The All Valley Karate Tournament has become a staple of the “Karate Kid” franchise. After its inaugural “Cobra Kai” appearance in season 1, fans have had to wait over three years to see it come back in the most recent season, and the stakes are now higher than ever.
Due to the deal struck at the end of season 3 between John Kreese (Martin Kove) and Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) and Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka), whoever loses at the Tournament will have to shut down their dojo for good.
As it happens, the results of the Tournament come down to one final match: Tory Nichols (Peyton List) of Cobra Kai, vs. Samantha LaRusso (Mary Mouser) of Miyagi Do. Whoever wins the match will claim the Grand Champion trophy for their dojo.
Here’s what you need to know:
The All Valley Match Is a Climax to Tory and Sam’s Long-Running Feud
Throughout season 4, viewers witness the rising tension between longtime rivals Tory and Sam. The tension between the two is only exacerbated after Sam’s mother Amanda (Courtney Henggeler) confronts Tory at her workplace in episode 2 in order to tell her to “stay the hell away from my daughter.” Later, Tory has to seek out Sam and Amanda’s permission to return to school in order to continue her studies, something which Sam reluctantly agrees to. They are able to hold back fighting until the Tournament, in part due to the leverage the LaRussos have on Tory, as well as her own criminal record.
At the Tournament, both are finally able to let loose. After Sam is finally given permission by her father to incorporate Johnny’s Eagle Fang techniques into her fighting style, Tory is thrown off guard, given that fellow Cobra Kai student Robby Keene (Tanner Buchanan) taught them Miyagi Do techniques in order to use the style against them. As a result, Tory decides to fight even more aggressive.
Eventually, just like the male finals before them, they tie, 2-2. Throughout the match, however, the referee makes several dubious calls in Tory’s favor, putting Sam at a disadvantage.
Tory Beats Sam in a Nuanced Victory
Although Tory’s sensei Terry Silver (Thomas Ian Griffith) encourages Tory to cheat in order to win (similar to how Kreese did so with Johnny in 1984), Kreese tells Silver to back off and let Tory fight how she wants. Tory does so, and she and Sam fight well and are very closely matched. In the end, however, Tory takes the win with a stomach kick knockout.
Although this theoretically should have been the zenith of Tory and Sam’s hatred for one another (coming only days after they battled each other at the prom afterparty, where they both end up in the pool), Tory seems to undergo a change of heart near the end of the season (right before the match, for instance, she thanked Sam’s mother for encouraging her to see a therapist). After she wins, Tory shows concern for Sam’s well-being, and even tries to help her up before she is dragged away in celebration by her fellow Cobra Kai students.
Later, however, as Tory goes back to get her bag, she discovers that Silver had bribed the referee to call the match in their favor, meaning that her own victory was essentially rigged.
The result of the match will have wide-reaching ramifications. Not only will Daniel and Johnny theoretically have to shut down Miyago Do and Eagle Fang, as per their agreement, but Silver also announced that Cobra Kai will be expanding its reach to teach students “all across the Valley.” In a scene at Miyagi’s grave, Daniel says that there is “too much at stake to honor an agreement made with men who have none,” and commits himself to destroying Cobra Kai.
Whether he will indeed be able to do so, or whether Silver’s fraudulent activity will be uncovered, will only be revealed in future episodes of the show. Be sure to catch all four seasons of “Cobra Kai” on Netflix. Season 5 will likely be released in late 2022 or 2023.