"Karate Kid" heartthrob and Long Island resident Ralph Macchio was recently in Manhattan promoting his new YouTube Red series "Cobra Kai."
The Half Hollow Hills High School West graduate spoke to a group of moms at a Mamarazzi event, hosted by The Moms, Melissa Gerstein and Denise Albert, about being recognized as a cultural icon as well as a plain-old dad to his 26-year-old daughter Julia and 22-year-old son Daniel.
Here he talks about his new role, karate and his kids, and even offers advice for moms.
Q. You’re married, with two kids. So what do your kids think about this now? Although you’ve always been acting, they grew up with people coming up to you as the "Karate Kid." Now, here you are again.
"Well, they’re adults now, so they have very specific opinions. I would always tease my daughter, when she was a young kid, and the 'Karate Kid' would be on in the house, she would run out of the room because she said they were ‘beating up Daddy.' When she went through her teens years, she was like ‘yeah, you could slap him again.’ But it’s interesting for them, because I made those movies before they were born, so I was ’that guy.’ I wasn’t the geek dad that I am now."
Q. Is that what they think of you?
"No, no ... they’re very supportive, they’re fantastic. They’ve always reviewed the films as ‘Karate Kid One’ (thumbs up) ‘Karate Kid Two’ (thumbs to the side) and ‘Karate Kid Three’ (thumbs down) … they’re straight shooters."
Q. And what about “Cobra Kai?”
"Cobra Kai," they love. They’ve seen all 10 of them, and [when] we were at the Tribeca Film Festival for the first two episodes, the second episode really, you have to watch that one, because it really ties in the Daniel LaRusso side of the story, where the first episode sets up Johnny Lawrence’s world, how he’s haunted by losing.
Q. Do you have any advice for moms? You know we coddle our kids so much, we try to keep our kids away from violence. What are some parenting tips that maybe you used while you were raising your kids?
"Yeah, certainly the ‘Cobra Kai’ of it all is everything we are trying to teach our kids not to do. And that is why Daniel LaRusso is steadfast on stopping that from spreading. Then again, like everything else in society, sometimes the pendulum swings a little bit too far where, you know, ‘everybody gets trophies, just for showing up you get a star,’ you know somewhere in the middle might be where it should land? Because the real world, sometimes, does not present those scenarios, and you’re sending your kid out to something that they don’t know how to deal with either rejection, or something like that. I think it’s like musical chairs, it’s the worst game in the world, it’s like you’re out, you missed, you stink, go home. I remember musical chairs being like …"
"Fun — and yet horrific at the same time, because everyone, you know — you go for that last chair, and it’s kind of tough, you know? But the society of the world is not such an easy place to navigate.
I’ve certainly been hands-on with both of my kids, and I think they're better-served for that. Would I have dialed back on carrying everything for them, and doing all those things? Probably would have, because sometimes they’re like ‘Mom, Dad, I’ll see you over there ... take my stuff.’ Sometimes you have to carry your weight, and I think it helps with just independence when you get out there, when you don’t have your parent or mentor with you."
Q. What advice do you give to dads who want to get their kids into karate?
"Listen, I think martial arts, which I didn’t do a ton of, I have to say, people say ‘you’re awesome’ but no … not really! I did my best in the movie. It’s just like anything else: You have to be a guitar-player, or whatever … you take up that task to be convincing. It’s all part of the acting process. The amount of time I was training, doing martial arts for the films and had access to it -- I think the Eastern philosophy, the whole thing … it’s the, 'Miyagi-isms' of it all. The anti-'Cobra Kai.'
'Cobra Kai' is still, in my view, the bad stuff. You know, it’s negative … in the show there’s an entertainment value to it. I think it's finding your balance in life. The philosophy of it is as important as the physical element of it. So if you can find a sensei or a school that speaks to that, I think it’s great discipline for kids. It’s collaborative, it’s learning another culture and philosophy, and being physically active instead of being on our phones, eating cheese doodles or just bored. Boredom is bad. So that’s my advice. It might not be the most wise."