Mr. Miyagi might’ve taught Daniel LaRusso to “wax on, wax off” during ‘80s movie The Karate Kid, but when it came to doing his own stunts both in the action movies and in the spin-off Netflix series Cobra Kai, Ralph Macchio, who plays Daniel, was largely left to his own devices.
Although the 60-year-old doesn’t have a black belt in karate, he has been doing his own stunts in the movies and TV series for as long as he can remember, starting from the very first movie where he was trained by Pat E. Johnson, the All-Valley referee from Johnny and Danny’s iconic fight that started it all.
“He taught all of us, trained me in goju-ryu style, Okinawan classic karate, and Pat Morita as well,” he recalled in an interview for WIRED. “He was a big part of creating all of those sequences.”
He continued, “Most often I don’t [use a stunt double]. I really try to do all the stuff. Certainly it was easier back in the day. Yeah, I’ve hurt myself a few times. You know, I’ve never broken anything. That’s just made the biggest mistake ever saying that out loud.”
As it turns out, Macchio isn’t alone in forgoeing stunt doubles — as William Zabka explained in a featurette, a lot of the cast do the same.
“We’re putting personality into the fighting, and we’re putting emotion into the fighting,” he said. And that makes it more authentic.We don’t have the luxury of having a lot of time to learn the fighting because of the pace that we’re shooting the show.”
To find out where the action-packed karate kids (and adults) will go next, check out our guide for Cobra Kai season 6.