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Mr. Miyagi

I remember the first time I saw it...

It was in early summer 1984, and I was at the beach in South Carolina with my extended family. It was probably the first time I'd ever seen a movie that truly moved me. For those not familiar with the 1984 film, The Karate Kid, provided below is a brief synopsis:

The film tells the story of Daniel LaRusso, a bullied teenager (played by Ralph Macchio), and how, with the help of Mr. Miyagi, a karate master (played by Pat Morita), Daniel learns to quell his demons and face the ultimate challenge of confronting his enemies.

Even though the martial arts play a significant contextual role in the film, the film (despite its name) is not really about the martial arts. That's probably why it has such a timeless quality to it. What struck me most about it (even the first time I saw it) was the unique friendship that blossomed between Daniel-san and Mr. Miyagi, an eccentric old man, who, though initially reluctant, gave himself away to someone desperately needing a friend. Interestingly (and near the end of the film), it becomes apparent that Mr. Miyagi needs Daniel just about as much as Daniel needs Mr. Miyagi. It's an aspect of the film I've experienced as tearfully profound over the years.

I remember leaving the theater that first night telling myself something like, "Someday, I want to be like Mr. Miyagi." Since then, I've devoted nearly 34 years to pursuing that vision. (The other day it came as a surprise to learn how I'm now slightly older than Pat Morita was when he played Mr. Miyagi in the original production. How and when did that happen? The years sure do pass quickly.)

While Mr. Miyagi was a fictional character, to me (and probably millions more) he was more than that. As Carl Jung might have written, Mr. Miyagi was the quintessential Wise Old Man; the selfless sage, who beckons us to higher planes of those realms devoted to training; teaching; being a true friend; seeking balance and quality over quantity; and fearlessly embracing the people, places, and situations that scare us. Not many know the deep connection I have with Mr. Miyagi's character in the film. Yes, I still want to be like Mr. Miyagi. And when I pass from this life, I hope I'm still pursuing that vision. I share all this because it's been an essential element of my own story for a very long time.

If you've never seen the original 1984 version, or haven't seen it in a while, I encourage you to watch it. And, as you do, to look for instances where you can begin to model some of Mr. Miyagi's ways. I promise this, and you and those around you will never be the same.



IKIGAI Weekly Blog Schedule (per The Training Trinity):

Mondays: Meditative Prayer

Wednesdays: Holistic Discipline

Fridays: Martial Arts Practice


The Life You Were Born to Live

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