‘The Karate Kid’ is one of the most iconic films of the 1980s. It not only went to become a timeless classic but also had a pivotal role in people’s renewed interest in karate. The sequel series ‘Cobra Kai,’ after its premiere in May 2018, heralded a resurgence of popularity of the original movie and reintroduced Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) and Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) to a whole new generation of audience. In ‘The Karate Kid’ franchise, their characters are accomplished martial artists and karate practitioners. If you are wondering whether Macchio and Zabka also know karate in real life, we got you covered.
Does Ralph Macchio Know Karate in Real Life?
Over the years, Macchio has emerged as a global ambassador of karate, a role that the ‘Crossroads’ star clearly enjoys. However, in a 2020 interview, Macchio implied that he had no karate experience before the first film, which came out in 1984. He received only “a couple of weeks” of training from Pat Johnson, who served as the stunt coordinator and trainer on ‘The Karate Kid.’ He also portrays the chief referee in the All-Valley Karate Tournament.
According to Macchio, he received a lot more training before ‘The Karate Kid Part II’ (1986). “When we did this back in the day, we practiced it all day,” Macchio stated. “It was a ballet. We barely touched each other.” The former ‘Dancing with the Stars’ contestant added that the dance training he received when he was younger helped him learn the fighting moves. “I had a little bit of dance training as a kid, and these fight scenes are choreography, so I was decent at learning the choreography,” he recalled.
“And I had long, lanky limbs, so I had that sort of crane-pose kind of look … so I used that to my advantage,” Macchio summed up. Even though he hasn’t received any formal training in karate, Macchio seems to exude the teachings of Miyagi-Do. “As far as a technical fighter, I had a long way to go then and I have a long way to go now,” he said in the same interview.
Does William Zabka Know Karate in Real Life?
Like Macchio, Zabka didn’t have any karate training before signing for the first film. However, he was a wrestler in high school. So, he was physically prepared for the training that the role required. Zabka came from the advertising world. As a result, he simultaneously received lessons in acting and martial arts.
“I was training four hours a day, five days a week for a month of just rehearsing and then throughout the two-month shoot,” Zabka recalled. “So I had about three months of training, every single day. I got worked, man. I walked home like spaghetti. My legs were falling out. My back was killing me. But Pat Johnson training me — he just knew what he was doing, and he got me into shape.”
He added, “And martial arts actually fixed my back. Ralph and I choreographed that final fight — and all the fights — every day until we fought the final fight in the movie.” Zabka later underwent formal martial arts training and received a second-degree green belt in Tang Soo Do. His children have followed in their father’s footsteps and are also martial arts practitioners.