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If you watched all of the exhilarating fight sequences that comprised Cobra Kai’s first two seasons on Netflix, you may have found yourself wondering just how involved the young actors got when it came to the stunt work. It turns out that Cobra Kai faced a problem behind the scenes whenever the kids started training.
If you thought that Cobra Kai’s action sequences looked convincing, there is an incredibly good reason. It lies with Hiro Koda, the stunt coordinator for Cobra Kai, as well as Stranger Things. Koda has shed light on what happened when the cast's younger generation began training for the TV spinoff, he paints an interesting picture, to say the least. On the kids' evolution, Koda told this to The Beat:
And [the] progressions of those characters kind of worked with each of them because they were all new from the very beginning, and they’re learning martial arts on the show as they were progressing. The difficult part was some of them got very good, very quickly, and we had to hold them back and say, ‘Well, you can’t be that good yet. You’ve got to kind of slow it down a little bit and not look as good.’ But then you have Billy Zabka [and] Ralph Macchio, those guys already had prior training from doing The Karate Kid years ago. Ralph didn’t continue training, but Billy did continue to train martial arts for a while after those films were shot. So bringing those guys in was like dusting off the cobwebs and getting them back into it.
Hiro Koda did not name names when it came to the younger actors, but it sounds like certain cast members on the now-Netflix series got so good at their martial arts technique that they had to put their acting skills to use to act like they weren't already badasses. It was an excellent and fairly unique problem for Cobra Kai to have, I suppose. Can you imagine how sloppy things might have looked if it went the opposite way?
Meanwhile, returning Karate Kid actors Ralph Macchio and William Zabka got off to a different start when reprising their beloved roles, at least in terms of their respective martial arts knowledge. Hiro Koda explained that Macchio had not kept up with his training over the many years since, while Zabka had done so for a time. From the sound of things, Koda still had to give both stars a refresher, but anyone who thought Johnny Lawrence looked that much more polished than Daniel LaRusso in Season 1 is a little more justified now.
Whatever the case, it is fun to learn that the actors had a similar learning curve to their Cobra Kai counterpart, which adds a layer of realism that adds to the underlying excitement of watching the show, from that twisty Season 1 finale to that of Season 2. As more of a new fan, I cannot get over the incredible action sequences that propel the series.
Cobra Kai’s arrival on Netflix has taken viewers by storm. As of this writing, the Karate Kid sequel series is currently #2 in the United States, according to Netflix’s handy metric. It arrived on the streaming giant towards the end of August, and the buzz has not let up, and curiosity about the former YouTube Red/Premium series continues to grow among the biggest streaming audience out there.
Spoilers for Cobra Kai’s first two seasons get discussed beyond this point.
One thing that has not yet happened in a full-scale fashion is Daniel and Johnny coming to blows in an all-out fight. There were hints at such a brawl when Johnny and Daniel got into a bit of a scuffle towards the end of Cobra Kai Season 2. Nevertheless, William Zabka and Ralph Macchio’s refreshed martial arts skills were on full display, so fans can expect them to look even more top-notch in Season 3.
Cobra Kai boasts a dazzling group of younger characters for the adult characters to mentor. Hiro Koda’s training undoubtedly paid off, and is still doing so. The jaw-dropping Season 2 finale speaks to how well they were trained. I am excited to see what Season 3 holds for all of them. It will be an interesting one, considering what Daniel knows about Mr. Miyagi.