The tale of LaRusso's Rocky-like rise, on the other hand, persists. In 2007, the Los Angeles rock band No More Kings released "Sweep the Leg," a song about the 1984 All-Valley. In 2010, Hollywood used LaRusso's story as inspiration for a Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan vehicle fittingly, if not super creatively, called The Karate Kid. In 2011, MMA fighter Lyoto Machida and his mentor, the iconic martial-artist Steven Seagal, successfully employed the crane technique—LaRusso's bastardized version of it, even—as part of a game plan to beat revered UFC fighter Randy Couture in a match.


The Cobra Kai, meanwhile, were never the same. In the wake of Lawrence's loss, they fell to ridicule: These days, their only legacy is a raft of bad fantasy-sports team names and uncreative Halloween group-costume ideas.

The sheer absurdity and unexpectedness of the 1984 All-Valley Championship no doubt contributes to its enduring legend. The same can be said of why, even after suffering defeat, Lawrence became so overwhelmed with the shock of the outcome that he himself handed his trophy over into LaRusso's welcoming arms.


"You're alright, LaRusso," the fallen champ said in congratulations as relinquished the honor, officially quashing their beef.

And even though LaRusso leg would take some time to heal, it turns out Lawrence was right.


LaRusso was OK.

But he was just OK, really. That's it.

It's really quite sad: Some would argue that LaRusso's story ended with the 1984 All-Valley, that everything that took place in its wake never happened. This is, of course, a distortion of the truth—albeit a romantic one.


All the same, the 12 months that followed LaRusso's 1984 win were fairly underwhelming—and bizarrely so at that. Twice over this stretch, fate would find him awkwardly rehashing that same storyline. First, after losing Mills to an on-scholarship football player at UCLA, LaRusso joined Miyagi on a trip to Okinawa, where the master delved somewhat further into his backstory—he told his young charge everything except for the magic stuff, essentially—and, for reasons passing understanding, the Karate Kid was eventually tasked with participating in a fight to the death wherein it more or less became his burden to save Okinawa from the impending onslaught of gentrification. With the townsfolk cheering him on and Miyagi reminding him that "this [is] not [a] tournament, this [is] for real," LaRusso managed to pull that one out using a new technique modeled after a technique for playing an Okinawan folk drum.

Then, upon returning to the States with designs to open up a bonsai tree shop with Miyagi, LaRusso—against his wishes, having been coerced by his old, now-depressed enemy in Kreese and a new, also-sinister old Army pal of the fallen Cobra Kai sensei—was taken out of his self-imposed retirement and forced to defend his All-Valley title against "Karate's Badboy" Mike Barnes, an out-of-towner recruited specifically to take LaRusso down, and for good this time. Yet once more, the kid emerged victorious—aided in no small part by an odd rule change that gave LaRusso, as the reigning champ, a bye to the tournament finals. And his unconventional fighting style this time around? A set of ceremonial, dance-like maneuvers known as "kata" that Barnes never saw coming.


It's true: Neither of these subsequent feats matched LaRusso's first triumph—neither in thrill nor repute. There is no debate. LaRusso's greatest moment came 30 years ago, on December 19, 1984. Everything since has been a letdown, for him and for us.

Out in the Cal State Northridge parking lot, immediately following that first unlikely win—but in a conversation that, due to all the hoopla, sure felt as if it took place a full two years later—the 1984 All-Valley Championship's announcer summed it up best: "People are going to be talking about that last kick for years."


But to think: Had the Cobra Kai never aimed to injure LaRusso, the kid might never have thought to take a flyer on Miyagi's offbeat crane technique in the first place.

Turns out, their demise was truly their own. It seems that defeat, despite any and all mantras to the contrary, very much exists.


Pete Freedman lives in Dallas, where it's always Take a Worm for a Walk Week. He edits Central Track and strives to be the Best Around. Find him on Twitter at @petefreedman.

Gif and photos from some sort of untitled, unreleased documentary on this topic.

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