What Kind of Karate is in Cobra Kai? | ART OF ONE DOJO


Fear does not exist on this channel, does
it? Pain does not exist on this channel, does
it? Defeat does not exist on this channel, does
it? All right, all right, all right, all right,
you got the idea. It’s no secret that YouTube’s newest show,
“Cobra Kai,” is an internet sensation. But we’re not going to review the show today,
but rather I would like to address the burning question that many fans seem to be asking. What kind of karate is in “Cobra Kai?” Thirty-four years after the famous crane kick
felt around the world, we’re treated to a modern update of the “Karate Kid” saga. It plucks the strings of nostalgia for my
generation, and it strikes the chord of inspiration for the young generation. I am part of the legion that stumbled across
this under-the-radar hit back in 1984 and decided that I, too, wanted to learn the way
of the fists. Martial arts schools in America weren’t as
prevalent in the 80s as they are today, and the term karate itself is still often used
as a general term for most martial arts. But as I grew up, I asked myself, “What kind
of style is it?” What did Mr. Miyagi teach Daniel and what
kind of karate is in “Cobra Kai?” There’s a lot of discussion about this online. There’s a bunch of theories, but we’re going
to run down some of the more popular opinions and evidence that has been presented to us. Also, for the purpose of this discussion,
we will be including the original three “Karate Kid” films and the “Cobra Kai” series. We will not be basing anything off the next
“Karate Kid” or the 2010 “Karate Kid” remake. Okay. Time to geek out. Before we answer the question of what kind
of karate is in “Cobra Kai,” let’s point something out. If we’re talking about “Karate Kid” in general,
there’s actually kind of two different styles to approach. We’ve got Miyagi style and Johnny style, the
“Cobra Kai” way and the Miyagi Do way. Basically, when they filmed the “Karate Kid”
back in 1983, came out in 1984, all choreography was done by Pat Johnson. He’s one of the earlier martial arts greats. He was Chuck Norris’s top student. He’s the grand master or really high-ranking
master of Tang Soo Do. He did all the fight choreography in the film
as well as he starred as the head referee in the tournaments in both the first and third
movie. What I find is really fun trivia is I love
the way he approached choreograph in the film. He didn’t just all of the actors together
and say, “You’re going to do this. You’re going to do this.” Mr. Johnson actually kind of worked on the
dynamic as well as the art. So Ralph Maccio and Pat Morita were taught
together. They were trained separately from all the
other actors. Mr. Johnson worked with them two together,
so they actually could develop a bond by doing their training. When it came to the Cobras, Mr. Johnson actually
trained the Cobra actors, Tommy, Bobby, Johnny, Jimmy, separately. I mean, they were together in the group but
separately from John Kreese. He taught John Kreese completely separately
as their sensei and kind of told them that he knows more than you, but the Cobras didn’t
know what he knew. So he wanted the dynamic of you have your
high-level teacher. Then you’ve got the cobra students who don’t
know what he knows, and you’ve the completely different art over here with Miyagi and Daniel
that had their own bond and dynamic. So I love the way that Pat Johnson approached
this film. Pat Johnson is also known for choreographing
multiple films such as “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and the “Mortal Kombat” film. Now, if we break this down a little bit, let’s
look at Miyagi Do karate. He doesn’t really give much information other
than it was taught to him by his father, and it came from Okinawa. Then “Karate Kid II” even further exemplifies
this, that Okinawa was the origin of his art. So we know that’s a good starting point to
begin with, some sort of Okinawan karate, traditional Japanese. The bigger hint comes in “Karate Kid Part
III” when Miyagi is teaching Daniel Kata. If you ask a lot of martial arts practitioners
the art of Goju Ryu, they will recognize the Kata. They’ll all tell you it’s performed incorrectly
and wrong and the wrong timing. It was modified for cinema, but the moves
are very similar. So if we look at Goju Ryu origins, Goju Ryu
is an Okinawan art. Okay. Starting to line up a little bit. Then let’s look at the name, Mr. Miyagi. Looking at Goju Ryu, if you trace it back
to its grand master, the guy who created it is Chojun Miyagi. So now we can kind of see the picture of where
the inspiration of Mr. Miyagi came from. We have an Okinawan art with a Kata that’s
performed in the film, albeit altered, and Miyagi named after Chojun Miyagi. So we can conclude pretty confidently that
Miyagi Do karate is Goju Ryu or at least a Hollywood version of it. Johnny’s a different story. In the “Karate Kid” films, we see Daniel’s
training constantly. It’s all about his instruction, all about
his level of discipline and his art. But we never really learn anything about Cobra
Kai. We don’t see the classes being taught besides
no mercy, strike hard, strike first. That’s all we get. Now, in the “Cobra Kai” TV show, there’s a
lot more into that as we see Johnny training his students. But even he himself doesn’t go any further
than to say it’s old school karate. So what does Cobra Kai train in? What kind of martial art is it? Let’s look at Johnny’s style. In both the movies and the TV show, he’s very
kick-oriented. He’s got lots of high kicks, lots of fancy
kicks, especially in a tournament. That’s very prevalent in the Korean arts,
Tang Soo Do, Taekwondo, they’re very kick heavy. If we go into “Karate Kid Part III,” there’s
actually a scene where the villain, Terry Silver, comes to Miyagi and Daniel’s training
and says he was a classmate and colleague of John Kreese, and he’s here on behalf of
his master from South Korea to give his apologies for Johnny Kreese’s action. Okay, so now we have the South Korea aspect,
which lines up with Taekwondo or Tang Soo Do. Let’s take this even further. Pat Johnson, as we talked about earlier, choreographed
the films. He is a Tang Soo Do master. So now you put the pieces together. You’ve got Terry Silver, who mentions their
sensei in South Korea. You’ve got the kick-based arts in Johnny’s
techniques, and then you’ve got the fact that Pat Johnson is Tang Soo Do master. I think we can confidently conclude that Johnny
and Cobra Kai train in Tang Soo Di or at least a variance of it. It’s really interesting because you see a
lot of debate online. A lot of fans theorize that it’s Shotokan
or Taekwondo, and it’s kind of funny because it gets really heated. Because you’ve got Shotokan practitioners
saying, “No, I trained in Shotokan. This is definitely Shotokan.” People are like, “Well, no, it’s Taekwondo.” “Oh, no, but Taekwondo came from Shotokan.” People jump in, “No, it’s Kyokushin karate.” So it’s kind of funny to see people talking
about it because it’s never really stated in the film, but all we can do is take the
pieces and kind of put it together. For fun, what kind of art is it? Because as we grew up, again, karate was just
karate, but now that we can kind of break the levels down, it’s kind of a fun thing
to examine. The reason we’re not going to include the
next “Karate Kid” and the “Karate Kid” remake in this list is because there’s a lot of inconsistencies
in the training and the martial arts style and the fact that the “Karate Kid” remake
is actually kung fu. So that could be a whole different discussion
on its own. Now, here’s some little fun bit of trivia. That crane kick. The crane kick is the most iconic thing. It’s been immortalized by this film, and the
thing is it doesn’t even exist. It’s not a real karate technique. When they were working on the first film,
Pat Johnson was working with the stunt coordinator, a famous martial artist known as Darryl Vidal,
really high-ranking. He’s a 10th-degree now, I believe, in Chinese
Kenpo Karate. He helped with the stunts on the film. I think he was some of the stunt doubles as
well, if I’m not mistaken. Mr. Johnson went to Mr. Vidal and said he
was looking for some sort of cool, unique technique to end the film with. So Vidal, on the spot, just came up with the
crane kick. Just something flashy, something fun, but
it’s not based on any reality. Even a fun fact, too, is you can see Darryl
Vidal in the film. He is the opponent that Johnny defeats right
before fighting Daniel, and he’s also Miyagi’s stunt double on the beach scene on the tree
stump doing the crane kick where we see it for the first time. So what do you thinK? What kind of karate is in “Cobra Kai?” Do you agree that Goju Ryu and Tang Soo Do
are the foundations at least for the arts of the films and the series? Tell me below if you agree or if you think
I’m completely full of crap or if you think it’s something else altogether. So don’t forget to subscribe and share this
video, and thanks for watching. No mercy.

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