Kesuke Miyagi

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Kesuke Miyagi
Pat-Morita (Karate Kid).jpg
Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid
First appearance The Karate Kid
Last appearance The Next Karate Kid
Created by Robert Mark Kamen
Portrayed by Pat Morita (films)[1]
Fumio Demura (fight scenes in films)
Robert Ito (animated series)
Nickname(s) Miyagi Yakuga
Mr. Miyagi
Title Staff Sergeant (US Army)
Nationality Japanese American

Kesuke Miyagi (宮城健介 Miyagi Kesuke?), known as Mr. Miyagi and also identified in the film The Karate Kid, Part II as Nariyoshi Miyagi (宮城成義[2] Miyagi Nariyoshi?), is a fictional karate master played by Japanese-American actor Pat Morita.[3] Mr. Miyagi mentors the characters Daniel LaRusso and Julie Pierce in the Karate Kid films. Morita earned an Academy Award nomination for his performance in the first film.[4]

The Karate Kid screenwriter Robert Mark Kamen stated that Mr. Miyagi was named after Chōjun Miyagi, the founder of Goju Ryu Karate-Do.[5] Also, the karate style depicted in the movies is the Goju Ryu style.

Fictional biography[edit]

Early life[edit]

An Okinawan Japanese immigrant to the United States, Kesuke Miyagi learned karate originally from his father, who had been a fisherman. Miyagi initially had a job working for the father of his best friend, Sato, who was also taught karate by Miyagi's father. Traditionally karate was only taught from father to son but Miyagi's father taught Sato after a request from his son. When Miyagi fell in love with a young woman named Yukie, who was arranged to marry Sato, Sato felt dishonored by this, and challenged Miyagi to a fight to the death. To avoid the fight, Miyagi left Okinawa and immigrated to the United States.

World War II military service[edit]

After first arriving in Los Angeles, he attended Armijo High School, which is in Fairfield, California, and then he attended the University of California Santa Barbara and was later interned in the Manzanar Japanese internment camp at the onset of World War II. During this time, Miyagi joined the U.S. Army and received the Medal of Honor (he was a member of the 442nd Infantry Regiment, one of the most highly decorated regiments in the history of the United States Armed Forces, including 21 Medal of Honor recipients). While in the Army, he taught his Army commanding officer, Lt. Pierce, the art of karate. During his service, Mrs. Miyagi and their son died in the Manzanar camp due to complications during childbirth, a loss that haunted him for decades.[6] What Miyagi did during the time between the war and the first Karate Kid movie is not fully known. Due to the events in some of the films it is entirely possible he resorted to drink and depression.

The Karate Kid films[edit]

At the start of the first movie, he works as a maintenance man in Daniel's apartment building.

In 1985, Miyagi learns that his father is dying, and returns to Okinawa, where he is reunited with Yukie. Sato relentlessly tries to goad Miyagi into a fight, but after Miyagi saves Sato from death during a typhoon, Sato renounces his hate and the two make peace.

In the third movie, he and Daniel begin a business of growing bonsai trees.

In the fourth movie, he mentors the orphaned granddaughter of his former commanding officer and teaches her to dispel her anger through the healing powers of the Martial Arts.

Karate style[edit]

Mr. Miyagi has a deep philosophical knowledge of life and has extraordinary martial arts skill. In the second film, Mr. Miyagi explains that he is descended from Shimpo Miyagi, who was very fond of both fishing and sake. One day in 1625 while fishing and very drunk, he passed out on his fishing boat off the coast of Okinawa and ended up on the coast of China. Ten years later, Shimpo returned to Okinawa with his Chinese wife, his two kids, and the secret of Miyagi family karate. This implies that Shimpo Miyagi, like many Okinawan karate masters, was trained in Chinese martial arts during his stay in China. The secret of the Miyagi family karate appears to be a Den-den daiko, on which the drum technique is based. Other aspects of the style involve the crane technique, breathing technique, techniques from the kata Tensho (wax on wax off) and the kata Seiunchin.

2010 remake[edit]

Jackie Chan as Mr. Han

In the 2010 remake of The Karate Kid, the custodian-turned-sensei ("shifu" in Chinese martial arts training) is a Chinese man named Mr. Han (portrayed by Jackie Chan). Like Miyagi, Han is quirky, yet humble and kind, though somewhat less friendly and more conflicted. He is a maintenance man in Beijing's Beverly Hills Luxury Apartment complex, where Dre Parker lives. Unlike Miyagi, Han is a practitioner of kung fu who uses fire cupping in lieu of Miyagi's pain suppression technique, and elements of his backstory differ from Miyagi's, such as the circumstances surrounding his wife's and son's deaths.[7][8]

In this version, Han's wife was an amateur singer with the family name Zhang, and their 10-year-old son was named Gong Gong (C: 弓弓, P: Gōnggōng). While driving on a steep hill during a rainstorm, Han was distracted by an argument with his wife, and he crashed, killing her and Gong Gong. He becomes a recluse following their deaths, and he copes with the loss by annually repairing his car and dismantling it every June 8, the anniversary of their death. Like Miyagi to Daniel, Han acts as a father figure to Dre, and he trains him to win the kung fu "Tournament of Champions".

Appearance in Reality Fighters[edit]

Mr Miyagi trains the player and is a hidden unlockable fighter in the game "Reality Fighters" for PS Vita. He wears his trademark outfit, uses a fishing pole as a weapon, repeatedly mentions his bonsai-growing, and makes subtle references to Karate Kid (including a fly-chopsticks gag).


  1. ^ Sullivan, Patricia (2005-11-26). "Noriyuki 'Pat' Morita, 73; Played 'Karate Kid' Teacher". Washington Post. Retrieved 2010-05-21. 
  2. ^ "A scene from The Karate Kid, Part II". Retrieved 2015-07-09. 
  3. ^ Cowan, Jared (2014-06-17). "How a Movie Shot in the San Fernando Valley Made Us All The Karate Kid". L.A. Weekly. Retrieved 2015-07-09. 
  4. ^ "Holy trilogy of the 'Karate Kid'". ESPN. Retrieved 2010-05-21. 
  5. ^ The Karate Kid Blu-Ray
  6. ^ Maslin, Janet (1984-06-22). "SCREEN 'KARATE KID,' BANE OF BULLIES". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-21. 
  7. ^ "Jackie Chan: "Karate Kid's" New Mr. Miyagi?". Huffington Post. 2009-01-15. Retrieved 2010-08-09. 
  8. ^ Vancheri, Barbara (2010-06-11). "Jackie Chan: "Karate Kid's" New Mr. Miyagi?". Post Gazette. Retrieved 2010-08-09.