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What The Miyagi-Do Dojo Banners Really Say In Cobra Kai

Cobra Kai spends most of its first season focused on Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka), the former bad-boy karate boss of the 1980s San Fernando Valley. In the decades since the Karate Kid movies, however, Johnny's fallen on tough times. So has he former dojo — the abusive Cobra Kai.

The first season of the YouTube-turned-Netflix series follows Johnny's journey to redemption for himself and Cobra Kai, as he takes on his teenage neighbor as a student, the first Cobra Kai student in a generation. The show is also about the ongoing animosity between Johnny and Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio). When Daniel finds out that Johnny has revived Cobra Kai, it motivates him to counter. Cobra Kai's concept of "no mercy" led to a lot of suffering for Daniel, and he sees the return of that dojo as a means for more kids to be abused all over again.

So what do you do if you're Daniel LaRusso and Cobra Kai is back on your turf? You start your own school to teach the lessons you learned from Mr. Miyago (Pat Morita). When Daniel re-opens Miyagi-Do karate, he hangs a set of banners that reveal the most sacred philosophy of Okinawan self-defense. Here's what they say.

Miyagi's Rules Number One and Two

Daniel's dojo has two banners, as seen in his ill-conceived YouTube ad from season 2. If you happen to be a Karate Kid fan, you might recognize them. In The Karate Kid Part II, Daniel accompanies Mr. Miyagi to his family's home in Okinawa because Mr. Miyagi's father is dying. While Daniel is there, he visits the dojo where Miyagi's family teaches karate. There Daniel sees two banners and asks Mr. Miyagi what they mean. Miyagi says they are the rules of karate: "Rule #1: Karate for defense only. Rule #2: First learn rule number one." It's a cute little riff that's very much in keeping with the sometimes humorous relationship between Daniel and Mr. Miyagi.

Sadly, Pat Morita died in 2005m so he can't be a part of the Cobra Kai TV series, but his presence is still felt. In Miyagi-Do Karate, those same banners are still displayed. You might ask yourself what the banners actually say. The banner on the right reads, "karate musente" (空手無先手) which translates to, "karate no first punch" or, put in Miyagi terms, "Karate is for defense." So that lines up with what Miyagi said back in The Karate Kid Part II. Interestingly, though, the banner on the left read, "senseigoshin (先正其心) which actually means, "first, have a sound mind." That's different from the pseudo-Fight Club translation Miyagi originally gave, but it's still satisfying to see these loving tributes to Morita's character in the new series.

Cobra Kai is streaming now on Netflix, and its third season is set to release in 2021.