- "No such thing as bad student, only bad teacher."
- ―Mr. Miyagi [src]
Born June 9, 1925 in Okinawa, Japan. An Okinawan Japanese immigrant to the USA, Kesuke Miyagi learned karate originally from his father, who had been a fisherman. Miyagi initially had a job working for the father of his best friend, Sato, who was also taught karate by Miyagi's father. When Miyagi fell in love with a young woman named Yukie, who as arranged to marry Sato, Sato felt dishonored by this, and challenged Miyagi to a fight to the death. To avoid the fight, Miyagi left Okinawa and emigrated to the USA.
World War II military serviceEdit
After first arriving in Los Angeles, he attended the University of California - Santa Barbara and was later interned in the Manzanar Japanese internment camp at the onset of World War II. During this time, Miyagi joined the U.S. Army and received the Medal of Honor (he was a member of the 442nd Infantry Regiment, one of the most highly decorated regiment in the history of the United States Armed Forces, including 21 Medal of Honor recipients). He was also awarded the Silver Star, Bronze Star, Army Commendation Medal, Purple Heart, and the World War II Victory Medal. While in the Army, he taught his commanding officer, Lt. Pierce, the art of karate. During his service, Mrs. Miyagi and their son died in the Manzanar camp due to complications during childbirth, a loss that haunted him for decades. What Miyagi did in the interim between the war and the first Karate Kid movie is not fully known.
The Karate Kid filmsEdit
At the start of the first movie, he works as a maintenance man in Daniel's apartment building.
In 1985, Miyagi learns that his father is dying, and returns to Okinawa, where he is reunited with Yukie. Sato relentlessly tries to goad Miyagi into a fight, but after Miyagi saves Sato from death during a typhoon, Sato renounces his hate and the two make peace.
In the third movie, he and Daniel begin a business of growing bonsai trees.
In the fourth movie, he mentors the recently orphaned granddaughter of his former commanding officer and teaches her to dispel her anger through the healing powers of the Martial Arts.
In Cobra Kai, Miyagi is revealed to have died on November 15, 2011. Miyagi has apparently left his house to Daniel, as Daniel now owns Miyagi's house. The memory of Miyagi still continues to play a role in Daniel's life, as he seeks to regain balance by practicing karate once again and becoming a mentor to Robby Keene. Following the conclusion of the All Valley Karate Tournament, Daniel is concerned with the resurgence of Cobra Kai Dojo and decides to start his own dojo in response, locating it at the former residence of Miyagi.
Mr. Miyagi has a deep philosophical knowledge of life and has extraordinary martial arts skill. In the second film, Mr. Miyagi explains that he is descended from Shimpo Miyagi, who was very fond of both fishing and sake. One day in 1625 while fishing and very drunk, he passed out on his fishing boat off the coast of Okinawa and ended up on the coast of China. Ten years later, Shimpo returned to Okinawa with his wife, his two kids, and the secret of Miyagi family karate. Miyagi often uses opponents' bodyweights against themselves, and the core of his Karate is defensively-minded. It takes a lot of balance and technique to do that properly, but this style is much more effective than any aggressive one. It's not a coincidence that Daniel ends up winning against Barnes during sudden death overtime using a powerful counter-attack after switching into a superior guard position at the end of Miyagi's kata while he was totally outpowered when trying to hit Barnes first. Miyagi appears to actually rely primarily on Judo while fighting.
In 2015, Mr. Miyagi was inducted into the Fictitious Athlete Hall of Fame in the Contributor Category.