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Cobra Kai's Vanessa Rubio On Why She'd Choose Miyagi-Do Over Cobra Kai - Exclusive

Who's the real villain of 1984's The Karate Kid, Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) or Daniel La Russo (Ralph Macchio)? That was the question posed by Cobra Kaithe YouTube-Red-turned-Netflix series that catches up with the two adversaries 30 years after the events of the original movie. Season 3 is set to premiere this week, and when we last left Daniel and Johnny, their students had just clashed in a bare-knuckles battle royale that went down on the grounds of their high school. Blood was spilled, school property was destroyed, and one character suffered a nearly fatal plummet that left him unconscious and saw hauled away on a stretcher. That character is Miguel (Xolo Maridueña), the all-new karate kid of Cobra Kai.

Will Miguel recover? Will Robby face criminal charges? Who is to blame? The opposing viewpoints and teaching tactics of each sensei will certainly be under immense scrutiny throughout Cobra Kai season 3 — but more importantly, what is Carmen's view in all of this? 

Carmen is Miguel's mother and a single parent; in the series, she's played by actress Vanessa Rubio, whom you might also recognize as Nagaina from the hit Netflix show Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. During a recent exclusive interview with Looper, Rubio shared her thoughts on how a mother in Carmen shoes might weigh in on the whole Cobra-Kai-versus Miyagi-Do debate.

"I think there's so much that Carmen doesn't know in terms of [the fact that] she's not too familiar with Daniel LaRusso and Miyagi-Do's way of living," the actress told Looper when asked which sensei is the ultimately better role model for Miguel. "I think if she did know, she would definitely be like, 'You're going to Miyagi-Do, Miguel.' But she doesn't know. So right now, in her eyes, the one who has been there for her son has been Johnny. And she has to go by that."

There are many lessons to take away from Cobra Kai

Rubio raises a valid point. In Cobra Kai, there are a handful of characters who have yet to cross paths with Carmen, and she has had very few to zero interactions with any of the other major players. Up until now, Carmen has really only encountered Daniel once, during that amusing double-date restaurant scene in season 2. She's only heard Johnny's side of the story, which paints Daniel as the villain who's made his life a living hell. Things might have turned out differently for Miguel if Carmen knew more about the complex rivalries brewing between not only Johnny and Daniel, but also between her own son and his dojo-mates.

"I'd love for her to interact more with Amanda LaRusso, Samantha LaRusso, and Robby," shared Rubio as she spoke about her wishlist of characters for Carmen to interact with. "I think maybe Robby would win out because that's the close relationship that's hanging over Johnny, and I think she would be really instrumental in helping to mend that."

Whether or not we will find how much Carmen learns about Miyagi-Do in season 3 remains to be seen, but even though she couldn't share any spoilers at the time of the interview, Rubio did weigh in with her own personal views on what dojo she'd ultimately root for. 

"I think, personally, I would skew more towards the Miyagi-Do — Daniel LaRusso's way of thinking about it," she told Looper. "And especially in season 3, we get to see how beautiful that contained power is. So, I think it's a lesson in just learning how to use your energy well. Johnny's still learning that. Although, yeah, there are some things that are charismatic about Johnny that I think could pull towards that way of doing it. But [for] me personally, I would go with Miyagi-Do."

As for the devoted viewers who might be dealing with some of the real-life topics displayed in the show — such as the struggles of being a single mom, bullying, relationship break-ups, and the consequences of holding grudges — Rubio hopes there are many valuable lessons fans will ultimately take away from Cobra Kai.

"There are so many human topics and lessons to take away from this show," said Rubio. "But maybe my personal favorite is just the ability to channel those feelings of aggression and anger, and to channel them into something quite beautiful, which I think is the essence of martial arts. That anger or that aggression is an energy, and it can be channeled and transmuted like any other. So, you get to see Johnny going through that himself. I love Miguel's character so much. He just has this intuitive knowing. And I think that would be really nice if young kids and adults too could just take that away."

Cobra Kai season 3 premieres on January 1 on Netflix.