- Norris was born in Ryan, Oklahoma on March 10, 1940, the son of Wilma (née Scarberry) and Ray Norris, who was a World War II Army soldier, a mechanic, bus driver, and truck driver.
- Often trained with Bruce Lee.
- 6-time World Karate Champion; among those he faced for this title are fellow actors Joe Lewis and Steve Sanders.
- He was the karate teacher of father-son actors Steve McQueen and Chad McQueen. The elder McQueen encouraged Norris to pursue a career in movies and television; allegedly, he told Chuck: "If you can't do anything else, there's always acting."
- He has founded two of his own martial arts: Chun Kuk Do ("the Universal Way") and American Tang Soo Do.
- Is a Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under the Machado Brothers.
- Reader's Digest once noted a story of how Norris, true to his characters, prefers to find a non-violent way to solve a situation. Norris was in a bar once when a customer walked in and said to him, "You're in my seat. Move." Norris complied, and as the customer sat down, he recognized Norris. He then said, "Chuck, you could've kicked my butt if you wanted to. Instead of moving, why didn't you just attack me?" Norris' response: "What would that have accomplished?" Norris later said the experience resulted in him getting a new admirer and a new friend.
- Is only one of three Americans to achieve eighth-degree black belt status in tae-kwon-do.
- He has English, with smaller amounts of Scottish, Welsh, and German, ancestry. He is also said to have Irish and Cherokee ancestry.
- Served in the U.S. Air Force.
- In 2005 he founded the World Combat League, a full-contact, team-based martial arts competition.
- He was made an honorary Marine in March 2007.