Cobra Kai karate has no kata, and is derived from Shotokan Karate, American Kickboxing, and Philipino Martial arts (at least according to Jack Harrah Sensei). There is then the discussion of Budo… but not what kind of Budo. There are two that I'm aware, and they are:
Gendai-Budo, which is Karate practiced in a post Meiji Restoration era. The tenets of Gendai-Budo are:
- Aesthetic Forms
Gendai-Budo is pretty, and has it's practical applications… but because it's focus is on self improvement, and because its stances, and techniques largely focus on the aesthetic (what looks good), a lot of the education in the practice is best used for tourney. It is not to say that Gendai-Budo is useless - it's not - only that the practitioner who is aware of the two kinds of Budo, and focuses on this one, is not particularly interested in the combat facets of Karate-do.
Then, there is the foundation of the old schools, Koryu-Budo, and Koryu-Budo is a different philosophy, a different way to practice, and a different way to learn. Koryu-Budo translates to “Old School”, and is a pre-Meiji Restoration practice.
It's core tenets are:
Both Gendai-Budo and Koryu Budo focus on Discipline, and Morals, but where Gendai-Budo places Morals first, Koryu-Budo places it last. Both ascribe discipline as the secondary tenet.
The Cobra Kai we're training in a corrupted version of Koryu-Budo-Budo; their instructor John Kreese is a prior war veteran, and his skewed views on combat are solely born from his experiences in war. He trains his students to fight the way he fights, in both hand-to-hand, and small unit tactics combat. Judging by the coordination in the Halloween attack on Daniel Russo, he taught this effectively.
Miyagi teaches Daniel in the foundation of Koryu-Budo, as well… but without the skewed ideology of Cobra-Kai. The lessons of Wax On, Wax Off, Sand the Floor, Paint the Fence, and paint the house are all legitimate representations, and training methods for the various blocks Daniel has to learn. They're also, as you can see from his soreness in the movie, an incredible fitness regimen. They build both his muscle, and his muscle memory through painstaking repetition without his knowledge that he's actually learning. In fact, what may have caused him a great deal of distraction in a more classroom type environment is absent when he's performing Miyagi's various tasks.
Miyagi teaches Daniel Russo Karate for offensive, and defensive, but insists defense only, never for attack.
Kreese teaches the Cobra-Kai their karate focusing more on attack, than defense, relying on overwhelming force (a military tactic) to attain their victories.
In the end, by the time the tournament comes, Daniel has the upper hand. His is a more disciplined, controlled, and polished karate. He doesn't let emotion, anger, or any other distractions get in his way, because he is grounded in his instructor's philosophies. His karate may not be as good as those veteran fighters of Cobra-Kai (Zabka), but Daniel Russo has the upper hand in the tourney. His defensive attacks put him in a position where he isn't violating the rules of the tourney.
Kreese's students are doing fine until they face off with Daniel. There's a personal vendetta from John Kreese to Miyagi, and Daniel Russo… and when his vendetta has to become their vendetta, too - when he begins making calls that affect their morals, and their sense of conscience, they become distracted. When Daniel is first injured by Tommy, Tommy actually breaks down, and apologizes in a hysteria.
By the end of the tourney, all of the Cobra-Kai are seeing this brutality as something else than what they first believed. After Daniel defeats Johnny, and Johnny gives him the, “You're alright…” biz, Kreese and Miyagi showdown in the parking lot. Had Miyagi beaten Kreese down, which he could have, Kreese would become a martyr to his cause. In Miyagi's comical honking of Kreese's nose, John Kreese's legacy was destroyed.
The stark contrast in the practice of their martial philosophies demonstrates the differences in martial education between Miyagi and Kreese, and why LaRusso won the tourney. He's the classic good guy with heart, who played by the rules. He's capable of violence, but not a slave to it. He's able to discern the weaknesses of his foes because he can keep a clear head, and attack their strengths as much as their weaknesses.
Conversely, the individual, and small unit tactics utilized by Cobra-Kai do not fit in well in a place where rules apply. Their willingness to cheat, and break the rules may work well in the real world, but has no place in a tournament limited by where and how you can attack your opponent.