With every Karate dojo comes a master who guides and teaches the way of art he learnt from his own master. Thus continues the legacy of one of the world’s oldest art forms.
So when it comes to the Karate Kid franchise, who were all the masters and their dojos that we met across the three films and now in the YouTube revival series Cobra Kai.
Originally the story of Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) and Mr. Miyagi (Noriyuki “Pat” Morita) was focus of The Karate Kid movie trilogy from 1984-1989.
But YouTube Red’s Cobra Kai series made the films’ very first antagonist Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka), the co-lead in the continuation.
Cobra Kai chronicles Johnny’s resurrection of the Cobra Kai dojo with himself as sensei, which Daniel then counters by restarting Miyagi-Do Karate.
The decades-old rivalry between Cobra Kai and Miyagi-Do is at the heart of the entire Karate Kid/Cobra Kai saga.
The two main warring dojos have seen their ownerships change hands throughout the course of the series. Let’s take a look at who they were.
From the uneven contest in The Karate Kid which was Daniel and his wise old sensei against the entire Cobra Kai school, the later movies moved past the current players and to other senior gurus of various dojos.
The second film saw Daniel and Miyagi in Okinawa, where LaRusso learned his sensei had a lifelong enemy of his own in Sato Toguchi (Danny Kamekona), who was also Miyagi’s childhood best friend.
While in the third part we meet Cobra Kai’s Kreese and his wealthy partner Terry Silver (Thomas Ian Griffith).
The All Valley Under 18 Karate Tournament has also seen other karate dojos in the universe — but very little is known about their story. Let’s take a look at the ones we know, and love or love to hate.
1. John Kreese – Cobra Kai
In 1970, John Kreese became the US Army’s karate champion and became the first Cobra Kai of his team. As a Nam war veteran, Kreese established the original Cobra Kai dojo in the San Fernando Valley in late 1970s.
Cobra Kai was financed by Kreese’s war buddy Terry Silver. His rather dark style of karate involved teaching discipline by striking first, instilling fear in one’s enemy and showing no mercy.
Kreese’s master was Kim Sun Young, the South Korean teacher who taught him all the ways to strike first.
It is in the year 1979, that 12-year-old Johnny Lawrence discovers the Cobra Kai dojo and soon becomes Kreese’s best student.
Johnny goes on to win back-t0-back All Valley Under 18 Karate Championships.
However, the unethical methods Kreese instills in his students dont hamper Cobra Kai, until Daniel LaRusso defeats Johnny in the finals of the 1984 All Valley Tournament.
The defeat humiliates Kreese who then attacks his own students, including Johnny after the event. Daniel’s sensei Mr. Miyagi then humbled Kreese, who and all of Kreese’s students quit Cobra Kai, forcimg the dojo to shut down.
2. Mr. Miyagi – Miyagi-Do Karate
Who knew the handyman at the South Seas apartment complex in Reseda, CA would become the master of a student who would defeat the biggest dojo in the Valley. But it seems neither did Mr Miyagi himself.
From the start, he did to have any desire to teach karate, much less open a dojo, prior to meeting Daniel LaRusso who was being severely bullied at the time.
After Mr. Miyagi learned of LaRusso’s problems with Cobra Kai, he agreed to train “Daniel-san” to compete in the All Valley Karate Tournament.
The idea was that a competitive showing by the boy would earn Cobra Kai’s respect. It turned out a rather lonely Daniel-san also found a lifelong friendship and guidance in Mr Miyagi.
Together they explored Miyagi-do karate and also its origins. Their friendship also survived a short fallout, caused by a scheme masterminded by Terry Silver and by Miyagi’s refusal to train Daniel for the tournament.
But once Daniel learned he was tricked, Miyagi took him back and trained him to successfully defend his All Valley Championship.
All in all, Miyagi-do karate was mainly centered around Daniel and Miyagi’s relationship since there was no official registration of any sort. It is only in the Cobra Kai series that we finally see Miyagi-do grow as an official dojo.
3. Sato Toguchi – Master Sato Karate
Master Sato Karate was a dojo in Okinawa owned by Sato Toguchi. Sato was Mr. Miyagi’s best friend in childhood and he was from the wealthiest family in their village.
Miyagi’s father trained them both in karate but their friendship ended over Miyagi’s love for Yukie, who was promised to Sato. Sato challenged Miyagi to a fight to the death but Miyagi fled to America instead.
Sato’s dojo was located near Kadena Air Base and was used to train United States soldiers and military police. The dojo was primarily run by Chozen (Yuji Okumoto), Sato’s nephew and top student.
Master Sato Karate was only one of the multiple businesses owned by Sato, which included a construction company.
Other than Cobra Kai, Master Sato Karate was the only other adversarial karate dojo shown in the original Karate Kid films.
By the end of The Karate Kid Part II, Sato and Miyagi had made amends and were friends once again.
4.Terry Silver – Cobra Kai
Terry Silver was the multimillionaire owner of DynaTox Industries and the benefactor of Cobra Kai dojo.
John Kreese was his close friend after he had saved Terry’s life during the Vietnam War.
After Kreese was disgraced by his students who quit, Silver came to the rescue of a destitute Kreese and sent him to vacation in Tahiti and reopened the Cobra Kai dojo behind him.
Silver’s true goal always remained revenge on Daniel LaRusso.
As the chief of Cobra Kai, Silver engineered the circumstances for Daniel to leave Mr. Miyagi and become his student at Cobra Kai.
At the same time, Terry also hired Mike Barnes (Sean Kanan) to beat LaRusso in the 1985 All Valley Tournament.
History repeated itself when Silver and Kreese instructed Barnes to purposefully injure LaRusso during the competition, and Daniel still managed to beat Barnes.
With that loss, Silver and Kreese’s plans to resurrect Cobra Kai too went up in flames and the city council voted to enact a lifetime ban on Cobra Kai from the All Valley Tournament.
5. Johnny Lawrence – Cobra Kai
It is 2018, once the poster boy of Dan Fernando Valley Johnny Lawrence is forced to work as a handyman in the Valley.
He has cut karate from his life but remains poisoned by the memories of his past humiliation and and a difficult temper.
In a very Miyagi-Daniel kind of equation, he ends up saving a nerdy kid next door who is being bullied by his high school batch mates.
He then decides to resurrect the Cobra Kai dojo in Reseda, California in order to give himself both an income and a new direction in life.
He eagerly instills Cobra Kai’s “badass” philosophy into his student and within a few weeks Miguel is able to beat the bullies in West Valley High in full view of the other students.
Soon Eli Moskowitz (Jacob Bertrand), who reinvented himself as Hawk, and Aisha Robinson (Nichole Brown), Cobra Kai’s first-ever female student come on board.
Johnny also manages to persuade the city council to end the lifetime ban on Cobra Kai and Miguel wins the All Valley Under 18 Karate Tournament that year.
The next season, Tory Nichols (Peyton List), the dojo’s second female pupil, and Raymond (Paul Walter Hauser), Cobra Kai’s oldest student who rebooted himself as Stingray join the team.
However, Johnny once again fails to prevent the poison of anger from destroying his and Miguel’s life. Revival of Cobra Kai brings back John Kreese who deliberately undermines the progressive new direction Johnny intended for Cobra Kai.
By end of season 2, Lawrence is cheated out of his own dojo and his students too turn against him. They believe Lawrence’s advice to show mercy got Miguel terribly injured.
6. Daniel LaRusso – Miyagi-Do Karate
Revival of Cobra Kai also brought back Miyagi-Do Karate with Daniel LaRusso as his sensei.
Horrified at the return of Cobra Kai under Johnny Lawrence, LaRusso tried a series of underhanded tricks to sabotage Johnny’s dojo.
But after the latter endured, Daniel finally decided to counter the Cobra Kai style of karate by showing prospective students “a better way” and reopened Miyagi-Do Karate.
Daniel’s students included Johnny’s estranged son Robby Keene (Tanner Buchanan) and Daniel’s daughter Samantha (Mary Mouser).
The dojo gained more pupils, mostly ex-Cobra Kai students who were dejected by Johnny and Kreese’s way of the fist. However, Daniel had his own set of problems to solve before he could run his dojo successfully.
Daniel’s business and marriage began to suffer, he also found that the unorthodox methods Mr. Miyagi used to teach him in the 1980s didn’t translate well to Gen Z teenagers.
Add to that the pressure of training students in Miyagi-do, whose basic principle is that Karate is only for self-defense, and expecting them to fight against the brutal Cobra Kai.
Then came the brawl that broke out between the students of both the dojos on the first day of school, triggered by Miguel’a girlfriend Tory and Samantha.
While the Miyagi-do proves its mettle in self-defense and wins the brawl, Robby goes too far when Miguel tries to show him mercy, when he punches Miguel off the second floor.
The tragedy makes Daniel feel he has failed as a sensei and shuts down Miyagi-do by end of season 2.