The Karate Kid trilogy was heavily geared towards male audiences, explaining why the movies entirely focus on male heroes as well as villains. The Next Karate Kid (1994) sought to veer away from its predecessors’ masculine stereotypes, but even Hilary Swank’s stunning performance couldn’t shield the movie from critical condemnation.
It wasn’t until Cobra Kai that powerful female characters were finally added to the Miyagi-verse. The show doesn’t distinguish between gender when it comes to expressing strength, whether through martial art or emotional labor. Cobra Kai further balances the narrative by including female antagonists.
7 Yasmine Makes Amends For Her Past Mistakes And Rejects Her Queen Bee Identity
Yasmine wields significant clout over West Valley High School. In the beginning, she abuses her prestige, subjecting Aisha, Demetri, and Eli to cyber-bullying and fabricated slander. Yasmine is undeniably formidable, but she employs her natural intuition to become a Mean Girl, a reflection of Regina George. Her toxic behavior comes to a grinding halt after Aisha teaches her a very public lesson, giving Yasmine a bitter taste of unpopularity.
Rather than take revenge for her humiliation as her ex-friend Kyler Park does, she tries to pretend that she’s still the school’s queen bee. This tactic blows up in Yasmine’s face, leaving her no choice but to make amends for her past. Yasmine ultimately rejects her previous life and openly accepts Demetri as her boyfriend, something she wouldn’t have even joked about before.
6 Moon Manifests Her True Strength Through Her Empathy, Not Her Fists
Moon is a member of Yasmine’s posse, even if she’s not as hostile or spiteful as the others. She experiences a life-altering revelation at some point in the story, following which she transforms into a stereotypical Flower Child à la the 1960s. Moon’s paisley-patterned outfits and lucky charm jewelry might be unique, but it is her emotional insight that truly sets her apart from the Cobra Kai crowd.
While Moon often launches into eccentric rhetoric about the importance of “chakras,” she instantly realizes the destructive effect of competitive karate on her friends and allies. Moon desires balance — an environment where students can learn and grow without having to suffer collateral damage from all the impromptu fights. Moon manifests her true strength through her empathy, not her fists.
5 Amanda LaRusso Prevents Daniel And Johnny From Declaring War On Each Other
Daniel LaRusso is intelligent, practical, and judicious, a far cry from the hotheaded teenager he used to be. However, Johnny’s unexpected comeback forces him to relive his uncomfortable adolescence. Amanda prevents Daniel from declaring an all-out karate war against his hated nemesis on multiple occasions.
She helps stabilize her husband’s overzealous tendencies with little more than commonsensical arguments. Daniel understands that controlling him is not his wife’s job, but he continues to depend on her support, at least until she threatens to withdraw it. Although Amanda is comforting and sympathetic, she is strong enough to simultaneously maintain her emotional boundaries.
4 Carmen Diaz’s Tough Love Parenting Style Helps Forge Miguel Into A Champion
Carmen Diaz was pregnant with Miguel when she escaped from Ecuador and made her way to the U.S., all to give her son a safer home. Starting as a single teenage parent, Carmen works overtime to put food on the table, relying on her mother Rosa to raise Miguel. In fact, Carmen’s career as an X-Ray technician keeps her away from home for extended periods of time, an unfairly thin line for any parent to walk on.
She is a realist, explaining her initial resistance when she hears about Miguel’s karate endeavors; however, Carmen eventually relents because all her decisions are based on her son’s happiness. Cobra Kai’s Season 5 is setting up an introduction to Miguel’s birth father, so the narrative is likely to focus on Carmen’s backstory and motivations.
3 Aisha Robinson Proves That Character Growth Doesn’t Rely On Physical Strength Alone
Aisha Robinson’s early childhood is relatively pleasant, considering her friendship with Samantha. Over time, however, the two girls drift apart — Samantha enters the popular circle and quickly loses touch with Aisha. The Cobra Kai philosophy allows Aisha some semblance of personal security, as learning karate helps her develop confidence.
Aisha’s fighting style is refreshingly uncomplicated, utilizing short bursts of speed and powerful interceptions to boost her defense. Her hitherto tranquil nature takes an uncharacteristically dark turn towards violence, but she inevitably rediscovers her pacifist persona after leaving karate behind. Aisha is living proof that physical strength is not the only factor involved in character growth.
2 Tory Nichols Becomes An Exceptionally Gifted Fighter Despite Her Burdens
Tory Nichols feels suffocated by her circumstance. She is forced to mature beyond her age and carries burdens that should never be borne by children. Tory’s relationship with Sam is filled with chaotic animosity; there are moments when neither of them are able to pinpoint the origins of their shared hatred.
Kreese manipulates Tory’s self-loathing for his own benefit, twisting her into a karate weapon. Fueled by anger, Tory goes on several self-destructive binges that would have torn her apart if not for Robby’s calming presence. Tory is an exceptionally gifted combatant, given her prior kickboxing experience. Kreese even refers to her as a “born fighter,” no small praise from such a demanding sensei.
1 Sam LaRusso Blends Two Distinct Karate Styles Into Miyagi-Fang
Unlike her younger brother, Anthony, Sam doesn’t let her family’s wealth dictate her integrity. Although her morals falter when her nemesis enters the picture, she gradually develops an immunity to Tory’s threats and taunting. Despite her Miyagi-do foundation, Sam insists on blending Daniel and Johnny’s teachings into a unique style known as Miyagi-Fang.
This gives her a serious edge during combat, especially after Cobra Kai students begin using Daniel’s techniques against her teammates. Daniel is extremely averse to the idea of his daughter’s reliance on Johnny, but he eventually accepts Sam’s choice — a momentous event in their tumultuous relationship. Unfortunately, Miyagi-do and Eagle Fang fail to defeat Cobra Kai at the All Valley Tournament.