"No such thing bad student. Only bad teacher. Teacher say, student do."
―Mr. Miyagi[src]

Nariyoshi Miyagi (Japanese: 宮城成義) is the deuteragonist of The Karate Kid and the teacher and mentor of both Daniel LaRusso and Julie Pierce.

Biography

Family History

He was 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 Chinese wife, his two kids, and the secret of Miyagi family karate. This, along with Miyagi's claim from the first film that his ancestor derived karate from Chinese te, implies that Shimpo, like many Okinawan karate masters, was trained in Chinese martial arts during his stay in China. The secret of the Miyagi family karate appears to be a Den-den daiko, on which the drum technique is based. Other aspects of the style involve the crane technique, breathing technique, techniques from the kata Tensho (wax on wax off) and the kata Seiunchin (third movie).

Early Life

Miyagi was born June 9, 1925 in Tomi Village, Okinawa, Japan. During his childhood, he learned karate originally from his father, who had been a fisherman. Miyagi claims his first fishing lesson from his father was in the quiet waters of Okinawa at the age of two. Miyagi initially had a job working for the father of his best friend, Sato, who was also taught karate by Miyagi's father.

In 1940[1],  Miyagi fell in love with a young woman named Yukie, who was arranged to marry Sato, as pre-arranged marriages were a custom in Okinawa at the time. Miyagi made a big speech about wanting to abandon this tradition so he could marry Yukie. Sato felt dishonored by this, and challenged Miyagi to a fight to the death. To avoid the fight, Miyagi left Okinawa during the night and emigrated to the USA.

Emigrating to Hawaii as a teenager, he worked as a farm laborer in the cane fields, where he met his wife, who was also a farm laborer. The two eventually came to Los Angeles, where he attended the University of California - Santa Barbara.

After Pearl Harbor was bombed in 1941, the US officially announced formal entry into World War II. At first Japanese and Nisei citizens were discouraged from volunteering, and those already in active service were demoted to reserve units over fears of sabotage.

Military Service

In January 1943 the US army issued a call for Japanese-American volunteers, Miyagi was probably among the initial recruits, most of whom came from Hawaii, as those on the mainland were reluctant to volunteer while their families remained in internment camps. For fear of espionage due to the Japanese lineage of the solders, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team was sent to the European theater, Stationed primarily in Italy and fought the Battle of Anzio. While Miyagi was in the war, his wife, who was pregnant, was held at the Manzanar internment camp.

Miyagimedals.jpg

Over the course of his military service, Miyagi was promoted to Staff Sergeant and was highly decorated. Miyagi's unit was the 442nd Infantry Regiment, one of the most highly decorated regiments in the history of the United States Armed Forces, including 21 Medal of Honor recipients. Miyagi was one of them, having earned not only the Medal of Honor, but also the Silver Star, Bronze Star, Army Commendation Medal, Purple Heart, Presidential Unit Citation, Army Good Conduct Medal, American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team Service Identification Badge. During his military service he formed a very close friendship with his commanding officer, Lt. Jack Pierce, after he saved Miyagi's life. Miyagi taught him the art of karate in exchange for formal dance lessons.

But, unfortunately, while he was away in the war, Miyagi suffered the greatest personal tragedy of his life. His wife and their son died in Manzanar due to complications during childbirth when there were no doctors there to help. This was a loss that haunted him for decades, and he never remarried or had children, living a relatively solitary existence.

Pre The Karate Kid (1984)

A younger Miyagi proudly overlooks his garden

What Miyagi did in the interim between the war and 1984 is not fully known, given his later career as a maintenance man it can be assumed he gained at least some basic level of electrical and plumbing knowledge. At some point Miyagi built his garden, something he was proud of and continued to work on until he passed away. He also spent some time restoring a collection of classic cars, these included a blue and white Nash Metropolitan, a yellow 1947 Ford Super Deluxe convertible, a 1951 Cadillac sedan and a 1951-53 Pontiac woodie wagon.

The Karate Kid

In 1984, Mr. Miyagi works as a maintenance man in Daniel's apartment building. On one night, when Daniel is being beaten up by a bunch of Cobra Kai students, Mr. Miyagi swoops him and defeats the Cobra Kai's. He then takes Daniel to his house to treat him. The following morning, Miyagi and Daniel go to the Cobra Kai Dojo where Miyagi tries to persuade Cobra Kai's sensei John Kreese to tell his students to leave Daniel alone. Kreese, however, isn't having it and forces Miyagi to have Daniel fight Johnny. Miyagi wants the odds to be more even for Daniel and suggests that Daniel and the Kais match up at the All-Valley Karate tournament a few weeks from then. Kreese likes the challenge and agrees. He also agrees to order his students not to touch Daniel until then.

Over the next few weeks, Miyagi has Daniel to "chores" such as waxing cars with a sponge by moving his hands and arms in a circle, sanding the walkway, staining his fence and painting his house. Daniel however is frustrated that Miyagi is making him doing chores instead of teaching him Karate. Daniel eventually confronts Miyagi, who in turn tells him to show him the motions he'd been using to do the chores. After doing so, Daniel realizes that all the chores Miyagi has made him do are really defense tactics, reflex and muscle building activities. Miyagi then attacks Daniel who counters all his strikes.

As the weeks go by, Miyagi continues to train Daniel and improve his technique. He continues to improve his defense techniques. He teaches him to main strong balance and display offense. Daniel is able to learn the crane kick from Miyagi.

At the All Valley Karate Tournament Daniel reaches the semifinals. In the semifinals he faces Cobra Kai student Bobby Brown who reluctantly and regretfully under Kreese's order illegal kicks and injured Daniel's knee. Daniel is taken to the locker room where a medic tells him he won't be able to finish the competition.  Daniel asks Miyagi to use acupressure to fix his knee. Though Miyagi tells him that has nothing left to prove, Daniel insists he will never be able to achieve his life's balance if he knows his tormentors have gotten the best of him. Miyagi agrees and partially heals Daniel's leg.

Daniel returns to compete in the finals. Right before the final round of the match begins Daniel takes up the crane technique pose and with an approving look from Miyagi, waits for Cobra Kai's top student Johnny Lawrence to make his move. Daniel kicks out with his leg and connects with Johnny's chin, scoring a third point and winning the match and title. Miyagi gives Daniel an approving smile when he yells to him that they did it.

The Karate Kid Part II

Following the tournament Miyagi notices Kreese berating and choking Johnny for losing. He goes to Kreese and persuades him to let Johnny go, who threatens to attack Miyagi next. An angry Miyagi pulls Kreese of Johnny. An angry Kreese attacks Miyagi, who dodges his attacks, which causes Kreese to punch car windows, severely injuring his hands as a result. Miyagi is ready to deliver a heavy blow, only for him to tweak Kreese's nose, making him unconscious as a result.

Six months later, Miyagi learns that his father is dying, and returns to Okinawa, where he is reunited with his childhood crush Yukie. He even runs into Sato, Miyagi's childhood friend who still holds a grudge Miyagi trying to against marry Yukie. Sato relentlessly tries to goad Miyagi into a fight him but Miyagi just wants to make peace with Sato. Miyagi's father unfortunately dies.

Even after his fathers death Sato is bent on fighting Miyagi. He goes as far as to destroy the village in order to fight Miyagi. After seeing Sato destroying the village an angry Miyagi agrees to fight him. However, after Miyagi saves Sato from death during a typhoon, Sato renounces his hate and the two make peace.

On one night when Kumiko, Yukie's Niece is performing Sato's bitter nephew Chozen grabs her and forces Daniel to fight him. Miyagi and Sato try to encourage Chozen not to dishonor Sato but Chozen refuses. While Chozen is getting the upper-hand in his fight with Daniel, Miyagi advises Daniel to stand down, which then allow Daniel to flip him over. Eventually Miyagi brings out his hand drum and beats it, which allows Daniel to understand how to win and he ultimately beat Chozen. Similar to what Miyagi did to Kreese after the tournament, Daniel makes Chozen unconscious by tweaking his nose.

The Karate Kid Part III

After returning from Okinawa, Miyagi is left unemployed while Daniel is left homeless due to the South Seas Apartment being sold and the new owner deciding to tear it down and turn it into a spa. Miyagi however allows Daniel to stay at his house. Daniel decides to start a Bonsai tree store after seeing Miyagi upset about having to give up his prized Bonsai Trees. While Miyagi advises him not to do that as he knows Daniel's college education is more important, Daniel uses his tuition money to purchase a Bonsai store. The two then work together at the Bonsai store.

At first Daniel wants to re-enter the All Valley Tournament so that he can defend his title. Miyagi however tells him not to which Daniel eventually agrees to. Unbeknownst to Miyagi however However Daniel is soon forced to enter the tournament by Mike Barnes, who unbeknownst to Daniel for a long time has been hired by Terry Silver to beat and harm Daniel in the tournament as revenge for causing his war buddy Kreese's students to quit Cobra Kai following the previous tournament, which ruined Kreese's life.

One day while Miyagi is teaching Daniel at his house, Terry shows up and gives a both Miyagi and Daniel a fake apology over Kreese's behavior after the All Valley tournament, as well as lies to them about Kreese dying as a result of losing his students in order to gain their sympathy. Unaware that Terry is lying, Miyagi and Daniel accept his apology and apologize for what happened to Kreese.

When Daniel decides not to participate in the tournament, he goes to Cobra Kai to tell Terry he does not want to compete, only for Terry to reveal his true motives. Mike and then Kreese appear where the former attacks and beats up Daniel. Miyagi however, who had followed Daniel to the dojo unbeknownst to Daniel, Terry, Kreese and Mike, shows up and beats up Mike, Kreese and Terry. Following this, Miyagi trains Daniel for the tournament.

While Miyagi's teachings seem to be futile in the finals as Barnes repeatedly gets the better of Daniel and even scares him, causing Daniel to lose hope, Miyagi is able to pull him together, and Daniel is ultimately able to win the tournament in the sudden death round by using the Kata move on Mike. After Daniel wins the tournament, he runs and hugs Miyagi.

The Next Karate Kid

Miyagi goes to Boston where he meets his deceased war buddy's widowed wife's granddaughter Julie Pierce, who is angry over her parents recent death. He stays in Boston in order to take care of Julie. While she is cold to Miyagi at first, as time goes by the two bond and Miyagi teaches her karate the same way he taught Daniel.

His lessons allow her to beat up a bully and Alpha Elite student named Ned Randall. After defeating Ned, Miyagi successfully defeats and humiliates Alpha Elite sensei Colonel Paul Dugan, who has been corrupting his students into behaving violently and unethically. Miyagi and Julie leave after defeating Dugan.

Pre-Cobra Kai

Even after Daniel's victory in the 1985 All valley tournament, Miyagi and Daniel continued to keep in touch. The Bonsai store that they opened in 1985 ultimately failed. While it hasn't been confirmed whether or not Daniel trained with Miyagi after the All Valley Tournament in 1985, it can be implied that he has, as in Cobra Kai Daniel remembers Miyagi's lessons and practices them, and Daniel himself is much more skilled fighter than he was as a teenager. Miyagi unfortunately passed away on November 15, 2011 which deeply saddened Daniel.

Cobra Kai

Season 1

Mr. Miyagi apparently left his house to Daniel, as Daniel now owns the property. 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 by becoming a mentor to Robby Keene. He is mentioned several times by Daniel and seen in a few flashbacks.

Season 2

Miyagi is referenced by name several times when Daniel is teaching Miyagi-Do Karate to his students. When Daniel is going over the lessons Miyagi taught him with Robby, Miyagi appears in a flashback teaching Daniel. When Daniel reunites with Kreese, the latter taunts Daniel on Miyagi's death, which Daniel counters with reminding Kreese of his disastrous brawl against Miyagi. As some Cobra Kai students destroy Daniel's dojo, Cobra Kai student Hawk steals Miyagi's Medal of Honor, which incenses Daniel and intensifies the rivalry between the two dojos. The medal is eventually returned by Cobra Kai student Miguel Diaz to Robby, who was staying at the LaRusso home. One day Kreese shows up at Daniel's house where he threatens Daniel with with war between both the Cobra Kai and Miyagi Do Dojos, as well as insults Miyagi's death a second time by saying regards to Mr Miyagi, which angers Daniel. After Daniel is forced to stop Miyagi-Do Karate by Amanda because of a school karate war between his students and Johnny's, which resulted in Sam getting hurt and Miguel getting severely injured, Daniel goes home where he takes down a photo of Miyagi and apologizes for failing his master's teachings.

Personality

"You are about to meet the greatest guy. This guy, he's funny, he's smart. I mean, you got a problem, he's got the answer. He's like no one you'll ever meet. And on top of that, he just happens to be my best friend."
Daniel LaRusso to Jessica Andrews[src]

Mr. Miyagi has a deep philosophical knowledge of life and extraordinary martial arts skill. Mr. Miyagi is a genuinely caring, warm-hearted, and friendly person. He possesses deep and abiding wisdom but also a sly, sarcastic sense of humor. He is a great mentor to both Daniel and Julie, and becomes a father figure to both of them. Despite being a highly skilled fighter he is never aggressive and will only fight in order to defend himself, showing that he does not allow his power to corrupt his mind. Even after his death in 2011, his memory lives with Daniel who uses his teachings to mentor Robby and strives to be as good of a teacher as him.

Miyagi was not without his regrets, however. The loss of his wife and child while he was in the European theater of WWII haunted him for decades. He never remarried, living a solitary life afterwards. When he met Daniel, it apparently filled a void in his life left by the loss of his child.

Fighting Style

A true martial arts master, Miyagi possesses extraordinary skill. Primarily a counter-fighter, his ability to read an opponent's intentions is exceptional. He often waits for his opponent to attack, then dodges with one quick, economical motion that positions him perfectly for a counter. Miyagi never wastes movement; whether on offense or defense his techniques achieve maximum results with minimum effort. Aside from the standard strikes his Miyagi-Do Karate also incorporates an arsenal of throws and joint manipulation techniques. Miyagi's karate training has also allowed him to achieve practically superhuman feats, such as splitting a giant wooden beam in half and catching an incoming arrow from an archery master with his bare hand.

Due to his age and small size Miyagi's opponents constantly underestimate him, and he uses this to his advantage. Miyagi often uses his opponents' body weight and offense against them, and the core of his karate is defensive-minded. It takes a lot of balance and technique to do this properly, but in Miyagi's hands this style is much more effective than any aggressive one. Daniel also seems to be at his best when he follows his mentor's example; he defeats the aggressive and physically dominant Mike Barnes with a powerful counterattack after switching to a superior guard position taken from Miyagi's kata.

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 a wife, two children, and the secret of Miyagi family karate.

With the exception of Chozen (who hit Miyagi on accident while his back was turned), no opponent in the entire Karate Kid series has ever successfully landed a strike on Mr. Miyagi.

During the storm in The Karate Kid Part II, Mr. Miyagi uses a karate chop to snap a wooden beam similarly thick but much longer and heavier than the plank Sato was unable to dent with multiple strikes, heavily implying that Mr. Miyagi would've won if they were to actually fight.

In The Karate Kid Part III, Mr. Miyagi defeated Mike Barnes in 3 seconds, John Kreese in 12 seconds and Terry Silver in 32 seconds.

Name

There is some debate as to what exactly Mr. Miyagi's first name is, since it varies depending on the source consulted. His name is never mentioned once in the first three Karate Kid films, as he is only referred to as "Mr. Miyagi". However, in The Next Karate Kid, he is called Keisuke Miyagi at his military reunion. As such, Kesuke or Keisuke is the most commonly used first name for Mr. Miyagi.

As written in Japanese characters seen in The Karate Kid Part II, his name is 宮城成義. That was translated into English as "Nariyoshi Miyagi" on his gravestone as seen in the Cobra Kai television series.

In the 1989 animated television series, he is referred to as "Miyagi Yakuga", however this is not considered canon.

Gallery 

Trivia

  • In 2015, Mr. Miyagi was inducted into the Fictitious Athlete Hall of Fame in the Contributor Category.
  • Mr. Miyagi's death date is almost six years after the death of his actor Pat Morita, who passed away on November 24, 2005.
  • Pat Morita earned an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor nomination for his performance in The Karate Kid.
  • The Karate Kid screenwriter Robert Mark Kamen stated that Mr. Miyagi was named after Chōjun Miyagi, the founder of the Goju-ryu karate style.
  • Mr. Miyagi trains the player and is a hidden unlockable fighter in the game Reality Fighters for the PlayStation Vita. He wears his trademark outfit, uses a fishing pole as a weapon, repeatedly mentions his bonsai-growing, and makes subtle references to the Karate Kid, including the fly-and-chopsticks exercise.

    Miyagi as he appears in Reality Fighters

  • At the start of The Karate Kid part two Miyagi recounts the events with Sato which happened "45 years ago", August 1940 is also the latest date Miyagi could possible emigrate to the US, as September of that year Japan joined the second World War making emigration extremely unlikely and in 1941 Pearl Harbor was bombed, making emigration to the US by a citizen of the Japanese empire near impossible. This creates an issue with his age, as Miyagi claimed to be "just 18 years old" when talking to Sato later in the movie, but the birthdate seen in Cobra Kai would make him 15.
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