This makes so much more sense compared to waxing cars.
A series of five films beginning in 1984. Following a similar pattern to the first Rocky
movie (and featuring the same director) it focused on a student-master relationship between Daniel Larusso and Mr. Miyagi, whose name came to be slang
for a type of Retired Badass
. The first three films starred Ralph Macchio as Daniel and Pat Morita as Miyagi. Hilary Swank
played a new "Karate Kid" in the fourth movie.The Karate Kid:
(1984) The first film introduced Daniel Larusso, a teenager whose father had passed away (although the viewers wouldn't learn this until the second movie) and he just moved with his Mom from New Jersey to Reseda, California. Daniel has a little bit of a temper, but is overall a good kid. He doesn't fare well making new friends, upon trying to get close to a girl he likes, Ali, he gets into a fight with her ex-boyfriend Johnny. Johnny happens to be the prize student of the Cobra-Kai Karate Dojo, whose sensei John Kreese encourages such behavior. After they fight, which ends with Daniel losing badly
, Johnny leads his gang into tormenting Daniel whenever possible.
It finally leads into a serious fight with the gang chasing Daniel down and beating him up just outside his apartment complex. Coming to his rescue is the elderly Japanese handyman, Mr. Miyagi. Despite his age, Miyagi protects Daniel and defeats the Cobra-Kai gang with ease. Upon seeing Miyagi's skill, Daniel requests to be trained. After seeing that appealing to Kreese won't work, Miyagi agrees to train him but arranges a deal that the Cobra-Kai will stop bothering Daniel if he enters an upcoming tournament.
Daniel is hesitant about the tournament, but willing to learn karate at the least to defend himself. The first few days Miyagi had Daniel do several chores: paint the fence, sand the decks and wax the car. Daniel endures it patiently, but eventually blows up at Miyagi for using him as a slave instead as a student. Miyagi then demonstrates what Wax On, Wax Off
really means. Daniel is stunned, then begins to understand that Miyagi wasn't trying to teach him how to fight, but how to apply martial arts to his life
The first movie is the most loved of the film series, and Pat Morita earned an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Mr. Miyagi. The Nostalgia Filter
helps a lot, as the film is not ashamed to be set in the 80's. Though given that it was also filmed
in the 80s, this probably explains why. The main theme of this film is balance and self-respect, that martial arts should be used in discipline and not for aggression. Mr. Miyagi doesn't teach Daniel to be a vicious badass, but how to calm himself and deal with his problems as they come.The Karate Kid, Part Two:
(1986) Six months after the first film, Daniel has broken up with Ali and is being set up to move in with Mr. Miyagi as his mom moves up north. Miyagi receives a notice that his father is gravely ill and he decides to return to his home village in Okinawa. Daniel wants to support his friend and father-figure and goes with him, also hoping to learn more about Miyagi's history.
At the village many things have changed, and Daniel learns of an old feud between Miyagi and his old friend Sato that has not passed with time. (Miyagi left Okinawa so he would not have to fight to the death) Daniel also begins a troublesome relationship with Sato's nephew Chozen, who is even more aggressive. Miyagi's father dies but that did not subside Sato's anger. Along the way, Daniel also begins a new romance with a local girl, Kumiko.
The second movie was a well respected sequel, much of it having to do with the change of scenery and culture. A major theme of this film is about mercy and pacifism. Daniel learns about what 'life or death' combat is about and also trades blows with Chozen progressively throughout the film.The Karate Kid, Part Three:
(1989) One year since the first film, John Kreese is running into financial trouble after his humiliation in the first film and the beginning of the second. He orchestrates a plan with an old war buddy of his to bring the Cobra-Kai Dojo back by targeting both Daniel and Mr. Miyagi. They blackmail Daniel into returning to the same tournament so he could be humiliated by a new unstoppable student.
The third film was felt by many to be a severe case of sequelitis
, as the themes of fighting for self-respect and for your life in the previous films were dropped for a more standard underdog story and villain's plot. Also, Daniel doesn't seem to get any better, even after his "fight to the death" from the previous movie; he is just as inexperienced as in the first film
.The Next Karate Kid:
(1994) Five years after the last movie, Mr. Miyagi and Daniel have parted ways and the venerable old man found a new student to help, Julie Pierce. She is struggling with a para-military group that almost runs her high school, with the leader Dugan (played by Michael Ironside
) just as ruthless as Kreese from the earlier films. This time he takes her to a local monastery to learn about peace of mind.
This film was poorly received and made even less then the last film, which essentially killed the franchise
.note The Karate Kid:
A Continuity Reboot
of the series that premiered in June 2010, borrowing elements of the first one but set in Beijing, China. Jaden Smith (Will Smith
's son) plays the lead role of Andre "Dre" Parker and Jackie Chan
is the old mentor, Mr. Han. There is almost no karate in this film; the lead character trains in kung fu instead.
Many people have noticed that DC Comics
is credited in the films, but contrary to popular belief, the films are not directly based on a comic book. Columbia Pictures obtained permission from DC (as a professional courtesy) to use the title "the Karate Kid" because the name was already in use for a character in DC's Legion of Super-Heroes
comic, but the films draw no inspiration from the character.
The movies also inspired a somewhat forgettable Animated Series
involving Daniel and Mr. Miyagi traveling the world in pursuit of a magical healing shrine.
Now has a character sheet
The original film series has examples of:
- The Alleged Car: Daniel's mom drives one.
- All Guys Want Cheerleaders: Ali.
- Alpha Strike: In the second movie Chozen demonstrates that the crane kick leaves Daniel overstretched and off-balance.
- Apologetic Attacker: Bobby begs Daniel's forgiveness after kicking his knee.
- Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Kreese in the first; Chozen in the second; Silver in the third. Gets more literal in the fifth film where he uses kung fu.
- Artistic License – Martial Arts:
- The actual crane kick is an almost physically impossible move that few people alive can successfully perform. (It's a twirling kick in which you jump, kick, and land all on the same leg.) As no one working on the film could do it—even the martial arts expert who helped choreograph the fight scenes—they just had Ralph Macchio do a weird, inexplicable flamingo pose into a more standard sort of front kick. (Why couldn't they have used a special effect? Cost, probably) No bother, because in Real Life there is no move in any martial art for which there is no defense when it is performed well. The move might also be illegal. While controlled hits to the head are permitted in some tournaments (including the one in the movie), the crane kick was clearly uncontrolled. And for good reason: a full-on kick to the face like that risks death or serious injury. (This after Johnny scores a punch to the face that is perfectly legal and would have won him the trophy... but was ignored. )
- In a real martial arts tournament, someone with a fractured leg would not be allowed to continue even if they insisted — the risk of becoming permanently disabled (not to mention a lawsuit) is too high. Also, Johnny's behavior (and his fellow students' taunts) in the final fight makes it blatantly obvious that his teacher is instructing them to deliberately injure other participants. In Real Life the referee would stop the fight and not only disqualify Johnny, but probably have the entire dojo permanently barred from future competitions. Although some martial arts schools are so incredibly popular that banning them from future competitions would hurt the associations sponsoring the competition - especially if the association receives upwards of fifty or so new members every year from said schools. And many times, referees can be paid to look the other way...
- Its never made clear if Cobra Kai was banned but after that evening they were disgraced and by the time of the third movie, Kreese is facing bankruptcy and even homelessness.
- Artistic License – Sports: Snake's fouls on Danny in the final showdown were so blatant and close together, even the most lenient ref would've disqualified him halfway through the match.
- Ass Kicking Pose: The Crane Technique.
- Awesome but Impractical:
- The crane stance, which in Real Life could be defeated with a good shove to the chest. Heck, if you pause the movie right before the Crane Kick, you can see that Johnny has a clear shot to the chin lined up...
- In the sequel, Chozen allows him to follow through, but simply catches his foot and gives him an elbow to the back (a move reminiscent of Johnny's elbow to Daniel's knee in the first movie).
- Awesomeness by Analysis: After time, Daniel was able to point out the flaws in others techniques and able to improve upon them.
- Barbaric Bully: The first movie is a rather iconic example. It gives us High School bullies which Daniel eventually sees off by besting his tormenters in a karate tournament.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Mr. Miyagi is calm and peaceful, but that doesn't mean he's lacking in fighting skill.
- Big Damn Heroes: Mr. Miyagi gets to do this at least Once per Movie. Daniel gets his own moment in Karate Kid 2, when he rescues the stranded village bellringer during the height of a typhoon.
- Book Ends: See Cherry Tapping
- Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Ali, Kumiko, and Jessica, respectively. Daniel obviously isn't picky when it comes to hair color.
- Blond Guys Are Evil: Lampshaded in the director's commentary:
"How come they're all blond?"note
- Break the Haughty:
- Chozen in Part II has nothing going well for him once Daniel arrives in Okinawa.
- Kreese is going through hard financial times at the beginning of Part III.
- Breakout Villain: John Kreese appeared in only three scenes in the original film but was so memorably over-the-top that he was present in the next two sequels. Granted, his scene in Part II was initially filmed for the first movie.
- Brick Break: The second film takes most advantage of this trope with Mr. Miyagi coaching Daniel how to break through six sheets of ice, while Miyagi tops everyone by chopping a thick ceiling beam in two with one chop to rescue Sato pinned under it in a storm.
- Bully Brutality: Every one of the nasty karate students Daniel runs into (the Cobra Kai, Chozen) gives him sound beatings.
- Chekhov's Skill: Used as a finishing move for each of the films, standing on one leg, using a child's drum, doing katas and the praying mantis jump kick.
- The second film opens with Miyagi teaching Daniel about a breathing technique to focus the mind and body to pound in nails in one hit. Mid-way through the movie Daniel is challenged to break the sheets of ice and Miyagi reminds him of the technique.
- The reason why he needs the drum technique is illustrated when Chozen easily defeats the Crane.
- In the third film, Daniel must rappel down a cliff to retrieve a valuable bonsai tree. Good thing his new girlfriend's hobby is mountain climbing.
- Cherry Tapping: Miyagi nose-honking Kreese at the beginning of Part II, then Daniel doing the same to Chozen at the end.
- Classy Cravat: Lord knows why, but Terry wears a cravat during the tournament at the end of the third movie.
- Combat Pragmatist:
- Kreese's philosophy reads like this on paper; in actual effect, it's... rather different. He's effectively teaching the kids to be thugs.
- Miyagi has never fought for points, only for his life. A bit strangely for a heroic character, he seems to have no compunction against using a Groin Attack in combat, or against teaching Daniel to do the same.
- Continuity Nod: Miyagi makes several passing references to "Daniel-san" in The Next Karate Kid, to the point of muttering that it was rather "easier to live with boys" when he inadvertently takes a peek of Julie in her underwear when he walks into her room.
- Cool Car: Miyagi has several.
- Cool Old Guy: Take a guess...
- Corrupt Corporate Executive:
- Sato is a Corrupt Land Owner who is willing to destroy the village to goad Miyagi into that fight of his. He already had a monopoly on the fishing industry (condemning the villagers to a life of poverty) when Miyagi arrived to see his father.
- Hi again, Terry from Part III! Oh, and bonus: his company is called Dyna-Tox Industries. Yes, really. Their PR team must cry themselves to sleep every night!
- Cruel Mercy: In Part II, Miyagi humiliates Kreese, later saying his life is punishment enough for him.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: Pretty much every time Mr. Miyagi gets his hands dirty.
- Deadly Dodging: When Kreese attacks Mr Miyagi at the start of the second film he never hits back just dodging while Kreese punches through two car windows (definitely not Soft Glass). Taken Up to Eleven in the remake.
- Deadpan Snarker: Miyagi in the first film especially.
- Distaff Counterpart: Julie to Daniel.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Most kids who bully Daniel quickly move to attempted murder once he tries to defend himself. Inverted in Part 3, where Barnes starts entirely too much shit throughout the movie, but gets off with nothing more than a loss by a single point.
- Even Evil Has Standards:
- Even bullies like Bobby and Johnny balk when ordered to injure Daniel, though Kreese ultimately intimidates them into it.
- Bobby also tries to convince Johnny at one point that Johnny is going too far with a particularly nasty attack on Daniel.
- Evil Mentor: Instructing his students to cheat? Check. Inspiring them to be sadistic bullies? Check. Strangling them for failing? Check. All Kreese needs is a whip and a cat, and he'd be the trope picture.
- Evil Wears Black: Well mean bullies wear black, but the Cobra Kai uniforms otherwise count.
- Family-Unfriendly Violence: the beatings Daniel receives frequently leave him covered in bruises and/or blood.
- Fight Magnet:
- For a guy who doesn't want to fight, Mr. Miyagi beats up a lot of people.
- Same goes for Daniel; the first two movie pretty much shows No Good Deed Goes Unpunished.
- Finish Him!: Kreese's instructions to the Cobra Kai.
- Fire-Forged Friends: John Kreese and Terry Silver.
- Five-Bad Band: The five Cobra Kai who play major roles in the first movie and the beginning of the second. Kreese is the Big Bad, Johnny is The Dragon, Tommy is a smartass version of the Evil Genius, Dutch is The Brute, and Bobby, the non-conformist and least vicious in the group, is the Dark Chick.
- When Daniel first goes to Mr. Miyagi's house for training, he sees oil pumps and asks Miyagi if he's in the oil business. Mr. Miyagi replies, "Not everything is as seem."
- The poster of Sato breaking a log. Miyagi breaks a wooden beam of similar size in one blow to save Sato from being pinned under it during the typhoon.
- For the Evulz:
- It may not be why Terry first harasses Daniel, but it's certainly why he enjoys it.
- The whole series features some of the most nonsensical villains you'll ever see. Good luck coming up with any motivation by the time you get to Dugan from Next.
- The Freelance Shame Squad: A ballroom filled with refined, upper-crust partygoers all stop dancing and put down their canapes just to laugh at Daniel-San after he bumps into a waiter and gets bolognese sauce all over his outfit. They're probably mocking the poor waiter too, but it doesn't come across as strongly.
- Game-Breaking Injury:
- "Sweep the leg."
- In the reboot: "I don't want him beaten; I want him broken" and "Break his leg."
- Gang of Bullies: The Cobras.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar:
- Johnny rolling a joint in the bathroom.
- The Tea Ceremony. When Yukie and Miyagi did that, Miyagi showed up next scene sweating and wearing a wife beater shirt. Since Kumiko and Daniel were doing the same ceremony, it's pretty obvious what she wanted with him....until hurricane cockblock showed up.
- Good Times Montage: Montage of Daniel and his love interest having a good time at the arcade.
- Graceful Loser: Johnny, after Daniel wins the tournament. Kreese... Not so much.
- Groin Attack:
- Mr. Miyagi, believe it or not. It was a five on one battle...that soon became a four on one.
- Daniel delivers one to Chozen at the sock hop dance, using a technique Miyagi taught him.
- Hard Work Hardly Works: To get to the level of competition that the Cobra Kai students are at requires years of training and physical conditioning. Daniel goes through a Training Montage of a few weeks and wins the tournament. It makes sense when you consider that Kreese is either a bad karate instructor and/or Miyagi is that much better.
- Somewhat handwaved by stating that Daniel had studied karate in the past, but only at a lower level. Also, training at dojos usually only takes up a few hours each week (and, given Johnny's age, he wouldn't have had too much time for practice unless Kreese was paying him). Daniel was spending a lot of free time with Miyagi.
- Subtly hinted by Miyagi that Kreese was indeed as bad as implied, as he spents more time punishing his students rather than helping them develop whereas Miyagi sets Daniel to do various mundane tasks specifically to make him practice essential moves. Miyagi would later prove that he is the superior master in the sequel.
- Healing Hands: Mr. Miyagi knows a few Pressure Point techniques. Mr. Han in the reboot uses similar techniques.
- Heel-Face Turn: Sato, after Miyagi and Daniel rescue him from his destroyed house during the typhoon. He orders Chozen to do the same thing, and Chozen refuses (see I Have No Son).
- Help Mistaken for Attack: The second movie has Sato trapped under a long piece of wood during a storm, and when Miyagi walks over, Sato thinks the idea is to finish him off while he is trapped, only to find out that Miyaki just wanted to free Sato from the rubble.
- I Have No Son: Sato to Chozen after Chozen refuses to help Daniel rescue the bellringer during the typhoon. "Now, to you, I am dead."
- Inspirational Insult: In The Karate Kid 3, Daniel gets up to face Barnes again after Barnes yells, "Your karate's junk. You're nothing. Your slope teacher's nothing!" This gives Daniel more motivation to win.
- Intergenerational Friendship: Daniel and Mr. Miyagi.
- Japanese Honorifics: Miyagi always appends -san to Daniel's name. A minor mistake, as -kun would be more appropriate to their relationship. It would also be more correctly applied to his family name, not his given name.
- Jerkass: The Cobra Kai.
- Kids Are Cruel:
- In the first film, besides Daniel being bullied by the Cobras, some of the kids ridicule him after being beaten up by Johnny. Ali's girlfriends also rather inexplicably despise Daniel from the get-go.
- With regards to the kids, it was likely a combination of them sucking up to the Cobras, as well as not wanting to get their asses kicked for being associated with Daniel. As for Ali's girlfriends, they likely despised him because he was from the wrong side of the tracks and hence wasn't good enough for Ali in their opinion.
- The remake is even worse with this.
- Kung-Fu Kid
- Large Ham: Sato doesn't merely chew the scenery; he devours it in great gulps.
"Your fear make air STINK!!"
- Magical Asian: Mr. Miyagi.
- Martial Pacifist: Mr. Miyagi hates fighting, but is VERY competent when the situation calls for it.
- Martial Medic: Mr. Miyagi.
- Meaningful Background Event: Johnny and his friends are too busy beating up Daniel to notice Miyagi jumping the fence, ready to jump them.
- Mood Whiplash: Drunk Miyagi, it starts off as very funny until he relives a moment where he finds out about his wife and kid's passing.
- Motive Decay: Terry in Part III does what he does out of friendship and loyalty to his friend, John. The opening scenes of the movie really do a good job of driving this home. And yet, he's the one who comes up with the idea of completely destroying Danny and Miyagi, and his motivation ends up devolving completely into this.
- MST: The commentary for the DVD collection invokes this, with the writer, the director, and even Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita themselves snarking over the film.
- Neutral Female: Kumiko attempts to subvert it by trying to pull Chozen away from Daniel during their last fight. It doesn't work, but the effort is appreciated.
- Never My Fault: Chozen blames Daniel for dishonoring him. Daniel 1) accidentally revealed that he was cheating the villagers, 2) fairly won a bet that Chozen forced him into, and 3) helped save some of the villagers from the typhoon while Chozen was doing nothing.
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Daniel's initial fight with Johnny, and even more the Cobra Kai gang-beating he receives in the school dance scene.
- Not My Driver: In the second movie, a car is waiting for Mr. Miyagi and Daniel when they arrive in Okinawa. When Miyagi asks the driver why they're heading away from the village where he wants to go, the driver and his friend reply "Some things have changed since you were last here, Miyagi-san..." "...and some things have not, eh?" Mr. Miyagi and Daniel soon learn what this means when they reach their real destination: a warehouse where Mr. Sato and his nephew Chozen confront them.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Mr. Miyagi only appears ignorant and senile.
- Obviously Evil: Terry in the third movie. They have multiple scenes entirely dedicated to piling on gratuitous For the Evulz moments for the guy. He's an obnoxious rich guy who dumps toxic waste wherever he can get away with it, bribes judges, makes sure to hire, not the best karate champion but specifically "Karate's Bad Boy" and is in touch with local "bad boys" to hook him up with his mooks. Oh, and he wants to destroy the lives of a kid and an elderly man because they inadvertently humiliated his friend Kreese when Kreese tried to destroy their lives.
- Old Master: Miyagi teaches Karate.
- The Only Way They Will Learn: Daniel's being made to perform menial tasks for Mr. Miyagi to build the strength and muscle memory necessary for effective blocks. For Julie, he sets up his teaching of the waltz as a typical karate instruction.
- Opposed Mentors: The third Karate Kid movie has the main character pick up an Evil Mentor after an argument with Miyagi.
- Ordered to Cheat: "Sweep the Leg" is the former Trope Namer (though the "out of commission" order fits much better).
- Parental Substitute: Miyagi and Daniel form a very close father/son dynamic throughout the films. So do Distaff Counterparts Yukie and Kumiko.
- Playing Gertrude: Thomas Ian Griffith, who played Terry (a Vietnam Veteran around Kreese's age) in Part III is younger than Ralph Macchio (who still played a teenager).
- Police Are Useless: Part of the plot of the third movie.
- Post Game Retaliation:
- In The Karate Kid, Part Two, John Kreese does this to his losing students after they were beaten by Daniel in the first movie. He yells at them and gets physical until Mr. Miyagi intervenes. It doesn't go well for Kreese.
- The alternate ending to the 2010 remake has Master Li do the same after his students lose to Dre. Mr. Han intervenes and trashes Li in a fight, contributing to his Humiliation Conga.
- Quality Over Quantity: The novelization had Daniel complain to Mr. Miyagi before the tournament that he didn't know very many moves. Miyagi replied that he was better than the Cobra-Kais at the ones he did know.
- Real Award, Fictional Character: About two-thirds of the way into the film Daniel walks in on a very drunk Mr. Miyagi dressed up in a World War II-era US Army uniform. Miyagi earned the Medal of Honor fighting in the European theatre as part of the all-nisei (Japanese-American) 442nd Infantry Regiment. Truth in Television: The 442nd is the most heavily decorated military unit in American history, including earning 21 MOHs for the European war. A member of the regiment later said that they fought all the harder to prove their loyalty to America in the face of their fellow nisei being packed into internment camps back home (in which Miyagi's wife and son died in childbirth).
- Retired Badass: Mr. Miyagi, who'd earned medals in World War II, including the Medal of Honor.
- Some Truth in Television and Fridge Brilliance there, given Miyagi is apparently a Japanese national. Those Japanese who signed up to fight with the US armed forces during World War II were put together in one unit. That unit earned more medals and Medals of Honor per head than any other in any branch of service.
- Even more of both in a sad way, as Miyagi's pregnant wife was taken to a Japanese interment camp and died there in childbirth, as did the son she gave birth to. Miyagi's drunken re-reading of the telegram informing him of this leads to a small Heroic BSOD in the first movie.
- Revenge Myopia: Chosen in the second film. He blames Daniel for "dishonoring" him — by doing such things as revealing that he was using false weights in his dealings with the villagers. Daniel lampshades this:
He cheats people and I'm insulting his honor?
- Running Gag: Reminding people that it's pronounced Mi-ya-gi, not Mi-ya-ji.
- Satellite Love Interest: Ali is nice, pretty, the ex-girlfriend of Johnny, and lives with upper-class parents in a Big Fancy House...and that's all that's really known about her before she's easily written out of the sequel.
- Second Place Is for Losers: Kreese attacks Johnny after destroying his trophy, prompting Miyagi to give him a little lesson.
- Serial Escalation: The first film had Daniel dealing with a gang of bullies who at worst would rough him up repeatedly. His big showdown with them takes place at a tournament with rules, regulations, and time outs if things get too rough. The sequel has Daniel in a real fight at the end, with the very real possibility that he could lose his life.
- The So-Called Coward: The main plot of Part 2 when Sato, who dismissed Miyagi as a coward for years, finally sees him and Daniel in action during a typhoon and realizes to his astonishment at how powerful and fearless they really are when necessary. As a result, he insists on helping them and makes amends the next morning.
- So Last Season: The Crane Technique to the Drum Technique.
- Step Three: Profit: Even if Barnes had beaten Danny in the third film, his star pupil being a bullying thug would've sunk Silver's new Cobra Kai before the doors opened. Though it's clear Silver could give a crap about the money.
- Taught by Experience: Miyagi was formally trained by his father, but had little knowledge on how tournaments work. He didn't even know much about the belt system.
Daniel: I thought you said you've been in plenty of fights?
Miyagi: Hai, for life, not for points.
- There Is No Try:
Miyagi: Now, ready?
Daniel: Yeah, I guess so.
Miyagi: Daniel-san, must talk.
(they sit down)
Miyagi: Walk on road, hm? Walk left side, safe. Walk right side, safe. Walk middle, sooner or later (makes squish gesture) get squish just like grape. Here, karate, same thing. Either you karate do "yes" or karate do "no." You karate do "guess so," (makes squish gesture) just like grape. Understand?
Daniel: Yeah, I understand.
Miyagi: Now, ready?
Daniel: Yeah, I'm ready.
- Token Good Teammate: Bobby is by far the most civil of the Cobra-Kai, being the only one who even worries about taking their abuse of Daniel too far.
- Took a Level in Badass: Daniel.
- Training Montage: "You're the Best (Around)" (not by Survivor, of "Eye of the Tiger" fame, but by Joe "Bean" Esposito) played during the tournament montage. Not exactly a training montage, but Daniel learned how good he had gotten from Miyagi's training. It makes sense, given that the first three movies were directed by John G. Avildsen, who also directed Rocky. Not to mention that, while performed by Esposito, the song is written by Bill Conti, who composed "Gonna Fly Now" for Rocky.
- Thug Dojo: The Cobra Kai is probably the most famous example to Western audiences.
- Trickster Mentor: Mr. Miyagi.
- Ungrateful Bitch: Ali, who ends up going on to dump Daniel for a college jock.
- Villainous BSOD: Bobby who was always the most laid back of the Cobra Kais has a minor one after Kreese forces him to injure Daniel's knee and practically breaks down in tears apologizing.
- Villainous Crush: Ned in The Next Karate Kid has one on Julie. Implicit with Chozen and Kumiko in Part II.
- Virtue Is Weakness: Sensei Kreese delivers a denigrating speech about mercy to his students.
Mercy is for the weak. We do not train to be merciful here. If a man faces you, he is the enemy. An enemy deserves no mercy.
- Wax On, Wax Off: Trope Namer (also inverted in the fourth movie when Mr. Miyagi teaches Julie a new "kata": the waltz).
- We Used to Be Friends: Mr. Miyagi and Sato were best friends growing up, until Miyagi fell in love with Yuki, who was arranged to marry Sato. One day Miyagi announced in front of the whole town that he wanted to marry Yuki. Sato, who felt as though he had been insulted, challenged Miyagi to a fight to the death. Miyagi fled to America rather than fight his best friend, and Sato held a grudge for decades.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Er, where did that Freddy kid go in the first film? He seemed set up to become a good friend of Daniel's but he just...disappeared. His other friends peer pressure him into ditching Daniel in the football practice scene after the beach fight. He can however briefly be seen watching the tournament right at the end and is presumably part of the crowd that lifts Daniel onto their shoulders after he wins.
- When You Snatch the Pebble: Subverted. Daniel can catch a fly with chopsticks on his first go, even Miyagi can't. Beginner's Luck.
- Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: At the beginning of Part II, Miyagi spared Kreese's life after squashing him in an act of self-defense.
: You could have killed him, couldn't you? Mr. Miyagi
: Hai. Daniel
: Well, why didn't you? Mr. Miyagi
: Because Daniel, for man with no forgiveness in heart, life worse punishment than death.
- The Worf Effect: Daniel suffers this in both the sequels.
- "World of Cardboard" Speech: Daniel's plea to Miyagi to perform the pressure point healing technique on his leg, letting his master know that he fully understands the meaning of balance.
- You Have Failed Me: A variation. Kreese strangles Johnny for failing to win and for telling him off for acting crazy. Who knows how far he would have gone had Miyagi not been there.
- You No Take Candle:
- Mr. Miyagi's stereotyped broken English.
- Possibly inverted by the fight announcer from the first film, who somehow got a job MCing a karate tournament without knowing how Japanese syllables are pronounced ("Me-yah-jee-doh Karate").
The 2010 remake has examples of: