How To Learn Miyagi

As far as karate movies go you would be hard pressed to find one more iconic than the Karate Kid movies. With the Cobra Kai series following on from the story, more and more people are wanting to learn the style of Miyagi-do.

How To Learn Miyagi

Who Is Mr Miyagi

Miyagi-do is taught to the main character of the Karate Kid movies (Daniel LaRusso) by Mr Miyagi, a plummer who fled from Okinawa to the United States.

Mr Miyagi was drafted into the second World War and became a highly decorated military Sergeant in his time. Due to his experience in the army he understands the importance of keeping a calm mind.

When he sees Daniel being bullied he offers to train him after he is challenged to a fight. The deal being that Mr Miyagi teaches him everything he may need to know, as long as Daniel gives him a direct answer and does everything he asks without question.

Daniel obviously says yes and goes on to win his fight after training.

His wisdom is carried to the Cobra Kai series as Daniel teaches his students the art of Miyagi-do.

A wise man once said “first learn stand, then learn fly”, focusing on the key lesson of patience. Mr Miyagi had bigger ambitions than just learning to walk before learning to run.

Pat Morita based the character of Mr Miyagi off Fumio Demura. Demura’s kind nature shines through the character. The wax on wax off technique was something that Demura taught to his own students.

Fumio Demura didn’t wish to play the role of Mr Miyagi as he wasn’t confident in his English skills, but that didn’t stop him from being Pat Morita’s stunt double across all the films.

Miyagi’s Lessons

  1. Wax on wax off – The right hand moves clockwise, then left moves counterclockwise.
  2. Sand the floor – Hands move together, the right going counterclockwise and the left clockwise.
  3. Paint the fence – Brush in up and down motions. Small boards painted with the left hand and big boards with the right right.
  4. Paint the house – The same as lesson 3 but with a ladder in play.
  5. Show – Showing how the previous lessons were about muscle memory and how they help with learning karate.
  6. Learning balance – Kick the waves during high tide without falling.
  7. Fishing review – Perform past lessons on the bow of the boat without rocking it and scaring the fish away.
  8. Punching – Put the power of your body into your knuckle. Daniel also shouts the iconic “Kiai!” during this scene.
  9. Focus – Building walls for a new room in the dojo. Each nail must be hammered in with only one strike.
  10. Sparring – Instructed to land a single hit on Mr Miyagi, Daniel succeeded at this.
  11. Drum technique – The secret to Miyagi-do. Copy the actions of a Japanese pellet drum with ropes and hooks. The aim is to not be hit by the hooks.
  12. Primary target – Utilize a distraction technique. Mr Miyagi teaches that you don’t have to see a fight to the end, just safely escape.
  13. Miyagi-do kata – Similar to the kata Seienchin.

Wax On Wax Off

Arguably the most iconic scene from the first movie. Wax on wax off is the first lesson that Mr Miyagi taught Daniel, and Daniel didn’t even know it at the time.

This action was taught to Daniel to teach him the fundamentals of karate. You can’t learn any advanced techniques without first mastering the basics.

The entire time he is waxing, Daniel is told to constantly breathe in through his nose and out through his mouth. This was to help him clear his mind, a key theme in karate.

By repetitively performing this action all day it made this skill ingrain in Daniels mind. Mr Miyagi taught Daniel the importance of hard work and you can learn from even the most repetitive tasks.

If there is one thing to take from Mr Miyagi it’s that even the most simple of tasks can be a tool in learning.


Seienchin is a traditional Japanese style kata (kata translates to form or model). Many believe that this is what the Miyagi-do kata is based off of. Seienchin translates to ‘calm within the storm’ or ‘calm before the storm’.

Seiunchin is a kata of Goju-ryu karate taught by Chojun Miyagi.

How To Learn Miyagi (1)

The character of Mr Miyagi was inspired by Chojun Miyagi and is also named after him.

Goju-ryu (meaning hard-soft style) is one of the main traditional styles of karate. It has a major emphasis on breathing patterns.

As a kata, Seienchin is distinct for its lack of kicking techniques and its well rounded and dynamic moves. Like Miyagi-do it is about attitude and how a person can grow from what they learn.

Step By Step Of Miyagi-do From Karate Kid

  1. Point fist down to the ground.
  2. Move arms to chest.
  3. Push outwards with opening hands.
  4. Raise right hand to forehead and point left hand downward.
  5. Switch positions or right and left hands.
  6. Repeat until it becomes a natural flow.

Start Karate Lessons

Sometimes the most obvious answer is the correct one. If you want to be just like the Karate Kid there is nothing better than learning karate. 

Unfortunately the world of Karate Kid is fictitious and by that, the art of Miyagi-do is also fictitious. Fortunately though, karate is not fictitious.

Being seen in some form as far back as the 1300s, karate is a beloved martial art practiced by millions. 

It’s true karate lessons won’t consist of painting fences and waxing cars (you can do that in your own time), they will teach you the basics all the same. It is all about hard work and perseverance.

You won’t become a master in a matter of weeks but that’s not the point of karate. It’s about patience and understanding the art. 

Who knows you might even find your own Mr Miyagi on the way.

Christopher Anderson
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