The Reason William Zabka Compared Xolo Maridueña to Daniel LaRusso

Xolo Maridueña

Getty Xolo Maridueña strikes a pose at the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con.

The series “Cobra Kai” follows characters from the “Karate Kid” film franchise. In the original 1984 movie, Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) becomes a karate expert after training with his apartment’s maintenance man, Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita). Prior to becoming Mr. Miyagi’s student, Daniel reveals that he had taken some karate classes “at the [YMCA] in Newark, [New Jersey] where [he] lived.” The New Jersey native eventually wins the 1984 All Valley Tournament, where he defeats Johnny Lawrence (William “Billy” Zabka). In “Cobra Kai,” the LaRusso Auto Group owner is dedicated to the martial arts and teaches his students at the Miyagi-Do dojo. 

Xolo Maridueña Discussed His Previous Martial Arts Training

In August 2021, William “Billy” Zabka, Xolo Maridueña, Jacob Bertrand, and Peyton List appeared on a live stream, uploaded on the Sony Pictures Television Studios Instagram account. Zabka posed a question sent in by a fan, which read, “did anyone do karate before joining ‘Cobra Kai?’” 

Xolo Maridueña, who plays Johnny’s earnest Eagle Fang student Miguel Diaz, shared that he “did shotokan karate for maybe two years in elementary school.” He explained that he “got to learn the meat of” his martial arts skills after he was on the show.

“Honestly, doing those two years in elementary school didn’t really help me much for what was coming for ‘Cobra Kai,’” said the 20-year-old actor. 

Zabka then noted that Maridueña’s karate training was similar to what Daniel LaRusso went through when he was a teenager. 

“You’re kind of like the real Daniel LaRusso like in “The Karate Kid.” Like he went to the Y before that like ‘Do you know karate.’ ‘Yeah I took it at the Y,’ you know, then he meets Miyagi. So you went to the equivalent of the Y when you were a kid in a sense,” said Zabka. 

Maridueña agreed with his co-star’s assessment. Bertrand then shared that he also had somewhat limited karate experience prior to playing Eli “Hawk” Moskowitz. 

“I did like three, four years of karate in a strip mall by my house,” said the “Marvin Marvin” star.  

Bertrand went on to say that he did not retain much information from those lessons. 

“I think the only thing I remembered was like high block and like inside block and all that stuff. It honestly didn’t help me that much either,” said the 21-year-old. 

List, who plays Cobra Kai student Tory Nichols, also noted that she “didn’t know any [martial arts] coming in so this has been a whole learning experience for [her].” She then shared that she now has an appreciation for karate. 

“I absolutely love it actually. I miss it when we’re not there training. I really like it,” said List. 

Xolo Maridueña Discussed Fan Encounters in 2020

While speaking to BBC Radio 1 in December 2020, alongside Bertrand and his on-screen love interest Mary Mouser, Maridueña shared one downside of playing a skilled martial artist. He revealed that he has had fans approach him, asking, “do you think you could beat up a real person in real life?” 

“I think that’s a question that I get a lot, is like, ‘so you’ve done all this training could you mess me up? You see my build.’ Like I don’t know man, like I guess it depends on what the circumstances were. Like am I fighting for my life?” said Maridueña. 

READ NEXT: Why Courtney Henggeler Is ‘Grateful’ To Play Ralph Macchio’s Wife

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