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'Cobra Kai's' Ralph Macchio on being older (and sore)

Ralph Macchio and William Zabka are reprising their “Karate Kid” roles in the YouTube series “Cobra Kai” — but doing martial arts is a little harder when you’re 34 years older.

The revival of the classic 1980s movie continues with the return of the two main rivals — Daniel LaRusso and Johnny Lawrence — and to say we are stoked is an understatement. In a new interview with “Today,” the two co-stars, who played rivals in the hit 1984 flick, admit that kicking butt isn’t quite so easy anymore. “There’s a lot more stretching now,” Zabka, 52, joked.

In the YouTube Red series, which debuted to rave reviews on Wednesday night, Zabka’s character Lawrence plays an angry, middle-aged guy still struggling with the humiliation he suffered in high school. He decides to reopen the Cobra Kai karate dojo, which obviously causes some drama and reignites the rivalry between himself and LaRusso, Macchio’s character.

What is “Daniel-san” up to these days? He likely spent years perfecting his “wax on, wax off” skills, as he now runs a successful car dealership. Unfortunately, he is struggling to live a balanced life without the help of his mentor and guru, Mr. Miyagi. (Pat Morita, who played Miyagi, passed away in 2005 of kidney failure at the age of 73.)

Apparently, karate isn’t like riding a bike, and the actors didn’t just pick up their skills where they left off. “Once 35 years goes by, nothing sticks,” Macchio, 56, admitted. “It might stick, but it comes with a price. You just start walking funny, or it takes you a half hour to get out of bed in the morning.”

But decades later, he definitely appreciates the craft more. “Now that I’m older, it’s kind of nice to dip my toe back into the martial arts and that whole Eastern philosophy. And certainly the Miyagi karate style is all about that Zen, finding your balance and karate for defense only. Where Cobra Kai, for the most part, is ‘the best defense is more offense.’”

The best part about “Cobra Kai” is that you can binge-watch every single episode of season 1 on YouTube Red right this second. And, if the “Karate Kid” revival is getting you inspired to get involved in some rigorous butt-kicking yourself, martial arts is a great way to burn calories and get in shape. Here are the best martial arts for weight loss!

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About the Author

Leah Groth is a writer and editor currently based in Philadelphia. She has covered topics such as entertainment, parenting, health & wellness for xoJane, Babble, Radar, Fit Pregnancy, Mommy Nearest, Living Healthy and PopDust.

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