Kickin' It is an American martial arts inspired comedy television series, which debuted on June 13, 2011 on Disney XD. Created and executive produced by Jim O'Doherty, the series is rated TV-Y7 and follows the karate instructor at an under-performing martial arts academy, played by Jason Earles, and his five misfit students, played by Leo Howard, Dylan Riley Snyder, Mateo Arias, Olivia Holt, and Alex Christian Jones. On September 20, 2011, Disney XD announced the series had been renewed for a second season. On August 21, 2013, Disney XD announced the series had been renewed for a fourth season scheduled to air in 2014. Olivia Holt left the fourth season cast to star in the Disney Channel series, I Didn't Do It.
Located in a strip mall in San Jose, California, the Bobby Wasabi Martial Arts Academy is known as the worst dojo in the under-performing nationwide Bobby Wasabi chain. To improve the dojo's image, a tight knit crew of underdogs enlists new kid Jack to join and help teach them about life, karate, and friendship. The kids all attend Seaford High School, where they tend to get into all sorts of adventures dealing with life, love, school, and of course, growing up. All the members of the dojo follow the Wasabi code: "We swear by the light of the dragon's eye, to be loyal and honest and never say die. Wasabi!"
The series was created by Emmy nominated producer, Jim O'Doherty who started his career as a sitcom writer and producer for the television comedies 3rd Rock from the Sun, Grounded for Life, and The Tracy Morgan Show. Kickin' It is said to be inspired by O'Doherty's childhood growing up on Long Island, New York where he earned a green belt in martial arts, but was forced to end his training when his local dojo closed down and was turned into a veterinary clinic. This childhood connection to martial arts, combined with two of his daughters' interest in karate, laid the foundation for the premise of the series.
Casting for the series began in early 2010 with Jason Earles, former star of Disney's Hannah Montana cast in the role of Sensei "Rudy". Leo Howard is a black-belt in karate and former star of Disney's Leo Little's Big Show was cast in the role of "Jack". Dylan Riley Snyder is a former star of Disney's Broadway musical Tarzan was cast in the role of "Milton". Mateo Arias is a brother of Disney star Moises Arias was cast in the role of "Jerry". Olivia Holt, whose previous credits included appearances in commercials for Hasbro, Mattel, and Bratz was cast in the role of "Kim". Alex Christian Jones, who had appeared in Ruben Studdard's "Flying Without Wings" music video, was cast in the role of "Eddie".
The pilot episode of Kickin' It was filmed in August 2010 and in November 2010, Disney XD announced it had green-lit the series (then known as Wasabi Warriors) and filming would begin in January 2011. With the announcement of the series, Disney Channel CEO, Gary Marsh commented on the groundbreaking martial arts sitcom formula, saying, - "By weaving martial arts into the fabric of a traditional situation comedy, we've created a completely unique sitcom form. Plus, by pairing our star Leo Howard -- a real life black-belt martial artist -- with a brilliant comedian like Jason Earles, we've tipped the scales towards success."
Cast and characters
- Jack (Leo Howard), the new kid in town who is an experienced martial artist and skateboarder. He learned karate from his grandfather who trained Bobby Wasabi for all of his movies. He is loyal to his friends and inspires them to try their best.
- Milton (Dylan Riley Snyder), an honors student who enrolls in martial arts to defend himself after being bullied for taking French Horn lessons. He is oddly unaware of his own shortcomings and has an awkward sense of confidence.
- Jerry (Mateo Arias), a lone wolf who winds up at the dojo to complete his school P.E. credit. He is Latino and speaks Spanish fluently. He's a talented dancer who acts like a tough guy, but is loyal and serious when it comes to friendships.
- Kim (Olivia Holt), a confident martial artist and the only girl in the dojo. She was a former member of the rival dojo, The Black Dragons but joined the Bobby Wasabi Academy after finding out The Black Dragons were cheaters. Many people underestimate her because she's a girl. In the season 3 finale, Kim leaves to go to the Otai Academy in Japan.
- Eddie (Alex Christian Jones), a sweet but uncoordinated kid who attends Bobby Wasabi to get into shape and loves the sense of achievement, but fears that if the dojo closes he will have no choice but to return to Mrs. King's Dance Academy.
- Rudy (Jason Earles), a former top amateur martial artist who was sidelined by an injury and, for a time, lost his fire to compete before using his entire life savings to become the owner and sensei of the Bobby Wasabi Martial Arts Academy.
- Marge (Loni Love), Seaford High School's lunch lady who also takes classes at the dojo, It is unknown what belt she is as the Only episode where she takes Karate is the first episode.
- Lonnie (Peter Oldring), the owner of Reptile World and Rudy's frenemy.
- Bobby Wasabi (Joel McCrary), an international movie star and owner of the Bobby Wasabi chain.
- Falafel Phil (Dan Ahdoot), the owner of the restaurant, Falafel Phil's.
- Joan (Brooke Dillman), a security guard at the strip mall.
- Mr. Squires (Clinton Jackson), Seaford High School's principal.
- Sensei Ty (Ian Reed Kesler), the Black Dragon's master and rival of the Wasabi Warriors.
- Frank (Wayne Dalglish), a student at Seaford High School who trains with the Black Dragons.
The series's premiere of Kickin' It garnered approximately 873,000 viewers, which made it the highest-rated series premiere in Disney XD's history (including the network's former incarnation as Toon Disney), followed by I'm in the Band's premiere which garnered 863,000 viewers. The premiere scored 578,000 viewers among children 6-14 and 393,000 among tweens 9-14, and was Disney XD's number one live-action series premiere of all time among Kids 6-11 (431,000).
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