You must know that this is all long before Johnny met Miguel Diaz, Aisha, and Hawk.
Long before Cousin Louie torched his bad ass Pontiac Firebird, burning a copy of Poison’s Open Up and Say Ahh in the tape deck (most non-triumphant).
Long before he hoisted his third Under 18 All-Valley Karate Tournament victory trophy. Oh yeah, you forgot he won in 1982 and 1983 without losing a SINGLE point.
Long before these events, we met slope-side on Loon Mountain, listening to bitchin’ 80s tunes by Fast Times Boston, and slamming back some cheap Coors banquet beers.
Anyway, this is how it all goes down.
Enter Johnny Lawrence
We get to 80s Day and I catch sight of him first because Pants is too busy marveling over how Huff is nailing his tribute to Def Leppard’s Rick Allen. Kid just flat out commits, drinking and drumming, drumming and drinking one-handed all day.
But I see him and I remain skeptical of approaching the 80s legend, prone am I to running my mouth and afraid that I will catch a beating for my insolence.
Pants, on the other hand is within Johnny Lawrence’s aura, and he can feel that greatness is afoot. Turning his head slowly, like something out of an 80s movie, he begins to notice the black Cobra Kai gi, followed by Johnny’s trademark flowing blonde hair that ever so gently flops over the black Cobra Kai bandana.
Before I can stop him from getting us all dumped in body bags, the kid rockets over to future sensei Lawrence and offers to buy him a cold beer, as if drinking outdoors at a ski mountain in had any other kind - New Hampshire is built on ski mountains and fresh brewed beer.
Sizing up Pants, not because he can’t throttle him, but in appraisal of his worthiness, Johnny mulls over the offer. Thirsty from a day full of helicopters, daffys, and hard shredding, Johnny agrees.
As the bartender brings over three tallboys, Johnny nods his head slightly, thanking Pants before scooping up all three beers and heading off to watch the band.
Say what you want about the guy, but he struck hard and fast, mercilessly storming off with the beer. Pants of course sticks me with the tab for being afraid of the guy and chases after him. What can I say, I deserve it.
A moment passes and I realize, wow, I just bought the Karate Kid a beer! (Three to be precise)
Why is Johnny Lawrence the Karate Kid?
I will let the real life documentary, How I Met Your Mother, explain it via total bro, Barney Stinson. He really nails it when he says that, “The Karate Kid was William Zabka, star pupil of the Cobra Kai dojo, who this monster (Ralph Macchio) defeated with a cheap, illegal head kick in the most tragically haunting film ending of all time.”
Anyway, I tell the bartender to fetch a large bucket and fill it with all the beer.
Like, ALL the beer.
I suspect there is a reason that Mr. Lawrence has mysteriously surfaced on 80s Day and I’m not leaving until I solve this riddle.
Well, that or an Iron Eagle marathon - which Johnny and I totally find out we have in common. That and a love for Rocky movies! Small world!
I chase after the Cobra and the … Pants?
Johnny Lawrence: The Best Around
As you could imagine, dragging a coffin of beers around the party tent would be a minor feat for Johnny, but it’s taking me a minute to find them. All told, I’m away from them for 7 minutes and when I find them, Johnny is talking to Huff about the time they met backstage in ‘88 when Def Leppard was swinging through LA in support of Hysteria.
Good gosh, Johnny thinks Huff really is Rick Allen.
Also, it’s at this point that I notice all three Coors are gone. 7 minutes, guy is an animal. I mean, the dude partied the whole day in ski boots, he harsher than Judd Nelson, and Judd Nelson is harsh.
The band is chugging through 80s hit after 80s hit. Johnny is singing along, note for note with the smoothest (so smooth) baritone I’ve ever heard. Amazingly enough, the guy can also hit screechy Sebastian Bach level falsettos. He’s just such a talent. You should meet him sometime!
The next 90 minutes are a blur of Coors, neons, finger-tapped guitar solos, sing-a-longs, mohawks, you name it.
Weekend warriors are challenging him to shotgun beers. Guy doesn’t lose a single round. Easily, three, four, probably five hundred beers. Guy is a warhorse. Makes Wade Boggs look like a high schooler.
Ladies are writing their numbers on his un-sleeved arms. The band wants him to come up and shred out the rest of the set, not because one of them got hurt - a la Back to the Future - but because they too bathe in his aura.
The music gets louder. Amps get turned to 12. Another coffin of beers gets towed over.
Johnny keeps asking us where our phone booth is so he can go back to 1983 and get Ali back.
Everything is raging, and in the best way possible.
But like a lobster getting tossed into a boiling pot, I ask the question ….
The mega huge question Fizz asks that gets Johnny Lawrence to open up
“Johnny, man, how have you been since Larusso illegally crane-kicked your chin?”
Pants, Johnny, and I get sucked into what I can only describe as a dimensional pocket. You know, something Dungeons and Dragons-y. As we are dressed as Bill and Ted, I suppose it’s only fitting that it’s like Bogus Journey, only without the actual falling.
Then Johnny looks up, and with not a single tear in sight, because he’s a bad ass, he begins to tell us his story.
Now, there is simply no prose available to describe the audacious tale of Johnny Lawrence. The grandeur and badassery are far too complex, far too nuanced for prose.
Nay! Pants and I took it upon ourselves to commit his story to quill and parchment first, before sharing it with you today.
Montage music, hair metal, and epic poetry
In honor of William Zabka’s poetry, and (probably?) not with his blessing, we present to you the real story of how Cobra Kai reopened in 2018 after a thirty year layoff, only summarized in song form. The Ballad of Johnny Lawrence’s Cobra Kai is the result of a couple thousand beers we shared with Johnny Lawrence that 80s Day past.
May he forever outdrink Wade Boggs.
And crank hair metal bands!
The Ballad of Johnny Lawrence’s Cobra Kai
Chance and good fortune were kind in a way
to our heros Pants and Fizz, at the last 80s Day
amid Hulk Hogan, Madonna, and a hot pink Maserati
stood Johnny Lawrence, the blonde king of karate
Oh Johnny, said Fizz, man, how have you been
since Larusso illegally crane-kicked your chin?
it hasn’t been easy, to tell you it true
I settled for second, not Elisabeth Shue
Babes and beers, bitchin’ tunes aside
my life has gone on, with no sense of pride
I’ve been fired from jobs, got addicted to pills
whilst Daniel makes millions, and lives in the hills
Really? asked Pants. that’s an incredible tale
you’re lucky to be alive, much less outta jail
what happened to sparring, doing pushups on knuckles
showing no mercy, sweeping legs til they buckle?
All of it correct, in 1984,
I was taught by a hard man, made harder by war
Strike hard, strike fast, subdue the competition
second place is for losers in a life or death mission
Knitting class Cobra Kai was not
a place where Daniel and I nearly fought
but Miyagi proposed a challenge most turbulent …
the Under-18 All Valley Karate Tournament
As you already know, I received second place,
from Daniel’s victorious, yet illegal, kick to the face,
but the real story started when I got outside,
Kreese was waiting, and I had no place to hide
I did my best, but my best didn’t cut it,
Kreese backhanded Bobby and told Tommy to shut it
then Mister Miyagi sprang to my aid,
dodging his punches, my how Kreese paid
Now Kreese was defeated and he and Dan left for Japan
thirty years flew by with hardly a plan
every night a party, every day a Friday night
I was tearing up the town, and itching for a fight
Open Up and Say Ahh, on repeat in the tape deck
blowing red lights downtown, at a pace that was break neck
I throttled through Coors, Schlitz, Millers, and Strohs,
how I ended up here, God only knows
My girlfriend got pregnant, and I was dead broke,
from the king of the valley, to Encino’s biggest joke,
so I left Shannon and Robby and barely looked back,
and further my life fell, straight off the track
Everything sucks now, sans mullets and MacGuyver,
how do you listen to trash like Bon Iver?
“I truly agree, but that’s not how you pronounce …”
the blonde Cobra stared down Fizz, ready to pounce.
Right about then Fast Times (Boston) exploded
playing the only Bon that matters, it should duly be noted,
Living on a Prayer filled the 80s day tent,
as if a sign from the gods, hair metal sent
Clarity stuck Pants, like thunder from the heavens
an idea as righteous as an amp turned to eleven
“He needs the eye of the tiger, to bring back his mojo!”
“Pants, that’s it, I’ll reopen the dojo!”
You know now the truth of rebirth in the valley,
of the best karate dojo, from New England to Cali
from Malibu to Glendale, Reseda to Torrance,
he’s the best around, Sensei Jon Lawrence.