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Fridge / The Karate Kid

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Fridge Brilliance


  • In traditional Okinawan karate, only family members were taught - it was literally passed from father to son. So Mr. Miyagi sees Daniel-san and Julie as the son and daughter he might have had, and his father saw Sato as a second son to him. In turn, Daniel taught this karate down to his daughter.
  • The crane kick from the first movie is presented as a nigh-unblockable move, when done correctly, that Daniel uses to win the tournament. (It is actually not particularly difficult to avoid or block. In fact, as any martial artists can testify, it is a rather silly move, given that the kicker's stance is inherently unstable. It is also pretty obvious what kick – a jumping front kick – is going to follow.) In the fight with Chozen in part 2, he tries the move again, only to have Chozen block it easily. Miyagi mentions to Daniel that his own father taught him the crane, and the man was also Sato's teacher. It is very reasonable to assume that Miyagi's father taught Sato the move as well, and Sato passed the move - and how to block it - to his nephew.
    • Miyagi also says, "If done right," it's impossible to block. Putting aside the fact that that's just completely untrue in real life, it's also possible that there's a specific technique to doing the kick correctly which Miyagi hadn't yet taught Daniel which makes it unblockable.
  • The various karate stances say a lot about the characters:
    • Miyagi's preferred stance is a variation of the basic Sanchin Dachi, with the hands held low and open. It's a very defensive and non-aggressive stance... but in karate, the open hand can be used to spear the opponent in the throat and other vital targets. Basically, he's telling his opponents to not force him to destroy them.
    • Kreese uses a sideways stance with his fists held high - it's a very aggressive stance, good to charge at his opponent and punch them, fitting his aggressive style.
    • Terry Silver's stance is basically Bruce Lee's classic stance with closed fists, fitting his "cool" image. But being not an awesome and wise martial arts master, but a Corrupt Corporate Executive who also practices karate, he utterly fails to use it appropriately as the counterattack stance it actually is.
      • Now that we know that Silver’s style focuses a lot on using deception to supplement its aggressiveness, it seems clear that his use of this stance is an intentional trap—Silver wants his opponents to think he’s using a counterattack style (or, as above, that he’s just some Paper Tiger) so they won’t be expecting the much more ferocious style he actually uses.
    • In the first movie, Daniel uses a midway stance with his left hand held forward and the right fist at the ready. It's a more aggressive stance than Miyagi but still mostly for lateral movement - he's more angry and aggressive than Miyagi, but is learning that karate is for defense only.
      • By Part III, he's turned more frontal, with the forward fist held low. It's a more advanced and defensive stance, reflecting his progress in technique and, once he got away from Silver's influence, mind.
    • Johnny's stance is closer to Kreese, but with his fists held lower like Daniel. He's close to his master, but not as aggressive.
    • Chozen's stance is sideways, with fists low but close to the body. Very aggressive but basic, as expected by someone trained by Miyagi's training companion but far more psychotic than Daniel.
    • Mike Barnes' stance is completely sideways, with the left fist held forward and the right one behind. His stance is even more aggressive than Kreese', just as he is quite more psychotic than Kreese.
    • This can be extended even to the remake: After fending off Cheng and his goons the first time while defending Dre, Mr. Han assumes a frontal horse stance while keeping his hands in an x-block, sending the very clear message of "I could have destroyed you but will only defend this kid and myself". They don't listen until they've hit each other multiple times in the vain attempt to hit him, but they can't claim they hadn't been warned.
  • Miyagi-do is a rather unorthodox style, with no use of belt rankings, being only taught to family or very close people with use of the classic Wax On, Wax Off method, and almost no use of competition and an emphasis on "Karate is for defense only" while maintaining moves capable of crippling or killing an opponent. This is actually explained when Miyagi says his ancestor learned martial arts in China: technically speaking Miyagi-do isn't Karate but a style of Tode, the Kung Fu-derived Okinawan martial arts developed and practiced in secret when the Ryukyuan government first and the Japanese occupiers later banned martial arts (the use of chores for training being a way to teach the moves without being spotted by a passing guard or informant) that eventually transitioned into modern Karate after the ban was lifted. Miyagi-do never made the transition, so they didn't adopt belt rankings, maintained the traditional use of chores for training, and never switched the focus from defense against a potentially armed and murderous aggressor to sport.
    • Miyagi-do has one aspect of modern Karate, namely the use of kata in training after the student has learned the basics. The reason is actually hinted at in the second movie by Sato and Chozen's connection to Gōjū-ryū (the students of Sato's dojo wearing their patch): Gōjū-ryū is derived from Miyagi-do. While out-of universe Miyagi-do is based on Gōjū-ryū and he's even named after their founder, in the film universe Chōjun Miyagi was apparently a member of that Miyagi family, and while he made the transition to modern Karate he also taught kata to his family, that included that part in their teachings while Chōjun allowed Miyagi-do practitioners to enter his school at will.