Lessons from Cobra Kai
What Cobra Kai, the follow-up to the very popular Karate Kid franchise, has taught us about life.
In the interest of full disclosure, I’m a huge Karate Kid fan. The original 1984 version with Ralph Macchio, William Zabka and Pat Morita is one of those “classics” for me. It is one that I can watch any time it is on TV. My best friend, Kevin (pictured with me below) and I still do the “bonsai” yell. Any time we are leaving the other ones home after a weekend visit, we stick our hand out the driver’s window and yell “BONSAI!!!”. Meanwhile the other stands in the road and yells right back “BONSAI!” We live in different cities.
In October, 2016 we had the opportunity to attend San Antonio Comic Con. I don’t normally go in for these types of events as I’m not a huge science fiction fan. However, when we learned that Ralph Macchio was going to be there, we purchased tickets, I headed to San Antonio, and we made a day of it. We were delighted to not only see that the line to see Ralph was only about two or three deep (it was early in the day), but more delighted to see that William (Johnny) was in the booth right beside him.
My friend got his picture with Ralph, and I got my All Valley Tournament poster (pictured below) signed. I asked Ralph to sign it “Bonsai!” Not only did he do that, he said it was an honor, because that was the thing Pat Morita always signed items with because it was him that said it in the movie. William signed it “No Mercy!” I can’t think of anything more appropriate.
As you can imagine, I was very pleased to learn a couple of years ago about the impending release of Cobra Kai. I subscribed to YouTube TV so I could see the series, which I binge-watched in a few days. My friend and I really enjoyed the series and were so happy it was returning for season two. Only problem is, we’d have to wait for a year…which we did. When season two opened, I told my friend I would watch it all before Sunday that weekend…which I did.
I am pleased to see that this show has created more than a few twists and there are even some cliff-hangers that have set up season three to be a pretty revealing one. We only have to wait another year…but we will.
So, what can we learn from this series? I think this series is a great in that it really shows how people see the same situation from different perspectives and how it leads to very big misunderstandings. Over the years there have been YouTube videos where people suggest that Johnny was actually just trying to be a good guy and it was really Daniel that was the instigator. For example, at the beach scene early in the movie, Johnny simply wanted to talk Ali, with an I. And, it was Daniel that stuck his nose in and tried to protect Ali when maybe she really didn’t need to be protected. Perhaps had Daniel let Johnny and Ali deal with it themselves, maybe the two could have become friends. After all, they both had an interest in karate.
The series actually expands on these “misunderstandings”. There are many examples where one side actually just interprets the same situation in a different ways. It is usually because of their history and you really can’t blame them for seeing it the way they do.
One example happens in season two when Daniel’s daughter, Samantha, gets into a drinking contest at a party with Tory with a Y, which she kind of wins. I mean can you really “win” a drinking contest? Ultimately, Johnny’s son, Robby tries to take her home to make sure she is safe. She is too scared to go home to her dad’s house so Robby says he has a solution.
The following morning, the LaRusso’s realize Samantha didn’t return home the night before and they do a quick “location check” on Samantha’s phone and Daniel follows it to the address.
Daniel knocks on the door only to realize it is the home of…Johnny. Johnny can tell Daniel is very angry and is demanding to see Samantha, so he holds the door partially closed and tells Daniel to calm down and relax. He is trying to get him to not react out of anger, but by telling him to relax, he is only angering him more.
If they were to each put themselves in the other person’s shoes, and try to see things the way the other sees it, a lot of misunderstandings could be avoided. This is a recurring theme throughout the series. Almost to the point where I would say the entire series is based on misunderstanding.
One of the things I think the series is doing well is showing the audience all of those misunderstanding. Or, actually, they are showing the viewer how to see each situation from two different sides. They are going as far as to show how the things that happened in the original Karate Kid movies were seen from different viewpoints at that time. Only, we, as the viewer, only saw it from one side at the time; the side of the hero, Daniel.
The lesson here is, in each situation we’re in, we should take a moment to reflect on how the person or persons on the other side is seeing the same situation. If we do this, we are more able to react from a more sysynced point of view. It will help us get a clearer understanding of the situation.
We can communicate better with each other if we take some time to really try to understand each person’s point of view. Don’t react on emotion, but instead, approach each situation rationally, and try to understand the other person’s point of view, before taking action.
Let’s work together to make our part of the world a little better. We can do this one relationship at a time.