The Untold Truth of Mr. Miyagi from The Karate Kid

When Mr. Miyagi agrees to train Daniel to defend himself in “The Karate Kid”, the young man is not fully aware of what he is getting into. On the first day, Mr. Miyagi assigns Daniel to wash and wax his vast collection of classic automobiles. Lessons continue with other chores such as hand sanding the deck, painting the house, and painting the fence – both sides! Mr. Miyagi gives precise instructions on how each job should be done, and unbeknownst to Daniel, he is being taught karate through muscle memory. Moreover, Mr. Miyagi finally takes care of this to-do list.

Fans of the franchise came to know this style of martial arts as Miyagi-Do. Although this ancient style, passed down from Mr. Miyagi’s family for years, does not exist in the real world, it serves Daniel well for three films. We learn more about the origin of Miyagi family karate in “The Karate Kid Part II”, when Daniel accompanies Mr. Miyagi to his home village in Okinawa to say goodbye to his dying father.

In real life, Miyagi-Do mostly resembles the karate style of Goju-Ryu, roughly translated as “hard-soft”. Dr. Hermann Bayer, an Okinawan karate expert, said Geek’s Lair in 2021 that “karate legend Miyagi Chojun named the style ‘hard-soft’ in the mid-1930s.” The balance of solidity and softness present in the style fits well with Mr. Miyagi’s own philosophies overall.

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