Eric Sofge explains that Hollywood has eliminated karate from the 2010 remake of The Karate Kid (1984).
[T]he new movie has nothing at all to do with karate: It’s set in Beijing and centers on the character-building (and bully-slapping) benefits of kung fu. The new version of Miyagi, a handyman by the name of Han played by Hong Kong action star Jackie Chan, teaches young Dre (Jaden Smith) the flowing strikes and quasi-spiritual mindset of a martial art first developed in China’s Henan province, at the legendary Shaolin temple. Forget “wax on, wax off,” and karate’s emphasis on no-nonsense kicks and punches; the new kid learns about channeling and projecting your Chi, and the more varied lessons of “jacket on, jacket off … pick up jacket, drop jacket.” In fact, karate is so irrelevant to the story that the movie will reportedly be marketed as The Kung Fu Kid in non-U.S. markets.
Karate’s relevance to American audiences seems to have declined along with the martial art’s popularity in the United States.
Karate’s decline since then was the result of increased competition in the marketplace. …[A] flood of immigration from South Korea throughout the 1980s brought on a proliferation of Tae Kwon Do schools, which began to squeeze the karate dojos out of business. The Korean style seemed better suited to American consumers, who craved clear rewards and the opportunity for quick advancement. Tae Kwon Do offered more belts than karate, and the top ranking could be attained in as little as half the time. “It’s not that it’s better or cheaper. … Americans just like the idea of being a black belt.”