Who Started Cobra Kai in Karate Kid?

When the Karate Kid was released in 1984, it was an instant hit among audiences. The movie revolves around a teenager named Daniel LaRussa who moves to a new town and faces bullying from a group of students who practice karate at the Cobra Kai dojo. The film’s sequel, The Karate Kid Part II, and its spin-offs, The Karate Kid Part III, The Next Karate Kid, and Cobra Kai, have all continued to captivate audiences decades later. One of the most fascinating aspects of these movies is the question of who started Cobra Kai, the ruthless and aggressive karate dojo.

The Creator of Cobra Kai

The person who designed and created Cobra Kai as a fictional karate dojo in the first Karate Kid movie was the screenwriter, Robert Mark Kamen. Kamen, who was also a black belt in karate and a student of Bruce Lee’s former student, Dan Inosanto, based the character of John Kreese, the sensei (teacher) of Cobra Kai, on his own karate teacher, whom he felt had gone too far with the philosophy of „winning at any cost.“ In an interview, Kamen shared that he created Cobra Kai as a vehicle to explore the dark side of martial arts.

The Unseen Mastermind

While Robert Mark Kamen created the concept of the Cobra Kai dojo, the mastermind behind the dojo, the unseen sensei who instructed John Kreese, was left uncredited in the first Karate Kid movie. It wasn’t until the second movie that the character of Terry Silver was introduced, and it was revealed that he was Kreese’s war buddy who provided the financing for Cobra Kai. In the third film, it was also revealed that Silver was the one who trained Kreese in the „no mercy“ approach to karate.

In the Netflix series Cobra Kai, which takes place decades after the events of the original film, John Kreese returns and starts a new version of the Cobra Kai dojo. In the series, it is revealed that Kreese’s original sensei was a man named Terry Silver, who taught him to be ruthless in his pursuit of victory.

The Legacy of Cobra Kai

Despite being a fictional karate school, Cobra Kai has left quite an impression on popular culture. The phrase „strike first, strike hard, no mercy“ has become a synonymous term for aggressive tactics in various fields. The sequel series Cobra Kai, which takes place 30 years after the events of The Karate Kid, has introduced new generations to the world of Cobra Kai and the characters of Daniel LaRussa and Johnny Lawrence. The series delves into the lives of these two characters, now middle-aged men, who are still grappling with the effects of their long-past rivalry and the philosophies they learned through their former karate dojos.

Who Started Cobra Kai in Karate Kid?

An Exploration into the Origins of Cobra Kai and its Founding Members

When „The Karate Kid“ was released in 1984, it became a massive hit and solidified itself as a classic underdog story. The film saw a young Daniel LaRusso, played by Ralph Macchio, rise up against the aggressive and brutal Cobra Kai dojo. However, many fans of the film were left wondering about a key aspect of the movie – who started Cobra Kai?

In this blog post, we will delve into the origins of Cobra Kai and identify the founding members of this notorious martial arts academy that has become such an integral part of pop culture. But before we get started, let’s answer the most pressing question – who created Cobra Kai?

Who Created Cobra Kai?

Cobra Kai was created by the characters John Kreese and Terry Silver. John Kreese, played by Martin Kove, is the brutal and violent sensei of Cobra Kai in „The Karate Kid,“ whose teachings are toxic and harmful. Terry Silver, portrayed by Thomas Ian Griffith, acts as the main antagonist in „The Karate Kid Part III.“

Cobra Kai represents a forceful and aggressive type of karate that emphasizes winning at all costs. Kreese and Silver start the dojo to teach their unique and ruthless brand of karate, which focuses on striking first and striking hard with “no mercy”. The name “Cobra Kai” is a nod to Kreese’s military experience in the Vietnam War, where he reportedly served in an elite unit known as the „Cobra Squad.“

Now that we’ve established who created Cobra Kai, let’s explore some of the frequently asked questions surrounding the founding members and their motivations.

Who Were the Founding Members of Cobra Kai?

As mentioned earlier, John Kreese and Terry Silver were the masterminds behind Cobra Kai. They founded the dojo after returning from the Vietnam War, where they served together. According to Kove, the inspiration for his character Kreese came from a real-life Vietnam veteran named Robert L. Brown, who served as a Green Beret and later became a martial arts trainer in California.

In addition to Kreese and Silver, another important founding member of Cobra Kai was Mike Barnes. Barnes, played by Sean Kanan, was the main antagonist in „The Karate Kid Part III“ and was hired by Silver to defeat Daniel LaRusso in the All-Valley Tournament. Barnes was a ruthless fighter and embodied the „strike first, strike hard, no mercy“ philosophy of Cobra Kai.

Why Did Kreese and Silver Start Cobra Kai?

There are many theories as to why Kreese and Silver started Cobra Kai. Some believe that their experiences in Vietnam left them with a warped sense of honor and morality. Others speculate that they started the dojo as a way to make money and gain power. However, the most widely accepted theory is that they started Cobra Kai out of a desire for revenge against Daniel LaRusso and his mentor, Mr. Miyagi.

In „The Karate Kid,“ Daniel defeats Johnny Lawrence, the star pupil of Cobra Kai, in the All-Valley Tournament. This loss devastates Kreese, who saw Johnny as his best and brightest protégé. After the defeat, Kreese attacks Johnny but is stopped by Mr. Miyagi. It’s possible that this humiliation at the hands of Mr. Miyagi and Daniel led Kreese to seek revenge by re-energizing Cobra Kai with Silver’s help.

Who Started Cobra Kai in Karate Kid


The Karate Kid franchise has been entertaining audiences since its release in 1984. Its sequels, spin-offs, and reboots have kept viewers hooked, most recently with the YouTube Original series – Cobra Kai. The show revives the rivalry between Daniel LaRusso and Johnny Lawrence from the original movie, but this time, with a twist. One of the biggest mysteries of the show is who started Cobra Kai. Was it Johnny, or someone else?

What is Cobra Kai?

Before jumping into the question at hand, let’s first understand what Cobra Kai is. In the movie The Karate Kid, Cobra Kai is a ruthless karate dojo led by John Kreese. The students are taught to show no mercy to their opponents and use karate for offense rather than defense. The dojo’s mantra is „Strike First, Strike Hard, No Mercy.“

In the TV series, Johnny Lawrence revives the Cobra Kai dojo after he is inspired by a chance encounter with a young boy being bullied. Johnny tries to teach his students the art of karate, but in his old-school way, he still instills fear into his students and teaches them to „be badass.“

Did Johnny Lawrence Start Cobra Kai?

It’s easy to assume that Johnny Lawrence started Cobra Kai since he is the one who revived the dojo. However, in season 1 of the show, it is revealed that the original founder of Cobra Kai was actually John Kreese, Johnny’s former sensei.

According to the show’s creators, the idea was to bring Kreese back as the villain, but this time explore his backstory and give him some depth. In a flashback, it is shown that Kreese started the dojo after returning from the Vietnam War. He believed that the harsh elements of war could be used to train fighters by toughening them up.

Johnny, who was one of Kreese’s students, took over the dojo after Kreese disappeared from the scene. However, as we learn in the series, Johnny’s experience with Kreese has left him psychologically scarred, making him an ineffective sensei.


In summary, John Kreese, not Johnny Lawrence, started Cobra Kai in the original Karate Kid movie. While Johnny revived the dojo in the Cobra Kai series, he was not its original founder. The show flips the script by making Johnny the protagonist and showing a new side of his character. By exploring the backstory of the Karate Kid universe, the show has reignited interest in the franchise and introduced a new generation to the world of karate.


– ‚The Karate Kid‘: Director reveals surprising secrets about the movie (2019), Insider, https://www.insider.com/the-karate-kid-director-secrets-2019-3
– ‚Cobra Kai‘ Creators On Bringing Back Mr. Miyagi’s Family And More / Q&A (2020), Showbiz Cheat Sheet, https://www.cheatsheet.com/entertainment/cobra-kai-creators-on-bringing-back-mr-miyagi-and-more-q-and-a.html/

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