Chuck Norris: How to become a champion

Chuck Norris

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Chuck Norris was the first Karate player to be voted into the Black Belt Hall of Fame. He has competed and won grand championship victories in tournaments throughout the nation: The 1967 and 1968 All American in New York; 1968 Nationals in Washington D.C., 1967 and 1968 Internationals in Long Beach, 1968 and 1969 World Championships in New York, and the Middleweight title at the U.S. Championships in Dallas. Norris has made many movie and television appearances including a recent spot on the Johnny Carson show. He is currently involved in several movie productions that may win him a starring role. Chuck Norris is a 6th degree Black Belt in the Tang Sao Do system . Since retiring from competition he has trained and produce several top national champions of his own. His latest enterprise is the publishing of a training manual and a long awaited book entitled “What It Takes to Become A Champion” that will be available in 47 countries by the end of the year . The following article is on outline of some of the points covered in the book. “What It Takes To Become A Championwill be complete with pictures and detailed instructions on all the fighting techniques and training methods in the famous Chuck Norris system.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Because of limited space, we cannot go into detail on all the areas of becoming a champion. A new book by Chuck Norris will soon be published that will elaborate on all the areas not covered in detail.

FOR A FIGHTER to develop into a consistent winner he must first develop himself physically, mentally and spiritually. To me, these are the vital resources of which champions are made. They make up the platform winners stand on.

The Winning Formula: PHYSICAL
There are seven key elements to physical application:

  • 1. Ability to close the distance between you and your opponent.2. Once the distance is closed, being able to follow up with combination techniques until you score and not opening yourself up for a counter attack.
  • 3. Being able to fake your opponent so when he thinks you are going to do one attack, you attack with some other technique.
  • 4. Being able to score moving backwards as well as forwards.
  • 5. Being able to use either hand or leg equally. Become ambidextrous.
  • 6. Being proficient with all kicks and hand techniques. Too many fighters rely either on their hand techniques or their kicks but not many can rely on both.
  • 7.  Train yourself to peak condition.

Physical fatigue lowers your will to win. And wanting to win more than your opponent and fighting accordingly is extremely important.

To me, mental means your intellectual ability. Being able to out-think your opponent. When he thinks you are going to do one thing, you do another. Always work on your opponent’s weaknesses. In other words, if he is primarily a kicker, then fight inside so he cannot kick, but if he is a puncher or back knuckler, then fight from the outside and use your kicks. This goes back to the physical category of training yourself to use both hands and feet equally.

You can not be a stereotype fighter and last long.

If he is a known fighter, know what his favorite techniques are and how you would defend against them. Also know his weaknesses and how you would take ad vantage of this to score on him. Now how do you train yourself mentally to be able to do this? If you are familiar with Psycho-Cybernetics, then you basically understand what I will be saying. Whenever I fought a known fighter , I would mentally go through matches in my mind against him, before our match. I would mentally attack area I thought I could core and then I would decide how I would defend against his attacks. It i extremely important that you are able to see every detail of this mental picture vividly. You can call this meditation if you like, but this practice cannot be over emphasized.
I elaborate on this category in my book and how to apply this to your fighting. I have fought some of the best fighters in the world – such as Joe Lewis four times (won three out of four), Skipper Mullins six times (won all six). Ron Marchini four time (won all four), David Moon, Steve Sanders, Joe Hayes, Mitch Bobrow, Fred Wren, Victor Moore, Loui Delgado, Arnold Urquidez, Algene Caraulia, AI Dacascos, Hawk Frazier, Carlo Bunda, Miyazaki Kuriyama, Phil Cornin, Art Sykes, Julio LaSalle and others. And I firmly believe I could not have beaten these fighters if I had not practiced this mental training.


karate free sparring textbook
( 1) Chuck Norris (rt.) and Ron Cedillas squared off. (2) Norris slides up with rear foot, jabbing with front hand at the some time to Ron’s face. (3) As Ron blocks jab to his face, Norris immediately follows up with reverse punch to ribs, thrusting the left foot forward at the same time. (4) If Ron blocks the reverse punch to his ribs, Chuck Norris then rolls his right arm over Ron’s blocking arm, again pulling his rear foot in to gain distance. (5) Norris then back knuckles Ron to the face. (6) If Ron should block the back knuckle, Norris then follows through with another reverse punch to the ribs , at the same time stepping in with the right foot. (7) If Ron moves too for away to make contact, Norris follows up with a round kick to the ribs or solar plexus. (8) If Ron brings his arm down, Norris then follows up with o reverse punch to the face. Photos by Richard Tirshell.

A good example were my matches with Joe Lewis. I never scored the same technique twice on him in all the matches. Before Joe and I ever fought each other in competition, he used to come to the studio and we would free spar and I realized then that he picked up techniques quite rapidly. And when I scored on him, for example, the fake low round kick to the groin and then round kick to the head, he would ask me to do it again and it would be difficult to score it the second or third time.
Anyway, when we began fighting each other in tournaments and I realized he was tremendous at blocking. I figured I would be able to score a technique only once. The techniques I beat him with were a spinning back kick, lunging side kick, reverse punch, and a back knuckle. So you see how varied the techniques were. You cannot be a stereotype fighter and last long against top grade fighters.

Spiritual application means emotionally preparing yourself for your fights. Many fighters have lost only because they were either psyched out by their opponent or so worried about what their opponent was going to do that they did not have time to think about what they were going to do to him. Many fighters have talked themselves right out of a match. For instance, have you ever thought, ” if I attack him. I wonder what he will counter me with if I miss” or “if I charge in there, he will probably get me with a counter.” In other words. when you plant negative thoughts or ideas in your mind, it replaces the positive thoughts you should be thinking and in turn hinders your ability to perform. Remember, if you do not have that burning desire to win, all this does not matter: but if you do, then it is war in that ring, which means you must use all your resources and that is your physical, mental and spiritual capacities.
I never fought once when I did not know I was going to win. When I lost, it was a great shock. Not meaning I was invincible, but I had so much confidence in myself that I could not conceive of myself losing. Many times you may have to fight against a good friend. If this happens, you have two choices: one is to bow out of the match or the second is to compete against him and put every effort your body and mind will allow and beat him. He is a friend before the match and a friend after the match, but during the match, he is an opponent that must be beaten, or you are cheating him, yourself, and Karate.
Skipper Mullins and I are the best of friends, but we have put many black and blue marks 0n each other in our fights, but after it was over we partied. I believe in the offensive style of fighting. If your opponent is thinking about defending all the time, he does not have much time to think about attacking.
All the world champions, Mike Stone, Skipper Mullins, Joe Lewis and I are aggressive fighters. I have seen very few men win often fighting defensively. In fact, the only defensive fighter I know of who is a consistent winner is Pat Johnson. He is a master of counter moves, however to me he is a rare breed. He has improved our Black Belts’ defensive fighting ability, but none of them have the sixth sense that Pat has of being able to read the opponent’s initial move and hit him before he gets a chance to get his attack started.
I would like to mention what my Black Belts as a team have recorded since we started fighting as a team in 1967. We have fought in twentyeight tournaments. including the Internationals, Allen Steen‘s United States Championships, Jhoon Rhee‘s Team Championships and many more. We have never lost a team match. This system of fighting has been taught to all these nationally rated fighters, such as Pat Johnson, Bob Wall, Darnell Garcia, John Natividad. Bob Burbidge, Harold Gross, Howard Jackson, Bob and Ralph Allegria, Clyde Mills, Vic Guerrero, Bob Barrow, Dick Douglas, just to name a few of the Black Belts who are students of mine.
Many fighters are instructors and some complain that they have to teach and this hinders their ability to work out themselves. This is not true. When you are teaching. instead of standing in front of the class and calling commands, join in with the class and train right along with them. This gives you a chance to work on your basics with your beginning class which needs to be constantly practiced and then when you teach the advanced class, also train with them. If you do this, it is amazing how many new ideas pop up in your head on how to teach and different ways of applying techniques, which all enhance your ability as an instructor and fighter.
When I was fighting regularly, during my advanced class, I would line my students up and free spar with them one at a time, two minutes each without a break. This would let me know my endurance was good. So instructors, do not waste that time during teaching hours, but improve your skill right along with your students. Students secretly appreciate the fact that their instructors can keep up with them. Remember: Have the Desire to win, be Determined to win, train to win, and you will win.

competition combination
The following two offensive techniques are 100 percent effective if executed properly. While trying to learn these techniques from the magazine, please pay particular attention to the footwork as coordinated with the hands. These are two of the main techniques used by the Chuck Norris team that have enabled them to become consistent winners. If you learn to execute these two techniques perfectly, your attack cannot be effectively be stopped. These techniques were basically designed for Karate tournament competition, but may be used in a street situation as well.


Professional Karate
This story written by Chuck Norris was published in Professional Karate magazines fall issue of 1973. The multiple blitz technical series was taken from the summer 1973 issue.