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                       Kesuke Miyagi          



An ethnic Okinawan immigrant to the United States, Mr. Miyagi was most likely born on April 11, 1923 (inferred from his immigration to the U.S. and war service). He learned karate originally from his father, who had been a fisherman. He came to the United States after leaving Okinawa to avoid a fight to the death with his former best friend Sato. Miyagi initially had a job working for Sato's father, where he met and fell in love with a young woman named Yukie from his village. Yukie however was arranged to marry Sato. Miyagi rebuked the marriage in front of the whole village, claiming that he and Yukie were in love, and Miyagi was set to go against tradition and marry Yukie anyway. This greatly dishonored Sato, who challenged Miyagi to a fight to the death. To avoid the fight - by the conduct of karate - Miyagi left Okinawa and Yukie behind when he was 18 years old. It was not until 1985 when Miyagi's father (also Sato's sensei) was dying that Miyagi returned to his village. Upon his return, Miyagi was reunited with Yukie. After Miyagi's father died, Yukie revealed to Miyagi that his father was proud that his son didn't take up Sato's challenge and that Miyagi indeed did the right thing. However, also on this return, Miyagi was eventually forced to face his history with Sato. Sato relentlessly tried to have Miyagi accept his challenge to fight, but after Miyagi saved Sato from death during a typhoon, Sato relented and he and Miyagi became friends again.

After leaving Okinawa, Miyagi met and married another woman. Miyagi and his wife were soon expecting their first born when Mrs. Miyagi was interred in the Manzanar Japanese internment camp in California during World War II. During this time, Miyagi joined the U.S. Army's 442nd Regimental Combat Team and fought in Europe, eventually rising to the rank of Staff Sergeant and being awarded the Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, Bronze Star, and multiple Purple Hearts. During his service, Mrs. Miyagi and their son died in the Manzanar camp due to complications during childbirth. Though normally a very disciplined and modest man, he is shown in one scene in the first movie in a maudlin state of extreme drunkenness on the anniversary of his son's birth and wife and son's death. The loss of his family, and the death of Daniel's father prior to the beginning of the movie, provide a thematic justification of Miyagi and Daniel's relationship as surrogate father and son.

What he did in the interim between the war and the first movie is not revealed in much detail. At the start of the first movie, he works as a maintenance man in Daniel's apartment building. It is suggested that he has worked variously at landscaping, carpentry, gardening and classic car restoration, though he does not have a driver's license. He has fished for his whole life, since being taught by his father. In the third movie, he and Daniel begin a business of growing bonsai trees. He claims in the first movie never to have taught karate to anyone before Daniel, though contradicts this in The Next Karate Kid by claiming to have taught his former Army commanding officer, Lt. Pierce.

Mr. Miyagi has a deep philosophical knowledge of life and has extraordinary martial arts skill. Elements in the films, such as attempting to catch a fly with chopsticks, and Miyagi's knowledge of acupressure, suggest that the character is a descendant of Chojun Miyagi (18881953), the legendary founder of Goju-ryu Karate, as Miyagi refers to his style of karate as Miyagi-do karate. In the second film, Mr. Miyagi explains that the founder of his family's style learned his skills in China, where Chojun Miyagi indeed traveled, although the film character refers to an involuntary travel due to unfortunate winds.

Other elements in the film diverge from the Goju-ryu connection: Mr. Miyagi tells that his Karate style is centuries old, but the founder was born only in 1888. He himself lived in Okinawa during the lifetime of Chojun Miyagi, but never mentions him. Chojun Miyagi learned karate in Japan and only later travelled to China, unlike the forefather of the film character. The authentic Miyagi also opened schools to teach others his style, whereas the film dynasty passed karate on only to their own sons (and exceptionally a very good friend of their sons'). Finally, the film dynasty were fishermen with the exception of the "Mr. Miyagi" himself, but Chojun Miyagi dedicated his professional life to Karate. In the film The Karate Kid Part II, he is descended from Shinpo Miyagi, who was very fond of both fishing and sake. One night in 1625 while fishing and very drunk, he passed out on his fishing boat off the coast of Okinawa and ended up on the coast of China. Ten years later, Shinpo returned to Okinawa with his wife and two kids, and the knowledge of Kung-Fu which he then formed into Miyagi-Do karate.




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