Mr. Miyagi

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Mr. Miyagi
The Karate Kid character
Pat-Morita (Karate Kid).jpg
Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid
First appearanceThe Karate Kid
Last appearanceThe Next Karate Kid
Created byRobert Mark Kamen
Portrayed byPat Morita
Fumio Demura (stunt double)
Voiced byRobert Ito
(animated series)
In-universe information
TitleStaff Sergeant (US Army)
NationalityOkinawan American

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

As written in Japanese characters in The Karate Kid Part II, his name is 宮城成義 (Miyagi Nariyoshi),[2] which is translated as Nariyoshi Miyagi in the Cobra Kai television series. However, he is called Keisuke Miyagi at the start of The Next Karate Kid,[3] and Miyagi Yakuga in the 1989 animated television series. The Karate Kid screenwriter Robert Mark Kamen stated that Mr. Miyagi was named after Chōjun Miyagi, the founder of the Goju-ryu karate style.[4]


Toshiro Mifune was originally considered for the role but was dropped as he couldn't speak English.[5] Fumio Demura was the inspiration for the character.[6]

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, in the history of the United States Armed Forces, including 21 Medal of Honor recipients). 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.[7] What Miyagi did during the time between the war and the first Karate Kid film is not fully known.


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

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


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, shortly after the tournament, Miyagi confronts John Kreese as he attacks Johnny Lawrence in the parking lot. Miyagi humiliates him by first causing Kreese to punch out car windows with his bare hands, then subduing him and honking his nose comically. Six months later, Miyagi receives a letter informing him that his father is dying. Miyagi recounts to Daniel his history with Sato and Yukie, and the two travel to Okinawa, where they are greeted by Chozen Toguchi. He drives Miyagi and Daniel to a warehouse where Sato is waiting and reveals himself as Sato's nephew. Sato tries to goad Miyagi into a fight to restore his honor, but Miyagi refuses. Once at the village, Miyagi and Daniel are welcomed by Yukie and her niece, Kumiko. The two reveal 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 dies and Sato gives him three days to mourn before their fight out of respect. Miyagi shows Daniel the secret to his family's karate – a handheld drum that twists back and forth illustrating the "drum technique", a block-and-defense karate move that Daniel begins to practice. After Daniel is attacked and Miyagi's family property is vandalized by Chozen and his crew, he decides to return to California before the situation worsens. However, Sato shows up with bulldozers, threatening to destroy the village if Miyagi refuses to fight. Forced to comply, Miyagi gives in on the condition that Sato signs the land title over to the villagers regardless of the fight's outcome. Sato initially balks 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, and Sato becomes trapped under the ruins of a dojo toppled by the storm. Miyagi rescues him and they hide in a nearby shelter with Chozen and other village folk. After seeing a child stuck on top of a bell tower, Daniel goes to rescue her; Sato demands that his nephew help, but Chozen refuses and runs out into the storm after Sato disowns him. 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. Miyagi and others attend an O-bon festival at the castle of the village, where a vengeful Chozen takes Kumiko hostage and challenges Daniel to a fight to the death. Miyagi, along with others in the festival, begins using handheld drums to inspire Daniel, allowing him to subdue Chozen and rescue Kumiko.

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 closed, 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. 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 as Miyagi looks on, 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–)[edit]

In Cobra Kai, Miyagi is revealed to have died on November 15, 2011, at the age of 86. 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 and possible legal consequences for a Miyagi-Do student. Daniel's wife Amanda furiously demands her husband close down the dojo to prevent any more incidents. Daniel sadly obliges, feeling he has tainted his mentor's legacy.

Cultural influence[edit]

Karate style[edit]

Mr. Miyagi has a deep philosophical knowledge of life and extraordinary martial arts skill.[8] 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).

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 the fly-and-chopsticks exercise.


Mr. Miyagi was inducted into the Fictitious Athlete Hall of Fame in 2015 in the Contributor Category.[9]


  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. ^ Prewitt, Alex (May 1, 2018). "The Crane Kick Is Bogus: A Karate Kid Oral History". Sports Illustrated.
  5. ^ "How a Movie Shot in the San Fernando Valley Made Us All The Karate Kid". LA Weekly. June 17, 2014.
  6. ^ Yamato, Jen (August 7, 2015). "The Real Mr. Miyagi" – via
  7. ^ Maslin, Janet (1984-06-22). "SCREEN 'KARATE KID,' BANE OF BULLIES". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-21.
  8. ^ "Colonizer, Colonized, and the Karate Kid". 23 February 2015. Retrieved 30 June 2018.
  9. ^ "Fictitious Athlete Hall of Fame - Mr. Miyagi". Fictitious Athlete Hall of Fame.

External links[edit]