Chuck Norris

Did Bruce Lee Really Teach Chuck Norris Kung Fu?

Two martial arts legends – Chuck Norris and Bruce Lee – famously trained together for a portion of the 1960s. Various interviews and biographies have done much to shed light on the friendship that preceded Norris’ role in Way of the Dragon. In the 1972 kung fu movie from Hong Kong studio Golden Harvest, the actor played Colt, the karate master who faced off against Lee in an epic, 10-minute showdown.

For years, Norris has been counted among the various celebrities trained by Lee during his time in the United States. After moving to California and before returning to Hong Kong, the actor ran his own kung fu schools and taught private lessons to a number of big names of Hollywood, including James Coburn, Steve McQueen, Roman Polanski, and James Garner. Norris, who wasn’t a star (or even an actor) when they first met, is known to be one of the many people to train with the martial arts icon.

Bruce Lee & Chuck Norris Learned Martial Arts From Each Other

Chuck Norris and Bruce Lee fight in Way of the Dragon

It’s important to note that while it’s certainly true that Norris sparred regularly with Lee, their relationship was not the same as the ones he shared with any of the names mentioned above. After all, Norris was a skilled martial artist in his own right. Unlike Lee, who was taught Wing Chun kung fu, Norris had a background in karate. Norris was already an experienced fighter by that point, having competed in numerous martial arts competition. In fact, Norris actually met Lee immediately after winning a national karate tournament in 1967.

Essentially, knowing different techniques and styles allowed them to mutually benefit from their training sessions. As noted by Bruce Lee: A Life by Matthew Polly, Norris has consistently described his training with Lee as “workouts.” With that in mind, it’s not fair to say that Norris was simply one of Lee’s students. It would seem that while Lee was teaching him kung fu moves, Norris brought some of his own knowledge and experience to the table. That makes sense, considering that Lee had a reputation for his open-minded approach to martial arts. Even after becoming a kung fu teacher, Lee was never opposed to learning new things.

What Did Bruce Lee Learn From Chuck Norris?

Comments from Chuck Norris provide specific details on what exactly Lee learned from sparring with the karate champion [via YouTube]. Norris claimed that before they began training together, Lee was of the opinion that high kicks are ineffective in real fights. At the time, he preferred to kick from the waist down. According to Norris, he convinced the actor that “you should be able to kick anywhere,” especially if the opponent leaves the head area undefended. Chuck Norris said that in under six months of practice together, Bruce Lee was able to make vast improvements his high kicking techniques.

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