Forget lightsabers, phasers, suits of armor or even Super-Soldier Serums. If you want to be an unstoppable force, you’re not going to train with jokes like Ra’s al Ghul or Yoda. You’re going to want to train with the best… around… nothing’s ever gonna keep you down. And it doesn’t get any better than John Kreese and the Cobra Kai dojo. In the dojo, you’re taught that mercy is for the weak. An enemy deserves no mercy! If you encounter someone from Cobra Kai sporting the yellow cobra insignia, know that they study the way of the fist, and that means that they’ll strike first, strike hard, and without mercy!
We saw the end of the Cobra Kai dojo in 1989 in The Karate Kid Part III after Daniel LaRusso defeated Mike Barnes at the All Valley Karate Tournament. However, YouTube Red announced that in 2018, there would be a Cobra Kai series, and instead of focusing on Daniel it would spotlight Johnny and his attempts to reopen the Cobra Kai dojo. Do you know the address of the dojo? What was the original ending to the movie? See how many of these questions you can answer before the premiere of the show! Check out 15 things you didn’t know about Cobra Kai!
15. GO VISIT THE COBRA KAI DOJO
If you want to join the Cobra Kai dojo, be prepared for intensity unlike you’ve ever experienced. Be prepared not to lose because defeat doesn’t exist in the Cobra Kai dojo. Things like fear and pain don’t exist in the Cobra Kai dojo, either, and Sensei John Kreese will make sure you strike without mercy. That cobra tattoo on his arm? He got it after serving in Vietnam. But wait, can you actually train with Cobra Kai IRL?
According to IMDB, the Cobra Kai dojo is physically located at 25002 Victory Blvd. Van Nuys, California 91401. However, when filming first began, the Cobra Kai exteriors were filmed at a place called The Wig Shop at 5376 Wilshire Boulevard. We’re not saying to put on your gi, your black belt, go to both addresses and demand to speak with John Kreese, but if you do happen to be in the neighborhood, make sure you have your red Cobra Kai jacket on to represent.
14. REUNITED FOR A MUSIC VIDEO
The last time Cobra Kai fans got to see John Kreese and the rest of the dojo (sans Johnny) was back in 1989 with The Karate Kid Part III. The Next Karate Kid made in 1994 featured only Mr. Miyagi, and the 2010 Karate Kid was a remake set in China. Although Cobra Kai will reunite on YouTube Red in 2018, true fans may have missed their reunion, courtesy of the band No More Kings.
In 2007, the band released an epic music video aptly entitled Sweep the Leg and it was jam packed with homages and cameos from The Karate Kid series. Not only was the final fight between band lead singer Pete Mitchell and Johnny re-enacted with some cool Matrix-style effects, but Daniel LaRusso made an appearance, hitting William Zabka with his car (no, not the sweet yellow one).
13. JOHNNY (WILLIAM ZABKA) DOESN’T WANT TO FIGHT YOU
If you see Johnny Lawrence beating on a kid, don’t say if he’s had enough… Johnny will tell you when he’s had enough. Johnny was taught by his sensei John Kreese that the enemy deserves no mercy, and there’s no way he’s going to defy his sensei. The actor that plays him is a different story, because when William Zabka signed on, he had no martial arts experience.
That’s not to say he didn’t know how to handle himself. William was an accomplished wrestler in school, and after learning karate for the film, he continued his studies to earn a black belt in Tang Soo Do. This may have to be used by Zabka, who says that, to this day, people try to pick fights with him, especially people in the TSA for some reason.
12. CHUCK NORRIS FIGHTING MR. MIAGI?
John Kreese was played by Martin Kove, and if you thought he was tough in The Karate Kid series, you should see him in Rambo: First Blood Part II, where he played Ericson, and in Kung Fu: The Legend Continues where he played the Shadow Assassin. Given his physical stature and his intimidating glare, it would be hard to think of someone else in the role. But what about Chuck Norris?
Rumor has it that Chuck Norris was offered the role Kreese but turned it down because he didn’t like the negative portrayal of a karate teacher. Chuck Norris may have also turned it down because he was busy killing two stones with one bird. Although Chuck didn’t star in the film, the referee in the final match of the All Valley Karate Championship, Pat E. Johnson, was Chuck’s former student.
11. COBRA KAI SHOULD HAVE WON
The move that Daniel LaRusso used to take out Johnny Lawrence at the end of The Karate Kid was the crane kick. The move was created by Darryl Vidal, who can also be seen as one of the semi-finalists in the movie. It’s a variation of the flying kick called the Mae tobi geri… and it’s also illegal to use.
Remember, we’re at the All Valley Karate Championship, not Thunderdome! These fights aren’t to the death and although Ralph Macchio was 22 when he was Daniel LaRusso these guys are all supposed to be in high school, so you’re not going to see any sort of MMA moves. This is why the ref says no kicks to the face, which is literally what Daniel uses to win. Due to this technical violation, Johnny and Cobra Kai should have taken home the big trophy.
10. SWEEP THE LEG
In the Happy Days episode Hollywood: Part 3, the character of Fonzie water-skied over a shark. Many people felt that started the demise of the series, giving us the phrase “jump the shark.” Star Trek: The Next Generation did not have a well-received first few seasons, but the show dramatically improved around the time actor Jonathan Frakes grew out his facial hair, so when a show finds its voice, it’s called “growing the beard.”
“Sweep the leg” was the command given by John Kreese to a surprised Johnny during the final match of the movie in order to hobble Daniel LaRusso. According to Urban Dictionary, to “sweep the leg” means to kick someone while they’re down. It also means to play dirty in order to win, but not as blatant as resorting to cheating.
9. THE ORIGINS OF COBRA KAI
In The Karate Kid, we are introduced to Cobra Kai but we don’t get the backstory as to how the dojo was created. If you were like us, you just assumed that it appeared out of thin air after a lightning bolt struck a meteor while Prince Adam turned into He-Man. However, fans would have to wait until the third Karate Kid movie to uncover the true origins behind Cobra Kai.
In The Karate Kid Part III we’re introduced to Terry Silver, a man that John Kreese met while serving in the Vietnam War. Kreese was a mentor to Silver and saved his life a number of times during the war. Once Silver came back to the states, he started a business that handled nuclear waste called Dynatox Industries (thanks, 1980s). Silver used his resources to help his friend form the Cobra Kai dojos, putting Kreese in charge of the flagship dojo.
8. YOU’RE THE BEST (BUT NOT GOOD ENOUGH FOR ROCKY)
During the All Valley Karate Championship, the song You’re The Best by Joe Esposito rocks in the background. It’s a great song that not only captures the spirit of the 1980s, but also the intensity of the tournament. The director John G. Avildsen was no stranger to sports films; besides The Karate Kid he also directed Rocky. Speaking of Rocky, You’re The Best was originally not supposed to be featured in The Karate Kid.
You’re The Best was actually written by Joe Esposito for Rocky III, but director and star Sylvester Stallone opted for the iconic Eye of the Tiger by the band Survivor. But wait, before it became part of The Karate Kid soundtrack, it was rejected by yet another movie: it was going to be featured in a dance number for the Adrian Lyne film Flashdance.
7. COBRA KAI MEMBERS
When you look at the Cobra Kai members, be careful not to be hypnotized by their steely gaze. They will find the weakness in you and make it your downfall. Tremble in fear when you gaze into the eyes of Johnny Lawrence, Bobby Brown and… uh, the other members of Cobra Kai. It’s not like they wear name tags or anything, and some of the names of the characters are only revealed if you watch the credits at the end… but credits are for the weak!
Bobby was the member that gave Daniel the knee injury. Tommy is the Cobra Kai that famously screamed to get Daniel “a body bag.” The first Cobra Kai to be defeated by Daniel was Jerry, Jimmy was the only Cobra Kai with a brown belt, and then there was Dutch, who taunted Daniel by calling him “dead meat.” Dutch was played by Chad McQueen, who is the son of famous actor Steve McQueen!
6. THE ORIGINAL ENDING WAS DIFFERENT
At the end of The Karate Kid, Johnny Lawrence accepted defeat and handed Daniel LaRusso the championship award. Daniel is lifted up by his fans, and while people are cheering him on, he makes eye contact with Mr. Miyagi shouting: “Mr. Miyagi… we did it!” A great ending to a climactic fight, but in the original script, that wasn’t the actual ending.
The Karate Kid Part II starts literal moments after the end of The Karate Kid. While entering the parking lot, Miyagi and Daniel spot Kreese shouting at Johnny, kicking him off the team. Things get violent and Miyagi has to step in. It looks like Miyagi is going to take Kreese out with a chop when instead he tweaks his nose, a move that Daniel does at the end to his opponent Chozen. The opening scene to the sequel was the original ending to the first film.
5. STUNT DOUBLES
Fight scenes are notoriously hard to shoot; either you have to sneak in a stunt double or spend a great deal of hours training the actors to fight, like they did with Keanu Reeves and Lawrence Fishburne in The Matrix films. In the scene where Mr. Miyagi saved Daniel from being beaten by Cobra Kai members dressed as skeletons, Pat Morita was replaced by his stunt double, Fumio Demura, who taught karate to Steven Seagal in the 1960s. However, there was a problem.
The Cobra Kai actors complained that Demura was hitting them too hard. Instead of telling Demura to take it easy, they replaced the actors with Demura’s students for the nine second fight scene and nailed it in one take. Give the actors a break; they were all in their late teens (except for Ralph Macchio; he was 22 and no one believed he was that old).
4. COBRA KAI SWAG
Sometimes actors will get props from their iconic films (and sometimes they just take them). Daniel Radcliffe has two pairs of glasses that his Harry Potter character wore in the movie series. Ryan Reynolds was able to make off with one of the Deadpool suits as well as one of the Green Lantern rings (we’re sure he was fine parting with it). What about the actors from The Karate Kid?
William Zabka kept the sweet red jacket from the first film. It’s got a totally 1980s vibe and he could double as an extra in Michael Jackson’s Thriller with it. In 2013, Zabka for Halloween got into a skeleton outfit and walked around Boston. No it wasn’t the actual suit from the movie and no he didn’t beat up anyone.
3. DANIEL-SAN WAS THE REAL BULLY
Although The Karate Kid was released in 1984, the story of Daniel LaRusso overcoming his bullies and tormentors resonates with audiences today. Although Cobra Kai’s message of strength and no fear meant well, it unfortunately was corrupted by John Kreese and a few bad apples in the dojo. However, there are some theories that flip the script and paint a different picture: Daniel was the aggressor and Johnny was the victim.
Barney Stinson from How I Met Your Mother idolized Johnny Lawrence and said that Daniel was the actual bully. There are a number of YouTube videos that support this theory, depicting Johnny as a high school student laser focused on his future, when all of a sudden Daniel comes in and disturbs the natural order of things. Daniel even wins the tournament by using an illegal kick to Johnny’s face. Who’s the bully now?
2. WHAT DOES COBRA KAI MEAN?
In the Cobra Kai dojo, fear does not exist. Pain does not exist! Cobra Kai dojo stands for strength, because there is no mercy for the weak! Strike first, strike hard, no mercy! It was this mentality that had Cobra Kai win a number of All Valley Karate Championships, and they would have won the title in 1984 if not for that sucker Daniel LaRusso! But what does Cobra Kai really stand for?
In Japanese, the word Kai means organization, which makes sense given that it’s students training at a dojo. So a loose translation has Cobra Kai meaning the Cobra Society. Given the intense hold that John Kreese had over his students, it did seem like he ran his dojo less like a school and more like a way of life, showing no mercy to the weak.
1. GREAT FRIENDS TO THIS DAY
The referee of the final match between Daniel LaRusso and Johnny Lawrence was Pat E. Johnson, who not only was a former student of Chuck Norris, he also was the martial arts choreographer for The Karate Kid. Johnson wasn’t as strict with his pupils as John Kreese was but he was hard on them to put them into the Cobra Kai mentality. What was the end result? The gang remaining friends to this day.
William Zabka said that he sees some of his co-stars like Martin Kove, Ron Thomas and Rob Garrison all the time. The Cobra Kai gang even reunited to participate in the ALS ice bucket challenge back in 2015 to raise awareness for Lou Gehrig’s disease. Zabka even reconnected with his on-screen rival Ralph Macchio around 2004.
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