30 for 30 | Daniel LaRusso vs. Johnny Lawrence


The 1984 Under 18 All-Valley
Karate Tournament… I’ll never forget it. I mean, you gotta remember, in
1984, there was no internet. There was no YouTube, no ESPN+,
none of that. I mean, you either went to the
movies, or you went to an
actual karate tournament itself. To this day it is…it’s one of
the most epic matchups of all
time. [ANNOUNCER]
Whoever wins the next point
will be our new champion!
It was the kick heard round
the world. Clearly, not only was it
illegal, but it was violent and
potentially deadly. The ‘84 Tournament was
definitely one of the most
memorable ones because everybody at the time, we all
knew Johnny was the best. It was like, Mike Tyson in
boxing, Johnny Lawrence in
local karate. Well, let’s put it this way.
When you hear 1984, you’re thinking about Daniel LaRusso
vs. Johnny Lawrence. It’s a global event. The tournament was this epic
battle where this kid, who no one really knew who he
was, unknown fighter, had no
real affiliation… You have Johnny on one side
with Cobra Kai… And this new kid comes in from
New Jersey. This, you know, dark horse
Daniel LaRusso enters this
tournament, and just kind of took the whole thing by storm. I heard he didn’t even have a
belt at the time. That he stole a belt from a
referee. Belt or no belt, for a second
there, it looked like Daniel wasn’t even going to fight in
that final match. [ANNOUNCER]
All right, ladies and gentlemen!
[ANNOUNCER]
This is the moment we’ve been
waiting for! The present day ━
[ANNOUNCER]
Daniel LaRusso is gonna fight?
Daniel LaRusso’s gonna fight!
LaRusso had been hurt in the
semis, and under rule 31-2 clearly, he only had 15
minutes to recover or else he was gonna have to forfeit in
the finals. And we all know, 15 minutes? That is not a lot
of time. From what I’ve heard ━ and I
can’t be sure of this but I was told LaRusso’s coach
did some kind of Okinawan
healing rub on his leg thing. Nancy Kerrigan really could’ve
used that in ‘94. Going into the finals, no one
really thought Daniel had
a shot. I mean, Johnny was a two time
returning champ. If you watch Daniel’s early
fights, he was all defense. [TOMMY]
Get him a body bag! Yeah!
Get him a body bag?! What are
we doing? It didn’t feel like Southern
California in that gym on
that day. It felt like the Roman Colosseum
or something like that. [JOHN KREESE]
Sweep the leg.
Sometimes I lie awake at night
and I ask myself that. Should
Johnny have swept the leg? Of course, sweeping the leg is
a very legal move. It was dirty. I don’t blame
Johnny, that’s not on him,
he was a kid. That’s all on John Kreese as
far as I’m concerned. You know, there’s no such thing
as bad student, only bad
teacher, as taught by the great
Mr. Miyagi. And in this case, Johnny was bullied by his mentor and
karate sensei, John Kreese. [JOHN KREESE]
You have a problem with that?
[JOHNNY LAWRENCE]
No, sensei.
[JOHN KREESE]
No mercy.
Mercy is for the weak. I needed to present that
what karate is, is a discipline that will bring
you confidence, because you’re not merciful. If you think about it, your
opponent has an injured leg. You go for it. That’s just good
coaching. You wanna talk about a dirty
move? Let’s talk about
that kick. I remember, you go into that
final round, and things are just, they were not looking
good for LaRusso. Like, he’s limping, he’s
wincing. He’d gotten in a
couple of good shots, but the general feeling was
like, the kid is done. Then, all of a sudden, out of
nowhere, he lifts his arms and
leg in some kind of bird ━ and I’m not doing it justice,
but you know what I mean. Like some kind of bird or
something. I’d never seen
anything like this before. He does this standing bicycle
kick thing, Landing a devastating blow to
Lawrence’s face. It was over in a matter of
seconds. And the crowd, you should’ve
seen it! Daniel was the best fighter
that day. He was the best around. Nothing’s ever gonna keep him
down. Yeah, I give props to Daniel
LaRusso. He fought a tough match. Came back from a medical
knockout. You gotta remember, this was
over a decade before Kerri Strug at the ‘96
games. It’s unclear if it’s even a
legitimate victory. You know the kick to the head. There’s, you know, there’s
debates out there. Was it legal? I mean, who am I
to say? We can all play Monday morning
quarterback if we want to. It’s real easy after the fact. But the official on the mat, he
didn’t call it. Well, of course the crane kick
was legal. I mean, the crane kick is
literally why Daniel LaRusso is
the Karate Kid. No. You know, for 30 years I’ve
been telling everybody that Johnny Lawrence is the Karate
Kid. I think the crane kick took the
world by surprise, and took all
the judges by surprise. This is right up there with
Maradona’s “Hand of God” as one of the biggest missed
calls in sports history. We are here today, 36 years
somewhat later, and we’re still having this conversation.
That’s just awesome. Who really should’ve won? That
debate rages on. In 1984, you know, Daniel won,
and uh… you know, I think he gets the
glory. Johnny Lawrence…was robbed. I think we’d all wonder and
would love to know, what if these guys fought again?
What would that even be like? What would it look like? [JOHN KREESE]
Finish him!
Something tells me we’re gonna
get that answer sooner rather than later. [DANIEL LARUSSO]
You wanna finish this?!
[JOHNNY LAWRENCE]
Bring it on.

23 Replies to “30 for 30 | Daniel LaRusso vs. Johnny Lawrence

  1. "Right up there with Maradona's 'Hand of God' as one of the biggest missed calls in sports history."

    I love that hahaha.

  2. I remember watching the highlights of this tournament at my local Kmart in the tv/video section and seeing the illegal kick Larusso had on Johnny. Till this day I stil don't understand how the ref missed that illegal kick.

  3. for people confused about the kids are gonna come here in 15 years and think its it's real
    The commenter means they actually think the all valley is real

  4. People seem to forget what Johnny put Daniel through. All because of Johnny not being able to accept that Ali was done with him. Daniel deserved that win and even Johnny happily gave Dan the trophy and says, "You're all right, LaRusso." Which, for that time, concluded their little feud so Daniel could move on in the following two movies.

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