Cobra Kai needs the Dojo Kun

The “Cobra Kai” web TV series came out in Spring of 2018. It’s a more mature, modern continuation of the “Karate Kid” movies. The second season came out early this month. After watching it, I’m more convinced than ever that Cobra Kai needs the Dojo Kun.

Cobra Kai Appropriate?

While the “Karate Kid” movies may be appropriate for pre-teens, the “Cobra Kai” series is for older viewers. The content and jokes are more adult. Those of us who enjoyed the “Karate Kid” get a kick out of the references to the movies as well as the inside jokes. Creators did a great job with both seasons. They are equally entertaining, but for an older audience. After watching Season 2, I can’t help but assert that each of the characters in Cobra Kai needs the Dojo Kun even more than they did in the first season. Spoiler alert: if you haven’t watched Cobra Kai, and don’t want the plot spoiled for you, then don’t read on until you’ve finished the first two seasons.

Real Bully of Cobra Kai needs the Dojo Kun

Trailers assert that although Daniel was the protagonist in the movies, he’s the real bully. And Season 1 of “Cobra Kai” backs that up by showing us Johnny Lawrence’s back story. We really feel for this poor kid who had a difficult home life. He was just a misguided teen grasping on to what his karate instructor taught. Now Johnny’s pulling himself up by his bootstraps and trying to offer the karate training that kids in his community need. What a shame that he had such a mean-spirited teacher, and that he opened his own dojo under the same name. Without the Dojo Kun, he’s just grasping at straws as an instructor and youth mentor.

Daniel barges into Johnny’s dojo to confront him.

Daniel, the “real bully,” from some points of view, is seen as a successful man who’s generous with the wealth he has built. (Unless you see him as showing off by, for example, giving Johnny a car.) He talks about balance as being so important to karate training and to life. And he emphasizes to his newest student that karate is only for self defense. Those are great. But this “real bully” of Cobra Kai needs the Dojo Kun to guide him in those worthy ideals. The Dojo Kun tells us more about how to use karate only for self defense. And it guides us in having respect and self control in all circumstances.

In Season 2 Cobra Kai needs the Dojo Kun Even More

The biggest takeaway from the “Cobra Kai” series is that life is not simple, clear cut black-and-white. And neither are people. We all have both good and bad qualities and we are complex. As well, the situations we both find ourselves in, and get ourselves into, can be extremely complicated. That is why it’s so important to have the Dojo Kun’s values to guide us on our martial arts path.

In Season 2 Daniel’s students, as well as Johnny’s, gain physical martial arts skills. Their well-meaning teachers also try to give them a couple lofty ideals to live up to. But they need the checkpoints of karate’s traditional rules. In Season 2 Cobra Kai needs the Dojo Kun even more than before as their physical skills advance.  

Johnny encouraging his student Miguel.

Cobra Kai needs the Dojo Kun and Forgiveness

The other thing you might take away from this series is the importance of giving people the benefit of the doubt. We see the characters making negative assumptions about each other and that doesn’t help situations. Plus, both sides play macho and don’t restrain the fire that rages inside. They really need Dojo Kun number five which cautions us against that. We see the teens as well as an adult student escalating their beef with each other much in the way that happens with gang wars. By the end of Season 2, when there is an all-out brawl at the high school, we sadly see how badly Cobra Kai needs the Dojo Kun and Forgiveness.

When I say that, I mean Cobra Kai as an all-encompassing term for all of the characters in the series. I can see that all of the players have their good and their bad traits, and their reasons for doing things the way that they do. I know that striving for the Dojo Kun values does not make anyone perfect. But if only Cobra kai had the Dojo Kun to guide them, they would all be so much better off.

-Jenifer Tull-Gauger

Cobra Kai needs the Dojo Kun of traditional karate.

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