Lumberjacks have Paul Bunyan. Horticulturists have Johnny Appleseed. Cowboys have Pecos Bill.
And now, thanks to the Internet, martial artists have Chuck Norris.
The tough-guy actor, known for kicking his foes into oblivion using his boot-clad feet, has taken on a new life online in recent months. Numerous blogs and Web sites such as www.chucknorrisfacts.com have listed the supposed feats accomplished by Norris as if they're a 21st-century tall tale. For instance:
¢ "A Chuck Norris-delivered roundhouse kick is the preferred method of execution in 16 states."
¢ "Chuck Norris doesn't actually write books; the words assemble themselves out of fear."
¢ "The chief export of Chuck Norris is pain."
There's even one with local ties, posted on a gaming message board: "Chuck Norris once farted and took out an entire trailer park near Lawrence, Kansas."
For his part, Norris offers this take on his Web site: "I've seen some of them. Some are funny. Some are pretty far out. Being more of a student of the Wild West than the wild world of the Internet, I'm not quite sure what to make of it."
Jennifer Lawler of Lawrence, who has written books and edited magazines on martial arts, says Norris' place in pop culture is really about the fact he's been kicking butt in the movies since the late 1960s.
"I think they capture the macho spirit behind the persona Chuck Norris plays," Lawler says of the Internet postings. "I laugh out loud at the jokes because they're such an over-the-top representation of that macho, tough-guy image. I bet Mr. Norris laughs out loud, too. It's in the same sort of spirit that we compare bruises after a sparring match."