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Ralph Macchio, “Any advice for me?”

By Rochelle E. Brenner

This blog is about a kid who had a legendary moment.

Bio: Roman, age 10. His mom is a third-degree black belt. His grandpa, aunts and uncles are not just black belts but martial arts professionals. One uncle is the co-founder of Action Karate and an 8th-degree black belt. When it comes to karate, the kid has chops.

He’s 7 years into his training, a few weeks from two first-place showings at a local tournament, getting ready to test for his junior black belt when the Free Library of Philadelphia announces a guest speaker is coming: Ralph Macchio – the actor who played the iconic Danny LaRusso in The Karate Kid and more recently Cobra Kai.

It’s a great event. For $38, the event included a signed copy of Macchio’s book, “Waxing On.” At the event, he gave an interactive talk and waxes poetic about how his acting career came full circle and the similarities between the Danny character and Rocky Balboa.

Roman’s uncle saw the Karate Kid back in the early 1980s and it launched his determination to start martial arts. It was literally the pivotal moment that inspired him to take karate. Flash forward 36 years and his family is part of a mini martial arts empire. Roman heard the whole origin story and thought it was pretty cool.

At the Q and A portion of the event, Roman raised his hand.

“I’m testing for my junior black belt in two weeks. Is there any advice you can give?” he said. The crowd of hundreds gushed.

Imagine Sylvester Stallone giving you a pep talk before a boxing match. Or the actor who played Rudy on the sidelines of your football game. It’s epic.

“Stay focused, trust your sensei and your parents and the people you care about and you’re going to sail through it. You’re awesome,” Macchio answered.

Afterward, Roman invited him to attend his black belt test. He politely declined,”Between the two of us you’re the martial artist.” Macchio only plays a karate kid in the movies. But the movie that marked his career is an anti-bullying, overcoming obstacles, underdog antihero. The same sentiment that plays out in karate schools every day across the country, largely inspired by his fictional character. It got us thinking. Why doesn’t he get his black belt? Imagine if Macchio actually lived out the experience of the character and became the black belt that he motivated. Imagine if he was in the martial arts environment day after day doing his best, meeting kids of every ability, every outsider, every Johnny Lawrence, every Daniel-son and aspiring Miyagi. This is an open invitation for Macchio to train for his Black Belt with us. Now that would be full circle, waxing on and off.

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