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"The answer's only important if you ask the right question."
―Julie Pierce to Mr. Wilkes[src]

Julie Pierce is the main protagonist of The Next Karate Kid. Julie is portrayed by Hilary Swank. She is one of the few characters from the movies that hasn't appeared yet in Cobra Kai.


Early Life

Julie was born in Boston, Massachusetts on May 30, 1976, and is an only child. She is the daughter of Susan Pierce and her husband. As a young girl, Julie was trained in Karate by her father. Julie loved her parents dearly, but when she was young, both of her parents were killed in a tragic and horrific car accident. Traumatized, the young girl was sent to live with her grandparents, Louisa Pierce and Jack Pierce. Her grandfather, Jack, was a Lieutenant who served in World War II. Her grandfather continued to train Julie in Karate, as he had trained her father before. It is unknown what he taught her. The only Karate move that was seen was the tiger move that she used to save herself when a car came by. Unfortunately, Julie would also lose her grandfather, leaving her with only her grandmother, Louisa, left. The frustrated Julie began to take out her anger and depression on her grandmother. As she no longer identified with anyone and did not want to get hurt, Julie crawled into a shell and hid from the outside world, using an aggressive and quiet façade to keep people from getting too close, as she did not want to lose anyone else. It is entirely possible that this is why Julie fought so much with her grandmother, she did not want to get too close to her as she had done with her previous family members. Julie did not have a good relationship with her and they would always get into fights because sometimes her grandmother is always overprotective whenever Julie makes a mistake. Julie learned to cope with loud music that would drown out the memories in her head.

The Next Karate Kid

Eventually, when Julie is in high school, Louisa meets Mr. Miyagi, who had served with Julie's grandfather in World War II, to Boston to attend a military reunion and awards ceremony for Japanese-American soldiers, who fought in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team during World War II. At Pierce's home, they catch up on old times and war stories. Louisa attempts to introduce Julie to Mr. Miyagi, but she ignores him, possibly because he is a connection to her grandfather, who was his commanding officer. Julie gets into a bad fight with her grandmother in front of Mr. Miyagi after her grandmother mistakenly calls Julie "Susan" - her mother's name. Mr. Miyagi learns that Julie is doing poorly in school, claiming that she doesn't need an education, and often sneaks out late at night. Sensing Julie's issues and offering to help, Mr. Miyagi offers to take care of Julie in Boston while Louisa tends to his house in Los Angeles. Louisa accepts. It is revealed that Julie sneaks out at night to take care for an injured hawk she named "Angel" that she keeps at her school. After Angel broke her wing, Julie had been taking care of her she would feed her, pet her, and show her lots of love. Julie kept Angel hidden on the top of the school roof in an old cage. There is also teenage boy who is attracted to Julie in her school, named Ned Randall. Julie dislikes Ned, mostly because he's a jerk most of the time in his awkward and aggressive attempts to get her to like him. Ned has ask Julie many times to go out with him but she always turned him down whenever she does he gets her in trouble by telling lies to the teacher and has her sent to the principal's office. Julie soon meet another teenage boy named Eric who quickly develops a crush on Julie, Julie dislikes him at first but when she started hanging out with him more she also starts to like him. This made Ned very jealous and tried to keep Eric away from Julie. Julie was arrested after breaking into the school to feed Angel and she was suspended from school for two weeks. Mr. Miyagi uses this time to take Julie to a Buddhist monastery to teach her the true ways of karate and how to handle her anger issues.

Julie learns through direct lessons about balance, coordination, awareness and respect for all life. She befriends several monks, including the Grand Abbot. The monks host a birthday party for her, giving her a cake and an arrow that Mr. Miyagi had caught while it was in flight in a demonstration of Zen archery. Upon Julie's return to school, she discovers that Angel is now able to fly, and Mr. Miyagi assists Julie in releasing the bird back to the wild. In preparation for the prom, Mr. Miyagi teaches Julie how to dance, and purchases her a dress. While Julie goes to the prom with Eric, Mr. Miyagi and the Buddhist monks go bowling. A local player challenges them, loses the match, and accepts their tutelage. Under the orders of Colonel Dugan, the Alpha Elite bungee jump into the prom. When one of the members breaks his arm, Eric shows concern, but Ned tells him to mind his own business. Eric drives Julie home and kisses her. Ned follows them, and smashes Eric's car windows with a baseball bat. Ned challenges Eric to a fight at the docks, and is joined by Colonel Dugan and the Alpha Elite. They set fire to Eric's car and severely beat him, but Eric is saved by Julie and Mr. Miyagi. Ned tries to grab Julie, but she challenges him to a fight. She holds her own, using the karate she has learned, until Ned cheats by throwing sand in her face. Despite the disadvantage, Julie defeats Ned and turns her back on him. Colonel Dugan bullies the rest of the group to continue the fight, but they refuse. Mr. Miyagi challenges Colonel Dugan to fight and wins, leaving the Alpha Elite disappointed in their instructor. The film concludes with Angel flying freely above the water.

Cobra Kai

Julie's life after the events of The Next Karate Kid is unclear. However, the writers of Cobra Kai; Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg, have shed some light on Julie's life after she met Mr. Miyagi. They have mentioned that Julie continues to apply Mr. Miyagi's karate and life lessons in her life to find stability and happiness and continued to stay in touch with Mr. Miyagi though it is unknown as to whether she remained living in Boston, Massachusetts or moved to Los Angeles, California. They also confirmed that Julie did, in fact, meet Daniel LaRusso at some point, though it was probably not until Mr. Miyagi's funeral in November 2011. It has not been made clear if Julie became friends with Daniel or if Julie stayed in a relationship with Eric McGowen, though both are quite likely. It is also unknown if Hilary Swank will reprise her role in Cobra Kai, or if the other characters from The Next Karate Kid will return. However since the film is recognized as canon and Hilary Swank is still alive, so a return is possible.

Season 2

When Daniel begins to teach Robby and Sam on their first day training together at Mr. Miyagi's house in the episode Back in Black, he mentions "It's been a long time since this dojo's had more than one student". This is an indirect reference to Julie.

Fighting Style

"Praying mantis always drop to one knee before strike."
Mr. Miyagi to Julie Pierce[src]

Julie jumped into a tiger position when a car almost hit her. She developed this reaction when her father taught her karate when she was a little girl. They practiced every night after school. Julie's father learned from his father, who learned from Mr. Miyagi. He later reinforced Julie's training with lessons at a Buddhist monastery in exchange for her completing late homework assignments.

Julie claims to not be very strong, but she does have speed; she was able to outrun the Alpha Elite, despite their physical training under Paul Dugan's tutelage. At the temple, Julie increased her strength to the point where she could kick open a falling bag of rice.

According to Mr. Miyagi, Julie has a good spinning back kick, but she needs work on her sword-hand block.


"She is always so very angry."
"Anybody who lose parent... have much grief. Grief trapped in the heart become big anger.
Louisa Pierce and Mr. Miyagi[src]

Julie was even more troubled than Daniel. Daniel's father had passed away when he was very young, but Julie lost both of her parents simultaneously in a car accident, followed by her grandfather a few years later. Julie hid her pain behind an aggressive and quiet facade to avoid talking about her problems, namely with her dead family. However, Mr. Miyagi ends up getting close to her and his teachings allow her to find the much-needed balance in her life by ending her rebellious nature and starting a relationship with Eric McGowen.

Julie's initial appearance that she shows the world is a confrontational loner who wants to be left alone. Julie's upsetting past causes her to be short tempered, even with people she loves such as her grandmother, and never tells people about her life. However, deep down, Julie is nice, smart and she is sometimes playful.

Julie would have been trained on how to wax cars and other household chores, much like Daniel, however she refused, saying that Mr. Miyagi does not "understand girls". This causes Mr. Miyagi to have to improvise and teach her different moves and physical activities. One of Julie's biggest problems was that she was beginning to forget her memories of her parents, since they died when she was so young. This caused her to feel resentful and angry towards the world. However, Julie begins to get past her guilt when she tells Mr. Miyagi that she wishes her parents got to see her in her dress for the dance, when he reminds her that they are watching.


Louisa Pierce

Louisa is Julie's maternal grandmother and guardian. Since her parents' deaths, Julie has developed a strained relationship with her grandmother. She refuses to talk to her about anything, which worries her. On a couple of occasions, Louisa accidentally calls Julie "Susan", which was her daughter's name. It's possible Julie reminds her a lot of her daughter because of that little mistake.

Mr. Miyagi

Mr. Miyagi is Julie's karate teacher. At first, when she meets Mr. Miyagi, she refused to talk to him, mainly because she had nothing to say to him. However, when her grandmother goes to California, Julie starts bonding with Mr. Miyagi. He starts acting paternal towards her when he prepares her for her date with Eric, protects her from the group of men at the gas station and tries to make sure she does well in school, and Julie even said that she thought that it was a pity that Mr. Miyagi never had a daughter because he would have been a wonderful father. Prior to Cobra Kai, Julie has always stayed in touch with and kept an extremely close relationship with Mr. Miyagi until he passed away on November 15, 2011 which deeply saddened Julie. At some point, either before or after Mr. Miyagi passed away, she met his other student, Daniel LaRusso.

Eric McGowen

Eric is Julie's classmate and love interest. At first, Julie didn't get along with him because he was part of the Alpha Elite, which she hated. She was also worried that since he knew about Angel, the hawk she was taking care of, that he would tell on her. When he takes her to the train-yard where he works, they establish a friendship. Later, when she's suspended from school, she asks him to take care of the hawk. He agrees if she admits that she would miss him while she was gone.

Ned Randall

Ned Randall is a bully who has a huge crush on Julie. He likes Julie very much but can be angry when Julie turns him down on dates, he often flirts with her when they're alone. When Ned spotted Eric talking to Julie, he told him to stay away from her and told him that she is his. He even had her arrested for breaking into the school to feed Angel. Later, after losing to a battle against Julie when she used the karate she learned from Mr. Miyagi to fight him, Ned was shocked when Colonel Dugan ordered Eric to be killed, and agreed with Charlie when Charlie called Dugan crazy, feeling that Dugan had gone too far. Ned made peace with Eric and Julie.

Colonel Dugan

Colonel Dugan is Julie and Mr. Miyagi’s second archenemy. Colonel Dugan is similar to Kreese, who controls the junior ROTC group in Julie’s school. Dugan hated Mr. Miyagi and Julie for interfering in his organization. Julie took down Ned in a match. Mr Miyagi faces Dugan in the main event that shuts down Dugan Organization.


  • Julie is the only other living pupil of Mr. Miyagi that is known of.
  • Julie, like Daniel, is not from Los Angeles. Daniel is from Newark, New Jersey and Julie is from Boston, Massachusetts.
  • Julie is the only person who Mr. Miyagi trained on how to kick and punch.
  • Julie is also the only person who Mr. Miyagi trained with music, as it was an important coping mechanism for her in the wake of the death of her family members.
  • Due to Julie's desperate need for balance and emotional stability in her life, she was the only person who Mr. Miyagi trained with Karate at an actual Japanese Buddhist Monastery.
  • Since Julie has not appeared in any of the 4 seasons of Cobra Kai, it is possible that she could return in the show's fifth season.