September 12, 2022, Morelia, Michoacán, Mexico
The film The Karate Kid was a turning point in the lives of many. Karate schools saw huge increases in registration as students, inspired by the movie, signed up in droves. Of course the story is fictitious but the reality of the story hit close to him for many; there are many "Daniels'" out there looking for a mentor, looking to be able to learn to defend themselves, looking to stand up to the neighborhood or school bully, looking for the courage to ask out that girl. The story may be fictitious, but it is also very real. Thus the lasting appeal.
To me the most memorable character is that of Mr. Miyagi, the wise Asian master who seems to have it all figured out. He is always there with a word of wisdom for young Daniel, who is a bit of a hot head and can't seem to stay out of trouble. Of course the character is fictional, although loosely based on some real Japanese masters, the film character is a combination of the wonderful acting of Pat Murita and the clever screen writers who came up with all those wonderful wise quotes.
These quotes and lessons became part of my life, part of my martial arts journey and part of my way of teaching our style, IKI Krav Maga.
No such things as bad student, only bad teacher. Teacher say, student do.
We make sacred pact. I promise to teach karat to you, you promise learn. I say, you do, no questions.
Two rules of Miyagi do; Rule Number 1: Karate for self defense only. Rule Number 2: First learn rule number 1.
Lesson not just karate only, lesson for whole life. Whole life have a balance. Everything be better.
If it come from inside you, always right on.
Daniel San, lie become truth only if person wanna believe it.
The world would be a better place if more people followed these concepts. In fact, even in the world of martial arts these concepts are hardly ever practiced, Reality is a huge disappointment. Perhaps that is why so many enjoy the fantasy world of movies. To find a teacher like Mr. Miyagi is indeed rare.
In the Cobra Kai series we see Daniel and his nemesis Johnny Lawrence as adults. We get a fuller picture of them both; neither is bad, neither is perfect. The good guy vs bad guy concept is blurred. Neither one achieves any greatness as a martial artist, neither one attains wisdom. Daniel never becomes Miyagi. In fact he constantly fails and reaches out to the memory of his teacher (who appears in flashbacks). Daniel still needs the guidance of his teacher.
Daniel in many ways remains what he was, a troubled immature teenager. For the sake of a high school rivalry he is willing to risk his relationship with his children, his marriage and his business, all are at risk! and yet he pursues his reckless rivalry. Clearly he is not following the Miyagi way, clearly he has lost his balance. He has lost himself to fear. He has forgotten Miyagi's lessons; it is ok to lose to opponent, it is not ok to lose to fear.
Daniel has no balance, he is obsessed with a rivalry with a man who is a loser in life. He has no perspective at all and he constantly fails to lead, he is dragged away from the core of his life, his family, his business, and is drawn into a fight that should have ended 40 years earlier. This is not balance, this is not wisdom.
And are we any different in our own lives?
There are lies everywhere in the martial arts world, there are "instructors" who were never certified in Krav Maga parading around as grand masters. There are legitimate instructors being accused of being phony on websites where the authors remain anonymous or hide behind "handles" and don't allow for the truth to emerge. They are illegitimate "instructors" putting people's lives at risk.
It is frustrating to say the least, to see a world filled with falsehood. But then we have the image of Mr. Miyagi, Miyagi Sensei, as a role model. We need to remain calm in the face of adversity. We need to keep our cool when mocked by those who have no respect, we need to remain balanced and not be drawn into the anger of other people. We need to remain in control.
We need to remember Miyagi Sensei's words that there are "many kinds of strength", or when challenged by another instructor who tells him to go away, and says,..."what is the matter old man? can't move those old bones too fast?" and Miyagi calmly answers, "move fast enough, when necessary".
We are the force, we are the truth, we know our path and we shall not be rattled by the noise of lesser beings. We must remain the Miyagi of our lives.
A proud moment, after earning my first black belt with Itay Gil, back in the early 1990's.
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