Everybody was (karate) fighting
When The Karate Kid hit theaters back in 1984, America fell head over heels for real karate. Over a decade after Enter the Dragon took the nation by storm, no one could get enough of Mr. Miyagi’s mentorship of Daniel-san, a tale as old as time. Three sequels were released over the next ten years, followed by a 2010 remake with Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan. Despite the long life of the franchise, the 90s saw karate become known as less of the powerful, ancient art of fighting that masters practiced than an after-school activity you schlepped your kids to. But never say die! The new millennium breathed life into karate fighting as mixed martial arts picked up steam.
Not your grandfather's karate: Welcome to MMA fighting
In 2007, Lyoto Machida stunned the world of MMA with his UFC debut, demonstrating how a mixed martial arts style grounded in real karate could stack up points and knock competitors out cold. Machida later went on to become the 10th UFC Lightweight Champion. The effectiveness of karate won’t come as any surprise to hardcore karate practitioners out there, but the rest of the world had to be convinced. In 2015, karateka Stephen Thompson’s opponent said to him beforehand, “Karate... that’s funny”. It famously ended with a knockout induced by a mean spinning back kick from Wonderboy. By the way, Karate Combat was honored to have Mr. Lyoto Machida and his family attend Karate Combat’s Hollywood event.
Next Generation Karate
Machida may have been responsible for linking real professional fighting with karate, but he’s far from the only successful fighter with a strong karate background (think UFC’s Michelle Waterson, ONE’s Sage Northcutt, and Rizin FF’s Kyoji Horiiguchi, among others). Karate Combat has recently entered the fray by hosting next gen karate fights in exotic locations around the world (did someone mention the One World event at the top of NYC’s World Trade Center?). Our league offers an alternative to point fighting, where karate fighters are often penalized for hitting too hard or knocking out opponents. In Karate Combat, knockouts are always fair game, and continuous action is encouraged (no grappling, please). Competitors are, however, barred from striking with knees or elbows.
Keeping with Tradition
There’s plenty of action in the hopper for 2019, but 2020 will be the year when karate takes the world stage in a big way. Yes, we’re talking about the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the sport’s first-ever inclusion in the games. Karateka from around the world will show us the very best point fighting that karate has to offer. The Paris Olympic Committee has already announced that karate will not be included in the 2024 Olympic games, which makes Tokyo a massive opportunity for competitors eyeing the gold. Summer 2020 can’t come soon enough.
But what about Karate Kid?
Not to worry, fans of Daniel-san. The franchise launched in 1984 is alive and well through YouTube’s Cobra Kai television series that premiered to critical and audience acclaim in 2018. The show resonated with karatekas and non-fighters alike, and is set to debut its second season on April 24th. Lest we forget the original that started it all, Fathom Events is celebrating the 35th anniversary of The Karate Kid’s premiere by giving the classic a 2019 theatrical release. So get ready to turn back time on March 31st and April 2nd at a theatre near you. The cherry on top? A sneak peek before the main feature of exclusive content from Karate Combat, brought to you by the very best karate fighters in the world.