In season 4, Kreese’s Cobra Kai wins the All-Valley Tournament because he chooses to learn from his past mistake with Johnny.
I would be lying if I didn’t admit having an inkling about Cobra Kai winning the competition. It would’ve been a rather easy victory for Miyagi-Do and Eagle Fang if they overthrew Kreese (and Silver) in a single go.
But as they say, it is about the journey, not the destination — which brings us to the important juncture of how Cobra Kai won the tournament.
Kreese-operated Cobra Kai has always played dirty. Strike first, strike hard, strike them when the referee isn’t looking and win the match. We’ve seen this tactic in the Karate Kid movies as well as with Miguel winning his first All-Valley Tournament.
But this very tactic and philosophy is a matter of great conflict for Johnny.
Kreese had made himself to be Johnny’s father figure, albeit an abusive one. Arguably, it was Kreese’s philosophy (and of course, him trying to smash Johnny’s head open with his own trophy) that drove his student to abandon him.
When Kreese returns to Cobra Kai, he realizes that Johnny is no longer someone he can influence, control or even beat into submission. Still, he looks for validation in Johnny by trying to partner with him for the newly reformed Cobra Kai.
Even in the midst of all the punches Kreese delivers, he continues to harbor a soft spot for Johnny. Remember how upset he gets when Silver beats up Johnny in Season 4, episode 8?
This is why Silver makes a subtle jab at it in his lesson about “Everyone has weaknesses, including Sensei Kreese.” Of course, as revealed in the finale, Silver outlines that Kreese’s weakness is Johnny.
So, when the All-Valley tournament comes down to the last match — the deciding factor on whether Cobra Kai will stay or shut down, the past flashes in front of his eyes and Kreese decides not to repeat his Johnny mistake with his new protege Tori.
Instead of advising the corrupted Cobra Kai-trained Tori to fight dirty, Kreese gives her the freedom to fight the way she wants, a choice he never gave to Johnny.
In doing so, he took his relationship with Johnny which was his greatest weakness and transformed it into a win. Tori fights clean, but moreover, she fights the way she wants and ultimately brings home the All-Valley Tournament cup to Cobra Kai.
Sadly, Kreese’s victory is short-lived. While he was once again concentrating on favorite kid Johnny, he sidelined his other disciple, Silver, who had grown tired of being second best.
Silver also knows that as long as Johnny was around, Kreese would never truly be ruthless. And hence, instead of taking Johnny out of the equation, Silver removed Kreese.
Kreese’s led Cobra Kai won the All-Valley Tournament, but he is yet to win at life.
About Cobra Kai
Cobra Kai is an action drama that is a reboot/sequel of The Karate Kid movies. It premiered on YouTube in 2018, and subsequently moved to Netflix. The series stars Ralph Macchio, William Zabka, Xolo Maridueña, Tanner Buchanan, Courtney Henggeler and Mary Mouser.
When Johnny Lawrence opens the Cobra Kai dojo to teach his bullied teenage neighbor, Miguel, how to defend himself, his age-old rivalry with Daniel LaRusso is ignited once more. Will their rivalry continue to affect their present lives and those they love, or will they be able to bury the past?