Mr. Miyagi achieved instant fame when it first appeared in the 1984s The Karate Kid. The legendary karate master, who coached “Daniel-San” LaRusso and Julie Pierce on four films, has become an icon for his abilities, sense of humor, wisdom and bonsai skills.
Mr. Miyagi was brought to life by actor and comedian Noriyuki “Pat” Morita⏤a, which earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Morita reprized the onscreen role three more times, in the 1986s The Karate Kid Part II, the years 1989 The Karate Kid Part III, and the years 1994 The next Karate Kid.
The depth of the character ensured his popularity. He was a WWII veteran who combined a deep philosophy and incredible martial arts skills with inspirational quotes. Its legendary lines include Karate Kid III, “It does not matter to lose to the opponent, you must not lose to fear! “
But Mr. Miyagi was such a compelling and popular character that the franchise couldn’t contain him. Morita has brought him to life on several occasions, or characters who are very similar to him, apart from The Karate Kid. In the late 1980s, Morita appeared in a series of commercials under the name Colgate Wisdom Tooth. He made an appearance in the music video for Ant Farm’s 2001 hit song “Movies” and in an episode of Spy television one year later. Morita also played a very familiar karate teacher in an episode of the 2003 sitcom. Yes Dear. Two years later he usurped the role in Adult swimming stop motion animated series Robot Chicken.
To the character’s credit and the way Pat Morita played him, the repeated appearances did not diminish Mr. Miyagi’s legacy but rather kept him alive in popular culture.
Is Mr. Miyagi from The Karate Kid still alive?
Sadly, Pat Morita passed away in 2002 and Mr. Miyagi with him, although the character’s death was not confirmed onscreen until 2018.
The Karate Kid franchise is experiencing a resurgence in the form of Cobra Kai, a show that thrilled old fans and won many new ones with its mix of comedy, drama, and callbacks to the original films.
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Ralph Macchio, who is reprising his role as Daniel-San in Cobra Kai, and his onscreen opponent William Zabka discussed the difficulty of continuing Karate kid without the franchise’s “Obi-Wan Kenobi”. However, the presence of Mr. Miyagi remains essential.
The show showed his gravestone, confirming his death on November 15, 2011, and included frequent flashbacks to the character using footage from the first three films. Season 1 the episode “Counterbalance” was dedicated to the memory of Morita.
Evidence of Mr. Miyagi’s continued influence lies in the fact that Cobra Kai is designated as part of the Miyagi-vers. This is a big reason why the show’s producers have said that the characters in the 2010 reset The Karate Kid, which starred Jackie Chan as Mr. Han, a role based on Mr. Miyagi, will not appear in the series.
Avid fans of the Netflix show are continually trying to connect every part of the franchise, and as the show has been confirmed for an upcoming fifth season, anything is possible. But for now, like Mr. Miyagi would say, “First learn to stand, then learn to fly.”