Liddell was born in Santa Barbara, California. He was raised by his single mother and maternal grandfather, who taught Chuck and his siblings boxing techniques from an early age. Liddell began learning Koe-Kan karate at the age of 12. On the back of the fighter's head to this day is a tattoo of Koe-Kan. Later he mastered the martial art of Kempo.
After high school, the young man went to study at the Polytechnic State University (en:California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo). Cal Poly conditioned Liddell to head the local wrestling team and he, in turn, would give Chuck a scholarship. Chuck Liddell, of course, could not refuse such a tempting offer and was captain of the student team for four years.
In 1995, he graduated with a bachelor's degree in economics and plunged into adulthood. By this time, Chuck already knew what he wanted to do. In 1993, he saw the UFC Championship on television. Chuck literally fell in love with the sport.