In the first three installments of the Karate Kid film franchise, Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita) is Daniel LaRusso’s (Ralph Macchio) mentor. The pair first meet when the New Jersey native requests Miyagi, who is a maintenance man, to fix his facet. The sensei ends up saving him when Cobra Kai team members attack him during the night of the Halloween dance.
Miyagi then trains Daniel so that he can participate in the 1984 All-Valley Tournament. Eventually, their friendship evolves, and the West Valley High School student begins to view Miyagi as a father figure.
In the acclaimed series Cobra Kai, Daniel continues to honor his late mentor’s legacy. At times, the LaRusso Auto Group owner still longs for his guidance.
Fans of the Karate Kid franchise may be curious if Pat Morito actually mentored Ralph Macchio during the filming of the martial arts movies.
Macchio Revealed If Morita Was His Mentor
During a 2014 panel discussion celebrating the 30th anniversary of The Karate Kid, Macchio was asked if he viewed his co-star, who passed away in 2005, as a mentor.
“I certainly think there was a bit of that. It was just natural… For Pat and myself, we maintained a relationship throughout the years,” said the actor.
He went on to say that Morita recognized that The Karate Kid was going to be successful “way before [he] did.”
“I was like kind of like it’s got a silly title, and you know the scenes with the girl at the high school are a little contrived, I mean. Little did I know,” explained Macchio.
The father-of-two noted that he had a strong connection with Morita following the film’s release.
“[We had an] unspoken connection that we knew what we had together as that sort of that partnership, that on-screen partnership, and I think there was a great deal of respect there both ways,” stated the My Cousin Vinny star.
William Zabka Also Spoke About His Relationship With Morita
William “Billy” Zabka, who plays Johnny Lawrence, also shared that he considered Morita to be his mentor. He noted that The Karate Kid was his first film, and the actor was a constant source of support.
“He kind of mentored you. Kind of wrapped his arms around me. I said listen, ‘if there’s anything I do wrong or that I could do better let me know’… He was just a really soothing funny generous genuine guy. He just broke the air you know it just made it fun and light,” recalled Zabka.
He explained that Morita encouraged him to work harder while they were rehearsing for the film.
“We did the fence fight scene, I remember in rehearsals I was going about half speed in some of the fights in my acting level and I wasn’t projecting loud enough,” said the actor. “And Pat pulled me aside and said, ’BZ, BZ, you know, when you do rehearsals you have to do 110% man so that way when the camera is rolling its like bread and butter man. It’s like bread and butter.’”
Zabka noted that he took Morita’s advice, and it paid off.
To see more of Macchio and Zabka, be sure to watch Cobra Kai, available on Netflix.