Against all Odds (Chuck Norris)

Norris, Chuck.  Against all Odds.  Broadman & Holman.

As John Piper said, “Read Christian biography!”  He probably didn’t mean this, though.  It’s a fun read.  Chuck is very honest about his moral and spiritual failings, and when he talks of repentance, he speaks in concrete terms of sin and turning to Christ.  He also speaks about his more mundane failures and while we will never have his level of success, we can have success by simply not giving up on reasonable goals.

He was born into a poor family whose father was a wino.  He joined the Air Force and did time in Korea after the war.  It is there he learned Tang Soo Do (he had earlier broken his collarbone from judo).  He failed his first black belt test.  He came home with his Martial Arts background and began a successful karate career as an instructor and competitor.  Had he stayed there he would have been recognized as the second best martial artist in the world (Bruce Lee, of course, was the best).

Bruce Lee got him into a few movies (remember that final fight scene in Return of the Dragon) and urged him to take acting more seriously.  Chuck then starred in minor roles while he kept hearing, especially after Lee’s untimely death, that “karate movies” were over.

And while Chuck didn’t mention it, he sort of created a new market of movies.  He didn’t give the old “chop saki” movie.  He created a “Lone Wolf” type of character who embodied “Merica” values while using martial arts.  He ultimately perfected this character with Walker, Texas Ranger.  This might explain why all of the “karate movies” in the 80s were flops, excepting perhaps Steven Seagal and Jean Claude Van Damme.  They didn’t bring anything new to the game.  Chuck did.

He’s honest about his failures.  His first marriage failed and he wasn’t a good father and husband.  And while his second marriage was (is) successful, sin brings baggage.  Yet the book points out the baggage and how godly counseling can work through it.

The other aspects of the book are probably well-known to most, including his KICK-START campaign: getting martial arts into public schools.  My take on it: it can work if the school district wants it to work.  My former instructor was involved in this. The problem is that you are retraining minds and breaking over a decade’s worth of bad habits.  You are dealing with dysfunctional structures.  You’re lucky if you can make progress in a year.  School boards, though, want results yesterday.  That’s not how reality works and so the program is dropped.

This is a truly encouraging book and easy to read.  I read it in a few days.

3 thoughts on “Against all Odds (Chuck Norris)

  1. I’m so conflicted about Chuck. On the one hand, he has a naive support for rightwing losers out of 2-D Christian-nationalism per David Barton folks. Plus, he was a huckster for Total Gym. On the other hand, he’s a total BA, and a solid Christian, and an amazing meme who I still embrace in some corners as an online handle. I also signed his actual name (Carlos Norris) on a few dumb waivers over the years to avoid giving my information.

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  2. Pingback: Chuck Norris: The Secret Power Within | Cosmic Geography

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