Saturday, 5 May 2018

I think some of you knew that I was going to write about this today... Cobra Kai has finally arrived!

Greetings and salutations, dear readers!

I have been waiting for this month to come around specially to see how this particular series premieres.

For those who do not yet know what Cobra Kai is about I will briefly explain:

The kid that Daniel Larusso have beaten in the first Karate Kid movie, Johnny Lawrence, has grown up. While Daniel's success as an auto dealer gets rubbed in his face we see him getting fired from his job as handyman and meeting a really nice mannered Mexican kid, who he just sees as an annoyance.

You'd think that this nice Mexican kid, who gets beaten up by kids at school could really use a guy like Mr Miyagi (who is now already deceased) in his life. Instead- fate has brought him this no-bullshit, politically incorrect and obnoxious bastard that is Johnny Lawrence to teach him to "strike first", "grow some balls" and to kick ass.

We see Johnny becoming an unwilling hero as he starts changing the lives of some tormented teens for the better while Daniel is flipping his lid and gradually gets transformed into an envious looney from the moment he sees the Cobra Kai logo after all these years of bliss in which he has been happily waking up to his beautiful wife, raising his spoiled kids and "kicking the competition" in the auto trading business.

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Now- let's not forget now: To a person like me the Cobra Kai has represented everything that was wrong with martial arts schools in real life. Why would anyone make a series about it at all?

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Well- my answer to this question?

It would not have made sense in the 80's. Sure- full contact karate had already made its appearance back then, but it was just not as mysterious and wonderful as the type of teachings a Sensei like Mr Miyagi had to offer.

Also- your mainstream sources of Karate were the initial 4 schools of Wado, Shito, Goju and Shotokan who had actively worked on spreading their brand of Karate throughout the world. This was the pure Karate, the original. A style like Cobra Kai was considered manufactured, "fake" and full of Western arrogance and ignorance.

Image result for cobra kaiImage result for cobra kai

Image result for cobra kaiImage result for cobra kai

Image result for cobra kai

Now- let's turn the clock forward to where we are now, after the Gracies have gone and shattered whatever illusions about martial arts that may have remained after Bruce Lee's introduction to Jeet Kune Do and after the public had time to discover that a lot of what they got told about martial arts techniques did not work as well on the street as advertised.

Dojos had to- I won't say make way for- but rather lose students to MMA gyms unless they have signed up with MMA federations and organisations themselves to get their students a chance to slug it out in the cage.

Fight choreography in action movies had changed from the high kicks and flowery techniques normally associated with martial arts to the grappling and ground-and-pound tactics of MMA that we have been seeing in MMA fights.

In short- the public no longer wanted to buy what Mr Miyagi had to sell. They were now ready to hear what schools like Cobra Kai had to say.

I further think that a lot of Karate people- if not all of them- who had been attending karate classes from the 90's until now would tell you that they have never met any Sensei like Miyagi. Well- maybe the ones who happened to study under Demura Sensei when he was still alive, but from as early as the 60's it would have been unlikely for the simple reason that the only Karate the Western public ever got exposed to was an institutionalised system under the banner of one of the four initial schools (I won't say "original" really, because it won't be correct) and none of the teachers in these styles had Miyagi's freedom to teach as they saw fit.

The reality that most of us saw more closely resembled Cobra Kai. Here in South Africa for instance your average Afrikaner would not take a short bonsai trimming Japanese guy seriously. What worked for most of us here was this drill-sargeant-slash-boxing coach that kept students in line and "made men" out of us. Well- worked for most of us, but not for me. Still- the majority of the public gets what it wants...     

I admit that I have been rebelling against the way I got taught by early teachers in the past for so long that I have neglected to see the good that had actually come from my time at these dojos.

Image result for Cobra Kai Miguel

Image result for Cobra Kai Miguel

Sure- our new Karate Kid Miguel stands a chance to become a juvenile delinquent under Sensei Johnny's tutelage, but kids like him discover that the only chance one has at improving his/her situation is by facing his/ her fears and take action.

Johnny addresses this current generation directly when he tells Miguel that Cobra Kai is a method of fighting that his "pansy ass generation" had been missing all these years. If you want to disagree with Johnny you are welcome to try out any anti-bullying solutions you find from these websites who seem to be run by social workers and social studies students.

What remains to be seen in episodes to come, however, is not just how Miguel and his friends start reaping the benefits of putting what they have been taught to use, but also how Johnny uses his own teachings to get his life back on track. That guy has a lot of stuff to work out.

Daniel's only role in this story for the moment is that of a bitter antagonist who in his misguided righteousness does not yet know what kind of company his sweet little daughter is keeping (she's with the mean girls at school and dating one of the high school bullies! :D)

Only bad thing is- we don't have Youtube Red here in South Africa. The first 2 episodes got uploaded on Youtube for free for promotional purposes and we shall have to wait a long while to see if it will be available on platforms that are more accessible here.

If you are curious to see how Daniel and Johnny have turned out as adults, watch this series- if you have Youtube Red in your country...

Until next time- train hard and stay well!

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