Chuck Elias doesn’t read books — he simply stares them down until he gets the information he wants.
Some people wear Superman pajamas, but Superman wears Chuck Elias pajamas.
Chuck Elias can also make onions cry.
Those are the sort of myths normally attached to karate master Chuck Norris, but Beaufort’s Chuck Elias has worked to attain his own legendary status.
Tested by Norris himself in 1983 and presented with his own black belt, Elias is now an 8th Degree Black Belt in his 30th year of operating Club Karate in Beaufort. Later this month, he’ll also hold the 25th annual Goodwill Tournament on Lady’s Island.
“I’m one of the luckiest people in the world,” said Elias. “I get to work barefoot in my pajamas all day.”
You can joke when you have his kind of credentials.
The list of personal accomplishments within the Chuck Norris System is long:
▪ Instructor of the Year.
▪ Competitor of the Year
▪ Grand Champion
▪ Tournament Director.
And, just last year at age 64, Norris Cup Champion, the oldest winner in the Las Vegas tournament’s history.
His list of students who have attained black belts is even longer — well over 40 now, and many of whom have opened their own instructional studios.
After deciding to leave the construction business behind in 1998, Elias went to work full-time in the studio, a decision that left him with no regrets. His first class ten year earlier — while instructing part-time — was full of beginners of all ages. He has grown to offering classes for 15 different levels and ranks, but his idea of integrating all ages hasn’t gone by the wayside.
“Sometimes the adults are intimidated by the children,” said Elias. “The kids will actually show the adults how to do things first.”
All of them get to learn the code of ethics of the system and the basics of self-defense. Elias argues that while Beaufort is relatively tame, having an extra boost of confidence, self-discipline and the ability to defend against bullies of all ages is something from which anyone can profit.
His most memorable pupils, however, are his daughters Mandy, Aaryne and Hayley.
Elias describes seeing them make rank as one of his career highlights. All three got to witness the very subtle shift as Elias went from “dad” to “Master Elias” in order to teach them karate. Aaryne has nothing but “fond memories” of attending out-of-town tournaments growing up, while Hayley now watches her own daughter learn from her granddad.
Hayley also points to the unique pressure that came from being a pupil who shared a last name with the tutor. But she says that learning “the fundamentals of life” along with karate skills was worth the stress of performing under the extra scrutiny.
While 30 years is time enough to teach your children and grandchildren, there are truly thousands of Beaufortonians who have benefited from the Elias method.
“We’re really just trying to create better citizens of the universe,” said Elias.
It’s a big task, but it all starts here and it will all be on display at 10 a.m. Feb. 24 at Beaufort High during the Goodwill Tournament. The competition will be what the name suggests — a goodwill display of karate demonstrations. Those looking for senseless fighting need not attend, but for $5 you can see beginners and black belts from all over the southeast compete and exhibit their own, sometimes new-found sense of confidence.
Chuck Norris probably won’t be there, but who needs him to be?
Our own Chuck has done just fine.
He might even show us that when he does a push-up, he’s not lifting himself up. He’s just pushing the Earth down.
Ryan Copeland is a Beaufort native. He can be reached at email@example.com.