Mr. Miyagi

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Mr. Miyagi
The Karate Kid character
Pat-Morita (Karate Kid).jpg
Pat Morita as Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid
First appearanceThe Karate Kid
Last appearanceThe Next Karate Kid
Created byRobert Mark Kamen
Portrayed byPat Morita
Voiced by
Stunt doubleFumio Demura
Born (1925-06-09) June 9, 1925 (age 96)
DiedNovember 15, 2011
(aged 86)(age and date of death was changed work in for Cobra Kai)
In-universe information
AliasNariyoshi Keisuke Miyagi
NicknameMiyagi-san
Miyagi-sensei
Title
AffiliationMiyagi-Do Karate
Fighting styleGōjū-ryū
FamilyMiyagi Chōjun (father)
SpouseMrs. Miyagi (unnamed and deceased)
Significant otherYukie
Childrenunnamed Miyagi (deceased)
Daniel LaRusso (surrogate son)
RelativesMiyagi Shimpo (ancestor, Gōjū-ryū inventor)
ReligionShinto
NationalityOkinawan American
TeacherMiyagi Chōjun
Students
AwardsMedal of Honor
Silver Star
Bronze Star Medal
Army Commendation Medal
Purple Heart
Presidential Unit Citation
Army Good Conduct Medal
American Campaign Medal
European–African–Middle Eastern Campaign Medal
World War II Victory Medal

Mr. Miyagi is a fictional karate master from Okinawa, Japan in The Karate Kid film series. Mr. Miyagi mentors Daniel LaRusso and Julie Pierce in the films. Miyagi was played by Pat Morita, who earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in The Karate Kid.[1]

Mr. Miyagi's given name is inconsistent in the series. In The Karate Kid, the name Hideo Miyagi, which translates to “hero” Miyagi and is the real given name of Pat Morita’s brother, can be seen stamped in reverse on his World War II dog tags, being used as a keychain for the car he gives Daniel as a birthday present. As written in Japanese characters in The Karate Kid Part II, his name is 宮城成義 (Miyagi Nariyoshi),[2] which translates as Nariyoshi Miyagi, which is also seen on his gravestone in Cobra Kai. He is called Keisuke Miyagi at the start of The Next Karate Kid.[3]

Mr. Miyagi was inducted into the Fictitious Athlete Hall of Fame in 2015 in the Contributor Category.[4]

Conception[edit]

The Karate Kid screenwriter Robert Mark Kamen stated that Mr. Miyagi was named after Chōjun Miyagi, the founder of the Goju-ryu karate style.[5]

Toshiro Mifune was originally considered for the role but was dropped as he couldn't speak English.[6] Fumio Demura was the inspiration for the character.[7]

Fictional biography[edit]

Early life[edit]

Miyagi was born on June 9, 1925, in Okinawa, Japan. He learned karate from his father, a fisherman, and worked for the richest man in the village, whose son Sato was Miyagi's best friend. In a departure from the local tradition of fathers only teaching karate to their own sons, Miyagi's father also taught Sato at his son's request. However, their friendship soured when Miyagi fell in love with Yukie, who was arranged to marry Sato. Dishonored by their love, Sato challenged Miyagi to a fight to the death, and Miyagi chose to emigrate to the United States without Yukie rather than fight his best friend.

Emigrating to Hawaii as a teenager, he worked as a farm laborer in the Hawaiian cane fields, where he met his wife, who was also a farm laborer.

World War II military service[edit]

After first arriving in Los Angeles, he attended the University of California, Santa Barbara, married, and was later interned in the Manzanar Japanese-American 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 Regimental Combat Team, historically the most highly decorated regiments, for its size, of the United States Armed Forces, including 21 Medal of Honor recipients (At the time of the "Karate Kid" film series, there was only one regiment member awarded the Medal of Honor – Sadao S. Munemori, who received it posthumously in 1946; 20 other regiment members were upgraded from the Distinguished Service Cross in 2000).[8] While in the Army, he taught his commanding officer, Lieutenant Jack Pierce, the art of karate. During his service, Mrs. Miyagi and their newborn son died in the Manzanar camp due to complications during childbirth, a loss that haunted him for decades.[9]

What Miyagi did during the time between the war and the first Karate Kid film is not fully known beyond that he purchased a private residence in Los Angeles and painstakingly cultivated a lush garden area in his backyard. He worked for an unknown amount of time as a maintenance attendant in the apartment complex LaRusso and his mother moved into from New Jersey. This is when the two character met for the first time.

Death[edit]

Mr. Miyagi died on November 15, 2011, as revealed in the Cobra Kai web series.

Karate style[edit]

Mr. Miyagi has a deep philosophical knowledge of wax on, wax off and extraordinary martial arts skill.[10] In the second film, he explains that he is descended from Shimpo Miyagi, who was very fond of both fishing and sake. One day in 1625 while fishing, a very drunk Shimpo passed out on his 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 and two children, and the secret of Miyagi family karate. This, along with Miyagi's claim from the first film that his ancestor derived karate from the Chinese te, 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 (third movie).

Awards and decorations[edit]

Listed below are the medals and service awards displayed on Miyagi's Staff Sergeant's uniform in the first film.

Personal decorations
Bluebird-colored ribbon with five white stars in the form of an "M". Medal of Honor
Silver Star
Bronze Star Medal
Width-44 myrtle green ribbon with width-3 white stripes at the edges and five width-1 stripes down the center; the central white stripes are width-2 apart Army Commendation Medal
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Purple Heart, with 1 bronze oak leaf cluster
Unit awards
Presidential Unit Citation
Service Awards
Army Good Conduct Medal
Campaign and service medals
American Campaign Medal
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
European–African–Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, with 4 service stars
World War II Victory Medal
Other accoutrements
Combat Infantry Badge.svg Combat Infantryman Badge
COA 442nd InfReg.svg 442nd Regimental Combat Team Combat Service Identification Badge

Appearances[edit]

The Karate Kid (1984)[edit]

In The Karate Kid, Miyagi is working as a maintenance man at the South Seas apartment complex Daniel LaRusso and his mother have just moved into. When Daniel throws away his bike after it is damaged in an ambush by bullies, Miyagi repairs and returns it. He later rescues Daniel after he is beaten up by the same bullies during a Halloween party, fending off all the attackers easily. When Daniel realizes that Miyagi saved him, he asks to be taught karate. Miyagi initially declines, wanting instead to prevent the bullying entirely. However, a meeting with the arrogant and merciless John Kreese – a former Special Forces veteran running the Cobra Kai dojo and the bullies' sensei – proves largely futile; however, Kreese consents to a cessation of hostilities until the time of a karate tournament where Daniel and the bullying Cobra Kai students will compete. For his part, Miyagi agrees to teach Daniel. Miyagi starts Daniel's training with several seemingly non-karate-related house chores, albeit with specific rhythmic patterns: the first day of training sees Daniel waxing Miyagi's various cars; on the second, he sands the wooden floors of Miyagi's house; on the third, he paints a fence with vertical strokes; on the fourth, he paints Miyagi's house with horizontal strokes. Not understanding his mentor's methods, a frustrated Daniel gets upset and threatens to leave, but Miyagi shows him that the chores were in fact training Daniel to block attacks through muscle memory. Miyagi then begins training Daniel in earnest, and the two develop a deep friendship. One night, Daniel comes upon Miyagi drunkenly lamenting the death of both his wife and newborn son during childbirth at Manzanar while he was serving with the 442nd Infantry Regiment in Europe during World War II (where he received the Medal of Honor). Miyagi's karate teachings also include important life lessons such as personal balance, reflected in the principle that martial arts training is as much about training the spirit as it is about physical techniques. Miyagi accompanies Daniel to the tournament, where Daniel goes on to win in the finals with a proud Miyagi looking on.

The Karate Kid Part II (1986)[edit]

In The Karate Kid Part II, immediately after the tournament, Miyagi confronts John Kreese as he attacks Johnny Lawrence in the parking lot. Miyagi humiliates Kreese by causing him to punch out car windows with his bare hands before subduing him and honking his nose comically. Six months later, Miyagi receives a letter informing him that his father is dying. While traveling to Okinawa, Miyagi recounts to Daniel his unfortunate history with Sato and Yukie. Upon arriving, the two are greeted by Chozen Toguchi, who is revealed as Sato's nephew after driving Miyagi and Daniel to a warehouse where Sato is waiting. Sato tells Miyagi that after Miyagi visits his father, they will fight to the death to restore Sato's honor. Once at the village, Miyagi and Daniel are welcomed by Yukie and her niece, Kumiko. They explain that Sato owns the village's land title and the villagers are forced to rent their property from him. Yukie also reveals that she never married because of her love for Miyagi. Miyagi's father requests audience with both Sato and Miyagi and, just before dying, grips their hands together as a final — but ultimately unsuccessful — request that they put aside their differences. Sato, out of respect for his teacher, gives Miyagi three days to mourn before their fight. Daniel supports Miyagi through his grief and Miyagi shows Daniel the secret to his family's karate: a handheld drum that twists back and forth, illustrating a block-and-defense karate move called the "drum technique." After Chozen and his crew vandalize Miyagi's family property and attack Daniel, Miyagi decides to return to California before the situation worsens. However, Sato shows up with bulldozers, threatening to destroy the village if Miyagi flees again. Now forced to comply, Miyagi gives in on the condition that Sato sign the land title over to the villagers regardless of the fight's outcome. Sato initially balks at the suggestion but agrees after Miyagi describes it as a "small price to pay" for his honor. On the day before their fight, a typhoon strikes the village, leaving Sato trapped under the ruins of a dojo toppled by the storm. Miyagi rescues Sato and they hide in a nearby pillbox with Chozen and other village folk. Daniel rushes into the storm after seeing a child stuck on top of a bell tower; Sato demands that his nephew help Daniel, but Chozen refuses. Sato assists Daniel himself, after which he disowns Chozen; Chozen runs out into the storm. The next morning, the bulldozers return — to help rebuild the village this time — while Sato hands over the village's land title and asks forgiveness from Miyagi, who accepts. They later attend an Obon festival at the castle near the village. A vengeful Chozen takes Kumiko hostage and challenges Daniel to fight to the death. Miyagi and others in the festival begin using handheld drums to motivate Daniel, inspiring him to subdue Chozen and rescue Kumiko. Daniel and Kumiko share a hug to celebrate their victory over Chozen while the villagers cheer for them and Miyagi looks upon Daniel proudly.

The Karate Kid Part III (1989)[edit]

In The Karate Kid Part III, Miyagi and Daniel return to California and discover that the South Seas apartment complex has been sold and is being slated for development, leaving Daniel homeless and Miyagi unemployed. Miyagi offers Daniel the choice to stay at his house for a time. Daniel uses his college funding to help Miyagi open up a nursery shop for bonsai trees. Miyagi thanks Daniel by making him a partner in the new business. Meanwhile, John Kreese is attempting to resurrect Cobra Kai and get revenge on Daniel and Miyagi with the help of his longtime friend, Terry Silver, who hires Mike Barnes, a vicious karate expert. Daniel chooses not to defend his title in the next competition, though he continues his training under Miyagi. Silver approaches them and claims that Kreese has died and requests forgiveness for Kreese's behavior. Barnes, meanwhile, attempts to goad Daniel into entering the tournament by picking a fight with him that goes badly for Daniel until Miyagi intervenes and fends Barnes off. The two later find that their bonsai trees have been stolen and replaced with an application for the tournament. To save the store, Daniel and his newly befriended neighbor, Jessica Andrews, decide to collect and sell a valuable bonsai tree that Miyagi had brought back from Okinawa and planted halfway down an ocean basin. However, Barnes returns while Daniel and Jessica ascend uphill, holding them hostage until Daniel agrees to compete in the tournament. Barnes then snaps the tree in half. Daniel takes the broken bonsai tree to Miyagi; he performs triage on the bonsai while confessing that he sold his truck in order to obtain a new stock of trees and that he cannot train Daniel for the tournament. Daniel accepts training under Silver's brutal conditions and ends up attacking a man at a nightclub by punching him and breaking his nose (due to Silver bribing the man into instigating a fight with Daniel and Jessica). Horrified at seeing what he has become, Daniel apologizes to Miyagi and Jessica soon afterward. When Daniel decides not to compete after all, Silver unveils his true agenda: Barnes and Kreese appear and attack Daniel. Miyagi intervenes and defends Daniel, agreeing to train him once more. The two repair their friendship and replant the now-healed bonsai tree. At the tournament, Daniel defeats Barnes and shares a hug with Miyagi to celebrate his second tournament victory, while Silver and Kreese speculate that Cobra Kai is finished for good.

The Next Karate Kid (1994)[edit]

In The Next Karate Kid, Miyagi travels to Boston, Massachusetts to attend a commendation for Japanese-American soldiers who fought in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team during World War II. He meets Louisa Pierce, the widow of his commanding officer, Lt. Jack Pierce, and Julie, their teenage granddaughter. Julie has behavioral and anger problems stemming from the loss of her parents in an automobile accident and frequent bullying at school by a school security fraternity called the Alpha Elite. Miyagi invites Louisa to stay in his house in Los Angeles to relax, and he himself stays in Boston to act as Julie's caretaker. Julie's issues cause friction at school and with Miyagi; he watches as she attempts to leave and narrowly misses being struck by a car by managing to jump into a tiger crouch onto the hood. Julie explains that she learned rudimentary karate from her father, Jack's son; Jack had taught his son what he learned from Miyagi. After Julie is arrested during a two-week suspension from school, Miyagi uses the remainder of the time to take Julie to a Buddhist monastery. There, he teaches Julie the true ways of karate – balance, coordination, awareness, and respect for all life – and helps her overcome her anger issues. As Julie is preparing for her high school prom, Miyagi teaches her to dance and buys her a dress. While Julie attends the prom, Miyagi goes bowling with the Buddhist monks. Things go awry when Julie and her date, Eric McGowen, come under siege by Colonel Dugan and the Alpha Elite. Eric's car is set on fire and Eric is saved by Julie and Miyagi. The fiasco ends when Miyagi challenges Colonel Dugan to a fight and easily defeats him.

Cobra Kai (2018–present)[edit]

In Cobra Kai, Miyagi is revealed to have died on November 15, 2011, at the age of 86. He frequently appears in flashbacks using clips from the first 3 movies. Among other details, his gravestone lists him as a member of the famed Japanese-American 442nd Regiment along with a Combat Service Identification Badge and a Medal of Honor. Alongside the marker is a bonsai tree. Daniel regularly comes to visit the grave and trim the bonsai; he considers "a few months" to be a long time between visits. Miyagi's legacy continues to play a role in Daniel's life, as he seeks to regain balance in his life by taking up karate once again after a lengthy period of not training and becoming a mentor to Robby Keene (Johnny Lawrence's estranged son), trying to turn his protege's life around as Miyagi had done for him. In one scene, Daniel LaRusso says one of the last things Mr. Miyagi built for the Miyagi-do was a balance board for Bonsai which LaRusso uses to train his students in karate.

Following the conclusion of the All Valley Karate Tournament, Daniel becomes concerned about the resurgence of the Cobra Kai dojo under Lawrence (and later, Kreese) and decides to start his own dojo in response, locating it at Miyagi's former residence, which Daniel currently owns. Unfortunately, in the season 2 finale, a brawl ensues between the students of Miyagi-Do and Cobra Kai at school, resulting in serious and life-threatening injuries to a Cobra Kai student (Johnny’s neighbor and star student Miguel Diaz) and possible legal consequences for a Miyagi-Do student (Daniel’s star student and Johnny’s estranged son Robby Keene) as well as Daniel’s daughter Samantha also being hospitalized with broken ribs and lacerations on her right arm from her fight with Tory. Daniel's wife Amanda furiously demands her husband to shut down the dojo to prevent any more incidents. Daniel sadly obliges by taking down a photo of Mr. Miyagi and dismantling the Miyagi-Do dojo, feeling he has tainted his mentor's legacy.

Eventually, Daniel travels to Okinawa in an initially unsuccessful attempt to save the family business when a competitor uses the school brawl incident, namely Miguel accidentally being crippled by Robby, to terminate their sales contract with the Doyona automobile company. Deciding to visit Miyagi's home village, Daniel reunites with Kumiko who reads love letters from Miyagi to Yukie in which Miyagi's love and pride in Daniel are laid plain. Kumiko helps Daniel save his business by reintroducing him to Yuna, the young girl whose life he'd saved during the typhoon and who is now the Vice President of Sales for Doyona. Kumiko also arranges a meeting between Daniel and Chozen who, after his defeat by Daniel, changed for the better under Sato's teachings. Chozen reveals to Daniel that there is an aspect of Miyagi-Do karate that Mr. Miyagi never taught him, a deadlier aspect involving using pressure points to incapacitate and potentially kill an enemy. Daniel believes that Mr. Miyagi kept this from him in order to protect Daniel and is trained in these techniques by Chozen who additionally provides Daniel with a secret Miyagi scroll containing more information. The greatly-changed Chozen displays a great deal of respect for Mr. Miyagi, calling him a man of great honor that Chozen can only hope to emulate. During Daniel's trip to Okinawa, Mr. Miyagi appears in several flashbacks.

Upon returning to Los Angeles, Daniel and his wife agree to revive Miyagi-do while an encounter with Ali Mills allows the LaRussos to gain a new perspective with Johnny Lawrence. During a fight between Sam and Tory, the latter smashes a picture of Mr. Miyagi and looking at it gives Sam the courage to stand up to Tory and fight back. With the reconciliation between Johnny and Daniel and an intensified enmity with Kreese as well as Robby being turned against Miyagi-Do and joining Cobra Kai (after getting out of juvenile hall) due to his resentment towards Daniel, Johnny, Sam and Miguel, Daniel and Johnny agree to combine their schools using Miyagi's residence as their shared dojo.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Simmons, Bill. "Holy trilogy of the 'Karate Kid'". ESPN. Retrieved 2010-05-21.
  2. ^ "The name "宮城成義 Miyagi" on a pickup name board, held by Chozen Toguchi, in "The Karate Kid Part II" at 25:50". Image posting (Facebook). 2017-08-31.
  3. ^ "Sergeant Keisuke Miyagi attending a special unit citation for WWII Japanese-American soldiers, in "The Next Karate Kid" at 3:10, However, when he gives Daniel a car in :The Karate Kid" a dogtag reveals his name to be Hideo Miyagi". Image posting (Facebook). 2017-08-31.
  4. ^ "Fictitious Athlete Hall of Fame – Mr. Miyagi". Fictitious Athlete Hall of Fame.
  5. ^ Prewitt, Alex (May 1, 2018). "The Crane Kick Is Bogus: A Karate Kid Oral History". Sports Illustrated.
  6. ^ "How a Movie Shot in the San Fernando Valley Made Us All The Karate Kid". LA Weekly. June 17, 2014.
  7. ^ Yamato, Jen (August 7, 2015). "The Real Mr. Miyagi". The Daily Beast – via www.thedailybeast.com.
  8. ^ "The Medal of Honor".
  9. ^ Maslin, Janet (1984-06-22). "SCREEN 'KARATE KID,' BANE OF BULLIES". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-21.
  10. ^ "Colonizer, Colonized, and the Karate Kid". 23 February 2015. Retrieved 30 June 2018.

External links[edit]