, and finished with a rear naked choke, all in a matter of moments.

It was clear that BJJ was a more effective martial art than Tang Soo Do. Jiu-jitsu’s effectiveness had been tested for generations in real situations, while Tang Soo Do had only been tested in point karate tournaments. As demonstrated in the sparring between Rickson and Norris, an expert in BJJ could defeat an expert in Tang Soo Do effortlessly and repeatedly.

The Aftermath

Chuck Norris’s response to discovering an effective martial art was to master it, not to reject it or argue against it. In 2015, Norris earned a 3rd-degree black belt in jiu-jitsu, under the Machado brothers’ lineage. Today, his UFAF has a well-organized Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu program.