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Karate Joe (カラテ家?, Karateka) is the very first character to appear in the Rhythm Heaven Series in a Rhythm Game, appearing primarily in the Karate Man games, and one of the few characters to appear in every game since Rhythm Tengoku. He is succeeding his Father (父さん?, Tōsan) in karate.

Karate Joe is characterized by his pale white skin, big nose, and balding head. He wears a karate suit that matches the color of his skin. He is barefoot. He is often described as very expressive and fearless. His Father has a tall, black, curly beehive haircut. He wears a black karate outfit with a red belt. He has a moustache, sunglasses, and is barefoot just like his son. The two of them are also shown eating a lot of food between training sessions.


Karate Joe is a lonely martial artist who struggles with his training. He seems to be developing his own unique karate style which incorporates rhythm. He has a very emotional personality, which can be seen in his many facial expressions. At the martial arts competitions, the opponent reads all his tricks, and he can't get results. Sometimes he goes to his master for advice, whose usual response is "You needed to focus on the basics."[1]

Karate Joe has dreamed of being a soccer player even since he was a child, but his Father wanted him to master karate instead, and told him that he can't leave his house until he masters it. Even as an adult, Karate Joe still lives in the basement[2]. His Father also stole the ball that Joe had bought and used it as a punching bag[3].

Father is a master at karate, but not cooking. Occasionally he makes dinner anyway, such as one day when Karate Joe's mother was out of the house[4], and asks his son if he likes it. Joe has to lie and say that he likes it to make him feel good[5].

Father got his son bombs to make him face his fears. At first, Karate Joe thought they were fake, but then one exploded. He still vividly remembers his Father's face as he said "Are you surprised?"[6] Karate Joe has no idea where his father got them from[7].

Father keeps a bunch of barrels around, but Karate Joe has no idea why. He asked multiple times, but was told that he can only know when he is stronger than his father[8].

Karate Joe envies his Father's incredible vision that allows him to quickly tell the color of a light bulb and counter it[9]. He also sees this as an explanation for how his Father can easily counter his attacks[10].

Other Appearances

In Rhythm Tengoku, Karate Joe appears in the first Rhythm Game, Karateka. It involves the Flow gauge, which determines if he can punch hard objects such as rocks and bombs, which depends on how well the player is doing in the game. In Karateka 2, he also has to contend with the ever changing tempo. In Remix 8, the Flow gauge disappears, and Karate Joe is enveloped in shadow. He can now punch rocks no matter what. At the end, he returns to normal, making a weird face. Karate Joe reappears in the arcade version of the game, with the same appearances, in addition to Karateka TempoUpExtra1.png, which is a sped up version of the original. Here, he is wearing boxing gloves and black boxing shorts, and is training for a boxing match.

Karate Joe reappears in Rhythm Heaven, in the last Rhythm Game before the Staff Credits, Karate Man. In Remix 6, he can be seen with hair and kicking soccer balls in place of bombs. He later makes a cameo in Blue Birds 2, where he is seen in one of the memories, training while the birds spy on him from a bush. In Karate Man 2, he takes on another day of hard training. This time he's very pleased with himself, though he tries to hide it. He makes the weird face again when kicking away bombs. In the epilogue, one of The Dazzles is shown to admire him, calling him "hot stuff" and offering him a towel. In Battle of the Bands, he can be seen in the audience, watching the Rockers perform on stage.

In Rhythm Heaven Fever, he is once again in the last Rhythm Game before the Credits, Karate Man. In Remix 7, he wears black shades while punching stuff in space. At one point he lies down and watches TV, which coincidentally shows Karateka from Rhythm Tengoku itself. In Remix 9 he is accompanied by a cat[11]. In Karate Man 2, he reaches "the height of mastery" in karate, after which he is seemingly able to control fire as seen in the Superb epilogue. In the Two Player version, he wears a headband, and is accompanied by another Karate Joe in purple clothes.

In Rhythm Heaven Megamix, he appears in Honeybee Remix, where he wears a bee hat and a stinger. In the middle of the remix, several bees fly past him. At the end, the hat and stinger fly away, and he starts thinking about pancakes. He also watches in awe at his Father's mastery in Karate Man Senior. He gives commentary on his Father's performance, the same way the Master does on Joe's training. Additionally, Karate Man Returns!, Karate Man Kicks! and Karate Man Combos! all reappear, along with a short version of Karate Man.

Karate Joe appears in the Rhythm Tengoku Gold Comic, where he is seen training even on Christmas Eve. Humorously, despite the lack of snow in the general area, there's a snowstorm blowing solely on him. He also appears in Rhythm Tengoku The Best Plus Comic, where he is the first at the reunion.



In Super Smash Bros.

Karate Joe appears in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS as a trophy in the "Other" category, and as a spirit in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

His spirit battle takes place on the Suzaku Castle Ω stage playing the Rhythm Boxing track, where he is represented by Ryu. The battle has the "Item Tidal Wave" rule applied and the following conditions:

  • The enemy's punches and elbow strikes have increased power
  • The enemy's kicks and knee strikes have increased power
  • The enemy favors smash attacks
Karate Joe
Has there ever been a cry more manly than the "Uh!" that appears at the start of every Karate Joe stage? It's like he digs deep down inside himself, reveals his spirit with that "Uh!" of power...and then directs that energy into smashing flowerpots, bulbs, and exploding barrels. Karate Joe knows no fear!
Has there ever been a cry more manly than the "Uh!" that appears at the start of every Karate Man stage? Doesn't it sound like it comes from the very bottom of his soul? Or is that just us? ...Anyway! Karate Joe is a pretty cool guy. He punches flowerpots, bulbs, even exploding barrels without the slightest hesitation. Truly, he fears nothing.

No. 1192
Karate Joe Spirit.png
Karate Joe
★★★ ACE 2 Fist Attack ↑ World of Light (The Dark Realm)
Spirit Board
Shop (6000G)


In Other Languages

Language Name Meaning
JP.svg Japanese カラテ家
US.svg English Karate Joe
FR.svg French Le karatéka The Karateka
DU.svg German Karate Kurt Karate Kurt
IT.svg Italian Karate Ka Karate Ka
ES.svg Spanish Kárate Killo Pun on "Karatequillo" (the -illo suffix has diminutive or affective value)
NL.svg Dutch Karate Joe[16]
PT.svg Portuguese Karate Joe[17]
RU.svg Russian Каратист[16]
Karate Man
CH.svg Chinese Karate Joe[16]
KR.svg Korean 격투가
The Fighter


  1. キャラクターアルバム ステージ1 (Character Album Stage 1)
  2. "As a child, I dreamed of being a soccer player. My father wouldn't hear of it. "You must master karate before you leave my house!" I still live in the basement." ~ Soccer Ball, Rhythm Heaven Megamix
  3. "せっかく買ったボールは、取り上げられて、今やサンドバッグ代わりになっている。" (The ball I bought was stolen, and is now being used as a punching bag.) ~ サッカーボール (Soccer Ball), Rhythm Tengoku: The Best+
  4. "母さんが外出した日に、一度だけ食べた父さんのナベ。" (Father's curry, which I only ate once on the day my mother went out.) ~ ナベ (Pan), Rhythm Tengoku: The Best+
  5. "My father is a master of karate, but not of cooking. Occasionally he makes dinner anyway, and he keeps asking if I like it. I always lie and tell him it's good." ~ Cooking Pot, Rhythm Heaven Megamix
  6. "「おどろいただろ?」という父さんの顔、今でもおぼえてる。" ("Are you surprised?" I still remember my father's face.) ~ バクダン (Bomb), Rhythm Tengoku: The Best+
  7. "My father got these bombs to help me face my fears. I thought he was joking at first, but then one exploded! Where did he even get these?" ~ Bomb, Rhythm Heaven Megamix
  8. "My father keeps a bunch of these little barrels around, but I've never understood why. When I've asked, he says I can know when I am stronger than he is." ~ Barrel, Rhythm Heaven Megamix
  9. "My father's most amazing trait is probably his vision. He can tell the color of a training light bulb in an instant and counter it. Will I ever be so quick?" ~ LED Light Bulbs, Rhythm Heaven Megamix
  10. "だから、オレのこうげきだって、カンタンにふせぐのさ。" (That's why it's so easy for him to counter my attacks, too.) ~ LED電球 (LED Bulbs), Rhythm Tengoku: The Best+
  11. "cat" ~ texture filename, Rhythm Heaven Fever
  12. "Karate Man Senior" ~ Title of the Rhythm Game, Rhythm Heaven Megamix
  13. "Junior's Feedback" ~ Caption for the results in Karate Man Senior, Rhythm Heaven Megamix
  14. "こないだ、こっそり父さんのお酒を飲もうとしたところ、父さんに見つかってしまった。「お前には早い。もしもオレより、強くなる時が来たら、ウマイ酒を飲ませてやる」だって。けっきょく、父さんとお酒を飲んだことは、まだない。" (The other day, I secretly tried drinking my father's alcohol, but he found out. "You're not ready for it," he said, "but if you ever get stronger than me, I'll give you a drink." I've never had a drink with my dad before, actually.) ~ タル (Barrel), Rhythm Tengoku: The Best+
  15. "Résultat : à 55 ans, je vis toujours au sous-sol..." (The result: At 55, I still live in the basement...) ~ Ballon de football (Soccer Ball), Rhythm Paradise Megamix (French)
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
  17. Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS