Cobra Kai and Martial Arts Themes

By  | 

-*Spoilers Ahead*-

Cobra Kai season 3 was released on January 1st, 2021 which features the continuation of the rivalry between Miyagi-do and Cobra Kai. Today we will discuss the themes in Cobra Kai and how it applies to the martial arts philosophy.


The duality of yin and yang is a theme in Cobra Kai. How the actions of those affect others and everyone is interconnected in some shape or form. Yin is characterized as receptive and negative energy while yang is outward and positive. The balance of yin and yang which exists in everything is important. Miyagi-do represents inner peace, focus, and balance which Daniel LaRusso continues to teach his students after Mr. Miyagi. Cobra Kai displays aggressive force and no mercy to others. As their students believe the world shows no mercy to others, they must defend themselves to survive. In season 3, longtime rivals, Daniel LaRusso and Johnny Lawrence must work together to find Robby Keene after he had kicked Miguel Diaz from the balcony. One of the show’s ongoing themes is about rivalry, camaraderie, and working together towards one main goal.


Through training and life experiences, martial artist endure injuries physically on the body. Season 3 kicks off with Miguel Diaz after his fall in a coma at the hospital. In Cobra Kai, Miguel Diaz must learn to use his body again and recover. In wushu, ACL injuries are very common and wushu practitioners go through a year or more to work on physical therapy and mental recovery to regain their mobility. An injury is a challenge for both because, during the recovery phase, many miss the love of practicing wushu or martial arts. Injuries are common in martial arts and it is upon one’s decision how to heal mentally and physically.

Loss and Sacrifice

After the school fight, all the students, including their parents must go through a process of rebuilding. Samantha LaRusso has to face going back to school among the talks of other students. She learns to climb up the stairs and accept the damage that was done to her by Tory. She learns one’s fight does not define who she is as a person.  Miguel Diaz loses his ability to walk which becomes his new mission to recover from the unfortunate fall. Martial artists must pass through sacrifices to rebuild and regain a new sense of self. Even in training, wushu practitioners spend a lot of time training to focus on sanda or taolu. They choose to spend more hours on the weekend or travel to training camps to practice even at the cost of seeing family or friends less to improve one’s abilities.


Just like a tough fight between martial artists, not all battles are won. This is the case in Cobra Kai each character is faced with a new obstacle in their path. Johnny Lawrence love for alcohol has been an ongoing challenge for him to function regularly. Although he struggles with himself, he pushes his students to not give up. The practice of wushu teaches us that despite the obstacles we face in life as well as on the carpet, we must persevere and continue to keep going.


“No man is an island.” All characters learn to work with one another to focus on one goal. Daniel LaRusso and Johnny Lawrence put aside their differences to realize much of their efforts are hurting those around them. They are learning to work with one another to rebuild and refocus. The teacher was once a student and is continuously always learning and train to get better. In wushu, we work with one another as a team and martial arts family while continuously putting our differences aside for the love of wushu.'

Justine is a National USA Wushu Taolu Judge and was on the 2017 U.S.A. Traditional Wushu Team. Justine works full time as a Systems Analyst. With her extra time, Justine currently travels to domestic and international wushu tournaments.