For those unaware, ESPN’s 30 for 30 is a long-running documentary series that chronicles an array of sports’ historic and/or notorious moments. However, ahead of the release of the second season of YouTube Red’s Cobra Kai, fans of The Karate Kid movie mythos – in which it takes place – can see its bellwether moment, the fateful 1984 All Valley Under-18 Karate Tournament, get spotlighted! – Fictional status notwithstanding.
Amongst the things heralding the arrival of Cobra Kai Season 2 later this month is a six-minute mockumentary pseudo trailer of a 30 for 30 episode, chronicling the culminating martial arts competition of 1984’s The Karate Kid. Pushing on the motto of the docuseries, “Too dramatic not to be real,” the clip focuses on the iconic movie moment that climaxes with Daniel LaRusso’s (Ralph Macchio) cathartic victory by way of – a move he learned by secretly observing his sensei, Miyagi – the Crane Kick, to the face of Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka).
As we are so helpfully reminded in the clip’s opening moments, there was no Internet, YouTube or (shameless premium content plug warning,) ESPN+ back in 1984. Thus, according to the narrative, the All-Valley Karate Tournament was the end-all and be-all for the film’s Southern Californians, from the wealthy residents of the Hills to the working class of Reseda. Indeed, it was the Super Bowl, World Series, Stanley Cup and NBA Finals all rolled into one, with the added theatricality of WrestleMania.
Compounding that excitement, the final match between two-time defending champion Johnny and lanky Jersey-bred noob Daniel was akin to the night an outclassed, overmatched Chuck “The Bayonne Bleeder” Wepner went the distance with Muhammad Ali in a 1975 title fight. Or, if you will, like the Oscar-winning, franchise-launching film inspired by that moment, Rocky. – It’s almost as if the 1984 All Valley Karate Tournament took place in a similarly-structured film from that movie’s director, John G. Avildsen. /fourthwall
Kidding aside about the Crane Kick movie moment, its impact is very real and subsequently sent legions of new students into karate dojos across the world. While the Crane Kick invites incredulity and has become a bit a punchline move over the past decades – as the mockumentary clip argues about the legality of the move – it has been executed prominently in real life, notably in the sport of mixed martial arts by former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, Lyoto Machida, who used variations of the move to score brutal knockout wins on fighting legends Randy Couture and Vitor Belfort.
Regardless, Cobra Kai Season 2 is coming, seemingly ready to reveal a showdown between the fighters in question, Daniel and Johnny, that’s 35 years in the making. It all goes down on YouTube Red on April 24!