Season 3 of Cobra Kai will travel to Okinawa and explore the origins of Miyagi-Do karate. Released in 1984, The Karate Kid starred Ralph Macchio as Daniel LaRusso, a transplanted California high school kid who fought back against bullies by learning karate from a mysterious old gardener named Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita). A surprise hit at the box office, The Karate Kid would spawn a pair of direct sequels, a later gender-swapped semi-sequel starring Hilary Swank as the “next” Karate Kid, and a 2010 remake starring Jaden Smith.
Amid the recent revival wave that has swept television and streaming, YouTube Premium in 2018 released Cobra Kai, a Karate Kid reboot focusing on the original film’s antagonist Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) as a middle-aged wash-out attempting to re-capture the glory of his youth by re-establishing his old dojo. Co-starring Macchio as an older Daniel LaRusso, now a successful San Fernando Valley car dealer, Cobra Kai was a surprise hit with audiences and critics. Season 2 expanded on the re-ignited rivalry between Johnny and Daniel, while also delving more into the series’ new, young characters including Johnny’s estranged son Robby (Tanner Buchanan), Daniel’s karate-practicing daughter Amanda (Courtney Henggeler), and Johnny’s new protege Miguel (Xolo Maridueña), as well as Johnny’s suddenly re-emerged old sensei Kreese (Martin Kove), who unsurprisingly continues to be a terrible influence on his favorite student.
Season 2 left plenty of cliffhangers to explore in season 3, which indeed is already on the way. Speaking to EW along with several of his Cobra Kai co-stars from San Diego Comic-Con, Macchio teased some of what is upcoming in the new season, including a trip to a very important locale in Karate Kid lore. Macchio said:
“For season 3, something I can tease is that, albeit we have a lot of cleaning up to do based on the events of season 2, some of the stories will dive into the origins of both Miyagi-Do Karate and Cobra Kai. Like, the beginnings of those two forms of martial arts, and we’ll learn stuff about both that we never knew. And that includes LaRusso going to Okinawa, which is a piece of season 3.”
Okinawa of course was the original home of Mr. Miyagi, and was already visited by Miyagi and Daniel in The Karate Kid Part II. Clearly, the difference in philosophy between Miyagi-Do, which emphasizes defense and using karate to find balance, and Cobra Kai, which is all about striking first and striking fast, will again be a key part of season 3. The presence of the late Miyagi will also continue to be felt (in the EW interview Macchio mentioned his insistence on keeping Miyagi alive through the show), as Daniel continues trying to hold onto balance while being confronted with the on-going presence of Cobra Kai in his life, not to mention his daughter Amanda’s burgeoning relationship with the troubled Robby.
Of course, Cobra Kai season 2 did end with one huge dramatic cliffhanger, as Miguel suffered a bad injury during the big karate rumble in the high school. Naturally, no hints have been offered about what happens to Miguel in season 3, but it’s fair to assume his injury will shake things up emotionally for everyone involved. Season 2's finale also hinted at the possible return of Elisabeth Shue as Daniel and Johnny's former flame Ali, but again, if Ali does come back, that's a secret that's being guarded closely.
Overall, Cobra Kai has defied expectations by emerging as a smartly written, compelling series that rises above being a mere nostalgic reboot. It will be interesting to see where things go in season 3.