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"Look, I wasn't taught the difference between mercy and honor, and I paid the price for it. If I'm extra hard on you, it's only because you have the potential to be better than I ever was."
―Johnny Lawrence to Miguel Diaz [src]

John Lawrence, commonly referred as Johnny, is the secondary antagonist of the original Karate Kid and one of the main protagonists of the Cobra Kai web series. He was the top student and later ex sensei of the Cobra Kai Dojo.

Background

Pre-Karate Kid

Johnny was born on August 20, 1967 to Laura Lawrence. It is unknown who his father is as Johnny has never seen him in his life. At some point Laura married a rich man named Sid Weinberg.

Johnny as a young kid, was very feeble and distant. He Growing up with Sid who was often rude and abusive toward him, Johnny would often distance himself through use of his Walkman. However, one day while strolling home, Johnny came across a karate dojo by the name of Cobra Kai. Inside he found John Kreese teaching his students, which inspired Johnny greatly. He excitedly talked about the dojo with his mother and asked his stepfather if he could study karate, but Sid ridiculed him and relented only after Laura convinced him to let her son learn karate, thinking it could help him make friends. Johnny was enrolled into Cobra Kai and became a star student, winning the All-Valley tournament in 1982 and 1983, and not losing a single point in the latter.

When Johnny and his friends attended a screening of Rocky III in the summer of their sophomore year, they sat behind a group of girls. His fellow Cobra Kai friend Dutch threw milk-duds at the girls, before one of them, Ali Mills, stood up and confronted him. This was the first time Johnny formally met Ali, and he soon went on to form a two-year relationship with her.

In the summer of their senior year, Johnny and his friends went to a bar and got so drunk that he missed Ali's birthday, which led to her ending the relationship. Johnny was very adamant about getting back with her, but never truly got his chance.

Karate Kid (1984)

On the last night of summer, Johnny and his friends from Cobra Kai drive their motorcycles to a beach party. He reminds his friends that he wants to be an "ex-degenerate" but immediately becomes jealous when he sees Ali with an unfamiliar boy. He drives down to confront Ali, but she rejects all his advances, and the two quickly get into a fight. Daniel LaRusso intervenes, trying to stick up for Ali. Johnny quickly pushes Daniel down, and the two get into a brawl against Ali's protests in which Johnny wins and leaves.

In the following weeks, Daniel occasionally falls under the ire of Johnny and the rest of the Cobra Kai gang, who harass him.

During a Halloween school event, Johnny was in a bathroom stall about to smoke a joint, when Daniel put a hose over him and drenched him with water. Johnny, enraged, gathered his friends, and chased Daniel down the street, before cornering Daniel and beating him up. That's when, unexpectedly, Mr Miyagi showed up, defending Daniel and knocking out Johnny and his friends.

Miyagi and Daniel later showed up to the Cobra Kai Dojo, requesting of John Kreese that his students leave Daniel be until the All-Valley Tournament. Agreeing, Johnny was forced not to lay a hand on Daniel, which allowed Daniel to taunt Johnny until the day of the Tournament arrived.

Once the day of the All-Valley Tournament finally arrived, Johnny rocked his way up to the finals, where he was pitted against his now-rival, Daniel LaRusso. While Johnny put up a good fight, especially with his opponent having an injured leg, Daniel ended up defeating Johnny using the Crane Technique.

Karate Kid Part II (1986)

Following the tournament, Johnny argues with John Kreese in the parking lot about how he did his best despite winning second place. Kreese, enraged by Johnny's loss, destroys his trophy and calls him a loser. Johnny insults Kreese, but Kreese quickly puts Johnny into a headlock.

Johnny's friends unsuccessfully tried to save him from Kreese, before Mr Miyagi stepped in and defused the situation. Daniel and Miyagi then left Johnny in the parking lot.

Karate Kid Part III (1989)

Johnny appears in a montage at the beginning of the movie. He along with his friends most likely left Cobra Kai following Kreese's assault against him after his loss in the tournament as in the present day Kreese is revealed to have no students left at the Cobra Kai Dojo.

When arguing with Terry Silver about the Krane kick, Daniel references his victory over Johnny by saying that the Krane kick worked the last time, which angers Silver who in return basically tells him that his opponent Mike Barnes is way stronger than Johnny by replying "last time you weren't fighting this".

Pre-Cobra Kai

In the three decades since the tournament in 1984, Johnny's life had gone downhill. He greatly detested his job as a home-improvement worker and moved to Reseda from Encino Hills. He fell victim to alcohol and was living life as a drunk. In the early 2000s, Johnny had a relationship with Shannon Keene, who gave birth to his son, Robby, on February 4, 2002. Prior to Robby's birth, Johnny's mother died. Grief-stricken that he lost the only parent he had, and terrified at the prospect of becoming a parent himself, Johnny chose to drink at the diner across the street from the hospital where his son was born. His relationship with Shannon ended at some point, and Johnny reportedly neglected Robby since birth.

Cobra Kai (2018)

Season 1

in 2017, while living in Reseda, Johnny worked as a home-improvement worker but was fired after an argument with a customer. Afterwards, Johnny went to a convenience store where he encountered a group of high school students bullying his neighbor Miguel Diaz. The bullies provoke Johnny after they pushed Miguel into his Pontiac Firebird. After a brief fight in which Johnny defeats the posse of students, Johnny was arrested. The next night Johnny is at home drinking when he has a flashback of his high school days and goes out for a drive.

While driving around the city at night he ends up at the All-Valley Sports Arena where he was defeated by Daniel LaRusso and was nearly choked to death by his own sensei, John Kreese. While having some more flashbacks, Yasmine who was with two other girls end up smashing into his Pontiac Firebird, an enraged Johnny attempts to chase after the teenagers but the crash disabled his car. His car ends up being towed to Daniel LaRusso's car dealership and for the first time in 34 years, he comes face to face with Daniel. Daniel is happy to see Johnny and has his car repaired for free. While at the dealership, Johnny recognizes one of the teenagers from the night before as none other than Daniel's daughter. After his visit at the dealership, Johnny decides to re-open Cobra Kai and his neighbor Miguel becomes his first student.

After a few months with only having one student (Miguel), Cobra Kai becomes very popular and he gets a full dojo. Afterwards, Johnny decides to try to make amends with his son, Robby. After he hears a commotion outside his apartment he discovers Daniel's cousin smashing his car with a bunch of biker goons. Enraged Johnny defeats the goons and makes Daniel's cousin tell him where he lives. Johnny goes to Daniel's house to confront him after almost getting into a fight Daniel gets Johnny a new car to compensate for his cousin's actions. During this, Daniel and Johnny begin to bond, but after Johnny discovers Daniel had been teaching his son karate Johnny gets angry and shoves Daniel into his karate trophies. After a night of binge drinking, Johnny goes to the All-Valley Tournament with his class. After a dominant performance from his class, Miguel defeats his own son Robby by fighting dirty in the championship round. After celebrating his victory at the dojo, a shadowy figure walks in who congratulates Johnny. The figure emerges and turns out to be his old sensei, John Kreese.

Season 2

Johnny is shocked that Kreese is alive. He however is still angry at Kreese and even attacks him. Despite struggling at first he is able to get the better of Kreese, but shows mercy to him as he does not want to be him, while Kreese does not feel the same way and he kicks him. Kreese tries to convince them they should work together at the dojo but Johnny refuses as he is a better person and knows he is still evil. At the dojo, he scolds Miguel and Hawk for their cheap shots at the tournament, announces that cheating will no longer be tolerated, strips all his students to white belts, and forces Miguel and Hawk to do 50 push-ups.

However, when Kreese fixes his second place trophy from 1984 All-Valley Tournament and apologizes to him for the way he acted Johnny forgives him and allows him to co-teach with him at the dojo.

When Miguel and Hawk find out that Robby is Johnny's son, they believe he is being hard on them because they dishonorably attacked his son and even confront him. Johnny reveals that while Robby is his son, he does not tolerate cheating and tells them to mind their own business. However, he soon tells Miguel how badly he screwed up with Robby and that what he likes the most is training him. He even advises him not to be merciless like him as he paid the price for that.

Under Johnny's nose, Kreese poisons several of Johnny's students minds particularly Hawk and gets them to be more ruthless. When Daniel confronts Johnny about destroying his dojo, Johnny tells him he does not know what he is talking about as he had nothing to do with that and was unaware Kreese ordered Hawk and some other of his students to do this. Johnny then tries to get one of them to reveal that they destroyed the dojo by punishing them, but no one cracks. Johnny however, gets a phone call which forces him to leave for the day but not before telling Kreese to run the dojo.

Johnny goes to a hospital where he meets former Cobra Kai friends Bobby and Tommy and soon Jimmy. Tommy has been diagnosed with cancer. Knowing that Tommy does not have much time to live, the four spend the day hanging out so Tommy can spend his final day having good memories. That night, Tommy admits that he had feelings for Ali and encourages Johnny not to give up hope that he can change the course that his life took. Tommy dies in his sleep, which devastates his friends. Upon his return to his dojo, Johnny finds out that Kreese has been poisoning his students' minds and turning them into corrupt and vicious human beings, and angrily forces Kreese to leave the dojo for good.

Johnny develops a crush on Miguel's mom Carmen but is upset when she is seeing someone else. However, when he notices that her date is unfaithful, he beats him out and forces him not to see her again. He then asks her out and the two go on a date. However, when Daniel and his wife Amanda LaRusso come to the same restaurant and have to sit with Johnny and Carmen both Johnny and Daniel are unhappy. At first, they brag about their dojo's but after some time the two bond, joke around and appear to be getting along. Johnny even finds out from Carmen that the LaRussos had enrolled his son into his alma mater, which he appreciates.

After Johnny comes home from his date someone knocks on his door. He thinks it's Carmen, but when he opens the door he is shocked to see Robby and a drunk Sam. He allows them to spend the night. He tells Robby the following morning that he will have to tell Daniel what happened, but Robby tells him not to and that he will take the fall. However, when Daniel knocks on Johnny's door, Johnny admits that Sam is inside but does not allow in Daniel until he calms down, and shuts the door. Daniel then kicks the door open and the two have a brief fight until Sam and Robby intervene. Daniel angrily takes Sam home.

Johnny takes Robby to his first day of school and has an awkward conversation with his son about the LaRussos, with Johnny ignoring a phone call from Miguel. After Miguel is rushed to the hospital as a result of Robby kicking him off a railing at school, Johnny goes to the hospital. At the hospital, Carmen blames Johnny for Miguel's injury and tells him she does not want to see him again, Johnny listens to a voicemail Miguel left earlier and peaks in Miguel's room who is lying unconscious causing him to cry and feel guilty.

Johnny goes back to the dojo where he sees Kreese training several of his students. Kreese tells him he and a landlord made a agreement for him to take full ownership of the dojo. Several of Johnny's students are now training with Kreese, and Hawk blames him for Miguel's injury. Johnny angrily leaves the dojo.

Johnny goes to the beach where he angrily throws his phone into the sand. He then spots the Cobra Kai logo on his car and in disgust, throws his keys into the car and walks away. Unbeknownst to him Ali whom he sent a Facebook message to has sent him a friend request.

Fighting Style

Johnny is a highly skilled and aggressive fighter. During his younger days he would often strike first, coming at his opponents with vicious combos. His main strength is offense, but does show solid defense which is evidenced during his fights with Daniel, Kyler and his gang, and Kreese. He is able to take on multiple opponents with relative ease.

Personality

Karate Kid

Johnny was an arrogant bully who repeatedly bullied Daniel due to the latter becoming friendly with his ex-girlfriend Ali. During the finals of the all valley tournament however, he expresses shock when Kreese tells him to sweep Daniel's foot, which shows that Johnny does know when to draw the line. After losing to Daniel he personally hands Daniel the trophy and congratulates him, this showing he is a good sport.

Karate Kid 2

Johnny defends himself against Kreese when the latter berates him for losing the tournament. He even calls Kreese a loser. By this point it is clear that Johnny sees Kreese's true colors.

Cobra Kai

Season 1

34 years after his defeat in the All-Valley tournament Johnny Lawrence is a bitter man. Divorced, working as a handyman and stuck in the past, Johnny barely understands the world of the 21st century. Smartphones and the internet baffle him and modern music nauseates him. Most galling of all, however, is Daniel LaRusso's success. Everywhere Johnny goes he is bombarded by ads for the LaRusso auto dealerships, serving as a constant painful reminder that his old rival has succeeded where he failed.

Johnny's relationship with his son Robby is strained due to Johnny neglecting him his whole life, which has made Robbie resentful towards his father, and bent on doing everything he can to make Johnny suffer. While Johnny has expressed the desire to make amends with Robby and Robby himself did seem to want to work things out with Johnny after Shannon tells him Johnny wanted Robby to live with him, Robby goes back to disliking him after seeing Johnny hugging Miguel, though Johnny was unaware that Robby saw him. Despite their failed relationship Johnny does care about Robby, and Robby in turn does show that he does care for Johnny by accepting his apology following his loss in the all valley tournament.

After Johnny begins training his neighbor Miguel he teaches him to be merciless. However, over the course of the first season of Cobra Kai he begins to care for Miguel and realize that he is the only person that has not given up on him. Miguel becomes something of a surrogate son for Johnny.

In the 6th episode of the first season of The Cobra Kai it is revealed that when Johnny was a kid he was nice and caring but was often bullied and ridiculed by his stepfather Sid. In the ninth episode of the first season of Cobra Kai Johnny tells Daniel that he was often bullied by Sid. It is possible that Sid's poor treatment played a role in Johnny becoming an aggressive bully.

Following the Cobra Kai winning the All Valley tournament, Johnny begins to feel guilty that his karate lessons have turned Miguel into a vicious and dirty fighter.

Season 2

Johnny tries to be a better and more honorable person. His attempts include scolding Miguel and Hawk for their cheap moves in the tournament, announcing to his students that cheating won't be tolerated, advising Miguel not to be merciless like him, giving his old sensei Kreese a second chance as he believes he has changed, and beating up Carmen's unfaithful date.

Johnny shows that he still cares about Miguel by telling him what he appreciates the most is training him, and advising him to be a better man than he ever was. He even develops a crush on Miguel's mom Carmen but becomes jealous of her date. However, after finding out her date is unfaithful he beats him up and forces him to never go near her again. He and Carmen then go on a date.

After Kreese returns, Johnny wants nothing to do with him but after the latter fixes his second place trophy and apologizes for the way he treated him, Johnny, believing he has changed allows him to co-teach with him at the dojo. However, under his nose Kreese poisons several of his students' minds and makes them more ruthless. When Johnny finds out he kicks Kreese out.

He still cares about Robby even though the latter is still angry with him. He even tells Miguel how badly he screwed up with Robby. However, when Robby's girlfriend Sam gets drunk at a party Robby takes him to Johnny house where they spend the night. The following morning Johnny takes him to school. They seem to be on good terms.

Unfortunately everything comes crashing down for him in the end during a school fight when Miguel tries to apologize to Robby and Robby kicks Miguel over a railing, severely injuring him, which breaks Johnny's heart and causes Carmen to break up with him as a result, Kreese takes over the dojo and kicks Johnny out, and several of Johnny's students have joined Kreese and accused Johnny of Miguel's injury. Johnny now feels like he has failed.

Trivia:

  • In the original Karate Kid Johnny was seen as the main villain, until the end where it was revealed he was a misguided teenager that was influenced to behave this way by the true main villain.
  • Johhny can be compared to the following Star Wars characters: Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader and Obi Wan Kenobi
    • Similar to Anakin and Vader he started out as a good person, but after being exposed to the dark side he turned and became corrupted. However after realizing his mistake he redeems himself.
    • Similar to Obi Wan he is a mentor and friend to his student Miguel.
  • Johnny never knew his father
  • According to johnny Tommy beat Darryl Vidal in the quarterfinals of the All Valley Tournament
  • Johnny beat Tommy in the finals of the 1983 All Valley Tournament

Gallery

References

  1. We know that Daniel LaRusso was born in December 1966. We also know that Johnny Lawrence was born eight months after Danie Larusso, placing Johnny's birth around August of 1967, making him almost 51 years old in Cobra Kai, and Daniel almost 52.
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