Any fan of the 1984 classic “The Karate Kid” would instantly recognize the legendary headband Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) wore throughout his training with Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita). The blindfold travels with him through the film, its most notable inclusion being the All Valley karate tournament in the film’s climax. But many fans may not be aware of his exact origins, or how he became such a symbolic part of the film and its franchise.
Here’s what you need to know about Daniel LaRusso’s iconic headband.
The headband was included by accident
As explained by Ralph Macchio in a 2014 video with OWN, the headband was not originally in the script. In fact, it wasn’t even a headband at all, just one of Pat Morita’s handkerchiefs. Morita, thinking it would work, improvised by turning it into a headband and placing it on Macchio’s head. As Macchio described it, “Pat Morita had this like a handkerchief in his pocket, and he just pulled it out to pat his forehead, and so he just decided to put it on me. But it was never in the script, so it just became a bit of pop culture there. “
Macchio also revealed that the blindfold, which was in his possession at the time, wasn’t the only artifact from the film he was able to keep. In the video, Macchio features the legendary trophy won by Daniel after the decisive fight (fans may remember Daniel shouting at Mr. Miyagi, “We did it!” As he held up the trophy while standing embraced by the crowd).
However, the engraving of the trophy may not be what you would expect: instead of honoring Daniel LaRusso, it actually honors Macchio himself. The engraving says:
All Valley Karate Tournament
The Karate Kid
Although the film was released in 1984, “1983” refers to when the film (and the scene) was shot.
“I feel pretty old right now,” Macchio said, reflecting on the 30 years since the film was made.
Macchio reflected on the difficulties he faced after “The Karate Kid”
Later in the interview (several years before “Cobra Kai” even started production), Macchio also discussed the impact “The Karate Kid” had on him after the film’s release. He said that while Daniel LaRusso “was a big part of who I was,” the character had a lot more “chutzpah” than Macchio. “If I was faced with bullies,” the actor said, “I would normally tap into this scenario. “
He said that in 1986, after the New York Mets won the World Series and “The Karate Kid Part II” was in theaters, he thought, “What could possibly go wrong? from here ? I think I’m going to work intermittently until I’m 30, maybe 35, and then I’m going to relax and enjoy life. He said of himself at this stage of life:
What an idiot. You know, it’s just the youth. It seems so easy. But it wasn’t, it was a struggle, being someone who was now 26 and still able to play a high school student created some issues for me to graduate in roles that could have been richer then.
The famous headband, which features a blue lotus flower motif on a white background, returned in episode 5 of season 1 of “Cobra Kai”, dedicated to the memory of the late Pat Morita. It is towards the end of the episode, just after Daniel puts on the blindfold, that he decides to resume his old practice of karate, after consulting Mr. Miyagi’s grave earlier.
The headband was so legendary that it created fan reaction videos and replicas of it are even sold online, on Amazon and other sites.
In order to catch more “Cobra Kai,” be sure to tune into Netflix when it releases on December 31st.
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