Monday, July 12, 2010


This is the third in a series of articles I've made concerning the Karate Kid franchise. These articles attempt to dissect the fitness and martial arts concepts utilized in these movies and see if they are actually useful in real life or just empty Hollywood baloney. I highly recommend you read the first (where I tackle motor learning) and second (where I take a look at conditioning) articles before diving into this one!


Another piece of awesomeness I saw in the original Karate Kid was Mr. Miyagi’s bonsai habit. Bonsai is used as a sort of meditative practice all over the world these days and is able to instil peace within one’s by quieting it, allowing it to focus on a single, simple task, and shutting out the noise that often clouds our thoughts. Mr. Miyagi teaches Daniel this and is something, I believe, that should be taught to everyone.


No, I’m not suggesting you go out and buy some bonsai to quiet down your soul. What I am saying is that you find some equivalent of this in your daily life and make the most of it. Some people pray and even go to church on a daily basis. Some people perform Yoga, some people stretch their troubles away, and some people go into actual meditative states for long periods of time.

The activity doesn’t need to be as traditional as all that, though. I, for example, try to write for my blog everyday. Of course, my primary intent is to share my thoughts to everyone in the world in blog form, and hope that I help someone out there somehow, but I also find that writing keeps my mind at peace and brings me in a sort of meditative state. Like Mr. Miyagi’s bonsai method, writing quiets my mind so it can focus completely on a single, simple task: chronicling my thoughts on a very specific topic.


Find your own, personal meditative activity, embrace it and try to do it as much as possible; every day if you can. You’ll find that it can relax you totally, keep you focused, erase a completely stressful day, and thus, aid in your health.


Alright, now back to Mr. Miyagi’s training methods. The rest of Mr. Miyagi’s methods were now very similar to Mr. Han’s except, well, Mr. Han’s were better in this regard. Why? Well, for one, Mr. Miyagi never used Random Practice in the original Karate Kid movie, ever. All of his methods were all Block Practice styles. Another thing is that Daniel apparently only learned two offensive moves during his training sessions, the straight punch and the crane kick (which, just in case some of you are stilll wondering, doesn't work in real life, so don't bother trying to do it; there are other, cooler moves out there that actually work), but in the actual tournament, he seemed to have the complete Karate arsenal on his side. Continuity flaws aside, when he did practice these moves, they were against thin air (as in the crane kick) or against a non-moving object (as in the straight punch), which is never how you want to practice for a live competition. You want actual sparing with actual people that mimic the actual competition environment as close as possible to help sharpen your skills to their maximum. This is the essence of Random Practice and the key to how to truly prepare for an event.


So, who wins? Technically, Mr. Han does. He did waste a few weeks of Dr’s time with that “jacket on, jacket off” nonsense, but the rest of his training was pretty solid. Mr. Miyagi, on the other hand, gave Daniel four perfectly good training days to condition his body in certain ways, but then used up the rest of the two months pretty ineffectively. And, no, after four days of chores, you don’t suddenly know how to block punches and kicks. Notice that, during the tournament, the blocks and movements that Daniel performs is totally different from the “wax on, wax off” motions he learned.
Yes, the balance training on the boat is petty nice, but that sort of training alone doesn’t really help win a martial arts tournament; learning how to score points and knock out opponents does. Aside from the boat and crane kick balance, Daniel didn’t perform any other conditioning exercises, though. At least Dre did push ups and splits during his training sessions. That’s why, during the tournament, I found myself thinking, “that’s what happens when you don’t condition your legs for an event that involves kicking!”

I still like Mr. Miyagi better, though. Why? Well, that’s Pat Morita’s best known role! Jackie Chan has done of others we can remember him for (Drunken Master, City Hunter, etc), but the Karate Kid master will always be Pat Morita. Just sayin’.


The Karate Kid teaches us not to be lazy. It teaches us that training and discipline can exist in all the activities we engage in on a daily basis and not just in the gym. This sort of attitude is excellent because the more active we get in our daily lives, the healthier we get. By combining this with a meditative activity or two of some sort to eliminate stress and allow us to receive proper rest, a person could increase his or her health tremendously.

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Hello, I'm Noel Blanco and I write Fitness Philippines. I have been involved in physical fitness for more than 10 years now and am currently taking up graduate studies on Exercise and Sports Science at the University of the Philippines. You can contact me at
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