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Did Pat Morita Learn Martial Arts to Play Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid?

by Xtreme HD IPTV

Pat Morita starred as Mr. Miyagi, a self-defense-based master of karate who taught his students Daniel LaRusso and Julie Pierce throughout The Karate Kid franchise. In The Karate Kid, Mr. Miyagi meets Daniel at the apartment complex and decides to help Daniel learn karate after seeing Daniel’s attempt to pick it up on his own. Once they get started, Mr. Miyagi’s unusual teaching methods of encouraging Daniel to do household chores adds a layer of uncertainty and amusement to Mr. Miyagi’s character, as he offers no explanation for his teaching methods. It is only when Mr. Miyagi has Daniel demonstrate the movements that Mr. Miyagi’s plan becomes clear, and his role as a karate instructor feels fully formed.

While Mr. Miyagi rarely demonstrates karate himself, every once in a while, Mr. Miyagi must participate in some form of fight sequence. In the movies, Mr. Miyagi fights Johnny Lawrence and the other Cobra Kai students on Halloween to defend Daniel. In The Karate Kid: Part 3, Mr. Miyagi must fight again when he discovers the brutal plan John Kreese and Terry Silver had prepared to get revenge on him and Daniel. But, while Mr. Miyagi’s fighting skills were excellent, Pat Morita was not responsible for filming Mr. Miyagi’s fight scenes.

Mr. Miyagi Is a Very Experienced Karate Instructor

When Mr. Miyagi sees Daniel attempting to learn karate out of a book, it becomes the start of their mentor-student relationship. Mr. Miyagi may not seem like it at first glance, but he is an exceptional fighter and well-trained in martial arts. Rather than teaching offense, Mr. Miyagi understands the value of defense in a system that encourages defending oneself and others rather than starting a fight.

Understanding Balance Offers the Best Results

When Mr. Miyagi is teaching, he does his best to instill the values of balance of heart and mind, not just in physical stance. Mr. Miyagi’s methods help calm Daniel’s hot-headed behaviors and encourage him to slow down and fight smart rather than with brute force. Mr. Miyagi’s dedication to teaching a specific way and never going against his values and morals makes him a better teacher.

Not only do his unorthodox methods encourage muscle memory, but his outlook on life helps his students embrace a more balanced approach to karate and to life. Mr. Miyagi’s past is explored in The Karate Kid: Part 2, when Mr. Miyagi returns to Okinawa after so many years away, and there is clarity in seeing how his approach to teaching martial arts differs from his old friend, Sato.

Pat Morita Did Not Know Martial Arts

Before filming The Karate Kid, Pat Morita was not a martial arts master. He did not have any experience in karate prior to making the films. However, that does not mean he and the rest of the cast were not placed under a training program.

Pat Morita Did Learn Some Karate for the Movie

When it came time to train the cast of The Karate Kid,Pat E. Johnson was brought in to teach the cast and help work out some of the film’s fighting choreography. Pat E. Johnson worked as a stunt coordinator on The Karate Kid. In those lessons, Pat Morita and Ralph Macchio were taught goju-ryu style, Okinawan classic karate. However, even though Pat Morita may have learned some techniques that would have helped him embody the trained and knowledgeable Mr. Miyagi, Pat Morita did not actually do his own stunts in the films.

RELATED: Cobra Kai’s Jon Hurwitz All But Confirms Hilary Swank’s Involvement in the Sixth and Final Season

Fumio Demura Acted as Pat Morita’s Stunt Double

Mr. Miyagi is a very well-experienced martial artist in the films. So, the story needed someone who really knew what they were doing when it came to Mr. Miyagi’s fight scenes, even if there were not many of them.

A Professional Master Delivered the Action

So, Japanese martial artist Fumio Demura stepped into the role to give the appearance that Mr. Miyagi was as much of an expert as he seemed. If Pat Morita did not convince viewers of Mr. Miyagi’s karate abilities, then Fumio Demura’s action-packed scenes helped finish the job and convinced audiences of Mr. Miyagi’s credentials as a karate instructor. Throughout his career, Fumio Demura appeared in many films and documentaries, including, The Island of Dr. Moreau, Rising Sun, Modern Warriors, and Ninja.

Fumio Demura Had Turned Down the Role of Mr. Miyagi

Mr. Miyagi is one of the most iconic film characters, and it is difficult to imagine anyone other than Pat Morita in the role. But, before Pat Morita was offered the part, there was a chance that his stunt double would have taken on the role. However, Fumio Demura ultimately decided against taking on Mr. Miyagi as an acting part.

Fumio Demura Was the Inspiration Behind Mr. Miyagi

The character of Mr. Miyagi was created by using Fumio Demura as an inspiration. But, he had turned the role down because of his poor English. Producers had not been convinced of Pat Morita to play the role, not being able to take him seriously from his time playing Arnold on Happy Days.

However, director John G. Avildsen remained convinced that Pat Morita was the right actor for the job, and ultimately, Pat Morita’s performance proved him correct. While Fumio Demura may have been a solid choice as a stunt double, Pat Morita’s performance helped craft the character into the man everyone recognized him to be.

RELATED: Cobra Kai: 10 Things the TV Show Did Better Than The Karate Kid Movies

Creating the Perfect Mr. Miyagi

In order for The Karate Kid to work, Mr. Miyagi needed to be a character that the audience could emotionally invest in as an individual, not just as Daniel’s teacher. To do that, the film needed to craft a man who was kind, could battle Daniel’s quick temper with kind words and patience, and who had strong knowledge and experience of what he was teaching.

Pat Morita and Fumio Demura’s Work Kept the Character Memorable

Between Pat Morita, Fumio Demura, and John G. Avildsen, Mr. Miyagi became a strong person, fighter, and memorable character. The core of the movie was not just the fighting sequences and iconic karate moves. It was also about the messages of balance and patience as the relationship between Mr. Miyagi and Daniel lay at the heart of the original trilogy, while Mr. Miyagi’s teaching dynamic with teenage Julie becomes part of the core of the fourth film. Flashbacks and clips of Mr. Miyagi are still used in Cobra Kai to emphasize the character’s importance to the overall franchise.

The Karate Kid franchise is available to stream on Netflix, with the exception of The Next Karate Kid, which is available on Apple TV

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by Xtreme HD IPTV

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