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Martial Arts TV

Although the first TV program to feature a martial arts storyline was a Chinese kung fu soap opera seen on ATV (Asia Television) in Hong Kong in the late 1950s, the first time martial arts were featured on American television was in an early episode of ABC’s series The Detectives (1959-1961). The martial art was karate.

Television in Hong Kong and Taiwan was soon flooded with martial arts dramas that ran for months. American television came around much slower. However, some groundbreaking American programs infused their action with martial arts, such as The Wild Wild West (1965), The Green Hornet (1966) and Kung Fu (1972). These shows are still considered by many critics to be among the best American-made martial arts TV shows ever.

With the advent of pay-per-view, cable and TV movie channels and the influence of Hong Kong action on Hollywood films like The Matrix (1999), martial arts programming is now a normal part of the American TV landscape.

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  1. Contestant on the Hit CBS Reality-Series Survivor Is a Taekwondo Teacher!

    Contestant on the Hit CBS Reality-Series Survivor Is a Taekwondo Teacher!

    Sixth-degree black belt Yung “Woo” Hwang came close to winning $1 million the first time he was on Survivor. Now the taekwondo instructor is getting a second chance on Survivor Cambodia!
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  2. Is Arrow American Television’s Unwitting Take on the Kung Fu Underworld of Chinese Literature?

    Is Arrow American Television’s Unwitting Take on the Kung Fu Underworld of Chinese Literature?

    Secret symbols of power, martial arts-practicing heroes and villains, societies populated by outcasts — find out how this 21st-century superhero series resembles Tang-dynasty Chinese literature.
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  3. The Martial Arts of Marvel’s Daredevil TV Series, Part 2

    The Martial Arts of Marvel’s Daredevil TV Series, Part 2

    Read the conclusion of our critic’s analysis of why Daredevil’s fight scenes work so well, along with his advice for the stunt coordinator!
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  4. The Martial Arts of Marvel’s Daredevil TV Series, Part 1

    The Martial Arts of Marvel’s Daredevil TV Series, Part 1

    Black Belt’s resident film critic examines the Netflix original series that everyone is raving about.
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  5. The Martial Arts of Transporter: The Series — The Good and the Bad

    The Martial Arts of Transporter: The Series — The Good and the Bad

    The Transporter, starring Jason Statham, has spawned a TV show that features Chris Vance. Do the fights in the series match the fights in the Luc Besson films?
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  6. Analyzing Martial Arts on Network TV: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

    Analyzing Martial Arts on Network TV: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

    Black Belt’s resident film critic examines the popular ABC series — and explains why it and other shows often feature fewer fights as the seasons go by.
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  7. Netflix Original Series Puss in Boots Mixes Hong Kong-Style Martial Arts With Comedy

    Netflix Original Series Puss in Boots Mixes Hong Kong-Style Martial Arts With Comedy

    What do you get when you give a cat a hat, an attitude and a fencing foil? Just the kind of hero you need when ninja pigs are threatening!
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  8. Agent Carter, Another Butt Kicker in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

    Agent Carter, Another Butt Kicker in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

    The H2H combat scenes in Marvel’s Agent Carter offer proof that a skilled actress and fight choreographer can overcome a lack of martial arts training.
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  9. Martial Arts Have a Prominent But Not Central Role in the Hit Series “Marco Polo”

    Martial Arts Have a Prominent But Not Central Role in the Hit Series “Marco Polo”

    It should come as no surprise that the new series Marco Polo has good kung fu — it was created by John Fusco, a practitioner of praying mantis, pa kua and tai chi.
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  10. American Ninja Warrior Tryouts: Submit Your Video for the G4 Casting Call!

    American Ninja Warrior Tryouts: Submit Your Video for the G4 Casting Call!

    You’re an alpha male who eats “tough” for breakfast. You’re a fierce female competitor who can conquer any obstacle and keep pushing forward.

    If that description fits you, here’s your chance to prove it on television by signing up for the American Ninja Warrior tryouts.

    The nationwide search is on for the
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