"I'm thinking a lot bigger than just the Valley."
Cobra Kai's Terry Silver (Thomas Ian Griffith) has expansion on his mind in season 5. After framing Sensei Kreese (Martin Kove) for attempted murder and securing a (fraudulent) championship for the Cobra Kai dojo last season, Sensei Silver is determined to bring his Way of the Fist style of karate to a much wider audience. "He's no longer content to keep things small," says Griffith. "He wants to get his way of teaching out there."
With Johnny (William Zabka) off in Mexico searching for his surrogate son, Miguel (Xolo Maridueña), it's up to Miyagi-Do leader Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) to stop Silver from executing his ominous plan. It won't be easy; Terry Silver has endless wealth, a stable of top-notch senseis from all over the world — including Cobra Kai's newest taskmaster, Kim Da-Eun (Alicia Hannah-Kim) — and a ponytail that can strike fear into even the bravest of martial artists.
But Daniel-san has an even more formidable weapon: Okinawan karate master Chozen (Yuji Okumoto). The Karate Kid Part II villain-turned-man of honor has no intention of letting Silver wipe Miyagi-Do karate off the map. "He wants to protect the legacy of Miyagi-Do," Okumoto tells EW in the video above. "So when there's a threat of Silver taking over and annihilating all the other dojos, he feels a responsibility to join Daniel in his fight."
Chozen versus Silver — it might just be the best matchup to date in this "mortal enemies, karate dojo, battling for the soul of the Valley thing" we call Cobra Kai. While you're counting the minutes until the show returns to Netflix on Sept. 9, dig in to EW's exclusive Cobra Kai season five preview with Okumoto and Griffith.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How would you describe Terry's motivation this season?
THOMAS IAN GRIFFITH: This season is about growth. He is no longer content to keep things small. He just wants to go big and broad and get his way of teaching out there.
I think he's evolved. I don't think he's the same as he was when we first saw him in the film trilogy. He came to terms with what was missing in his life and then wanted to apply that, and so I think he is bringing all that worldly experience he had to grow his empire, if you will. I think that comes across in his passion for teaching and his need to say, this is something paramount for these kids, for their survival for the way the world is right now. Yes, there's a little bit of the old Terry Silver who can't help himself, but I think after the betrayal in season four, he realizes that has to be the leader of this way of doing things.
Curtis Bonds Baker/Netflix Sensei Rosenthal (Spence Maughon) and Terry Silver (Thomas Ian Griffith) in 'Cobra Kai' season 5
In the teaser, Silver and Chozen have a brief but tantalizing exchange about fire and gasoline. What do you think it is about these two characters that make fans so excited to see them face off?
They're the ultimate warriors with completely different philosophies. That was set up in the films and we were both these archetypal villains. Now, all of a sudden, it's 30 years later and [the question is] how have we both evolved? I think that's what makes it so fascinating, the dimensions that we're both bringing to it. You know we're on a collision course because just we view the world so differently.
Curtis Bonds Baker/Netflix Ralph Macchio and Yuji Okumoto in 'Cobra Kai' season 5
How would you tease the dynamic between Chozen and Terry?
[Laughs] Well, as you see in the teaser, Chozen thinks he's going to be gasoline to my fire and I say, "Bring it on." [Laughs]
This season, Silver recruits Sensei Kim to help him execute his grand plan. What can you tell us about their relationship?
I love that it goes back to his tang soo do roots from his master in Korea. She is a part of that world. That part of Terry's life had the most influence on him in terms of martial arts. I love that he's bringing back a sensei that was part of his past. There's a history there, even though she was just a child when Terry was training under the master in Korea. It just bolsters the way he wants his karate to be taught. I also love that he brought a woman back to do it with him. I thought that was so evolved of Terry because that old-fashioned, boys' club mentality in the martial arts world — that's gone, that's shattered. He's so beyond that, he just wants the best teachers.
Netflix Alicia Hannah-Kim in 'Cobra Kai'
That's perhaps Terry's one positive evolution.
What do you mean his one positive evolution? Come on, how dare you! [Laughs]
It looks like Terry and Amanda LaRusso [Courtney Henggeler] cross paths this season. What can you tease about that?
Terry would just love for Amanda to understand who he is, not the impression that Daniel gave her about him. Terry just wants to say, "This is what I'm really about." Terry has nothing to hide. He wants to share with the world who he is. He wants Daniel LaRusso's wife to understand him if she can. There are the sprinkles of truth that he wants to put out there and hopefully she can receive them.
Curtis Bonds Baker/Netflix Thomas Ian Griffith and Courtney Henggeler in 'Cobra Kai'
What was your training regimen like for season 5? Did you get any gnarly injuries?
Oh, there's always injuries when we're going at the pace we're going. [Laughs] We have a fantastic stunt team, but obviously martial arts is something I've done my whole life, so I'm gonna do it all. We incorporated another skill that I have, and that Terry has into season 5, which I think will be a really nice surprise. To be able to showcase that was just a blast. It's something that was a huge part of my life and part of martial arts on the periphery for me and getting to tap into that was a blast.
Cobra Kai season 5 premieres Friday, Sept. 9, on Netflix.