Once in a generation there comes a piece of cinema that becomes a cultural legend. The Karate Kid captured an era of American glory that was the 80’s and enthralled us with the timeless tale of an underdog who overcomes the greatest of odds. The story of a skinny kid from New Jersey, forced to face the problems of being a social outcast, becomes one of heart as he befriends a karate master from Okinawa. Through their growing relationship, each must challenge personal problems in their own lives as well as the burden of being outsiders from the local culture. Aside from becoming a cult hit and a staple in American cinema culture, The Karate Kid provides invaluable lessons for life and how to live it. Here are the 10 lessons The Karate Kid taught us:

1.) Brown People To The Rescue

The Karate Kid

Don’t let that good ‘ol American heartthrob routine fool you; Daniel Larusso is not white. Well, okay. Nominally he fits the bill. But compared to the rest of his co-stars, he’s about as ethnic looking as Mr. Miyagi (almost). Both Daniel-san and Mr. Miyagi spend an entire film proving that true heroes can get a serious tan. Check out that golden brown skin.

2.) White People Are Evil


Cobra Kai

If there’s anything “movie magic” has been able to accomplish over the generations, its making sure that the brown “bad” people responsible for everyone’s problems die quickly and horribly. The Karate Kid turns this tradition on its head and unabashedly stars white people at the helm of evil, reminding us that even though no one dies, they probably should have. White boys haven’t been this evil and unpopular since the Nazis.

3.) Soccer Is Really Cool



Before 2010 and Landon Donovan, the average American regarded soccer as a sport for FOBs (Fresh of the Boats) and males who could never really cut it in American football. In traditional American machismo culture, Europeans and everything they do will always fall short of red-white-and-blue prowess and reduced to nothing, because, after all, we did kick the crap out of those red-coat SOBs. But the truth of it happens to be that Americans are sore losers and if we can’t win at it, we don’t care to participate. We’re like that annoying brother that hits the reset button during your winning match of Mortal Kombat—absolutely shameless. Daniel Larusso and his 80’s friends are the only kids brave enough to even be GOOD at soccer, let alone play it on an American beach in public.

4.) Losing a Fight Can Cost You Friends

Daniel shows us that losing friends hurts in more ways than one. After getting the stuffing beat out of him by some douchey white kid with a bandanna, Daniel’s one and only friend becomes embarrassed to have associated with someone so wimpy (when really, he should be embarrassed that he stood on the sidelines and did nothing). Here’s a tip kids: if you’re about to get pounded and you’re friend doesn’t jump in the fight with you, cut them off.

5.) Slave Labor = Karate Skills

About five minutes into watching Daniel-san sanding those decks in Mr. Miyagi’s backyard, I knew what was going on: free labor. The four-foot-tall Okinawa native was a shrewd business man who knew well how to sweet-talk any number of 16-year-old boys into pumping value into his personal assets—waxing his cars, painting his house, and who knows what else. It was a clever move, indeed, and I was taking notes: develop funny accent, use almost no grammar, pretend to know karate. It seemed easy enough. Little did anyone know that Mr. Miyagi was not some sleazy opportunist looking to shore up his retirement, but rather, the cute little genius we all secretly hoped for. This midget of a man basically found a way to teach you karate without you even knowing you were learning karate. MIND BLOWN. That’s on par with the Blue’s Clues and Barney the Dinosaur methods; think you’re on a sweet acid trip with cartoon characters? Nope, you’re learning stuff for the game of life.

5.) Teachers Are Super Important



Before he ever won that outrageous trophy, let’s face it, Daniel’s life and the people around him pretty much sucked. The kid had no guidance. It’s clear from the beginning that the kid’s father was out of the picture, and, if his mother had her way, she would have continued breast feeding him until the movie was over. She reminded me of that “Sheltered Suburban Mom” meme floating around the internet: good intentions, but totally clueless. That’s where Mr. Miyagi comes in—badass bearded dude from Japan. By the time Daniel tucks in his karate master after a night of binge drinking, they’re practically roommates. In a nutshell though, Mr. Miyagi teaches Daniel to face his problems with practical solutions and hard work—not whining about wanting to go home.

6.) Don’t Forget To Breathe

Yoga does this one, too. But if you’re too cool for wearing tight pants in a room full of hot chicks, then karate works just as well. While “teaching” Daniel-san to wax the cars and paint the fences, Mr. Miyagi always stresses the young boy’s attention to breathing. While it’s something we tend to expect, breathing deeply and fully is not something we do consistently. Check your breath the next time you find yourself in a stressful situation; I guarantee you’ll catch yourself holding your breathe once or twice during peak moments of concentration and anxiety. Aside from the crane kick that magically lands on his opponent’s face for the winning point, breathing well was the most important lesson Mr. Miyagi taught Daniel.

7.) Fighting Is Inevitable

For the amount of emphasis placed on “fighting is not good,” Daniel and Miyagi seem to do a shitload of it. So considering the amount of physical confrontations they engage in despite their said philosophy, either they’re the most hated men in their town, or they ARE the bullies. I’ll go with the former. The explicit message of the films tells us that fighting isn’t good, but the implicit message says we’ll always have to anyway.

9.) You’ll Never Look As Fly As The 80’s

The Karate Kid

Forget everything you know about looking good for a date. Daniel Larusso has got you beat. Ladies and Gentleman, take a good look at this young man, because you will never look as fly as this for a date—EVER. Only the savviest of fashionistas could think to match a candy red windbreaker with an oversized off-white shirt and matching pants. The 80’s was home to a brand of styles that will blow your mind and break your heart all at the same time. Daniel’s only fashion mistake was the spaghetti sauce later spilled all over his shirt after crashing into kitchen staff. Tomato sauce as a shirt isn’t very trendy.

10.) They Ain’t All Gold Diggers.


Love Interest

In his pursuit of an upper-class white chick, Daniel learns that  not all rich girls are looking for a rich dude. It’s the classic tale of how rebelling against your parents and their money can lead to a fling with the brown boy on the other side of the tracks. But hey, Daniel-san isn’t complaining. Giving the big “FU” to your girl’s ex-boyfriend and parents—simultaneously—is a feat best left to the expert and desperate heartbreakers. After all, Daniel did have to endure endless beatings, humiliation, and win an entire karate tournament. But that’s love for ya.


Mr. Miyagi