View Full Version : Mr. Miyagi was an aikidoka?

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David Maidment
02-14-2009, 06:42 PM
(I realise this may seem like a silly topic, but there's some good conversation to be had here, I think...)

I don't know if it's the time of year or what, but, the Karate Kid films seem to have all been on TV here the last couple of weeks. Naturally I had to watch them all.

In the few scenes where Mr. Miyagi himself fights, has anyone else noticed how he seems to exercise Aikido principles alone and very little of the 'karate' he teaches?

In particular, Mr. Miyagi seems to like tai sabaki to get the Hell out of trouble's way, letting the bad guy hurt himself / his fist by means of his own momentum / strength.

I also swear he relies wholly on nikyo in the final fight scene in The Next Karate Kid, which was on TV today. There was a very nice double-nikyo in particular.

Anyone else notice this? Thoughts on The Karate Kid films as a positive vessel for aiki principles?

Kevin Leavitt
02-14-2009, 07:05 PM
The principles are fairly universal to most martial arts and eastern philosophy, IMO.

02-14-2009, 07:28 PM
AFAIK, Pat Morita is an actor, not a karateka or an aikidoka.

Carsten Möllering
02-15-2009, 03:10 AM
AFAIK, Pat Morita is an actor, not a karateka or an aikidoka.

And - as far as I know - practiced never any martial art at all.

Most of the techniques we practice in aikido can be found in other arts aswell.


02-15-2009, 09:17 AM
evileyes ...He was a great entertainer and actor. Mr. Morita conquered many obstacles in his life...and has recently passed away. He is missed by many.

28 November 2005
Noriyuki ("Pat") Morita, actor: born Isleton, California 28
June 1932; thrice married (three daughters); died Las Vegas
24 November 2005.

As the wise and wily martial arts expert Mr Miyagi in The
Karate Kid (1984) who becomes the mentor ("sensai") to a
bullied, fatherless teenager and teaches him not only
self-defence but gives him valuable spiritual and moral
lessons, Pat Morita created an indelible portrait of warmth
and wisdom that won him an Oscar nomination and a role with
which he will forever be identified.

Already an experienced actor and stand-up comic (sometimes
billed as Noriyuki "Pat" Morita, usually as Pat Morita), he
was particularly known for his portrayal of the excitable
Arnold, owner of the drive-in malt shop in the television
series Happy Days (1975-76 and 1982-83), and he was the
first Japanese American to star in a television series (Mr T
and Tina, 1976). But it was as the diminutive "Miyagi
sensai" to Ralph Macchio's "Daniel-san" that he achieved
international fame - the film was a huge box-office success
and Morita starred in three sequels, two with Macchio and
the last with a female pupil played by Hilary Swank.

Morita had survived a difficult childhood. Born Noriyuki
Morita in Isleton, California, in 1932, he was the son of
migrant fruit pickers who followed the harvests and lived
mainly in shacks with dirt floors and leaky roofs. At the
age of two Morita contracted spinal tuberculosis and spent
nine years in a sanatorium encased in a body-cast and unable
to play with other children. "So I made puppets out of socks
to entertain the nurses and other kids," he later recalled.
"Who knows? If it weren't for my disease, I might not be
where I am today."

When he left hospital at the age of 11, it was after Pearl
Harbor, and he was sent to join his family who, along with
110,000 other Americans of Japanese ancestry, had been put
in an internment camp:

I was picked up at the hospital by an FBI agent wearing dark
glasses and carrying a gun. I think back to the ludicrous
nature of it all: an FBI man escorting a recently
able-to-walk 11-year-old to a place behind barbed wire in
the middle of nothing!

After the Second World War, his family eventually settled in
Sacramento and opened a restaurant serving Chinese food
(because of lingering Japanese prejudice). After graduation,
he joined an aerospace company, but at the age of 30 decided
to pursue a career in comedy. Billed as "The Hip Nip", he
gained a reputation in clubs, then was asked to fill in for
an ailing headliner at an Hawaiian theatre. Finding an
audience of war veterans, many disabled, observing the 25th
anniversary of Pearl Harbor, he began by telling them he
wanted to apologise, on behalf of his people, for screwing
up their harbour. The audience roared with laughter and
cemented the comic's reputation.

Morita made his screen début in the pastiche of Twenties
musicals Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967), playing (with Jack
Soo) one of two Orientals assisting Beatrice Lillie (as a
white slave trader) in her nefarious activities. More than
20 other films preceded his casting in The Karate Kid,
including Midway (1976), in which he played a Rear-Admiral
indecisive about whether to arm his planes with bombs or
torpedoes. He auditioned five times for his star-making
role, which he won despite the producers' wanting a Japanese
rather than Japanese American actor - they were considering
Toshiro Mifune. To make him sound more ethnic on the
credits, they asked Morita to use his given name, Noriyuki,
rather than his stage name of Pat.

He proved perfect casting, catching the enigmatic
character's endearing quirkiness (in one scene he teaches
Macchio how to catch flies with chopsticks) and
vulnerability (in a memorable drunk scene - partially
written by Morita - he confesses his enduring sorrow that
his wife and child both died during the child's birth at an
ill-equipped internment camp). Morita lost the Oscar to the
Cambodian actor Haing S. Ngor (for The Killing Fields).

He made over 70 films after The Karate Kid, including the
comedy Honeymoon in Vegas (1992) in which he played a
taxi-driver, Mahi Mahi, and he was the voice of the Emperor
of China in Disney's animated feature Mulan (1998).

Television appearances included recurring roles in M*A*S*H,
Sanford and Son and Baywatch, and countless guest roles. At
the time of his death he was making a film called Princess.

Tom Vallance

02-15-2009, 09:47 AM
well in the next karate kid movie, starring jacky chan (who'll play the old man's part), you'll know for sure the guy knows martial arts.

as for Pat, he played the part very well and there's a lot of wisdom that i see in karate kid. i know it sounds corny. But that wooden toy in the 2nd movie (back to japan), that principle is so fundamental to a martial art i know.

David Maidment
02-15-2009, 10:28 AM
Let me please clarify something of my original post; I refer solely to Mr. Miyagi the character, not Noriyuki Morita.

Seeing Jackie Chan take on the role will certainly be interesting. I wonder if anyone knows if the emphasis will be on flashy martial arts or in keeping with Mr. Miyagi's philosophy of non-violence? Either way I can't wait to see it.

02-15-2009, 05:22 PM
A bit of movie trivia...

Pat E. Johnson (9th dan Tang Soo Do under Chuck Norris) did the fight choreography and stunt coordination and had a bit part as the referee in the first 3 movies.

Fumio Demura was Morita's stunt double in all four movies.

02-15-2009, 11:56 PM
The concepts of Aiki are considered to be founded in natural movement, the physics of which are not exclusive to Aikido. It certainly would make sense that they are found in a variety of martial arts. I cannot think of a more eloquent example of this than the Karate-do of Kenji Ushiro Sensei.

02-16-2009, 11:57 PM
I think there is this school of karate which is loosely translated as Willow tree or something like that... apparently the original line of descendants has passed on and an American sensei was given the lineage.

To be honest, that is one of the most aiki karate I've seen. I've also seen a local karate master doing very jelly like blocks. Nothing at all like the traditional stiff and low stance moves you normally associate with karate especially those of Okinawan roots. It looks more like tai chi or Systema even.

As for moves like kotegaishi, shihonage, nikyo and all that... yeah well. Karate has those moves. And so does Tae Kwon Do... strange but true. Of course what they stress upon and how they do it is kinda different than aikido.