The Karate Kids

When we first moved back to the city, we were excited to see that there was a karate dojo just a couple blocks away from our new home. Our boys were excited at least. And during the time it took for me and the wife to get comfortable in the new digs, a pandemic shot up across the country, so we decided that although we were interested in getting the boys into something that would work out some of their extra energy, while also possibly helping them to learn some self-discipline, we also weren’t really sure that we should bring them into a building with a bunch of young kids exercising and breathing heavily and all around breaking the rules of the pandemic.

But by the time Christmas this year rolled around and we were seeing that things were getting better around the world, not to mention that both of them were now vaccinated, we decided to finally give in to their pleas for joining the martial arts club, and we reintroduced one of the most 1980s things possible to our house, karate. (And yes, I know, we’re back into the danger zone of the pandemic, and…well…they probably should be back to hiding in our house again)

Which, of course, brought me right back to my own childhood. When Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita first brought The Karate Kid to screens across the world, it was instantly a moment where all of us little kids knew that we needed to learn how to awesomely take down our bullies with sweet-ass crane kicks. We didn’t really notice all the nuanced character development, or the story of a drunken old man slowly learning how to care for a kid who wasn’t his own, or the story of a mother who was purely struggling to get by, thereby missing out on what her kid was doing while she was hustling to be able to pay for their rental. We didn’t see the power struggle of a man running his own karate dojo as he worked to convince the world that he was badder than Shaft himself.

No, we saw sweet karate kicks and an underdog actually managing to take home the trophy (and the girl, I guess, but let’s be honest, we didn’t notice that either. How could you when Mr. Miyagi managed to get John Kreese to absolutely destroy both his hands by ducking out of the way so he would punch out a couple of car windows?)

I’ve watched the original Karate Kid countless times, even as an adult, and am always amazed by not only how much that film holds up over time, but how much more there was to that movie than just something which popularized the martial arts in a way that had never been seen in this country before. And now that we’ve got Cobra Kai bringing it all back, mostly for the same people who fell in love with these characters ages ago, it seems only fitting that my kids are being introduced to the world of martial arts, even if my own career as a student of karate only lasted about six months.

However, I’ve watched the couple of lessons they’ve sat in on so far, and…it’s really painful to watch. I’m not a fighter, and definitely not someone who is skilled in any way in how to punch or kick appropriately, which should really highlight exactly how bad my kids are at the same things. I watch these two try to kick and punch and cringe as they almost fall over while trying to simply move their bodies.

I guess that’s a good indicator of how much I’ve taught them to be peaceful, but still, I might have to keep paying for them to stay there just so they can learn some freaking balance.


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