2978 - Val Armorr is born in the Hidden Temple, a dojo dedicated to perfecting all known martial arts.
2986 - 8-year-old Val is selected as a candidate to become the new grand master along with Myg of Lythyl. They are trained by Sensi Tosiaki the White Crane & Kirau Nezumi, the Black Dragon & Val's biological father.
2992 - 14-year-old Val achieves the Hidden Temple's highest rank & is named the greatest martial artist in history. Still perceiving his own incompleteness, he rejects the role & leaves the temple.
2995 - 17-year-old Val joins the Legion of Super Heroes in it's third recruitment drive as Karate Kid, their first non-powered member.
2997 - 19-year-old Val defeats the entire Fatal Five single-handed.
2998 - 20-year-old Val is confronted by Myg, who has left the Hidden Temple because Nezumi has killed Tosaki. Val returns to his birthplace and defeats his father. He passes on the role of Grand Master to Myg. he begins training TInya Wazzo in hand-to-hand combat.
3000 - 22-year-old Val goes on a pilgrimage to seek enlightenment after the Legion of Super Heroes disbands.
3001 - 23-year-old Val chooses to study with the Haplashar Pacifists, sealing himself within the terminus of their black hole for a decade.
3007 - 29-year-old Val is retrieved from within the Haplashar Terminus before the black hole opens by Querl Dox to battle Earth Man and the Justice League of Earth.
While there are characters that are more immediately recognizable as members of the Legion, you'd be very hard pressed to find a character from their expansive membership that has a larger footprint in the DC universe as a whole than Karate Kid. Val has been dragged into the mainstream timeline way more than any other member of the team because he is INSANELY awesome and everyone wants to play with him. Because he exists in the distant future you can actually get away with saying, unequivocally, that he is the single greatest martial artist in all of history. This means that he surpasses Lady Shiva, Richard Dragon... even Batman himself.
We've used elements from his story that tie him to the hidden temple where he trained. We've done a few tweaks and tucks to it to make it really feel like a Bruce Lee movie in space. The idea of a martial artist achieving the absolute highest level of skill available but still feeling incomplete, chasing a level of perfection that only he can perceive is a pretty classic trope in classic samurai or martial arts stories... although most modern audiences will probably recognize it as the motivation for Ryu from Street Fighter. It's an absolute perfect fit for Val's status as the 'perfect' marital artists, and the idea that this kid can punch his way through a spaceship is just so cool in that context. We've used Myg (actually a replacement Karate Kid on one lineup of the Legion or another) as the catalyst of for the story where he has to go back, confront his sensei and father, claim the mantle of Grand Master, only to walk away from it. It all feels like such an organic structure to hang an iconic character around.