It happened by accident really, I was recently in the LA area having lunch with some old friends from a job I used to have there. One of them, who has been a life-long martial artist and who attended West Valley High at the same time as Daniel, Ali, and Johnny, mentioned to me about how a boy named Kyle West had been in a couple of scuffles with Johnny and his Cobra Kai’s and how those incidents were ultimately what drove Ali to leave Johnny.
I almost fell out of my chair, I hadn’t heard of this before. I asked my friend for more details and if he by chance had a picture of this kid named Kyle West. We were finishing up our lunch at this point so we headed back to his house for some beers and good stories.
Upon our arrival my friend immediately went to his garage and started looking in some old boxes where he found an old high school yearbook. With a grin he showed it to me, and wouldn’t you know it he looked just like the Kyle I was familiar with.
So I did a quick internet search and showed my friend the above Karate Kyle photo, he couldn't believe it. He asked me what the story was and I told him it has been making the rounds on the internet for the last couple of years. He admitted that he doesn’t spend too much time on social media so it’s not a surprised he missed all the excitement.
I asked more questions, I told him I needed more details.
Turns out that the school year before Daniel showed up in Reseda was a hectic one, one of Cobra Kai dominance around the school yard. A year of arrogance and intimidation.
Johnny and his boys were juniors that year, Kyle was a sophomore.
Kyle was a good kid, nice to everyone yet shy and a little unsure of himself. He also unfortunately had a talent for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
One day at the beginning of the school year he came around a corner while having his head buried in a book, bad luck would have it that Johnny was coming around that same corner with a drink in his hand. You can imagine what happened next, a collision and the drink ended up all over Johnny’s new school track jacket. Johnny was upset to say the least and Kyle found himself on the ground and his book in the mud under some nearby shrubs.
A warning was given to Kyle to never let anything like that happen again.
Sadly, only a couple of months had passed until a similar incident occurred, this one involving Kyle and Dutch.
While in art class Kyle had accidentally spilled a little bit of paint on a table. He quickly went to retrieve some paper towels to wipe it up but before he could return Dutch, who surprisingly was a fairly good artist, placed a drawing that he had been finishing up right on top of the paint. The drawing was ruined.
Dutch looked around to see whose fault it was and spotted Kyle coming towards the table with some paper towels. Kyle apologized and Dutch kept his cool until the end of the class but quickly afterwards rounded up Johnny and the rest of the boys and Kyle soon found himself being held upside down above a toilet in the school restroom. (The same restroom where Daniel would seek revenge against Johnny the following year at the Halloween dance.) A few moments later and after a couple of flushes Kyle emerged from the restroom wet and humiliated.
The rest of the year for Kyle was pretty much spent doing everything he could to avoid Johnny and his friends. It made for a stressful and sad year.
Finally, on the last day of the school year Ali caught a glimpse of Johnny and his true character. Kyle was walking across the school yard and Johnny out of nowhere, just for fun, gave Kyle a little bump which made Kyle drop all of his books. It wasn’t anything major but the Cobras laughed and Ali had seen enough. Later that night while at Golf n Stuff’s traditional ”school is out for summer” celebration, Ali called it off with Johnny.
Johnny protested but Ali didn’t care, she wanted no part of his poor attitude and mean spirit.
And the rest is Karate Kid history, Ali spent much of the summer with her friends at the beach and Johnny spent most of time either at the Cobra Kai dojo or on his dirt bike with his buddies.
I couldn’t believe it. I had just been given a glimpse into martial arts history few had known about.
We finished our beers, bid our adieus, and I raced home to throw in my copy of the Karate Kid to do a little more investigating. I wanted to see if I could spot Kyle anywhere in the film and sure enough, there he was!
Right in the thick of everything during the soccer tryout scene. Still a young kid, he would have been a Junior when Daniel and the Cobras were all Seniors. And he didn’t have glasses yet or at least he didn’t wear them during Phys Ed class.
(Light blue t-shirt in the following two photos.)
But there he is, observant and most like very curious as to who this new boy was causing all this trouble with his old foes. Being familiar with the wrath of Tommy and Bobby he probably wanted to see if they had changed at all over the summer break, but as well all know they had not.
Finally, I called up the old friend a few days later and asked if he knew where Kyle had taken his karate classes since I wasn't familiar with the red gi he can be seen wearing in the infamous photo.
You know the one,
My friend said he had asked Kyle once if he wanted to come to the karate club that Daniel and Johnny had set up at West Valley High after their post All Valley truce but Kyle said he didn't want to, he said he would never really feel comfortable there.
So he started taking classes at one of the many Lou Casamassa Red Dragon karate schools.
Quite well known around the LA area, the Red Dragon schools have been successful for many years. And that would explain Kyle's red uniform since the Red Dragons are famous for their red gi's.
My friend didn’t know how long Kyle studied but he was pretty sure he kept with it for several years. He seems to remember seeing Kyle either wearing a brown or black belt at a karate tournament a few years later.
From there the trail goes cold. I haven't been able to dig up any more info but what we have is probably enough.
If Kyle West would like to come forth and finish the story he may, if not at least his place in martial arts history is now secure.
|Red Dragon karate in La Verne California. Likely former school of Kyle West|