John Kreese

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John Kreese
The Karate Kid, Cobra Kai character
First appearanceThe Karate Kid
Created byRobert Mark Kamen
Portrayed byMartin Kove[1]
OccupationKarate instructor, vietnam war veteran

John Kreese is a fictional character who appears in The Karate Kid series of films created by Robert Mark Kamen.[2] He serves as the main antagonist of the original Karate Kid film as well as in The Karate Kid Part III. He also appeared in the opening scenes of The Karate Kid Part II. He has returned as an antagonist in the Cobra Kai web television series.[3]

The Karate Kid[edit]

Sensei John Kreese (Martin Kove; Patrick Logan (young)) is a Vietnam War Veteran and the sensei of the Cobra Kai dojo. He instructs his students to have no mercy towards their opponents.

In the first film, Kreese's best student, Johnny Lawrence, has a conflict with Daniel LaRusso. In response, Mr. Miyagi teaches Daniel karate. When Daniel and Miyagi resolve the conflict at the Cobra Kai dojo, Miyagi proposes that Daniel enter the All Valley Under-18 Karate Championships tournament where he will face the Cobra Kai students and demands that the conflict cease while Daniel trains. Kreese agrees. At the tournament, Daniel reaches the semi-finals while Johnny advances to the finals after defeating a highly skilled opponent. Kreese instructs Bobby Brown, one of his more compassionate students and the least vicious of Daniel's tormentors, to disable Daniel with an illegal attack on the knee. Bobby reluctantly does so, getting disqualified in the process. However, Daniel recovers and ultimately defeats Johnny, becoming the new champion.[4]

The Karate Kid Part II[edit]

Furious, Kreese attacks Johnny in the parking lot, but is stopped by Miyagi, who easily defeats Kreese and humiliates him in front of his students. Kreese's abusive behavior results with him losing his students and going broke.

The Karate Kid Part III[edit]

Kreese visits his Vietnam war comrade Terry Silver, the wealthy owner of a toxic waste disposal business who offers to help Kreese gain revenge on Daniel and Miyagi and re-establish Cobra Kai. Silver sends Kreese to Tahiti to rest while he hires Mike Barnes to harass Daniel and beat him in the tournament. However, at the tournament, Barnes loses to Daniel and Cobra Kai is shut down.

Cobra Kai[edit]

Kreese returns in the first-season finale of Cobra Kai and faces his former pupil Johnny Lawrence.[5][6][7] In Season 2, Kreese asks Johnny for forgiveness for attempting to kill him after losing to Daniel back in 1984. He also explains that after the original dojo closed down, he spent his life running strikes during the Gulf War and training soldiers in the War in Afghanistan. The animosity between the two cools down when Johnny allows Kreese to attend Cobra Kai classes as an observer. When his students become concerned about Kreese's attitude and his war stories that do not add up, Johnny follows his former sensei to a homeless shelter. Kreese admits that he failed a psychological test when he attempted to re-enlist in the army and his war stories were lies. Upon realizing that Kreese has been teaching his students the old ways of Cobra Kai, Johnny kicks him out of the dojo. After Miguel is severely injured in his fight with Robby at school, the students lose faith in Johnny and side with Kreese, who reveals to Johnny that he convinced strip mall landlord Armand Zakarian to take the dojo away from him. Now being its sole sensei, Kreese hopes to turn Cobra Kai back to the ruthless organization it was.[8]


The character of John Kreese was originally written for Chuck Norris, but he turned down the role because he thought it would give karate a negative image.[9] The character was based on Robert Mark Kamen's friend Ed McGrath.[10] Martin Kove got the role by being verbally abusive towards the director.[11]


The character has had a mostly positive reception from critics and is viewed as a quintessential 1980s villain.[12][13][14]


  1. ^ "Cobra Kai: Kove Explains Why John Kreese Had To Join the Karate Kid Sequel". CBR. 29 April 2019. Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  2. ^ "Behind the scenes of the original Karate Kid movie". Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  3. ^ "Martin Kove Explains How John Kreese's Vietnam Backstory Led to 'Cobra Kai' [Interview]". /Film. 22 April 2019. Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  4. ^ Powell, Larry; Garrett, Tom (19 December 2013). "The Films of John G. Avildsen: Rocky, The Karate Kid and Other Underdogs". McFarland. Retrieved 11 May 2019 – via Google Books.
  5. ^ "Original 1980s 'Karate Kid' villain Martin Kove returns in YouTube's 'Cobra Kai'". USA TODAY. Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  6. ^ Andreeva, Nellie; Andreeva, Nellie (25 May 2018). "'Cobra Kai': Martin Kove Becomes Series Regular For Season 2 Of YouTube Show". Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  7. ^ Husband, Andrew; Longo, Chris (April 8, 2019). "Cobra Kai Season 2: How Will Kreese Affect The Dojo?". Den of Geek. London, England: Dennis Publishing. Retrieved May 11, 2019.
  8. ^ Thompson, Simon. "Martin Kove Talks 'Cobra Kai' Season Three Plans And 'The Karate Kid' Legacy". Forbes. Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  9. ^ "Movie Legends Revealed - Did Chuck Norris Turn Down 'The Karate Kid'?". CBR. 14 January 2015. Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  10. ^ Inc, Active Interest Media (1 May 1994). "Black Belt". Active Interest Media, Inc. Retrieved 11 May 2019 – via Google Books.
  11. ^ News, A. B. C. "5 Things You Never Knew About 'Karate Kid' 30 Years Later". ABC News. Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  12. ^ Ryan, Dennis. "Ten Movie Douchebags We Can't Help But Love". AskMen. Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  13. ^ Pockross, Adam (28 June 2018). "Exclusive: Martin Kove on Cobra Kai's far-off future and John Kreese possibly being 'human after all'". SYFY WIRE. Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  14. ^ Singh, Timon (11 July 2018). "Born To Be Bad: Talking to the Greatest villains in Action Cinema". BearManor Media. Retrieved 11 May 2019 – via Google Books.