Mr. Miyagi and Daniel from the Karate Kid

I’ve been home sick for a few days, and felt a bit like drawing…unfortunately, I couldn’t think of anything, so I just lounged around instead. Last night I finally had an idea, inspired by my previous sketch of Fezzik and Inigo from the Princess Bride. The Princess Bride is one of those all-time favorites that I watch pretty much any time I see it on TV. There are a ton of movies that I really love, but there is a special group that has that category of “instant watch.” I can’t think of all of them now, but here’s what I can remember:

  • Ghostbusters (1 and 2)
  • Caddyshack
  • Back to the Future (always the 1st, sometimes the 2nd, never the 3rd)
  • Shawshank Redemption
  • Beverly Hills Cop (just the 1st one)
  • The Fifth Element
  • Office Space
  • The Princess Bride
  • Batman (the original with Michael Keaton)
  • The Karate Kid (always the 1st, occasionally the 2nd or 3rd)

So, the idea I had from my Princess Bride sketch was to draw some more from these all-time favorite movies! I decided to give Karate Kid a shot. If you’re not familiar with the movies, the first one is excellent and all the sequels are fairly cheesy. I still like the cheesiness sometimes, but the first is the only movie that I think is really strong. Basically, the plot is that a kid from New Jersey named Daniel moves with his mom to California. He has a hard time adjusting, and ends up getting targeted for some major bullying by Johnny and his gang of blonde preppy karate thugs. The maintenance man at his apartment complex just happens to be a karate master, and saves his bacon when he’s about to get wrecked:

Miyagi Beats on Cobra Kai

Daniel and our karate master, Mr. Miyagi, become fast friends. Daniel complains about Johnny and his friends, so Mr. Miyagi says, “let’s go talk to their sensai.” So, they head over to the Cobra Kai dojo, and shockingly their sensai is not a warm nurturing soul. Mr. Miyagi suggests they fight for real, this time at a tournament; the training begins, and Daniel eventually overcomes his foes. I decided that confrontation at the Cobra Kai dojo would be perfect for a sketch, so I went with that as my drawing subject. Here’s the scene:

Miyagi visits cobra kai compressed

The final product turned out solidly, but with some flaws:

I think the Mr. Miyagi portion is pretty solid; this definitely looks like the actor, Pat Morita. The Daniel Larusso portion is not as good though, and only slightly looks like Ralph Macchio. I believe one of the biggest issues is that it’s way too light, and doesn’t have the same contrast as the shots in the actual film do. I was moderately successful in capturing the injuries from his clobbering at the hands of Johnny, but the rest of the face just doesn’t have the right look. Strangely, I think my version of Daniel looks a bit more like young Johnny Depp for some reason.

I made a progression .gif of this one. Here’s how it came together over time:

Amdall Karate Kid progression

That’s all for this sketch! I’m not sure what’s next; it might be from another one of my “Jon’s favorite movies” list. The Fifth Element might be fun…I’d like to get Zorg, Korbin Dallas, Lelu, and Ruby Rhod all together, but Zorg actually never appears with the protagonists in a scene. So, I might have to do a couple different sketches. Also, the subscriber appreciation giveaway is actually about to end, so we’ll see what the winner selects soon. If they want a portrait, I’ll get to do that too!

A couple more random notes on the Karate Kid movie itself though; in my opinion, the last fight at the tournament between Daniel and Johnny is one of the best moments in any movie. I’m sure that’s nostalgia driven, but I love it. Also, when I was a kid, I legitimately thought the crane kick was a real move that could actually beat anyone (I hadn’t seen Karate Kid 2 yet). And Mr. Miyagi preparing Daniel for the tournament is still one of the best training sequences of all time, right up there with the first Rocky.

Miyagi Approves

Thanks for everything Mr. Miyagi!

Note on the .gifs: The first two (Miyagi clobbering the Cobra Kai, and Daniel and Miyagi visiting the dojo) were made by me using GifCam. This last one of Proud Mr. Miyagi wasn’t made by me, but I can’t remember where I got it. When I google it, there are hundreds of possible sources…so, sorry originator.


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  • Pretty good drawing. One of the fun karate flicks.

    • Thanks Kenpo, I definitely agree about Karate Kid being a fun movie. I watched the original again recently, followed by bits and pieces of the second…just reminded me how solid the first one was. It’s fun, well-paced, with strong performances from everyone. By comparison, the sequel just seems so cheesy.

      I like other more grounded martial arts films too, but they don’t quite have a charm Karate Kid does.

  • Very good post. Excellent sketch work 🙂 The director of Karate Kid and Rocky I was John Avildsen, he did very well on underdog movies. Years ago I was at University and wrote a piece for Karate Kid for my blog. I was surprised that John actually attended many Karate tournaments in LA, looking for someone to add to KKI, so he found Daryl Vidal, the one that “created” the crane kick (he was the one practicing at the beach, that’s the reason is a long shot scene) and also he played at the KK tournament but “lost” fighting Johny.

    • Much appreciated!

      Wow, I had no idea there was actually a real “crane kick” guy…and he lost the real match? That crane kick really wasn’t all that unbeatable, was it. So, in your research, who was the good guy – the “real” Johnny or the “real” Daniel? This all makes me think about that YouTube video about how Daniel was the real bully and that Johnny was the victim. That new series actually covers some of that same ground, looking at it from Johnny’s perspective.

      Thanks for the insights!

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  • I hope you are feeling better! Your sketch looks almost identic with the movie. I see almost no room for improvement at all, it’s so well done!

    • Thank you Alunaria, I am finally feeling better…whew, that was not a fun illness. My kiddos both got sick too, but they are also feeling better.

      Also, thanks for saying so about the sketch!

  • I love how you’ve captured their expressions!

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