Cobra Kai introduces a new fighting technique, but it’ll be familiar to fans of Avatar: The Last Airbender.
WARNING: The following contains major spoilers for Season 3 of Cobra Kai, streaming now on Netflix.
Over the past three seasons, Cobra Kai has not held back in terms of the fighting. It’s also famously brought back characters from the original film franchise with their respective actors, as is case with Season 3, Episode 4, “The Right Path,” which brought back Yuji Okumoto’s Chozen. While his appearance is brief in this episode, the following episode, “Miyagi-Do,” dedicates a decent amount of screentime to Chozen teaching his former rival, Ralph Macchio’s Daniel, new fighting moves, with the most important one feeling reminiscent to Ty Lee’s chi blocking in Avatar: The Last Airbender.Continue scrolling to keep reading
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What is Chi Blocking in Avatar: The Last Airbender?
While many people in Avatar’s world have the ability to bend elements, non-benders can still hold their own in a fight, as seen with Ty Lee. Throughout Books 2 and 3, audiences see time and again Ty Lee go toe to toe with Team Avatar, even getting the better of them by using her chi blocking.
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In The Last Airbender, chi blocking is when someone rapidly hits specific pressure points, making the victim’s muscles useless for a limited amount of time. If the victim is a bender, then they will also be unable to bend for that time period. A skilled chi blocker, like Ty Lee, can also control how much damage is done. For instance, while her first encounter with Katara left the Waterbender unable to bend, they’re encounter in Ba Sing Se left Katara completely immobile long enough for Azula’s Dai Li agents to imprison her with Zuko.
How Is Chozen’s Fighting Style Similar to Chi Blocking?
When Daniel and Chozen spar, the latter finally gets the upper hand on his rival. While Daniel bested him decades ago, Chozen diploys a new fighting technique, first striking a pressure point in Daniel’s arm. This leaves his arm limp, and before Daniel can figure out what’s happened, Chozen kicks his leg, again numbing Daniel’s limb. After striking his other arm in a similar fashion, Daniel is unable to fight back.
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Once victorious, Chozen reveals that this technique is something Miyagi didn’t teach Daniel, and it’s rooted in pressure points, like chi blocking is. Similar to Ty Lee’s fighting, this method can be used against any enemy, even one who appears to have the upper hand. In Season 3, Episode 10, “December 19,” Daniel confronts Kreese after Cobra Kai comes to his house and jumps Miyagi-Do and Eagle Fang students. While Kreese is a huge threat, nearly choking Johnny to death and tackling Daniel out a window, Daniel uses the pressure point technique to immobilize him.
Chi in The Karate Kid and Avatar: The Last Airbender
Along with Ty Lee and Chozen’s similar fighting styles, the concept of chi is also seen in The Karate Kid franchise, notably with Miyagi’s ability to temporarily heal Daniel’s leg enough to continue the climactic fight in the first movie. Here, it appears Miyagi uses a technique known as Reiki, a form of energy healing that’s reliant on chi.
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While physical healing in The Last Airbender is not dependent on chi, one’s mental, emotional and spiritual state often is. For instance, chakras hold a heavy concentration of chi in The Last Airbender, and when these chakras are clogged, it takes a toll on the person, which Guru Pathik explains in Book 2, Episode 19, “The Guru.” In Aang’s case, these blocked chakras prevent him from spiritually and physically entering the Avatar State. Like in The Karate Kid, chi is a form of energy that impacts people spiritually, mentally and physically, and how it is dealt with can lead to positive or negative results.
For Daniel and Chozen, this fighting technique is used when an enemy insists on war, allowing the opponent to, “take away their ability to wage it.” This is a more peaceful approach to fighting, whereas Amon and his henchmen from Avatar: The Legend of Korra use chi blocking to aid in their crusade against benders. Finally, Ty Lee’s chi blocking, while initially used for nefarious purposes, becomes a force for good, being used to prevent Azula from using firebending against Mai and being passed down to the Kyoshi Warriors. Chozen’s fighting style and Avatar’s chi blocking are similar in their technique and results, as well as how this fighting style can be used for both peaceful and hostile purposes.
Cobra Kai stars William Zabka, Ralph Macchio, Courtney Henggeler, Xolo Maridueña, Mary Mouser, Tanner Buchanan, Jacob Bertrand, Gianni Decenzo, Peyton List and Martin Kove. Season 3 is now on Netflix.
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About The Author
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Caitlin Sinclair Chappell is a features writer and junior editor for CBR. After graduating from Lewis & Clark College, with honors in Rhetoric & Media Studies, she worked as a film school director and a theatrical assistant director. She’s an avid tea enthusiast, horror fanatic and comic lover, working as a freelance comic book editor while developing her creative writing.
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