Miguel entered Miyagi-Do for the first time in Cobra Kai season 3. Here’s why Diaz learning about Mr. Miyagi is important to the show’s future.
Warning: SPOILERS for Cobra Kai season 3.
One of the most important moments of Cobra Kai season 3 was Miguel Diaz (Xolo Mariduena) finally beginning to learn about Mr. Miyagi (Noriyuki “Pat” Morita). Miguel is one of Cobra Kai‘s heroic characters but he was proudly a student of Johnny Lawrence’s (William Zabka) brand of Cobra Kai since the series began. Cobra Kai season 3’s final three episodes bring Diaz into the hallowed ground of Miyagi-Do karate, and his education into the other side of The Karate Kid‘s legacy has now begun.
Miguel was Johnny’s boy from day one and there’s no doubt that Sensei Lawrence made Diaz a strong fighter and a better person, which was also a two-way street as Miguel also brought out the best in Johnny. But in terms of the greater Karate Kid/Cobra Kai saga, Miguel only ever had Johnny’s perspective. This was hilariously epitomized in Cobra Kai season 1 when Johnny described the events of 1984’s The Karate Kid and he painted himself as the hero coping with the villainous Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) taking everything away from him, from his All Valley Karate Championship to his girlfriend, Ali Mills (Elisabeth Shue). Miguel’s loyalty to Johnny is absolute and they’re essentially Cobra Kai‘s modern, rebooted version of Daniel and Mr. Miyagi – but because he was under Johnny’s umbrella, Miguel never really knew about Mr. Miyagi until Cobra Kai season 3.
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After Miguel and Samantha LaRusso (Mary Mouser) teamed-up to save the All Valley Under 18 Karate Tournament, she brought him back to Mr. Miyagi’s house – a place Diaz had never been to before. (Other Cobra Kai invaded Miyagi-Do in season 2 but Miguel wasn’t a part of those crimes.) Cobra Kai deliberately held back Miguel’s arrival until season 3, when it had the most dramatic impact. Besides seeing the Zen gardens behind the house for the first time, Miguel also finally glimpsed Mr. Miyagi and began to learn about Daniel’s late sensei. He also picked up the Japanese pellet drum from The Karate Kid Part II and Sam demonstrated Miyagi’s drum technique that allowed Daniel to defeat Chozen (Yuji Okumoto) in that film’s climactic fight.
Miguel’s broadening perspective continued when Daniel believed Sam that Miguel was no longer a member of Cobra Kai – he’s now the lead student of Johnny’s new Eagle Fang Karate – and he finally spoke to and got to know Diaz. Miguel was shocked to learn that Daniel came from humble beginnings in Reseda as he does, and Sensei Lawrence was actually a rich kid who lived in the Hills. Diaz also heard Daniel’s side of The Karate Kid story and came to understand what Johnny and Mr. LaRusso had in common, how their rivalry began over Ali, and how it relates to the chaos in his own life and his conflicts with Robby (Tanner Buchanan) over Sam and Tory (Peyton List). Plus, as Daniel pointed out, he and Miguel are both All Valley Champions.
In terms of karate, Miguel proudly embodies Johnny’s evolving strike first, more badass offense (but still show mercy) philosophy and he doesn’t quite grasp Miyagi-Do’s strictly self-defense-based system – yet. But a part of Miguel has always belonged at Miyagi-Do because he’s a genuinely good-hearted person. Diaz is someone Mr. Miyagi would have taken under his wing if he were still alive. More importantly, Miguel had always been immersed in Cobra Kai’s black and yellow iconography, but that has changed now that he’s out of John Kreese’s (Martin Kove) version of the dojo. In Cobra Kai season 3, Diaz wears Eagle Fang red as a founding member.
However, it can be argued that Miguel is Cobra Kai‘s one, true Karate Kid but after his injuries at the hands of Robby, he’s now behind Keene, who was a Miyagi-Do student now learning Kreese’s hardliner Cobra Kai methods. Miguel has to catch up if he’s to defeat Robby, since Cobra Kai season 4 is building to their inevitable rematch at the next All Valley Tournament, and to do that, Diaz has to incorporate Mr. Miyagi’s karate with what he’s learned from Sensei Lawrence.
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