Training in the martial arts is about change. We begin training as one person and we begin to see another person emerge as we put more time in to our training. A while back I read this article about the original Karate Kid movie that kind of stayed with me and I thought I'd share it with you.
I think by now most of us have seen the original Karate Kid movie with Ralph Macchio and, like most, think of it as a "coming of age" story about how Daniel-san found his teacher, gained courage and found himself. On face value for 99% of this movie that is true. But, this article deftly illustrates that most of us, me included, missed an important and the underlying story line of the villains journey of realization and redemption.
Throughout the movie Johnny and his friends terrorize Daniel-san, but if we look closely we see them start to soften and realize their wrong path as their teacher becomes more and more radical. In the last 10 to 15 minutes or so if we look past Mr. Miyagi and Daniel-san we see the redemption in some of the Cobra-kai students. We see Bobby follow through with his teacher's terrible command to attack Daniel's leg only to beg for forgiveness and Johnny's look of horror as the sensei tells him to "Sweep the leg." Johnny's full redemption is shown as he displays true sportsmanship by demanding to give Daniel-san the trophy and saying, "You're alright Laruso."
The martial arts are all about change. Daniel-san found himself and changed. Mr. Miyagi found the love of teaching again and changed. Bobby and Johnny realized they were following the wrong master and were acting unscrupulously and changed. A more developed ending that displayed this idea of realization, change and redemption would have seen Daniel-san, Johnny and the other students from the Cobra-kai training in Mr. Miyagi's backyard as the movie faded black to the credits.
In the martial arts, everyone seemingly good and bad has the opportunity to change. There is no time limit or statue of limitations. Change is a function of realization and action, but most of all it requires some level of sacrifice. We must let go of something in order to grab hold of something else. Every person is capable of change. If Johnny can do it and Darth Vader can too at the end of Return of the Jedi then we can too.