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Fighting Shows That Cobra Kai Fans Need To See

"Cobra Kai" launched on YouTube Premium in 2018 and became an instant hit for the network, though it wasn't enough to keep the service from pivoting away from scripted content following the release of Season 2 in 2019. After being canceled by YouTube, the series was picked up by Netflix, where it has become a nice feather in the cap of the streaming giant. Season 4 debuted on December 31, 2021, and the series has already been renewed for a fifth batch of episodes.

Based on the hit "Karate Kid" films of the 1980s, "Cobra Kai" follows the adventures of competing martial arts schools, and both the teachers and the students have their own storylines that play out over the course of the story. Being a Karate-themed show, the various conflicts frequently culminate in beautifully-choreographed action sequences that pit rivals against each other in both body and spirit.

As fans eagerly await news regarding "Cobra Kai" Season 5, there are plenty of other martial arts-themed TV shows to watch, as well as shows about young people kicking butt while navigating their own coming-of-age trials. These are our picks for fighting shows that "Cobra Kai" fans need to see.


Alongside "Cobra Kai," the best show that originated on YouTube Premium is "Wayne." Starring Mark McKenna ("One of Us Is Lying") and Ciara Bravo ("Cherry"), the series follows two teenagers on a vigilante crusade from Massachusetts to Florida; Wayne is on a quest to recover his father's stolen car, while Del is looking to escape her screw-up family. Along the way, the adventure is spiced up by Wayne's righteous sense of justice and inability to look away when there's trouble brewing. The supporting cast includes Mike O'Malley, Dean Winters, Stephen Kearin, and Michaela Watkins.

Created by Shawn Simmons and co-written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick ("Deadpool"), "Wayne" combines the heart and romance of a teenage coming-of-age story with some good old-fashioned bloodletting. Indeed, Wayne himself may be quick to anger, but he never lays the smackdown on someone who doesn't deserve it. When YouTube shifted away from scripted programming, the show was canceled. It's since been picked up by Amazon Prime, though it has yet to renew the series for Season 2. Time will tell what the future holds for "Wayne," but hopes are high that audiences will get to see Wayne take down more bad guys with his trusty ball-peen hammer.


Bruce Lee is fondly remembered as the greatest martial arts superstar of all time. His movies feature some of the best hand-to-hand fight scenes ever caught on film, and it's not an overstatement to say he's held in high esteem by every martial arts enthusiast in the world. The Cinemax series, "Warrior," is based on an original concept by Lee from the early 1970s.

"Warrior" stars Andrew Koji as Ah Sahm, a character who serves as an homage to Lee and his persona. Thankfully, the show is more than just a pastiche of Bruce Lee tropes and explores the history of 1870s San Francisco in the context of a hardboiled action show. Speaking of which — the action is incredible, with beautiful fight choreography and intentional nods to some of Bruce Lee's greatest cinematic battles.

The series was cancelled after two seasons, but thanks in part to an outpouring of support on social media, "Warrior" is returning in 2023 for a 3rd season on HBO Max

Into the Badlands

Five centuries into the future, humanity has been reduced to warring tribes that fight over resources. Guns don't exist anymore, so when diplomacy fails, grievances are settled with melee weapons and fisticuffs. Such is the world of "Into the Badlands," which aired for three seasons on AMC. Inspired by the classic Chinese story, "Journey to the West," "Into the Badlands" stars Daniel Wu ("Tomb Raider," "Reminiscence") as Sunny, an assassin loyal to his baron, Quinn (Marton Csokas). When Sunny discovers a young boy, M.K., he is stunned by his supernatural strength — "the gift" — which has the power to change the Badlands forever.

"Into the Badlands" is inspired by classic wuxia cinema, and its martial arts fights live up to their ambition. If there's any doubt as to the quality of the show's action, just watch the first scene of the first episode, in which Sunny takes out more than 10 warriors without breaking a sweat. Even if the post-apocalyptic trappings and grandiose storytelling aren't appealing to all viewers (even though they should be!), it's well worth streaming this one for the action alone.


For eight seasons on the CW network, "Arrow" delivered the promise of a full-fledged action movie every week. Despite its minuscule budget compared to Hollywood blockbusters, nearly every episode featured at least one extended fight sequence involving a team of stuntmen (and series lead Stephen Amell) beating the heck out of each other. The stunts on the show are unparalleled and feature complex wirework, pyrotechnics, and other crowd-pleasing tools of the trade. Simply put, "Arrow" is a show that "goes for it" every week.

Unlike cable shows or streaming originals that can get by on only 10 or 13 episodes per year, "Arrow" always featured full seasons of at least 20 episodes. (The exception is its eighth and final year, which built up to the epic crossover event, "Crisis on Infinite Earths.") To achieve a high quality of action every week for all those years is nothing short of a miracle and a stellar achievement that few, if any, other shows can claim to have achieved.

For those looking to see what all the fuss is about, there's no better place to start than the pilot. But potential fans can also check out the 2017 crossover, "Crisis on Earth-X," which sees the heroes of "Arrow," "The Flash," "Supergirl," and "Legends of Tomorrow" do battle with the forces of Earth-X. In this alternate universe, the Nazis won World War II and wish to expand their conquest to all possible dimensions.


This MMA-themed drama wasn't terribly popular during its original run, thanks to being broadcast as a DirecTV exclusive. Still, the show was successful enough for AT&T to fund three seasons and 40 episodes of the show. Thankfully, it's now available on Peacock, a more accessible destination for TV that doesn't require a cable subscription. 

"Kingdom" revolves around Alvey Kulina, the owner of an MMA gym in California's Venice community. The show spotlights his struggles to keep his business afloat while taking care of his family and all the drama that entails. The show is notable for being one of the first "serious" acting roles for Nick Jonas of the pop group the Jonas Brothers. He plays one of Kulina's sons, a closeted gay man who keeps his true feelings hidden from his testosterone-fueled family.

"Kingdom" also features lots of MMA fighting, with real MMA athletes praising the show for its realistic depiction of their sport. When the fighting inevitably spills out onto the streets, it's portrayed as much more barbaric and dangerous than when characters are fighting in professional bouts. (It's hard to call MMA fights "safe," but they do, in fact, have rules in place to prevent combatants from killing each other.)

Kung Fu

"Kung Fu" is often scorned for featuring David Carradine, a man with no Asian ancestry, as a half-Chinese warrior. But that aside, "Kung Fu" is a tremendously influential series that reveres the cultures from which it draws its Taoist themes. Likewise, racial troubles notwithstanding, Carradine is incredible in the role of Kwai Chang Caine, a Shaolin master and man of peace who nevertheless doesn't back down from a fight when bullies and bandits try to hurt innocents.

"Kung Fu" was groundbreaking for how it took Eastern philosophy and characters and transplanted them in an Old West setting, creating something truly unique that still holds up today. Well, for the most part. For viewers looking for a more modern take on the formula, the series was recently rebooted as "Kung Fu" on the CW network, with Olivia Liang as Nicky Shen — a reimagined version of Kwai Chang Caine, who uses her martial arts skills to protect the innocent people of San Francisco's Chinatown community. The new series was met with a positive reception and has been renewed for a 2nd season.


While today's audiences may know Batman as a dark and brooding night stalker who hunts criminals as Gotham City's apex predator, an entire generation knew him as a jolly crime fighter played by Adam West. For 120 episodes from 1966 to 1968, audiences flocked to see "Batman" on ABC, starring Adam West and Burt Ward as the Caped Crusader and his trusty sidekick Robin, respectively. While the show was produced on a meager budget by today's standards, it still managed to pack every episode with an extended fight sequence and is the source of the infamous "Biff!" Pow!" onscreen visualization of sound effects.

One particularly notable episode featured a crossover with "The Green Hornet," another vigilante-themed show starring Van Williams and Bruce Lee. The episode features a fight between Lee's character, Kato, and Burt Ward's Robin. The fight ends before a definitive winner can be decided, but just watching Lee's flying roundhouse kicks makes it clear Robin got lucky that the fight was cut short. Still, it's a notable fight since it features both pairs of vigilantes fighting each other and a myriad of thugs, with all parties cutting loose with their various fighting styles. It's quite impressive, especially by the standards of 1967 (the same year Kirk fought the Gorn on "Star Trek").

Iron Fist (Season 2)

There's no way around this: The first season of "Iron Fist" was a colossal disappointment. While Finn Jones proved a solid choice for the role of the martial arts master, his real-life lack of martial arts training was painfully evident in the show's fight scenes, which looked rushed and lacked compelling choreography. This, of course, is on top of the numerous flaws in storytelling and characterization evident in the series. Fortunately, Season 2 fixed virtually all of the show's problems, but it was too late, and the show was canceled alongside the rest of Netflix's suite of MCU-adjacent shows.

Jones told Screen Rant, "For that 2nd season, we really, really worked hard to turn the show around. We put a lot of effort and energy into getting that show back to where it should have been from the start." To his credit, he succeeded — Season 2 of "Iron Fist" is an improvement over the original in every way, with Jones' fight scenes deserving particular praise for how much more comfortable he is as the martial arts master. While the fights aren't up to the impossible standard set by "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings," they're still fantastic, especially considering their television budget. It's enough to inspire hope that Finn Jones might return to his Marvel role in a big-budget Disney production. Maybe someday we'll get to see Shang-Chi and Iron Fist kick butt together, side-by-side.

Martial Law

In the world of Hong Kong martial arts movies, few names are more respected than Sammo Hung. As one of the Three Dragons alongside Jackie Chan and Yuen Biao, Sammo's resume includes some of the greatest action films of all time, including "The Magnificent Butcher," "Eastern Condors," and "Pedicab Driver," to name a few.

The CBS network took a chance on a TV series starring Sammo, and the result was "Martial Law," starring Sammo as Sammo Law, a Chinese policeman who is transferred to the LAPD, where he works with cops played by Arsenio Hall and Kelly Hu. The series follows a basic "cop show" template, but with creative and kinetic fight sequences, it's basically a Hong Kong-style action movie every week, complete with funny action bloopers during the end credits.

Unfortunately, CBS couldn't leave well enough alone, and the show was heavily retooled for Season 2, which resulted in a lesser show that felt like a knock-off of "Rush Hour." Still, it did have notable crossovers with "Early Edition" and the Chuck Norris show, "Walker, Texas Ranger."

Avatar: The Last Airbender

The only animated show in this story, "Avatar: The Last Airbender" follows young people with the power to bend the elements to their will, controlling powers like fire, water, earth, and air. The show debuted on Nickelodeon in 2005 and became an instant hit for the network. Thanks to its adult sensibilities, it helped pave the way for shows like "Star Wars: The Clone Wars," which similarly appealed to both children and adults with mature storytelling that didn't talk down to its target audience.

"Avatar: The Last Airbender" embraced serialized storytelling and season-long character arcs that were rare among kid-oriented television but are commonplace today. Also, the action is spectacular, with its anime-inspired aesthetics allowing for kinetic displays of elemental magic use. This critical and fan acclaim extended to the spin-off, "The Legend of Korra." Unfortunately, it's an aesthetic that did not translate into live-action since the oft-maligned "The Last Airbender" movie turned out to be a major critical and commercial disaster. Here's hoping a better fate awaits the live-action Netflix adaptation that's currently in development. Though given the fate of "Cowboy Bebop" and "Death Note," it's clear Netflix doesn't have the best track record when it comes to adapting animation into live-action.

Wu Assassins

A new era of martial arts action began with 2011's "The Raid," directed by Gareth Evans and starring Iko Uwais. The film has a story, but it's mostly a non-stop orgy of R-rated martial arts action, and it turned actors Uwais and Joe Taslim into martial arts superstars. In particular, in 2019, Uwais headlined his own Netflix original series, "Wu Assassins." The show has a mystical backstory involving a man gaining the power of a thousand warriors thanks to a magical amulet, but — like "The Raid" — it's really an excuse to put Uwais in a series of delightfully over-the-top action sequences.

To that end, "Wu Assassins" is a resounding success, with unparalleled fight choreography that showcases Uwais doing what he does best: being cute and breaking bones. The show has yet to be renewed for a 2nd season, but there is a feature film post-script to the 1st season in development. The movie is called "Wu Assassins: Fistful of Vengeance," though it's unclear whether it will conclude the series or set the stage for Season 2.


Based on the 1980s Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling circuit, Netflix's "GLOW" follows wrestlers played by Betty Gilpin, Alison Brie, Sydelle Noel, and others, with Marc Maron as the director of the program. Maron plays a cynical and bitter man, which fans of his know isn't exactly outside of his wheelhouse. But he does a tremendous job in the series, which highlights the daily struggles of the wrestlers as they do their best to make sure they vent their frustrations inside the ring and not outside of it.

Netflix caused a controversy when it renewed the series for a 4th and final season and then walked back its decision and canceled the show after filming the first episode. The cancelation came amid concerns over COVID-19 protocols and related budget overruns. Since the show is themed around wrestling and features many scenes involving large crowds, it was not the kind of project that could be easily reworked to accommodate anti-COVID-19 measures. After all, it's hard to make a wrestling show where everyone stays 6 feet apart.

The final chapter of the "GLOW" story may never see the light of day, but fans will always hold out hope that they will someday receive some form of closure for the story of the gorgeous ladies of wrestling.


If you're looking for another show about wrestling, look no further than "Heels" on the Starz network. The show features Stephen Amell and Alexander Ludwig as wrestlers in a small-time league struggling to keep their family and work lives from falling apart. Stephen Amell is no stranger to the world of wrestling, having participated in several WWE events, including a particularly well-regarded battle against Christopher Daniels. Thankfully, his love of the sport shines through in "Heels," which features impressive wrestling action set around a character-oriented drama about family and what it means to leave something behind for the next generation.

It seems the pandemic concerns raised by Netflix regarding "GLOW" were not unfounded since production on the first season of "Heels" had to be halted when star Amell tested positive for COVID-19. He discussed his sickness on "Inside of You with Michael Rosenbaum" and was able to return to work once his health returned to normal. Fortunately, the struggle seems to have been worth it because "Heels" has become one of Starz's most popular shows and has already been renewed for a 2nd season.