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Mr. Miyagi Kicks Ass – favorite martial art films pt.2

May 7, 2009

The second in a whole group of posts that have either a little bit to do with jiu-jitsu or not a whole lot. This one is a Bit Off Topic.

Don’t forget to breathe, very important.
– Mr. Miyagi

Yeah, I’ll admit it. I love the Karate Kid.

The main protagonist of Karate Kid is Daniel “skinny punk from Jersey” Larusso, which, to a skinny not at all punky kid like me from Hawaii, was the immediately ultimate and easily identifiable underdog character. It was a classic coming of age film mixed in with a love for a martial art.

But the heart of the film has to be its unassuming bonsai gardener handyman, night avenger WWII vet – Mr. Miyagi. Probably the most clever and interesting sensei to ever grace the silver screen. Perhaps even in all cinamatic history.

I mean, how else can you head fake – a Randy Pausch’s expression for indirect learning – manual labor with a minor when it’s really martial art instruction you’re doing. Like I wrote, clever. I wonder if it could be done with another martial art. Probably not because any attempt would look like a cheap knock off of Karate Kid. Unfortunately, we’re going to find out.

As a character Mr. Miyagi served in WWII, most likely in the 442nd Infantry, and in Hawaii that was a pretty big deal. I knew a couple neighbors who served and if it wasn’t for Karate Kid, I think I would not have the curious sense and respect for history that I do now. I have would never known about WWII or asked about it. I remember Mr. Kobayashi saying he was like Mr. Miyagi, though at the time I thought it was a reference to Karate not WWII.

And what pre-teen can’t imagine receiving a classic car as a birthday gift from – who else – Mr. Miyagi. Karate, the bonsai, the saving my life from the four kids dressed as skeletons – obviously cool. Giving away a car for a birthday gift – want to have your babies cool.

Also after re-watching it recently – in Japan Karate Kid is called Best Kid – I noticed the fight scenes are pretty intense for point sparring.

But by far, the best contribution – besides “wax on, wax off” – is the name Cobra Kai. Without Karate Kid I doubt that Cobra Kai Jiu-jitsu would have the name and the icon that they have today.

Honourable MentionNo Retreat, No Surrender

Another troubled teen learns a martial art from a cool teacher (in this case the unzombie-life-like ghost of Bruce Lee – not kidding) to compete in a tournament against a bad ass fighter (in this case Van Damme – not kidding again) film. Despite all of those silly things – and I thought they were silly as a kid – the movie isn’t all that bad. Van Damme’s pretty good as the villain. How he got good guy rolls is beyond me.

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