The Strange Lesson Cobra Kai Teaches Us About Heroism

Canva : Sergey Nivens

Today I picked up a bottle cap in the park. I know, give me the Nobel Peace Prize, or get me on Ellen. Whether my good deed deserves a pat on the back or not, it made me think about something that stuck out in Cobra Kai.

Good deeds are just as much for us as for others.

Johnny Lawrence is the prime example of how good deeds can transform us. In season 1, he was a helpless man with zero ambition. He was a drunk and arguably still is, and couldn’t keep his life on track if he were thrown on a train. The original Karate Kid movie threw him in a hole he didn’t have the strength to get out of… or rather, the motivation.

Then he meets Miguel, the Daniel LaRusso of this new generation. Miguel moved to town, got bullied, and was left to sit at the rejects table. That’s when Johnny is forced to help Miguel become a badass and it sparks the next iteration of Cobra Kai. The story is important, and it makes for great television, but the lesson here is about good deeds and what they can do for us.

Season 3 spoilers in the next 2 paragraphs! Skip ahead if you haven’t watched yet!

Season 3 of Cobra Kai sparks a new revelation in this series-spanning arc. Johnny is back at rock bottom. His son is in juvie and his apprentice is in the hospital. He failed them and he’s right back where he started, drinking at bars, and getting in fights.

Then he helps Miguel walk again, fight again, to once again be the champion. In helping Miguel, Johnny gets his life on track. He falls in love; he becomes a good person; he fights the good fight. The transformation here is in Miguel, but the lesson is in Johnny.

When we help others, we realize that we’re worth help, too.

Canva : ChristianChan from Getty Images Pro

In life, after drawing many short straws, we become convinced that we’re not worth the work. We don’t concentrate on bettering our circumstance or character because our self-esteem crumbles.

Johnny’s ability to change was not in question, here. It was his belief that he should. Does he deserve a life where he’s happy? Where he’s strong? Where he works on improvement himself?

By helping Miguel, though, and making a difference, Johnny feels worthwhile again. He no longer asks himself those questions. He knows he deserves those things.

There’s a Jewish term called “Mitzvah” in which you are commanded by God to do a positive action or charitable endeavor. You can read more about it in this article, but the gist is that by doing good, you connect deeper with God.

I’m not religious, but I find it exceptionally coincidental that I first learned about the “Mitzvah” a few days ago, still coming off of the incredible high that Cobra Kai season 3 offered me.

By doing good, we ignite the power in ourselves to want more good.

Canva : Roman Budnyi from Getty Images

Consider manifestation and the mind’s willingness to incorporate good things into your world if you manifest them. The same principle applies.

When we do good, we train our minds to accept good things.

!!!One more paragraph to skip if you haven’t watched season 3!!!

Therefore, more good things will come. By helping Miguel, Johnny has manifested more good. Not only does he realize that he’s worth the work, but he has also trained his brain to accept the good when it comes. When Carmen knocks on his door, he embraces her. When he is offered a partnership with Daniel LaRusso, he takes it. When he has the option to back down or push forward, there’s not a thought in his mind that he should back down.

So what are you going to do about it?

When I picked up the tiny plastic cap and threw it away, my brain switched. Whether it was chemical or emotional, my idea of myself altered. I saw myself as a good person. Good people deserve good things. Therefore, I do too. It was a small action, but it made a huge impact. I was good… I am good.

Do good things. Pick up trash, hold the door open, give a smile as you pass a stranger. Good deeds will come back. Charity will add up. Eventually you’ll be used to the good. You won’t fight it off like Johnny Lawrence did for so long. You’ll be ready to embrace the great things in life and assure yourself that you are worth it all.

You are worth it all.

Here are some great deeds you can try:

· Ask a neighbor about their day

· Take a friend out to lunch

· Type a nice and really meaningful comment on someone’s post (Maybe even this Medium article???)

· Send a small gift to family you haven’t seen in a long time

· Buy a bag of good groceries and donate it to your local food bank or shelter.

· Pay for the person behind you at the drive-thru.

· Write a letter or e-mail to a good friend or family member to let them know how much you value them.

· Compliment a stranger.

· Let someone merge in front of you during rush hour.

· Leave a note or a dollar in a library book for somebody else.

The point is not to see the outcome of the good deed. The point is to feel the outcome in yourself.

It sounds selfish; I know. But sometimes you need to be. Think about the effect you can have on others when you finally see the value in yourself. It’s a chain reaction.

You help others and in doing so; you help yourself. Helping yourself provides the motivation to continue to help others.

Take the next ten days and practice each deed from the list above or pick ten from this list. Notice the difference in yourself and how you see your worth. Don’t be a season 1, Johnny Lawrence. Be a badass, yes, but a badass that cares about themselves… A badass that lets the good finally flow in!



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Alden Etra

Alden Etra


Writer, martial artist, and downright awesome guy... as long as he's fed.