Over the last few decades, movies have been released featuring children who have mastered one or more of the martial arts. These films have done a lot to promote martial arts to youngsters and motivate them to find a dojo and learn self-defence.
In 1984 The Karate Kid was released with the teenager Ralph Macchio as the star of the show. Daniel Larusso (his stage name) was a newcomer to Southern California and soon meets and falls for Ali Mills, who, unfortunately, had also caught the attention of a bully who was from a martial arts school who did not appreciate Daniels friendship with Ali. Daniel keeps on getting attacked by these young thugs and always comes out second best. Then one of his beatings is witnessed by an old Japanese handyman, Mr Miyagi, who steps in and chases the bullies away using his martial arts skills.
Daniel realises that he cannot beat the thugs by himself, so asks Mr Miyagi to train him. He is very impressed with the older man’s skills and asks to be trained by him. Mr Miyagi reluctantly agrees to help him. Daniel turns up at Mr Miyagi’s house and starts his training. To begin with, he is given a paintbrush and told to paint Miyagi’s garden wall using flowing up and down strokes. Daniel soon gets despondent and complains to his coach, who forces him to continue with the painting as a necessary exercise to strengthen his wrists.
He then gives Daniel two cloths and some car shampoo and shows him how to put polish onto his car with one hand and then to wipe it off with the other hand, giving rise to the expression “wax on, wax off”. This way, Mr Miyagi also gets tasks around the house done with free labour! Slowly but surely, karate moves are introduced, and Daniel starts his training. After considerable practice, Daniel begins to master the art of karate until his skills are sufficient to take on the bullies.
Daniel then enters a karate championship and soon reaches the semi-finals. His opponent has been trained at a dojo which does not prepare its students to have any standards and morals. He is instructed to attack Daniel with an illegal knee kick which puts Daniel down but also gets the opponent disqualified, which puts Daniel in the finals. Despite his injured knee, Daniel bravely enters the ring at the last moment and takes on the other finalist – his bully!
What he doesn’t know is that the instructor has told his student to hammer at the same injured knee which he does, crippling Daniel so he could not use that leg at all. Just before the final blow that would finish Daniel off, he goes into the “crane” stance wherein he balances on his right leg, with the hurt leg suspended off the matt. As his opponent comes in for the final blow, Daniel springs into the air and smashes the bully in his face, ending the competition. In the final scene, the beaten bully presents Daniel with the trophy as a sign of respect.