How William Zabka Broke His Toe During Filming for ‘Cobra Kai’

William Zabka

Getty William Zabka in 2019.

William Zabka may be best-known for his role as bully Johnny Lawrence in “The Karate Kid,” as well as its Netflix spin-off series, “Cobra Kai.” Although most actors, including Zabka and lead Ralph Macchio, had little or no training in the martial arts before filming began, injures were kept to a minimum, in part because of the supervision of Pat E. Johnson, a professional martial artist who also acted as the martial arts choreographer on set.

However, this didn’t stop some injuries from taking place, on the sets of both “The Karate Kid” and “Cobra Kai.”

Here’s what you need to know:


Zabka Injured Himself Fighting Martin Kove

Martin Kove and William Zabka

GettyMartin Kove and William Zabka in 2019.

In a 2019 group interview with the “Cobra Kai” cast at the Paley Center, Zabka revealed that he suffered a great number of injuries while rehearsing fight scenes with Martin Kove, who portrays Cobra Kai sensei John Kreese, but didn’t tell anyone, for fear that production might have gotten his stunt double to perform the scene instead.

Some of the injuries that Zabka endured included a pulled hamstring, and a broken toe which he sustained after making contact with Kove’s foot. Zabka claimed his toe was dislocated so bad it actually went back into his own foot, and referenced the pain being akin to “a knife [going] up [my foot].” He explained:

With Ralph and Marty coming back, and our first fight, that first fight took a lot of time. I think I pulled my hamstring, I broke my toe. His feet are so big, I jammed a toe, nobody even knew it, it went completely in my foot, I had to hobble over to the side, and my stunt guy was sitting over there ready to jump in and do the scene if I couldn’t, and I just yanked it out. It hurt I’m telling you what, it was like a knife that went up [my foot]. I didn’t tell anybody because then the stunt guy’s gonna come in!


Injuries Are Not Uncommon on the ‘Cobra Kai’/’Karate Kid’ Set

Daniel LaRusso hits Freddy in the face with a soccer ball in The Karate Kid

YouTubeRalph Macchio accidentally hits a soccer ball in Israel Juarbe’s face in “The Karate Kid” (1984).

Zabka’s experience is not unique, however. Actress Mary Mouser, who portrays Daniel’s daughter Samantha, also revealed in a 2019 video that she sustained serious injuries to her ankle and hand while rehearsing a fight scene and landing a stunt improperly. She then revealed she sustained a “stress sprain on my ankle” when she got out of bed. However, she, like Zabka, didn’t want to notify anyone, because she “didn’t want them to think it [was] a big deal.”

She added that she has had “a couple of injuries,” and that she was “often covered in bruises while filming.”

In 2018, Macchio and Zabka revealed in an interview with Men’s Journal that the latter kicked the former in the face during filming for “The Karate Kid.” Zabka explained that, though the scene was well-rehearsed, “They decided to move the camera at some point, so the blocking was a little different, but I didn’t adjust my planted foot. I didn’t realize until too late, and coming through the kick, it didn’t stop until it connected.”

According to Eighties Kids, actor Israel Juarbe, who portrayed Freddie, was whacked in the face by Ralph Macchio in an unscripted moment when Daniel was juggling the soccer ball in the scene on the beach where he first meets Ali. Though he didn’t have much of a role in the film, Juarbe was one of many victims of a minor injury on the “Karate Kid” set. That one, however, actually made it into the final cut of the film.

Be sure to catch season 4 of “Cobra Kai” when it is released on Netflix December 31.

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