- Skill and experience don’t guarantee a win in Cobra Kai and The Karate Kid. It’s about spirit and perseverance.
- The better fighter doesn’t always win, as shown by Mike Barnes and other characters benefiting from cheating or advantages.
- Daniel LaRusso’s victories were often due to his spirit and the support of Mr. Miyagi, not his technical skill.
Cobra Kai and The Karate Kid are full of sparring matches and vicious battles—but the best fighter doesn’t always come out as the winner. This was first established in the first Karate Kid movie, which saw Daniel LaRusso, an underdog with minimal training, crowned champion. The point wasn’t that he was the best fighter but that his spirit, perseverance, and goodness helped him come out on top. In other situations, especially in Cobra Kai, the less skilled fighter won simply because they cheated or had other advantages. Ultimately, this goes to show that skill and years of experience don’t always guarantee a win.
Cobra Kai season 6 will see the conclusion of the Netflix series and the end of several character rivalries. Johnny and Daniel will likely have a final Cobra Kai rematch, finally determining which of them is the better fighter at this stage of their lives. Other anticipated final battles include John Kreese and Johnny Lawrence, who have yet to resolve their decades-old conflict that started back in The Karate Kid. It’s hard to say how these matches will work out, especially since Cobra Kai has repeatedly proven that the better fighter isn’t always the winner.
7 Daniel LaRusso vs. Johnny Lawrence – The Karate Kid
There’s no question that Daniel LaRusso was the deserving hero in The Karate Kid. Under Mr. Miyagi’s direction, he always played fair—the same which cannot be said for Johnny Lawrence and the Cobra Kai dojo. Just as in Netflix’s Cobra Kai, the karate school’s founder had a problem following the rules and taught his students to show no mercy and strike first. Though this is obviously questionable from an ethical standpoint, it can’t be denied that the method turns out powerful students, and none were better than Johnny.
In comparison, Daniel was a complete novice. He had been studying under Mr. Miyagi for a reasonably short time when he entered the All-Valley Tournament. He had no formal belt status and had never even really sparred with anyone before. There’s no denying that he had natural talent, but he was objectively the less skilled fighter. Still, this made his victory in the first Karate Kid movie that much more satisfying. The battle was never about physical talent but natural spirit.
6 Daniel LaRusso vs. Mike Barnes – The Karate Kid Part 3
Mike Burnes made a returning appearance in Cobra Kai season 5, this time as Daniel’s ally against Terry Silver. However, this certainly wasn’t the case in The Karate Kid Part III. Barnes was a cruel and vicious force to be reckoned with—even worse than Johnny had been in the first Karate Kid. In the film’s final battle, Daniel’s opponent was fast and relentless, to the point that Miyagi’s student hardly had a chance to block or counter.
In the end, Daniel secured the win, but he had really only scored one of his three points against Barnes. Silver had instructed his top Cobra Kai student to keep the match tied up until the very end, so Barnes purposely broke the rules a couple of times so that Daniel would be granted penalty points. This worked in his favor since the inferior fighter only needed to muster up some courage and pull off one good move to win the day.
5 Daniel LaRusso vs. Chozen – Cobra Kai Season 3
The first time Daniel and Chozen faced each other in The Karate Kid Part II, they were pretty evenly matched. By the end of the fight, they were both bloodied and exhausted, and it seemed they would collapse before a clear victor was revealed. However, Daniel wound up pulling out a move (with a bit of inspiration from Mr. Miyagi) that tipped the scales in his favor. In Cobra Kai, Chozen was nothing but a distant memory. That is until Daniel ran into him again while visiting Japan in season 3.
When equipped with the same tools and knowledge, Daniel is superior to Chozen. He proved this back in the Karate Kid movies. However, when the pair were reunited in Cobra Kai season 3, Chozen knew Miyagi techniques that Daniel didn’t. However, the New Jerseyan still managed to hold his own until his opponent debilitated both Danial’s arms. This technique was advertised as a way to defeat a stronger opponent, and that’s precisely what Chozen did. Once Daniel learned this skill, he regained his status as the better fighter.
4 Robby Keene vs. Miguel Diaz – Cobra Kai Season 3
The massive school fight in Cobra Kai season 3 is still one of the more memorable battles of the series. It saw the Cobra Kai and Miyagi-Do students go head to head without rules, regulations, referees, or judges. Naturally, this quickly got dangerous. It had all started with Tory and Sam, the former having come prepared with weapons. This brought Miguel and Robby into the mix, and after the Cobra Kai champs past All-Valley win, Johnny’s son found himself out for blood.
Miguel had solidified himself as the better fighter during the All-Valley in Cobra Kai, and as the new formulaic Karate Kid, he is the central character of the series (aside from Johnny Lawrence). Still, Robby managed a win—primarily because, in his rage, he fought dirty and pushed Miguel off the balcony. Since this placed his rival in a coma, Robby got no pleasure from his victory, knowing it was both underserved and uncalled for. Thankfully, the duo have since put their differences behind them.
3 Robby Keene vs. Hawk – Cobra Kai Season 4
Eli, or Hawk, as he is better known, has had quite the character arc in Cobra Kai. He started as a heavily bullied nerd, joined Cobra Kai, and became a nightmare. Once he realized that he had gone too far into the toxicity of Kreese’s dojo, he switched sides and became a Miyagi-Do. This was when he faced off against Robby in Cobra Kai season 4. Though the match was close, Hawk walked away with the win.
Still, Robby is considered one of the strongest fighters in the series. He received much more one-on-one training in both Miyagi-Do and Cobra Kai’s styles, so he has the best of both worlds regarding offense and defense. He only lost this match with Hawk because he was entirely off his game and not himself. His rage at his father, Daniel, and himself meant he could not embrace the peace and balance he had mastered under Daniel’s instruction.
2 Hawk vs. Kenny Payne – Cobra Kai Season 5
Kenny Payne was first introduced as a sympathetic character that Robby took under his wing. Unfortunately, the toxicity of Cobra Kai led him down a dark path, and he has since become a royal pain in the neck for Miyagi-Do. Having joined the dojo after the majority of the main crew, his climb to the top spot is rather impressive. Still, he only holds it because of Robby and Miguel’s absence.
In the Sekai Taikai qualifying match, Payne faced off against Hawk—a student both older and more experienced than himself. Really, Kenny never should have won. Silver had bribed the referee to make a few bad calls, and Hawk’s points weren’t counted as a result. Kenny will undoubtedly have a part to play in Cobra Kai season 6 and will surely do more growing, but in season 5, he wasn’t quite up to Hawk’s standard, despite his victory.
1 Chozen vs. Terry Silver – Cobra Kai Season 5
Chozen and Terry Silver’s fight in Cobra Kai season 5 was among the series’ most epic. These two masters refused to quit, and it nearly became a lethal battle. In the end, Silver won and was able to head to the Cobra Kai dojo, where he was finally put in his place by Daniel (another fantastic fight). However, Chozen’s loss had nothing to do with weakness on his part or Silver’s superiority. Once again, this all came down to bad sportsmanship.
In truth, Chozen defeated Silver first, which is rather impressive considering he had shown up at the man’s mansion drunk. As the Miyagi-Do hero held Silver at the end of his sai, he was distracted by the noise from the house, and his opponent took advantage. Silver slashed Chozen across the back with his katana, claiming a Cobra Kai win he never deserved.