Ralph Macchio first portrayed the iconic character Daniel LaRusso in the 1984 film “The Karate Kid.” Despite playing a teenager who wins the All Valley Karate Tournament, the actor had limited martial arts experience, which ended up working to his advantage. The film’s screenwriter Mark Robert Kamen revealed in a 2018 Sports Illustrated interview that he wanted Macchio for the role because he “wasn’t particularly coordinated for martial arts” and he was “the paradigmatic wimp.”
In the same interview, Macchio discussed having to learn karate from martial artist Pat Johnson, alongside Pat Morita, who played his on-screen sensei, Mr. Miyagi.
“Good thing the other person I trained with was Pat Morita, so I always looked good,” joked the actor.
Almost 35 years after the original movie was released, the 59-year-old returned to the “Karate Kid” franchise to play Daniel in the acclaimed series “Cobra Kai.” On the show, his character teaches martial arts at Miyagi-Do Karate and gets into a fair share of fights. Due to his age, some fans may be curious if Macchio does his own stunts.
Ralph Macchio Talked About the Stunt Work on “Cobra Kai”
While speaking to Men’s Health in January, Macchio revealed that he still is able to perform most of the show’s stunt work. The actor disclosed, however, that “it hurts a lot more now.”
“I move slower, I have to stretch a lot longer. And all the parts feel a lot more connected than they used to; I can throw an outside crescent kick, and all of a sudden I’ll feel something in my neck. So you really have to do a lot of injury prevention work. It’s certainly much tougher than when I was younger,” explained the actor.
He went on to say that the actors have relatively short rehearsal time during the production of “Cobra Kai.” He told the publication:
With ‘Cobra Kai,’ we’re getting stuff sometimes on the day. With the big chop shop scene, that was early in the season, so we had some rehearsal time, but as you get further into filming, you run out of time, and sometimes we’re working on fight choreography with the stunt coordinator on the day. The kids have got it together, though, with those one-shot fights at the school and in the house. It doesn’t stop—it’s like theater.
Ralph Macchio Discussed Having Limited Martial Arts Skills
While speaking to IndieWire in 2019, Macchio revealed that he would not consider himself a martial arts expert. He stated that he “still barely know[s] [karate].”
“People ask, ‘How much training do you have?’ I have enough training to look like I know what I’m doing in the show,” said the actor.
He clarified that while he may not be a skilled martial artist, he appreciates “the philosophy behind it and how it keeps you in shape mentally and physically.” He also noted that the show’s younger cast members “have a lot more” stunt work than he does on “Cobra Kai.”
To see more of Macchio show off his martial arts skills, check out “Cobra Kai,” available to stream on Netflix.