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This Is The Secret Behind Sam And Robbie's Floating Wheel In Cobra Kai

If there's one thing the school of Miyagi-Do karate is famous for, it's the unorthodox training methods it uses to drill basic techniques.

Ralph Macchio's Daniel LaRusso learned the principles of defense by waxing cars, sanding floors and painting fences in The Karate Kid, so it's no surprise that he would find various offbeat means to teach his students when he reopened the dojo on the sequel series Cobra Kai. The Miyagi-Do tradition lives on in the form of jacking up cars and stapling papers and sweeping the floor of LaRusso's car dealership with a push broom — not to mention no small amount of waxing on and waxing off.

While LaRusso learned balance by standing in breaking waves or practicing his forms standing on the gunwales of Mr. Miyagi's fishing boat, in Cobra Kai he found a way to take this lesson a step further for two of his most promising students. LaRusso has his daughter Sam LaRusso, played by Mary Mouser, and Johnny Lawrence's (William Zabka) son Robby Keene, played by Tanner Buchanan, practice the Wheel Technique, in which the pair perform their movements together atop a wooden platform floating in a backyard garden that threatens to dump them in the drink if they fall out of sync. 

No matter how you slice it, the Wheel Technique looks like it would be a challenge for any actor, so how do Mouser and Buchanan make it look so easy? The truth is, they had a little help.

The actors got an assist with the floating wheel

The apparent difficulty of the balance wheel led one fan to ask showrunner Jon Hurwitz whether the two were able to complete the shots on their own, or whether they had help. Turns out, it's the latter. 

"The wheel was build by a top engineering team," Hurwitz said in response to the question on Twitter. "Hydraulics are involved. And there was a guy off camera controlling it remotely." Definitely outside of Mr. Miyagi's budget, then.

Which doesn't mean it wasn't challenging for the actors involved to get the choreography right. In fact, Buchanan admitted in an interview with Afterbuzz TV that he's a little peeved at how little of their routine made it into the finished show. "We worked for like a month," he said, drilling constantly to get the whole routine correct. The Cobra Kai Twitter account posted a video of Mouser showing one of those practice sessions.

And yet, the only versions of the sequence that made it into the show were the ones where their struggles and falls were scripted. "It's only the second episode of the season," said Mouser in the same interview, "so they can't show it looking nice."

It's understandable why that might be annoying for the young actors, but fortunately for them, they're in the perfect place to come out stronger from the experience. Turning the frustration of repetitive training into practical lessons is what Miyagi-Do is all about.