Plus, okay, a ton of people get karate chopped in the face. The show has layers.
Set 30 years after the 1984 original, the series follows Karate Kid villain Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka, who lost 20 pounds to return to the role), whose life pretty much fell apart after Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) Crane-kicked him out of the All-Valley Championship finals.
To regain some part of his youth, Johnny re-opens the Cobra Kai dojo and takes on a student named Miguel (Xolo Maridueña), who is the exact type of kid that a young Johnny Lawrence would have shoved into a locker before first period.
Meanwhile, Daniel LaRusso - now a hotshot running a vaguely karate-themed auto dealership - takes on a new student of his own: Johnny's estranged son, Robby Keene (Tanner Buchanan).
It's an addictive series that, like the original movie, rides the line between cheesy and inspiring but ultimately works, because what it has to say about becoming a better person is real and relatable.
To celebrate the fact that Cobra Kai is a bonafide hit (season 2, coming 2019), here are the eight best life lessons from its first ten episodes.
*spoilers for Cobra Kai season one to follow*
Its not just about balance in the body, but also balance in life
Hey man, physical balance is definitely important - give the pistol squat a try if you don't believe it - but Cobra Kai frequently echoes the words of Pat Morita's Mr. Miyagi as the most key thing martial arts can teach you: "Whole life has balance, everything will be better."
Be the bonsai tree
Approximately 90% of the conversations that take place between Daniel LaRusso and Robby Keene are life metaphors, but this one - about the focus and precision it takes to trim a bonsai tree - lands particularly well: "You are the tree, Robby. You got strong roots, you know who you are. So now, all you got to do is visualize what you want your future to look like and make it happen."
Flip the script
The transformation of Eli (Jacob Betrand) from a timid misfit with a facial deformity that his classmates called "Lip" into a ass-kicking ladies man with a back tattoo nicknamed "Hawk" is one of the more inspiring arcs of the show. Well, until Hawk cheats and gets disqualified from the tournament in Cobra Kai's finale. Do everything but that.
Winning aint worth it if you do it dirty
"There's nothing dirty about winning, Sensei. You taught me that," Miguel says to Johnny, a few seconds before kicking the shit out of Robby's injured shoulder and winning the finale tournament in the dirtiest way possible. The prize Miguel and Johnny get is a plastic trophy and the people they love - Johnny's son, Miguel's girlfriend - walking out of their lives for good.
Compete with honor
On the flip side, Danny's post-tournament pep talk to Robby rings true: “You fought with honor and he didn’t," he says. "No matter what that trophy says, you’re the real winner.”
Dont stalk your exes on Facebook
Danny LaRusso and Johnny Lawrence getting drunk and pulling up the Facebook of Ali Mills - the reason for their decades-long beef in the first place - is both very funny and very sad for a reason. Don't do this.
Dont let the mistakes of your past determine your future
Johnny Lawrence's ten-episode arc is a simple one, but crucial for any dude to understand: Just because you were a remorseless dick in high school and, you know, also every year afterward doesn't mean you can't turn it around. It's never too late to become a decent human being...
But understand the mistakes of your past dont go away easy
...but Cobra Kai also wants to make it clear that it's going to be a process. The finale ends on a cliffhanger that also serves as the perfect metaphor: John Kreese - quite literally the embodiment of every poor choice in Johnny's life - emerging from the shadows.