The character of John Kreese, played by Martin Kove, has inspired a few myths and some of these involve Chuck Norris. Norris, being a figurehead of martial arts in the ‘80s, was reputed to have been offered the role of John Kreese, the primary antagonist in ‘The Karate Kid’.
Reportedly, Norris turned down the role due to its negative portrayal of karate instructors. While Norris himself has confirmed this to be untrue, he did admit that he would have turned down the role for that very reason.
Pat Morita’s Close Call
What can be considered a very near miss in movie history was that Pat Morita was not originally selected to play Mr. Miyagi. Morita’s long history of playing comedic parts was considered by the casting staff to be a detriment — audiences were well acquainted with his roles in 'Happy Days' and 'M*A*S*H'.
As legend has it, it took a grand total of five auditions for Morita to convince John Avildsen that he could shed his comic persona and embody the rather solemn Mr. Miyagi.
The Mythical Crane Kick
Right, at this point we take full responsibility for shattering childhood ideals! For all the boys and girls out there that dutifully practiced the (in)famous Crane Kick – it’s a completely fictional karate move.
Well, not completely fictional as the stance is used in Karta displays but the actual move of “kicking someone like a crane”…yeah, is nothing more than silver screen lore.
The Real Miyagi
The character of Mr. Miyagi had a real-life influence. Robert Mark Karmen, the screenwriter of 'The Karate Kid', found inspiration in the naming and characterization of Mr. Miyagi from Chōjun Miyagi, a karateka who developed a modern style for the ancient martial art.
The original Miyagi developed a style called “Goju-Ryu” – meaning “hard-soft”. It is never explicitly stated in the movie that this is the particular fighting style Mr. Miyagi teaches Daniel but bona fide practitioners have noticed definite similarities.
Mr. Miyagi’s (Almost) Missing Drunk Scene
A critical scene in 'The Karate Kid' is Daniel LaRusso coming across a very drunk Mr. Miyagi. The studio believed the scene impeded the pace of the movie and called on the director, John Avildsen, to cut it out of the movie completely. Avildsen refused.
The scene cemented an emotional evolution in the relationship between LaRusso and Miyagi by exposing Miyagi’s vulnerability and depression over being widowed. Avildsen maintained that the inclusion of the scene led to Pat Morita’s Academy Award Nomination for Best Supporting Actor.