The Culpability of “Sweeping the Leg”

Cobra Kai Coach instructed Blonde Guy to target Karate Kid’s injured leg at the All Valley Karate Championship.

“Sweep the leg!”

Did Blonde Guy know that Daniel-san was limping around on a previously-injured leg, or was he only slavishly following the orders of bad guy Cobra Kai Coach? As a kid, I never wanted to believe that Blonde Guy was a crappy dude because at the end of the karate match he congratulates Karate Kid on his victory. So, I choose to believe that Blonde Guy did not know of Karate Kid’s busted leg.

“Sweep the leg!”

Does not knowing about Karate Kid’s injured leg forgive Blonde Guy from responsibility? Is not realizing that sweeping the leg will cause more harm than intended a viable excuse? Is culpability mitigated and lessened by a lack of foreknowledge?


I like allegory, and by James, this is allegory that reeks to the stars of lilacs (if you follow the logic). I also like parable, and I like using cinematic tropes to illustrate a looming morality lesson. So… what’s the moral of the story?

When in doubt, NEVER sweep the leg.

That’s pretty dang cryptic for a moral to the story. Let’s try again.

Be careful whose leg you sweep because you never know if it’s already busted.

Crikey, this is difficult. One more try.

It’s best to think of other ways to get your point across than sweeping the leg, especially since more often that not sweeping the leg is a criminal act called battery.

Fookin’ bollucks. Once more, and last time perhcance.

Ignorance isn’t a defense to wrongdoing and the consequences are the same.

Of course, if I’m being 100% honest, Blonde Guy knew exactly with lithified prescience that sweeping the leg would exacerbate Karate Kid’s existing injury. How couldn’t he have known? The two of them competed regularly, and Blonde Guy knew Karate Kid was just getting comfortable talking about his injured leg publicly.

As an aside, think about if Karate Kid had osteogenesis imperfecta (Google it) instead of an ouchy knee. Would the foley artists for the flick have used a galvanized steel trashcan full of Tinkertoys and a 15 pound bowling ball to emulate the sound of Karate Kid’s legs explosively shattering into a billion jagged bone shards? Icky.

1 Comment

  1. Gavin Crisp

    just watching this scene and it has finally dawned on me the significance of the ‘sweep the leg’ instruction. johnny knew about the injury; it was doled out to daniel the round previous by another cobra kai fighter who took him out of commission with an illegal attack to the leg.

    the sensei is telling johnny to attack where his opponent is weakest — a logical strategy but one johnny thinks is a bit underhanded. this fight and the last one prove that the cobrai kai sensei is afraid of daniel prevailing and has lost faith in his own fighters’ ability to win the tournament fairly.

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