A 1980s movie classic — The Karate Kid — inspires the next generation

April 27, 2010

My 7-year-old has recently started taking Taekwondo lessons. He’s very excited about them. So are we. We are really hoping that what the other parents have told us, that martial arts forces kids with a tendency to goof around and not listen to instruction, to be better learners. We also hope that the class’ lessons about respect for your teachers and your parents might have some spill-over into our home life. It’s been a few weeks so far, and while he’s still excited about Taekwondo, I’m still waiting for that spill-over.

Anyhow, when martial arts entered our home, I made a joke about “wax on, wax off.” I know you know what I mean by that. But the boys didn’t. So I decided my kids needed to see the original Karate Kid, the film that really launched skinny minny Ralph Macchio into our hearts, the 1984 original Karate Kid. So I rented it.

On the way to the video store, I told my son that every adult past a certain age would know what I meant by “wax on, wax off.” He didn’t believe me, so I stopped three random strangers — one in his 30s, one in her 40s, and one in her 60s, and all knew what it meant. At the video store, my son asked the 20-something clerk if he knew what it meant. He didn’t (but the other clerk, same age-ish, who overheard, did know).

The kids and I watched the film last weekend, and I gotta say it didn’t quite live up to my memories of it. The plot seemed a bit thin, and the end went too fast, from (spoiler alert, if you’re 20-something and have never seen the movie, I am about to give away the ending!) overcoming his injury to win the final round at the karate tournament, then the mean boy handing him the trophy and saying that he’s all right after all. But I still loved seeing it. (And thanks to Youtube, I found these clips to include in my blog post. Cool, huh?)

And my kids loved the film too. They immediately ran around doing karate moves everywhere (until a few minutes later when one got kicked in the eye by accident. Occupational hazard in a home with two boys). And now they’re walking around doing the “wax on, wax off” thing themselves all the time.

Show this film to your kids before the remake comes out. In fact, I recommend this strategy for most of the films we loved that are being remade. When was the last time you saw Escape to Witch Mountain?