- "There's a lot of talk going around the Valley about free karate. But everyone knows that in life, you get what you pay for. You wanna really kick the competition? Then you need to get your ass over to Cobra Kai. Screw that lame meditation bullshit. What you need is bone-crunching, face-smashing, good ol' American karate. Enough about self-defense. Learn self-offense! Don't be a pussy. Join Cobra Kai, and let me teach you the way of the fist."
- ―Johnny Lawrence[src]
Cobra Kai is a karate dojo originally established by Terry Silver and John Kreese. Silver bought it for Kreese, his Vietnam War friend. In turn, Silver and Kreese had previously trained together under Master Kim Sun-Yung in South Korea.
Kreese instructs his students to be merciless towards their enemies, which makes the Cobra Kai vicious and unethical. In Cobra Kai, Johnny Lawrence re-opens the dojo 33 years after it closed. However, after a secret negotiation between the landlord and Kreese, Johnny lost his dojo to Kreese and takes back his dojo's namesake after 33 years.
The Cobra Kai karate academy was established by Terry Silver, a wealthy person who owns a toxic disposal business called DynaTox Industries. Terry bought the Cobra Kai dojo for his close friend John Kreese, who saved Silver's life in Vietnam several times when they were at war, as a gift of gratitude and friendship. In turn, Silver and Kreese had previously trained together under Master Kim Sun-Yung in South Korea.
Kreese instructs his students that an enemy deserves no mercy. He also teaches his students to use illegal strikes at the All Valley Tournament to disable their opponents, which makes the Cobra Kai vicious and unethical. Kreese's students competed in the All Valley tournament for years. In at least 1982 and 1983, Cobra Kai won it thanks to Johnny Lawrence, Kreese's best student.
The Karate Kid
In the first film, Johnny Lawrence, the leader of the Cobra Kai gang, and two time defender of the All-Valley Karate championship title, makes enemies with a high school senior named Daniel Larusso, the main protagonist, and constantly bullies him. One night, Johnny and his gang beat Daniel up in a merciless way until a man named Mr. Miyagi, who happens to be a martial artist, arrives and rescues Daniel. Daniel and Mr. Miyagi show up at the Cobra Kai dojo where they meet Sensei John Kreese, an ex special forces Vietnam veteran who dismisses the peace offering. Miyagi tells Kreese that Daniel will fight the his students at the All Valley Tournament and demands that the bullying cease when Daniel is training. Kreese agrees, but warns that if Daniel does not fight at the tournament, the harassment will resume and Miyagi will become a target. At the tournament, Daniel defeats Cobra Kai students Jerry, Jimmy, Tommy and Dutch, allowing him to make it to the semifinals. Johnny advances to the finals. Kreese instructs one of his compassionate students, Bobby Brown, to deliver a blow on Daniel’s leg. Bobby does so, getting disqualified at the process. Daniel is taken to a locker room where the doctor determines he cannot continue. But Daniel wants to. So Mr. Miyagi uses a pain suppression technique allowing Daniel to finish the tournament. As Johnny is about to be declared the winner by default, Daniel hobbles to the ring. Daniel fights Johnny, gets the upper hand, and gives Johnny a nose bleed. Kreese instructs Johnny to sweep Daniel's injured leg, an unethical move. Johnny looks horrified at the order, but does so under Kreese's intimidation. As Johnny is about to beat Daniel, Daniel assumes the crane stance and delivers a kick to Johnny's chin, winning the tournament and becoming the new champion. Johnny, having found respect for his nemesis, gives Daniel his trophy himself.
The Karate Kid 2
Furious over Johnny's loss to Daniel at the tournament, John Kreese attacks him at the parking lot. But Miyagi arrives and rescues Johnny. Miyagi immobilizes Kreese and is about to deliver a vicious blow to Kreese, but instead tweaks his nose and walks away. Following the incident, Johnny and the rest of the Cobra Kai's resigned from Cobra Kai as they now see Kreese as a truly vicious and unethical human being.
The Karate Kid 3
After a year of not having any students, Sensei John Kreese was ostracized and broke. With no way to go, he visits his Vietnam war comrade Terry Silver, the wealthy owner of a toxic disposal business, to hand in his key to the dojo. Silver won't accept the key, saying "I didn't buy it(Cobra Kai) for the rent, I bought it for you". Silver and Kreese scheme to take revenge on Daniel and Mr. Miyagi for humiliating Kreese and for the lost of his dojo and revitalize Cobra Kai. Silver sends Kreese to Tahiti to rest up and get his life back in order. Silver recruits 'Karate's bad boy' Mike Barnes to represent Cobra Kai and beat Daniel at the next All-Valley Tournament, in exchange for 25% (later 50%) of his new dojos. When Silver sneaks in to Mr. Miyagi's house, he overhears Daniel telling Miyagi that he will not be defending his title at the tournament this year. So Barnes and Silver's henchmen force Daniel to sign up for the tournament. After a series of confrontations, Daniel signs up for the tournament. Silver offers to train Daniel at the Cobra Kai dojo, which is the next phase of his plan for revenge. Throughout Daniel's training, Silver forces Daniel to hit a wooden dummy, which makes his knuckles bleed. And Daniel's frustration alienates himself from his closest friends. Daniel eventually destroys the dummy, which makes Silver declare that Daniel is ready for the tournament. One night, Daniel and his best friend, Jessica Andrews, go to a nightclub. There, Silver bribes a man to fight Daniel. Daniel punches the man's nose and Jessica storms out of disgust. Shocked by his behavior, Daniel apologizes to Miyagi and Jessica and tells Silver at the Cobra Kai dojo that he will not fight at the tournament. Silver reveals his true agenda to Daniel and Barnes and Kreese enter the room. After Barnes viciously assaults Daniel, Mr. Miyagi arrives and defeats the three men. Daniel decides to fight at the tournament and Miyagi trains him. At the tournament, Silver gives Cobra Kai t-shirts to the crowd and announces that he will open a chain of Cobra Kai dojos. He also instructs Barnes to inflict as much pain on Daniel and then beat him at the sudden death round. Barnes does so, and Daniel was afraid of him and cannot continue, but Miyagi encourages him to continue. In the sudden death round, Daniel does the kata that Miyagi taught him. When a confused Barnes attacks, Daniel flips him into the ground to win the tournament. Disgusted and humiliated, Silver walks away from Kreese and Barnes while the crowd throws the t-shirts to them. Cobra Kai was shut down for good (or so it seemed).
The Next Karate Kid
While Cobra Kai isn't seen or mentioned, Alpha Elite seems very similar to Cobra Kai.
Pre Cobra Kai
At some point (After the tournament in 1985 most likely) Cobra Kai was banned as a result of Silver's, Kreese's and Barnes's unethical actions. It can be assumed that Cobra Kai was left vacant for the next 33 years, but the Dojo was still left standing.
34 years after the events of the first film, and 33 years after the events of the third film, Johnny, seeking redemption, reopens the Cobra Kai dojo with money from his stepfather Sid, who no longer wanted anything to do with him. This is where he begins teaching his neighbor Miguel Diaz who is being bullied. However, his rivalry with Daniel is reignited when he reopens the dojo. Daniel, who is now a rich auto dealer influences the landlord to double the rent just to close down the dojo. Johnny has a tough time searching for more students. However, Miguel eventually helps him get more students when he demonstrates Johnny's teachings against a group of school bullies. Johnny learns that Cobra Kai was banned from the All-Valley Tournament in 1985 following the events of Karate Kid III, which Johnny was not aware of as he had quit Cobra Kai about 1 year prior. Johnny convinces the committee minus Daniel and one other to reinstate Cobra Kai. Miguel manages to win the tournament for Cobra Kai. Back in the dojo, John Kreese who was thought to be dead comes into the dojo, and congratulates Johnny for winning. He also tells him that this is only the beginning for Cobra Kai, and that Johnny still has a lot more to learn. Johnny felt bad how he taught his students to use illegal moves and no mercy fighting to win the tournament. He even made Miguel and the rest of students bigger bullies than he was originally taught to be. John Kreese is back to help and start their revenge against Daniel LaRusso for putting the Cobra Kai out of business.
Johnny wants nothing to do with Kreese at first, but gives him a second chance and allows him to co-teach with him when the latter apologizes and fixes the second place trophy Kreese had destroyed 34 years earlier. Johnny attempts to make his students better by banning cheating and unethical moves. He even tells Miguel how his merciless approach and lack of honor came back to bite him in order to motivate Miguel to be a better man than him.
Under Johnny's nose, however, Kreese corrupts several of Johnny's students particularly Hawk and manipulates them into acting more viciously. Under his orders, a few students trash the rival dojo, Miyagi-Do Karate, which is run by Daniel, and Hawk steals Miyagi's badge of honor. While Johnny is away meeting his former Cobra Kai friends, Kreese betrays Johnny by meeting with the landlord and striking a deal with the latter to get full ownership of the dojo. After finding out what Kreese has been doing, Johnny kicks him out of the dojo.
During a major school brawl between Cobra Kai and Miyagi-Do, Miguel defeats Robby Keene, the son of Johnny and a member of Miyagi Do, but listens to Johnny's advice by showing him mercy. Robby, however, then angrily attacks Miguel and kicks him off a railing, injuring him severely and rendering him unconscious.
Johnny feels guilty about what happened to Miguel. When he returns to the dojo, he sees Kreese teaching several of his students. He confronts Kreese and tells him to get out, but Kreese reveals that he was able to acquire the dojo while Johnny was away. Now Kreese has full ownership of the dojo and several of Johnny's students have turned on Johnny and become loyal to Kreese.
An angry Johnny coldly tells Kreese he can have the dojo, and then walks out.
John Kreese's Way of Training
Much of Kreese's way of training is unknown, however it follows two different Creeds.
The first Creed, spraypainted proudly on the walls is:
- Strike First
- Strike Hard
- No Mercy
The second Creed shows emphasis on the third rule:
"We do not train to be merciful. Mercy is for the week. Here, on the streets, in competition: A man confronts you, he is the enemy. An enemy deserves no mercy."
While, much of the art isn't shown. there are glimpses of training in the dojo. Such as punching practice and physical fitness training. The latter of which, is used more as a punishment. Kreese's favored method is push-ups on the knuckles. On top of physical training, Kreese's philosphy is to win at all costs. Whether it's injuring an opponent, or exploiting said injury. A notion only 2 students disagreed with.
Johnny Lawrence's Way of Training:
While Lawrence does borrow things from Kreese's way, his way seems to both deconstruct and reconstruct the Creed in an effort to help the students better themselves. While not emphasizing the Miyagi family's attitude of "Karate for defense only", he has also discarded Kreese's cruelty. Lawrence seems to promote the concept "the best defense is a good offense", but also warns students that certain moves could result in severe bodily injury and are only to be used in extreme scenarios.
Lesson 1: Strike first. Strike Hard.
The first lesson. Strike first. Strike Hard. The Cobra Kai teacher first asks if a student is ready. If answered yes, then without warning, the teacher will throw the student onto the ground. Demonstrating the lesson. To never wait for the enemy to attack. The Cobra Kai teacher then teaches the meaning of Strike First: That to strike first, you must know how to strike. To demonstrate he brings out a Body Opponent Bag or B.O.B. to demonstrate both the strike and the vital areas. The strike, known as the Cobra Strike, is comprised of two components. The lunge, which incorperates the whole body strength. As well as the bite, which ends with the fist. To punch, you don't just end at the surface, you have to punch through your opponent as though you are trying to hit the person behind them. For better motivation, the Cobra Kai teacher tells his student to imagine their enemy.
Training 1: Pushups on knuckles.
Borrowed from Kreese. The pushups are less of a punishment and more standard training. Designed to increase the student's arm strength. However it still can be used as a punishment as demonstrated when Miguel walked in on Johnny and Daniel's confrontation and asked if he needed to do them as punishment for interrupting. They are later incorperated as such, when Johnny dresses down Miguel and Hawk, for fighting dirty in the torunament. Should you fail to do so on your first try, The Cobra Kai teacher compensates by telling his student to do alternatives such as Crunches. However eventually the student will master the pushups.
Traning 2: Manual Labor
The instructor requests the student clean and paint. Unlike the Miyagi-Do way, which was intended to teach moves through muscle memory, this was intended to bring the dojo up to code. Although used for the personal benefit of the sensei, it was also part of the student's training to focus on tasks at hand even if they did not have anything to do with fighting. Like the Miyagi-Do way, questions were disallowed.
Training 3: Learn to Kick
To do this, the Cobra Kai teacher must take their student to a body of water. Be it a swimming pool or a lake. Whichever has a deep point. The student is then fitted with a rope around their hands to restrain them and told that to kick they need to increase the strength of their legs. Without warning, the Cobra Kai teacher pushes the student into the water and tells them to kick up with their legs. When they manage to stay affloat for 10 minutes that's when the next half of the lesson is taught. To demonstrate the kick strength, the student must learn how to front kick on a series of boards, representing the vital areas of an opponent, such as the kneecaps, stomach and face.
Lesson 2: The Best Defence is More Offence
While learning how to strike is good, a Cobra must also learn how to defend itself from oncoming attacks and counterattacks. That's where the next batch of training comes into play.
Training 4: Jogging
On top of continuing the pushups, one must jog. The student can do this training anywhere. It is designed to increase your cardio and endurance.
Training 5: Baseball Launcher
To test the reflexes and get a student used to getting hit in the process, the Cobra Kai teacher will use a ball launcher. This demonstrates the speed of an opponent's strike and the student is required to prevent the balls from hitting vital areas using blocks.
Training 6: Slither
The Cobra Kai teacher will have you in a head lock, repeating the phrase "What does a Cobra do?" The answer is to "Slither" or to strike the ribs, move out of the lock and lock one of the arms.
Training 7: Sparring
When the Cobra Kai teacher, feels that the student is ready, they will personally spar with them. When you defeat them, that's when you've learned. However, don't underestimate them just because they are on the ground, for they may have a friend that will strike you from behind. In the teacher's case, the remote to the ball launcher.
Lesson 3: Cyberbullying is for Pussies.
According to Sensei Lawrence, real bullying is done to your face. With honor and the guts to back it up. That those who use anonymous accounts to bully and harass people are a bunch of spineless losers. And that to truly fight bullying one must send a message, not with your keyboard, but with your fist.
Training 8: Breaking in new student.
The training prior to this while it can apply to a group, has more or less been applied to one student. Whereas here, when more students show up the most trained one must test their skils against the newer one. As demonstrated when Miguel strikes Aisha. The newer one is required to in turn retaliate as best they can. As demonstrated when Aisha in turn overpowers Miguel. Once the demonstration is over, the new Cobra is required to train in the same way the trained Cobra is trained.
Challenge 1: Fight to earn your Gi.
In this challenge, you must first find yourself in a confrontation. Preferably where you're the one defending yourself. Incorperate the lessons you've been taught prior and once successful, the Cobra Kai teacher will award you with your very own Gi. The Gi comes in two variations: Student White. The standard amongst Karate students. Tournament Black. The standard formal wear for competitive fighting.
Lesson 4: Weed Out The Weaklings
Presumably the result of Challenge 1, would up the students' reputation and would cause many potentials to show up. However since there are so many in the start, it requires the Cobra Kai teacher to be more harsh. This lesson is required, because in real life no one cares about boundries, laws and rules and would do anything to provoke or dominate you. Those that understand, stay and train. Those that don't, leave. Those that disagree will be used as an example and most likely thrown to the floor.
Training 9: Flip the Script
This is more of a confidence booster rather than actual training. If the student has a physical deformity, a mental disorder or just downright has social problems. They are required to take those problems and turn them into feats of strength. Case in point Eli "Hawk" Moskowitz. When he started out, he was insecure about his cleft palate even when corrective surgery is applied. As a result he barely spoke and was also implied to be on the autistic spectrum. After a few words from Johnny, he changed his look and attitude. Donned a mohawk and tattoo and became a berserker similar to that of Dutch.
Training 10: Flinchers Get Punched.
This training is designed to know what a hit feels like, so one doesn't flinch pre-emptivlely. To do so, before the end of the session, senior students will line up the newer students. Who in turn get punched one by one, very hard to the face.
Lesson 5: Be Better than your Best
Once your training is complete for the most part, the Cobra Kai teacher will take you to an abandoned junkyard. Where he will motivate you into pushing yourselves beyond your best. This is mostly to prepare the students for the upcomming tournament.
Training 11: Obstacle Course
This obstacle course requires you to do the following
- Running through tires to increase endurance.
- Running through a balance beam over a dumpster full of sharp rusty metal. To make the student quick on their feat and increase balance.
Training 12: Destroy Your Enemy
This training is more to give a proper outlet for your anger and to sharpen you up for your future fights. The Cobra Kai Teacher will give you a blunt object such as a bat or a stick and tell you to smash up any abandon cars you can find.
Training 13: Dog Dodge
To demonstrate who is hungrier, the Cobra Kai Teacher will hand their students pieces of meat to lower their guard. Then will blow a dog whistle to summon a pack of hungry dogs to their students. The students are then required to avoid them as best they can. Lest they want their leg to be dog lunch.
Lesson 5: No Mercy
This lesson is more for motivation and can be summed up in one quote.
"You've all learned to Strike First. To be aggressive. To not be losers. I've taught you to Strike Hard. To put every ounce of your power behind everything you do. But I haven't taught you the third rule of Cobra Kai: No Mercy. The older you get, the more you're gonna learn, that life isn't fair. You wake up one morning feeling great and then life throws a spinning heel kick to your balls and takes a big steaming shit in your mouth. You get an F on a test. You get suspended. You fall in love with a girl, then some other dude comes and steals her away. Your car gets set on fire. Just when you think things are going good, everything falls apart. That's how it goes. Life shows No Mercy. So neither do we. We do whatever it takes to keep our heads above water. We do whatever it takes to keep moving forward. We do whatever it takes to win. Remember who you are. You're badass. You don't give a shit. You kick ass!! You're Cobra Kai. "
Lesson 6: The Two Cobras in The Jungle
Following the tournament, Sensei Johnny Lawrence realized that without restraint, he inadvertantly turned the students into the very people he and his fellow students used to be in 1984. So he implimented a lesson in an attempt to reign it in. He was specifically mad, that Miguel and Hawk resorted to illegal tactics to win. To prove his point he asks the following:
"Two Cobras in the jungle. One kills the strongest lion. The other kills a crippled monkey. Which Cobra do you want to be?"
The correct answer is the Lion. For a Cobra is most badass when they beat the animal at it's strongest. Not when their back is turned, not when they are injured. Failure to comply to the new rule, will cause the offenders 50 pushups on your knuckles. As well as the rest of the class, to be reduced to white belts to further motivate them.
Training 14: Move Forward Or Get Stuck
As further punishment, both for the events of the tournament and for arrogance; the Cobra Kai Students are required to go to a remote location and mix cement until it is ready. The Cobra Kai teacher, then brings out a cement mixing truck to pour the cement inside. Once it's good enough for the students to be up to their knees inside, they are required to step into the mixer and push it manually like a treadmill. Combining their strengths to keep the cement going lest they be stuck. Once they mastered this training, they will be hosed down and fit for another training session.
Training 15: Exercise Till One Breaks.
This is less of a training exercise and more of a punishment. While Miyagi-Do is considered an enemy of Cobra Kai, the Cobra Kai teacher will not tolerate petty retaliation. In one instance the teacher was accused of vandalizing Miyagi-Do Dojo. The teacher had no knowledge of such an event and in an effort to get a student to fess up, the entire school was forced into a rigorous set of training. This includes but not limits to Squat Thrusts. While a punishement it also tests the will of the students. However another Cobra Kai teacher, has twisted it, in an effort to test the loyalty and conviction, similar to that of Sparticus. First by pointing out one student responsible, then holding the rest responsible for his/her actions.
Challenge 2: Red vs Black
This challenge is meant to test one's skills in the real world. It is similar to that of the games Capture the Flag and Predator and Prey. The object of the challenge is simple: The game itself takes place in a remote location, such as a forest. The students are divided into two teams. One wears red bandanas and the other wears black. The goal is to find spots to hide and then seek out the opposing team. Then steal their headbands off them by any means necessary. Whichever team gets the most headbands wins the challenge.
Lesson 6: Mercy
Due to controversial events between Sensei Kreese and Sensei Lawrence, the latter has opted to change the creed of Cobra Kai for the better. In a call back to Training 14, those who don't move forward get stuck like cement. The lesson summed up in this quote.
"To be a great fighter, you got to learn to adapt. This creed on the wall. Follow it to the letter and it will make you strong. It will make you formidable, but it will also make you an asshole. Because that's just black paint on a white wall, but life's not black and white. More often than not, it's grey. And it's in those grey areas, when Johnny Lawrence's Cobra Kai sometimes shows mercy. It doesn't mean you can't be badass. Thatt's still a requirement, but you have to learn to think not just with your gut or your fists. To really use this (your head)."
Training 16: Headbutting
To preceed the lesson, the Cobra Kai teacher will teeach the students headbutting. Each student is paired off with a partner, where one proceeds to headbutt and the other proceeds to receive the headbutt. The Cobra Kai teacher will also instruct the proper way. Tuck in your chin and aim for the nose and/or the crown of your head.
List of Students
- Johnny Lawrence (Former top student and Sensei)
- Bobby Brown (Formerly)
- Jimmy (Formerly)
- Dutch (Formerly)
- Tommy (Formerly, deceased)
- Jerry (Formerly)
The basis of the Cobra Kai fighting style has been a subject of fan debate for years. The style seems to incorporate elements of Tang Soo Do, Shotokan, Judo / Jiujitsu, and American military hand-to-hand, as well as other arts. In The Karate Kid Part III it is revealed that John Kreese and Terry Silver studied under Master Kim Sun-Yung in South Korea before the events of the films, but this is not solid evidence that the Cobra Kai style is based strictly on Korean martial arts. All in all it appears to be a mixed style with an emphasis on aggression and an overall "whatever works" philosophy.