I've had just a smattering of martial arts instruction. Main useful thing: I know how to fall down without breaking my own bones. My favorite sparring partner in my Judo class when I was 15 was a friend, a football player, who weighed 300 pounds, just twice my weight. Even though he was letting me throw him, it was very satisfying to get him off the ground, over my back, and land him in a roll (not a thud; I didn't want to hurt him). He also had a couple of bigger guys to work with, so he could actually have a useful workout.
Years later, at least ten years since I'd had any instruction, my mother countered her "empty nest" by studying martial arts. One day I visited with a friend. He saw her certificate for the brown belts in karate, judo, and jujitsu. He asked, "What's the difference between judo and jujitsu?" She said, "Larry, come here." I obligingly let her domonstrate, "Judo is like this"
As you might imagine, I decided I'd better learn enough to counter her moves. Together with a friend—a policewoman exactly my size—I joined the dojo where Mom studied. I guess we worked out there for almost a year. This led to two more amusing incidents.
One evening, the woman dropped me off at my home, which I shared with several other college guys and recent graduates. One of them, a Puerto Rican, said, "What are the funny uniforms." We explained that they were judo gis (gi is pronounced with a hard G). Then we showed him a little. She took me over in a hip throw, and the fellow's eyes got big. Then I swung her over in a shoulder throw, and his eyes got bigger. In his Hispanic culture, a man just doesn't do that to a woman! Of course, she rolled right up with a grin and slapped him on the shoulder: "It's fun!"
Another time, a family man who lived nearby said he'd heard I was "doing karate." He bounced around like a boxer, and faked a kick at me. I caught his heel and upset him onto the grass. He got up and laughed it off, but I said, "Look, I'm pretty sure I can keep you from hurting me, but I am not sure I can do it without hurting you. I'm not quite that good yet."
By contrast, Chuck Norris, who has favored us with Against All Odds: My Story, once defeated 22 black belts in a row, forcing each in turn to tap his submission, without hurting any of them. Norris's co-author, Ken Abraham, has rendered his stories in a very readable, enjoyable account of his life.
I have long been interested in Chuck Norris's versatility. It is well known that, if a martial artist has studied mainly one discipline, someone familiar with that discipline, though of lesser skill, can still defend against it. The best practitioners have studied numerous styles and incorporated them into a fighting style that is impossible to anticipate.
I particularly appreciate Norris's unabashed expressions of faith. He presents his life frankly, the good with the bad. A Bible teacher will tell you that the Bible presents the "heroes of faith" to us "warts and all." Norris doesn't hide his warts, but does show how God has helped him rise above them and put his weaknesses behind him.
Even more, I appreciate that Norris has labored to educate children through the program now known as KickStart, which has had great success reducing the influence of gangs and drugs in many schools.
It is hard to realize that Chuck Norris is 65...but he tells us himself that he was born in 1940. He's had a fuller life than most, and had a better impact on the world around him.