'Cobra Kai' Is Inspiring Kids to Wear Mohawks and Enter Virtual Karate Tournaments

Evan Romano
·3 mins read

From Men's Health

  • Cobra Kai debuted on YouTube Premium in 2018, but has exploded in popularity since hitting Netflix in late summer.

  • It's so exploded in popularity that kids are now putting their hair in mohawks as they compete in virtual Karate tournaments.

  • Cobra Kai's motto is "never die," and that's clearly the mentality that these fans have brought to navigating the Karate world during COVID-19 times

Cobra Kai started airing back in 2018 on YouTube Premium, but since landing on Netflix in late summer, the Karate Kid 34-years-later sequel story has become more popular than ever before. And that popularity is spreading everywhere—including kids around the country competing in virtual karate tournaments and spiking their hair up like the Cobra Kai character, Hawk.

One 4-year-old named Mael joined his local Cobra Kai chapter after being influenced by the now-Netflix original series. "I wanted to be Cobra Kai, for Eli—he's the spikey hair guy—he's Cobra Kai from the Cobra Kai movie," he told KVEO, based out of Texas. In the clip, you can see that Mael has his hair styled into a makeshift mohawk, much like the character Eli "Hawk" Moskowitz in Cobra Kai.

Mael participated in a virtual Karate tournament at Eva’s Sports Karate, a Brownsville, Texas Karate dojo that handed out victory rings to participants who finished first or second in the event. As Alex Mancillas, who works at E.S.K (as Eva's is commonly referred to) explains, a virtual Karate tournament is basically the same as one that would be in person—but with a couple key differences.

Photo credit: KVEO Brownsville
Photo credit: KVEO Brownsville

“Virtual tournaments are basically almost exactly the same as in person, but the camera is our judge,” he said. How it works is the Karate athletes would perform just the way they would for judges and crowds in person—except now they'd have to treat the camera as their judge. They'd do what is needed to be done for the camera, and then, just like always, wait patiently for scores.

Photo credit: Men's Health
Photo credit: Men's Health

Mancillas, a black belt, knows that things are made tougher by the complications of the COVID-19 era, but seems grateful that technology makes a virtual tournament an option in the first place. "Of course it's a little tough on us, but the virtual tournament gives something for my students to look forward to, and myself as well," he said. "I want my students to look up to me, so I want myself to have something to look forward to do."

Photo credit: Netflix
Photo credit: Netflix

The practice of hair and Karate isn't going unnoticed; Cobra Kai co-creator Hayden Schlossberg found the KVEO clip and shared it to his Twitter account.

"One way to fight a pandemic: by joining your local Cobra Kai chapter, getting a mohawk, and fighting in virtual tournaments," he wrote.

The official Cobra Kai account signal-boosted Schlossberg's find, just captioning with a simple "*hawk screech*".

The show has grown endlessly popular, but there's got to be something for fans to do while they wait anxiously for Season 3. Could virtual tournaments and mohawks atop the head be the next trend? We'll just have to wait and see.

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