William Zabka vs Daniel LaRusso: Who was the better sensei in 'Cobra Kai'?
One man with a sense of purpose, the other trying to regain some lost balance in life. Both are now senseis who are facing off again, just this time through their students.
CONTAINS SPOILERS OF 'COBRA KAI' SEASON 1
"No such thing as bad student, only bad teacher"- Mr Miyagi
We agreed to this in 'The Karate Kid." Somehow, we aren't able to readily accept this adage when it comes to 'Cobra Kai.' The pattern is pretty much similar. Two senseis, two proteges, one winner. Much of the series revolves around Johnny, and it is clear that he is not a bad man. Not one bit. LaRusso is pretty much LaRusso, who is still the fan favorite.
One of the most touching scenes in 'Cobra Kai' Season One is the part when Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) pays a visit to Mr. Miyagi's grave still seeking advice about the one thing that was stressed as the important lesson in a person's life: Balance. At the other end, Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka), remarks that while John Kreese (Martin Kove) was pretty much a man who was the epitome of ruthlessness, there were valuable lessons that stuck with him that have helped in some way.
In this case, Lawrence and LaRusso are at it again. One in a quest to be a man with a sense of purpose, the other trying to regain some lost balance in life. Both are now senseis who are facing off again, just this time through their students.
The first season sees Johnny restore the Cobra Kai dojo and take charge as the sensei. His first student was Miguel Diaz (Xolo Maridueña) and soon, sees a sharp increase in the number of students. However, his estranged son, Robby Keene (Tanner Buchanan), trains under LaRusso, much to Johnny's fury.
Both of them have different styles of teaching. While blunt force is the route for Johnny's boys, it's all about deft moves by Robby. And it is pleasing to see LaRusso still following Mr. Miyagi's teaching; Wax on! Wax off! Practical and effective.
In the end, it was about both men realizing that winning wasn't everything. Miguel won but paid no heed to Johnny's advice of not playing it dirty. On the other hand, it was a victory in defeat for Robby, who still earned respect from Daniel for giving his all on the mat.
Talking about who was the best sensei amongst the two, the producers of 'Cobra Kai' felt that both of them were trained by passionate teachers and the same had rubbed off on the two. Ultimately, it would be the viewers call and perception.
While LaRusso is generally the quintessential the good guy throughout the movie series, additional training and unconventional methods serve Johnny well. The fact that he advises Miguel about playing fair is that one standout moment when Johnny wins people's hearts.
While it was indeed a pity that his students decide to go the other way around and inflict damage on Robby, a miserable Johnny's face says it all that he is still sorry for Robby's loss.
By the end of season 1, it is quite easy to start developing a new respect for Johnny. The transformation from a waster to a man with an urge to do something right. He became a man who developed relationships, with his students and people around him. In the end, he seemed to have made peace with himself. And that makes Johnny go 1-0 up over LaRusso.