The song was written by Jamaican recording artist Carl George Douglas, whose professional name is Carl Douglas. Much of his career has been based in the U.K., and “Kung Fu Fighting” was produced by Indian-British singer, songwriter, and producer Biddu Appaiah, who goes by Biddu. The martial arts and martial arts movies were very popular at the time. Bruce Lee was a big star. The inspiration for the song, evidently, was that Carl Douglas had seen two kids in London doing their Kung Fu moves.
The song was originally a quickly recorded B-Side to Douglas’ song “I Want To Give You My Everything.” When the record label Pye heard it, they wanted “Kung Fu Fighting” as the A-Side. It was released in 1974, backed with “Gamblin’ Man.” It was also released on Douglas’ 1974 album Kung Fu Fighting and Other Great Love Songs.
This disco song, with its Asian riff, became one of the best-selling singles of all time. In 1974-75, it went to #1 in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Australia, New Zealand, Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, The Netherlands, and South Africa. It went to #2 in Switzerland and #3 in Italy and Norway. The record earned Gold certification in the U.S. and the U.K.
The British group Bus Stop had a version of the song in 1998, which sampled some of Douglas’s vocals with added rap verses. The song “Kung Fu Fighting” was featured in Kung Fu Panda (2008), performed by Cee-Lo Green and Jack Black. The Carl Douglas version appeared in Wayne’s World 2 (1994), Beverly Hills Ninja (1997), Bowfinger (1999), City of God (2002), and Daddy Day Care (2003).