Top Ten Cartoon Martial Artists (now with poll added!)

In the 1980’s, martial arts ruled the world and so, in a constant effort to stay topical I’ve finally gotten around to doing a martial arts Top Ten list…about cartoon characters! (that’s what the hipsters are digging these days right?) I present to you my top ten list of cartoon martial artists!

Also, be sure to vote in the poll at the bottom of this post!- Ed.

#10 Speedy Cerviche of Samarai Pizza Cats.

In a totally original cartoon concept…Samurai Pizza Cats is the story of four anthropomorphic animals that happen to be ninjas fighting evil having some laughs and having some pizza! SPC is more than just one giant Ninja Turtles parody though, at times it’s almost a parody of itself with an interactive narrator and enough “in-jokes” to shake a stick at! But there is some badassery to be had as well and the group’s leader Cerviche helps to dish out his fair share. Tough as nails, lightning quick (and did I mention all the cats are also cyborgs?) watch it with the volume off if you are one of those communists that hate hilarious cartoon humor but watch it! This show really delivers!! See what I did there? Delivers? Cause they own a pizza parlor? Eh screw it, just watch the show.

#9 Sandy Cheeks of Spongebob Squarepants

Sandy Cheeks is an astronaut, genius, rodeo star, adventurer and scientist. Hailing from the great state of Texas she overcame all odds, becoming the only land squirrel tough enough to brave the depths of the ocean. But what about her martial arts skills? Anybody who watches SpongeBob Squarepants can attest to Sandy Cheek’s Karate cred (or as they say on the show “kurah-tey“) She kicks Spongebob’s butt in every encounter breaking records, boards and bones. Most impressive, in the episode Karate Island! Spongebob is captured through a scam declaring him “King of Karate” and is summoned to Karate Island. Sandy dons Bruce Lee’s yellow jumpsuit and fights her way up the tower defeating boss after boss. The dialogue gets dubbed! The screen does that cool dramatic narrowing thing and sandy gets to kick some serious tail! Did I mention that Pat Morita guest stars? He taught Daniel San…Daniel San!!! You can’t roll with that!

#8 Panthro of Thundercats

Which Thundercat is the coolest? Is a question I constantly hear people ask in my social circles. Incredibly, the answer seems to constantly be the flowing-haired sword wielding man-child Lion-O! Just think about it for a moment. Maybe…just maybe he isn’t the coolest. Maybe the coolest Thundercats is the one over there. The huge one. The one with the shaved head and the SPIKED SUSPENDERS! (that he can shoot or hang from) The one with the awesome cat paw nun-chucks with chemical weapons hidden in the SECRET COMPARTMENTS. The one who can kick Mum-Ra’s false teeth down his throat , build a ThunderDeathTank and “Pity any snarf that messes with him” before you even finish breakfast. Maybe he’s the coolest. But no, you’re probably right…it’s gotta be the one glove wearing, sword binocular looking redhead…

#7 Samurai Jack Of Samurai Jack

A little serious for my taste but Samurai Jack is one of the most beautiful computer animated cartoons ever. If you haven’t seen this show I can’t recommend it enough! The story of a prince who’s kingdom was destroyed and it’s citizens killed by the master of darkness. The prince travels the world alone teaching himself the art of battle in a quest to gain revenge upon Aku (gesundheit!) Before completing his quest he’s thrown forward in time to a dystopian future where he must battle monsters, warriors, robots and the dark magic of Aku in an unending quest to finally avenge his fallen kingdom!!! …you know, if you like that sort of thing.

#6 Karate Kat Of Karate Kat

Designed and drawn by Nancy Beiman and Bob Camp (the writer and directors of Ren and Stimpy) Developed by Rankin Bass, voiced by The ThunderCat’s Larry Kenny and loved by me as a kid. No one else seems to remember the show other than an elite, select few (apparently including amazingly talented internet artist ShoNuff44 who drew the header illustration. The real star of this show however was the AMAZING catch phrase “I’m Lean I’m Mean, A Karate Machine. Kee-yow!” I’ve used that phrase prior to every adventure I’ve ever been on despite that fact that I’m none of those things!

#5 Chuck Norris of the Karate Commandos

As legend has it, in 1986, American icon and cartoon enthusiast Chuck Norris was given a tour of Ruby Spears productions to check out some of their new animated projects. His sheer presence in the building had an incredible impact on the company. 11 female employees left on maternity leave after Chuck Norris walked past their work stations, thus impregnating them and three members of management immediately quit out of shame for their inferior facial hair.
The biggest effect of Chuck Norris tour however was the fact that his sheer manliness was so overwhelming that an animated version of himself materialized on an animation cel of it’s own free will. It killed seven animators before an epic enough cartoon was created to satisfy it. Chuck Norris’ Karate Kommandos was that show.

#4 Jitsu Of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe!

Sure his character may have been the teeniest tiniest most itty bitty bit racist but come on, the guy had an enormous gold hand permanently formed in a karate chop!! His nemesis the hero Fisto (stop snickering…you’re so childish!) didn’t stand a chance against this endless array of masterful martial arts moves especially the one where Fisto stood still while Jitsu pulled back his spring-loaded right arm and then let it go bringing his awesome gold karate hand straight down on his goofy bearded head! That move was killer.

#3 Usagi YoJimbo of…lots of stuff.

When you’re thinking of the most badass bunnies (and who doesn’t?) only one name really comes to mind. And no it isn’t that stupid CGI rabbit from the “Hop” movie; why would you even say that? No the only renegade rabbit that really matters is Usagi Yojimbo. Star of comic books, graphic novels, books and is even such a fearless fighting force that The Ninja Turtles themselves! Asked him to give their little cartoon show some street-cred by appearing on it. Not only that, but he had to have been in the top 5 of that toy line…am I right people?

#2 Splinter Of TMNT

Alright, alright, I know what you’re saying… WHAT??? You didn’t put the turtles on the list but you added splinter? Well the explanation is easy. In cartoon martial arts circles, the Turtles are epic and their arrival from space to save all of us is a time-honored story to every kid that grew up in the 80’s/90’s. Plus, this is one of those generic blog ranking list and how could I POSSIBLY rank the Ninja Turtles? That should put that issue to rest once and for all. (by the way, that ranking is Donatello-1 , Raphael-2, Leonardo-3 and Michelangelo-4) You’ve gotta love Master Splinter though,! Sure he might be a failed ninja master forced to live in seclusion outside of his own country and sure he might live in the sewer and okay he might be seemingly always at death’s door whenever he isn’t being kidnapped, and yeah he’s a disease ridden, disgusting rat who is only slightly less tough than female yellow jump-suited reporter April O’Neil, but in Splinter’s defense…um…..what was I talking about again?

#1 Hong Kong Phooey of Hong Kong Phooey

I don’t really know that this needs any explanation. Hong Kong Phooey is the NUMBER ONE SUPER GUY! I mean, It’s right there in the song people! His genius cat! His awesome transforming Phooey Mobile! His file cabinet transformation! All hidden behind the mask of his mild-mannered secret identify, Penry. His deception is so clever that no one even puts together the fact that Penry and Hong Kong Phooey seem to be the only walking talking anthropomorphic dogs in the world and they both happen to exist in the same city! HKP has the love and respect of every citizen, he has the Hong Kong Book Of Kung Fu to help him with any problem that might come his way and at the end of the day he gets the sexy telephone operator at the office! She’s human…try not to think about that too much…


Claymation Werewolf has an evil plan to bring about a Nostalgia Revolution for a time when cartoons were actually good. You can find more of his posts about toys, cartoons, puppets and horror on his blog at


Vote in our poll!

7 Comments Add yours

  1. kojackdelta says:

    Who on the list can beat Splinter?

  2. It seems you’re right, kojackdelta! Not many votes for the other folks on the list, but the author insists that Hong Kong Phooey is number one. Needs more votes, however.

  3. Howie says:

    This is a perfect example of why to mention links on the site on a podcast. I somehow missed this but heard abt it on the pod, immediately logged in to vote. Great list!

    1. Thanks Howie, we do what we can!

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