With Cobra Kai gaining new life on Netflix and its fast approaching third season, let’s take a dive into the story that is due to be the driving force behind said season’s story, namely Daniel’s side quest to find balance in Okinawa. This is a major turning point for the story, and for those of you who have no idea why Daniel would suddenly up and go to Japan, beyond the knowledge that Mr. Miyagi was from there, this will serve as a bit of a backdrop to that side quest.
The entirety of Karate Kid Part II focuses on the feud between Mr. Miyagi and his childhood friend, Sato.
Before I go any further, it’s needless to say that there are spoilers from KKII and potentially for Cobra Kai Season Three, so without further ado, let’s get into this.
To understand the hows and whys of season three, we have to look at Karate Kid II and the character of Sato. Sato was a real estate tycoon who grew up with Miyagi in the village of Tomi in Okinawa. Both were students of Miyagi’s father, and Sato also ran a dojo teaching Miyagi-Do Karate. Sato was arranged to marry a girl by the name of Yukie, who was in love with, and had a relationship with, Miyagi. Once Sato found out about the relationship, he challenged Miyagi openly. Miyagi simply didn’t refuse the challenge, he broke camp and went to the States. He left a severely embarrassed Sato and an extremely heartbroken Yukie in the dust. She was so hurt by Miyagi’s departure that she refused to marry Sato out of anger and hurt.
For decades, Sato allowed hate and a desire for vengeance to brew within him. He trained his nephew (or godson?), Chozen Toguchi, in the ways of the fist through Miyagi-Do and upon maturity, Chozen became Sato’s main hitman and strong arm, ripping off the poor and elderly people of Tomi.
When Sato caught wind of Miyagi’s return upon the elder Miyagi’s illness, Sato chose that opportunity to harass the younger Miyagi into the honor fight he so desperately wanted when Miyagi ran away. Sato had his heart and fists set on breaking Miyagi’s ribs, that is, until Miyagi brought along a secret weapon.
The penultimate typhoon sequence where Miyagi saves Sato isn’t the “Come to Jesus” moment for Sato. That moment came when Sato first saw Daniel in action at the shady bar.
In this scene, Daniel and Kumiko were out on their first date when Daniel catches some action in the shady bar. Some American military dudes were taking bets on how many blocks of ice they could break. Instead of putting his money where his mouth was, Daniel decided to run the mouth to Kumiko. Some soldiers catch Daniel flapping his gums, then make a challenge to which Daniel refuses. However, Chozen comes in and strong arms the scene. As Kumiko seemingly runs away, Chozen forces Daniel into a bet that Chozen was sure Daniel could lose – break not three like the other gaijin in the scene were trying to do, but break six blocks of ice!
Kumiko returns with Miyagi, Yukie and Sato. Miyagi makes a huge bet that Daniel can break all six at a hundred dollars a block. A panicked Chozen turns to Sato who simply says, “You’re covered.”
This is where Sato’s turn began. He immediately took an interest in Daniel and watched with great curiosity as Daniel breathed liked a master, using the same Miyagi-Do technique. It was then that Sato realized that Daniel was the real deal. He knew he was going to succeed, and with one final expulsion of energy, Daniel slices through all six blocks of ice like a hot knife through butter. Sato lost the bet.
Or, did he?
It was here that Sato would start to fight his “turn to the light,” much like Vader did in RETURN OF THE JEDI. Each time Sato would come face Miyagi, Daniel would be there. Sato would stand down each time, allowing Chozen to do the dirty work.
We come to a scene right before the typhoon. Sato threatened to destroy all of Tomi if Miyagi would not fight. Miyagi accepted the challenge and made arrangements to save the village, live or die. If Daniel weren’t there when Sato made the challenge, it’s extremely possible and plausible that Sato would not have agreed to Miyagi’s conditions. One could argue that Sato’s hatred for Miyagi made him so desperate that if Miyagi said to Sato, “I’ll fight you if you get naked, hop one one foot and bark like a dog while stroking your junk,” Sato would’ve done just that.
This simply isn’t so. We have seen a steady breakdown of Sato’s hatred, none of which has anything to do with Miyagi confronting Sato at his own home. If Daniel had not gone with Miyagi, the beloved sensei would not be breathing.
Sato accepted the conditions because of Daniel’s inherent goodness. It’s a big part of why Yukie grew to care for Daniel and why Kumiko fell in love with him.
Finally, we come to the typhoon. Before the storm and before the tea ceremony, Daniel made a move to attempt to speak with Sato. However, he seemed to be deep in prayer at the shrine. It’s extremely possible that Sato knew Daniel was there, for Sato is also a master at Miyagi-Do and knows the environment around him. Nothing was said, Daniel goes to the tea ceremony with Kumiko, then all hell breaks loose.
The storm comes, the temple crumbles to the ground with Daniel saying to Miyagi, “Sato’s in there!”
Chozen declares Sato dead. Upon which, a very much alive Sato struggles for his life, being pinned down by a support beam. Daniel is the one who gets to the debris field first. Daniel is the one who urges Miyagi on as Sato continues to spit venom at his former friend. Miyagi does a chop, breaks the beam and they both pull Sato from the rubble. Miyagi urges on Sato as they struggle, saying, “Hang on, my friend,” as they trek through the mud.
Daniel goes back for a young girl who is on the tower as the ladder and the tower, itself, crumbles bit by bit. As Chozen refuses to help Daniel, having made up his mind, Sato watches as Daniel climbs the crumbling tower and brings the girl down. Sato tells Miyagi that he will be the one to help and goes to bring in Daniel and the girl.
In the end, Daniel is the one who saves Sato, twice. Once at the temple and again moments later at the crumbling tower. When Daniel makes his request to Sato in his own style, Sato easily agrees to grant it. Even at this point, if Miyagi had made the request, Sato would defer to Daniel. Sato doesn’t see Daniel as the savior of his life. On the contrary, he has great respect for Daniel. In his mind and heart, he replaced Chozen as his “number one.” What kind of relationship Daniel had with Sato is anyone’s guess.
From dialog in season one of Cobra Kai, we know that Daniel and his family frequently took trips to Okinawa. We know that Chozen was still around even after Daniel kicked the crap out of him at the Obon Festival Brawl in KKII. The trailer gives us a sneak peek at a spar between Daniel and Chozen.
Taking all of this into account, it is logical to assume that Sato continued to have a relationship with Daniel and Miyagi throughout the years, maybe even beyond Miyagi’s death. It’s clear that after the events of KKII, Sato thought extremely high of Daniel and may have even been his sponsor to get Daniel’s car dealership franchise off the ground. We don’t really know how deep the relationship between Daniel and Sato goes, but if the past two seasons were any indication, the show runners of Cobra Kai know all of this, and more. We may get a true sequel to KKII in Cobra Kai Season Three.