Returning to the 1980s with a kick and Cobra Kai

“Strike first, strike hard, no mercy.”
It’s not a motto to live by, but it is that of Cobra Kai – the karate dojo cast as the villain in the original Karate Kid movie from the 1980s.The Karate Kid was one of those movies that marked a generation growing up in that decade. The sequels were less than stellar, but the lessons from Mr. Miyagi, played by the late Pat Morita, are timeless.
“Never put passion in front of principle, even if you win, you’ll lose.”

Joel McNeece

Those lessons have come flooding back to me after discovering the “Cobra Kai” series on Netflix last week. In a matter of days I had binged the entirety of the two seasons released thus far and am anxiously awaiting the third due sometime next year.
The series pays tribute to the classic movies, but packs an emotional punch in the way it explores the primary characters – Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Machio) and Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) – and what became of them after that memorable karate tournament when “Daniel-san” unleashed the crane kick to earn the title.
The series has been quite the trip down memory lane for me with vintage 1980s music as the soundtrack for much of it and the timeless appeal of good guys versus bad in the storyline. It’s reminiscent of all those popular movies of the 1980s that seemed rooted in high school drama.

What I’ve enjoyed most is how the series takes what has happened to Lawrence, the bad guy in the original, and made him into a sympathetic character you actually want to see succeed. It traces his downfall from losing the All Valley Tournament as a teen and how that shaped his life moving forward.
Every time you think Daniel and Johnny are about to set their differences aside, something happens to evoke the old rivalry and create a new level of excitement, such as the return of the ultimate Karate Kid villain – John Kreese, played by Martin Kove.
The series also uses some great nostalgia by interspersing some scenes from the old movies to help tie the current story together.

It’s Mr. Miyagi’s quotes, however, that will forever be what gets to me.
“Wax on, wax off.”
“Lie become truth only if person want to believe it.”
“Ambition without knowledge like a boat on dry land.”
“Man with no forgiveness in heart, living worse punishment than death.”
“Better learn balance. Balance is key. Balance good, karate good. Balance bad, better pack up and go home. Lesson not just karate only. Lesson for whole life. Whole life have a balance. Everything be better.”