What I Learned From Mr. Miyagi

For the past 3 years the church I have the privilege of leading has gone to a little town in North Dakota to restore a 100 year old Bible College. We have incredible contractors in our church who give their time to help in missions work. We also have amazing people in our church who give up a week a year to help these contractors. 

Every year I have gone on this particular trip… I have been paired with the same contractor. I think he really enjoys working me like a dog! But he has been a joy to work with. I have started calling him Mr. Miyagi. He has taught me so much. I now feel comfortable doing my own construction projects around the house. (Although Tiff isn’t quite as confident in my skills!)

Karate Kid was one of my favorite movies growing up. I would watch the movie and think I could take on the world. It wasn’t until I was older that I understood that the movie was so much more then just karate… It was about life! 

Here are a few life lessons I learned from Mr. Miyagi!

1. Karate do ‘yes’ or Karate do ‘no’… Karate do ‘guess so’ get squashed like grape!

Mr. Miyagi asked Daniel if he was ready to learn karate… Daniel responds with “I guess so.” That made Mr. Miyagi angry. It’s either a yes or a no!

Most of us go through life with a “guess so” attitude. We never fully commit to much. We always give ourselves room to back out. And when we do this… We will eventually walk away. 

We say things like “I’ll try to read my bible more.” Or “I’m going on a diet.” 

No… No you’re not. You are making conscience life decisions to be better. And that never ends. Say yes and stick to it. Say no and never start. But don’t say guess so… Because you will not give it your all. 

2. First learn stand, then learn fly. Natures rule… Not mine!

Daniel wanted to learn a new move. He had been watching Mr. Miyagi do this move and he though he was ready to learn. But Daniel was yet to even learn the basics. 

How many of us are looking to move to the next level of anything without going through the basics first.  We want to start off with the biggest house, the nicest car, the highest paying job… We feel entitled to bigger and better things. But we haven’t worked for it. 

I met with a student right out of college the other day. He was complaining about his entry level job. He felt “underutilized.” He wanted a better job. The problem… He was yet to prove his worth at his current job. 

Work hard at where you are right now… And it will surely pay off in the end. 

3. In Okinawa, Miyagi know two things: Karate and Fish!

Mr. Miyagi learned two things from his father growing up. How to be a good fisherman and how to be good at karate. One paid the bills… The other was something he enjoyed doing. What Mr. Miyagi was doing was teaching Daniel about a good life balance. 

This is something that most people struggle with. We all work so hard to provide for our families… Yet we rarely take time to enjoy life for ourselves.  And if we do… Sometimes we feel guilty. Don’t! 

Everyone needs to find the right balance of work and play. 
It’s entirely possible to be a great Dad and a great golfer. It’s perfectly acceptable to be a great mother and have nights out with your girl friends. In fact… You need these moments. They are healthy for all your relationships. 

4. “Hey, what kind of belt do you have?” “Canvas. J.C. Penny. $3.98. You like?”

When Daniel asked Mr. Miyagi what sort of belt he had… Miyagi answers back with a smart aleck comment. As if to say… Who cares! Surely he knew what level he was… But he didn’t care. 

How many times have you met people who wanted you to know just how “important” they are. These are the people who need titles at the beginning of their names. It’s what they find their identity in. 

Don’t be that guy!

The truth is… Nobody really cares about your educational level… Or what position you hold. All people really care about is if you’re kind and loving to them. Some of the biggest jerks I’ve ever met demanded to have a title… And some of the great people have nothing. 

5. “You mean there were times you were scared to fight?” “Always scared Daniel!”

Mr. Miyagi… The man who could take down anyone was always scared to fight. Yet he did fight! He didn’t quit. 

There will always be situations in life that you are scared to approach. Tough decisions. Hard conversations. Life changing moments… Face them anyway! Don’t walk away. It’s ok to be scared. But it’s not ok to ignore the problem. Face your issues head on. Trust God to see you through the situation. You’ll be a better person for it!

That’s some of the major lessons I’ve learned from the classic movie of my childhood. What did I miss? How can you apply them to life?

Brandon Hester