With quite possibly one of the most dynamic game titles ever The Way of the Exploding Fist may lead one to believe that it's a hot-blooded action title. In fact WotEF is a more measured Karate fight simulation where the player must take their Karateka through a series of one-on-one bouts, attempting to gain mastery by reaching the status of Black Belt 10th Dan. In order to progress through the belts the player must beat the computer opponent in two successive bouts. In the true spirit of 80s video games WotEF is punishingly difficult. If the player loses a single bout they must return to the first match and try all over again! It is also possible to compete against another person where the match is decided over four bouts.
Rather than having energy bars to gauge the combatant's performance, each bout is presided over by a bald, monk, judge with a Fu-Manchu moustache. Karatekas are awarded points in the form of Yin-Yangs for the style and timing of their moves. The judge can award either a half or full Yin-Yang to a Karateka depening on how effectively executed their moves are. Since the end of a bout is called once a full Yin-Yang is awarded it is possible for a bout to end with a single decisive strike.
Given the severity of the scoring system the gameplay was highly advanced for its time featuring a large move-set including a variety of kicks, punches, blocks and a somersault. With the combinations and responses available between the Karatekas WotEF was an early example of the kind of gameplay which would emerge in popular fighting games of the 90s.
The critical success of WotEF saw the release of more games of a similar ilk including the popular title: International Karate.
There was no acknowledgement of completing ZX Spectrum version of the game, and it would never actually finish. Once you had defeated the final opponent the game would just begin another bout with this opponent and so on.