I've been a fan of the Karate Kid since day one. I vividly remember sitting in a Mann theater in the summer of 1984 watching what was for every kid around my age, I was 12 at the time, the ultimate "good triumphs over evil" movie. And with high school looming on the horizon and all the challenges that were sure to come, I felt if Daniel could overcome adversity then so could I.
Fast-forward about 25 years and thanks to a lazy day in front of the TV and a lucky find on a movie channel I found myself rediscovering the film I loved so much as a kid. I had watched the movie a handful of times since the 80's but this time something caught my eye and I was transported back to 1984 and engrossed in the movie all over again.
While watching the movie intently I started to notice things with the story that didn't seem to make sense, small things I had missed as a kid. Maybe now as an adult my mind searched for flaws as I do with the rest of the world. However this discovery of imperfections only made the movie more interesting and my desire to watch it again even more intense. I think that very same day I rushed out and bought a DVD copy of the movie, I had some studying to do.
As I began watching the movie, now at my leisure, some of these imperfections that I had noticed earlier became more abundant. Mostly these were issues with the relationship between Daniel and Ali as well as her relationship with Johnny, a love triangle I suppose. For example, why was Ali so cold towards Daniel at the arcade the night before the All Valley? And if she despised Johnny so much why did she dance with him at the country club that fateful night? At the time I thought these were just trivial things of the heart, however I would soon discover that these were pieces to a puzzle of an underlying story I never could have imagined.
There were other issues that crept up as well, issues more dark than teen-age love affairs. Irregularities with Daniel's training and with the All Valley tournament, issues that led me deeper into a study of the movie and its nuances. Pretty soon a blog was created (thekaratekidblog.blogspot) where I could keep track of my thoughts and the results of my studies. My ideas were progressing but still I lacked hard evidence, something key that would allow the mysteries of the movie to reveal themselves.
I delved deeper into study and turned to the Internet to see if others had done any Karate Kid research. I didn't come across much, a couple of fan websites and message boards but they were mostly debating the morality, or lack there of, of the upcoming Karate Kid re-make. Really nowhere did I find any serious Karate Kid research. My studies continued and became intense enough to where my life seemed almost completely consumed by this search for the truth.
Around the same time a pilgrimage was taken to California, a trip to some of the sacred sights central to the story. The South Seas Apartments and the Cobra Kai dojo, all designed to bring me closer to the story and the hidden meaning contained within. Sadly no secrets were discovered, however the pilgrimage did provide my soul with some much needed nourishment.
Then one day I came across a comment or two on a mixed martial arts message board where someone had claimed Daniel had tapped out of the final round match against Johnny. I was intrigued since I had never heard of this before. Others contested that he definitely had not but it sent me immediately back to the film to find out for myself. After watching the final fight scene numerous times I couldn't understand what they had been debating, not at any time did I see Daniel tap the mat. I was confused and decided to lay the issue aside until hopefully new evidence would present itself.
I pressed on with my studies and a few days later found myself on YouTube watching any and all Karate Kid videos available. It just so happened I came across a video that offered up interesting facts and trivia about all three Karate Kid movies. And much to my astonishment suddenly there it was, right in front of my face, the tap that everyone had debated! But no wonder I had not seen it earlier, I was looking for Daniel to tap the mat while he was laying on the ground, not tap his leg while he was standing up.
This leg tap though could not be interpreted as a sign of Daniel giving up. It occurs as he is lining up for the next round shortly after Johnny has scored his second point. If Daniel were giving up he simply would have walked off the mat or had Mr. Miyagi throw in the towel. No, there was something more to this, this had a deeper meaning. Especially seeing as Johnny's next move was to attack Daniel with an elbow to the leg in the exact spot Daniel had just tapped a few seconds prior.
This was Daniel giving Johnny a sign, this was the two of them were working together.
Could it be? Did the two of them have a plan?
My mind conjured the impossible. Did Johnny throw the fight?!
I had to pick myself up off the floor, I had to take a moment to collect my thoughts. Was this possible? Did Daniel and Johnny actually fix the outcome of the All Valley Tournament?
Suddenly this world I had thrown myself into had just become even more upside down and mysterious than before.
I thought to myself that if the match were fixed there would have to be more evidence than just this leg tap, there would have to be a lot more. Why would they have done this? I needed answers desperately and I realized some intense study lay ahead. I wasn't sure if I was up to the challenge but I couldn't just turn my back on everything I had just seen. I had to get to the bottom of this or it would drive me mad. Perhaps I would be driven mad either way but I was willing to take the risk for something this important.
I figured the only way to get to the bottom of things would be to start from the beginning, take the movie scene by scene, look for evidence, create a timeline of events and set the stage for what could be the most important discovery in Hollywood history. I would also have to accept whatever reality the evidence would present.
While I searched for answers I found myself on a joyful quest, one that took me deeper into this world of martial arts mastery, innocent and not so innocent love, self discovery, joy, pain, personal triumph, and dark secrets.
Little by little though it all came together, ultimately it was easier than I thought. The answers were all right in front of me, in front of anyone who seeks enlightenment. A conclusion is what I came to, one that made the Karate Kid experience even more intriguing and satisfying than before, one that made the story deeper and more intense than ever.
What I found was the truth, a truth that was hidden, hidden at the All Valley.