Back in 2017, in anticipation of Marvel’s Iron Fist season 1, I wrote an article for Tor.com called “A Brief History of Iron Fist in the Comics.” Shortly after that, I reviewed that first season for the site, and likewise reviewed the character’s subsequent appearances in Marvel’s The Defenders season 1 and in “The Main Ingredient” episode of Marvel’s Luke Cage season 2.
Next week, I’ll be reviewing Iron Fist season 2 for the site — it goes live on Netflix today — and in anticipation of that, Tor.com has reprinted my history of Iron Fist in four-color form.
In 1966, Masutatsu Oyama, the founder of Kyokushin—an Okinawan karate style that still exists and thrives today—sent one of his best students and teachers, Tadashi Nakamura, to New York City to bring karate to the United States. Nakamura was but one of many people who came from Asia to the United States to bring martial arts to a country that was growing ever-more curious about it. I mention him in particular because there’s a direct line from Oyama sending Nakamura to America and my own study of the martial arts. In 1976, Nakamura formed his own karate style, Seido, and one of his best students and teachers—William Oliver—formed his own in 2001, Kenshikai, and that’s the discipline that I study today.
The same year that Nakamura traveled to New York City to open a dojo here, a young man named Bruce Lee co-starred in a TV show called The Green Hornet. While the show only lasted a season, Lee’s impact was tremendous, and he quickly rose to prominence as an action star. Lee pioneered his own martial art, Jeet Kune Do, and he soon became immensely popular both in acting circles and martial arts circles. His tragic death in 1973 only served to enhance his legend. And it was in part because of that legend that Iron Fist was born.