Lessons from the Karate Kid

It was the last Saturday class at the temporary dojo and our Sensei pulled out a technique made famous from the movie the Karate Kid. He called the technique “ura,” a technique that deviates an incoming strike, or as the movie called it: “wax on, wax off.”

If you are not familiar with original Karate Kid movie, the main characters Daniel (a/k/a the karate kid) asks Mr. Miyagi to become his karate teacher. He agrees and puts Daniel to work at his house.  After four days of performing seemingly irrelevant and arduous tasks, such as waxing the car, sanding the floor, and, painting the fence, Daniel loses his temper and confronts Mr. Miyagi. Mr. Miyagi responds simply, “Not everything thing is as it seems.” To which Daniel replies, “Show me.”

Paint the fence

Sensei Mae demonstrating Paint the fence

Mr. Miyagi positions himself in front of Daniel and asks him to demonstrate “wax on, wax off.” Daniel performs the circular arm movements. This is the same technique we learned in class. As Daniel demonstrates wax on, wax off, Mr. Miyagi unexpectedly moves to the attack using straight punches that are harmlessly deflected away. When we performed this in class, it worked just as it did for Daniel in the movie. Fun!

As one of the students in class, I was impressed by the knowledge and the detail that went into the teaching of this technique as well as the teaching for our class. This is teaching from Okinawa, and the circular nature of the technique was effective. Sensei went on to demonstrate other techniques from the sequence and showed the moves in various katas as well.

I will be practicing the ura technique with circular motions. As we had several students at the class, we all took turns attacking and defending.

  • One aspect the students liked best was when we hooked the punch and then pulled down our attacker.
  • We also appreciated how the technique blocked a follow-up punch from the attacker.
  • It was tricky to mirror the hands and we were encouraged, just like Daniel in the movie, to go slow at the beginning and perfect the technique.

This movie was well done in teaching this unconventional way.

  • It is much easier for me to stop into the dojo rather than practice waxing several cars in one day.
  • Of course, I do not have a bad guy from Cobra Kai stalking me.
  • The karate kid, original cast is coming back on the small screen. Youtube is starting a new series titled “Cobra Kai,” the fall of 2017. It will be interesting to see where it lands.
  • Will they use the ura technique in the sequel? Stay tuned…

Have you learned this technique? Are you interested in learning similar fun drills? I know I will look to use this technique in my next fight.

  • Sensei knows us well enough not to throw too much at us at one time.
  • Later in the movie Daniel wants to learn the kick he sees his teacher performing. A wise teacher knows when the timing is right for the teaching, and in the movie the kick is learned after a foundation of knowledge is passed along.
  • In the dojo we see upper belts performing fun kicks or kata and have to learn patience that we, too, will learn that technique when the time is right –when we have the foundational skills or muscle development. We can harm ourselves without the right foundation.
  • Daniel learned the virtue of patience and life lessons in karate along with sprucing up the house for Mr. Miyagi.

Please let us know in the comment section below. We are interested in your feedback. See you in class soon.