Movie Clip Discussions

Karate Kid, The (1984)

Dynamic Image

(Columbia Pictures, 1984)

Main Point: We should obey God even when we don’t understand Him because He has always been trustworthy and faithful…and He always will be.

The Movie:
The Karate Kid (1984) was a great 80s film about a young man from New York named Daniel who relocated to sunny California…but ran into trouble when he got there. Fortunately, Daniel met Mr. Miyagi, an Asian handyman who worked at his apartment complex who happened to know karate…and lots of it. He takes Daniel under his wing, trains him to be a courageous fighter, and mentors him as a son. Daniel doesn’t always understand Mr. Miyagi’s ways, and one of those misunderstandings is the focus of this small group discussion.

The movie is rated PG for language and fight sequences. If you use the WingClips video linked below, the couple of swear words from this clip are muted. If you use the actual DVD, you’ll have to endure a couple of bad words.

Introducing the Clip:
In the 1980s, every guy wanted to be as cool as Ralph Macchio, and every girl wanted to date him. He was most famous for his role as Daniel Larusso in The Karate Kid series. I want to show you a clip from The Karate Kid in which “Daniel-san” gets upset with his mentor and teacher, Mr. Miyagi. For the past few weeks, Mr. Miyagi had been promising to teach Daniel-san karate, but instead, the older man just had the boy waxing his cars, painting his fence, and sanding his floors. Daniel feels cheated, of course, and confronts his teacher, Mr. Miyagi. Take a look at what happens next.

The Movie Clip:
The clip is available for free at Just click on the link below to play the video:

Transitional Statement:
Daniel was getting upset with Mr. Miyagi because he didn’t understand what his teacher was doing. Little did Daniel-san know that Mr. Miyagi was training him all along! Those countless hours waxing cars, painting fences, sanding floors, and painting the house were actually practice sessions in karate lessons! At the start of the clip, Daniel doubted whether or not Mr. Miyagi was being honest with him…or just taking advantage of him. But by the end of the clip, Daniel-san had a deep respect for his teacher because he finally understood what the master was up to. The same can be true of our relationship with God. Sometimes we don’t understand all that he puts us through. We think He is wasting our time, or taking advantage of us. But the truth is, He loves us and is always working in and through us for our good. Therefore, we should obey God even when we don’t understand Him because He has always been trustworthy and faithful…and He always will be.

Divide into Small Groups:
Let’s go ahead and split up into our discussion groups, and then afterward we’ll come back together for a final word.

CLICK HERE for a quick training article on how to maximize your small groups using our small group format—a great resource to equip your small group leaders.

Discussion Questions:

  1. AROUND THE CIRLCE: As we get started, let’s all take a second to share your names and whether or not you’d like to know karate.

  2. ASK A FEW: Why was Daniel-san upset with Mr. Miyagi at the beginning of the clip?

  3. ASK A FEW: What was Mr. Miyagi really up to?

  4. ASK A FEW: How do you think Daniel-san felt about Mr. Miyagi after he realized he was being trained all along?

  5. ASK A FEW: How do you think that this lesson impacted Daniel-san’s trust of Mr. Miyagi?

  6. ASK A FEW: At the close of the clip, Mr. Miyagi says to Daniel-san, “Come back tomorrow.” Would you have come back? Why or why not?

  7. ASK A FEW: Have you ever accused God of some of the things that Daniel accused Mr. Miyagi of? In other words, have you ever felt that God was taking advantage of you, or that He was letting you go through stuff for no reason at all? If so, can you describe how you felt?

  8. ASK A FEW: When you faced those obstacles or those setbacks or those difficulties, did it make you want to trust God more or less? Why?

  9. ASK A FEW: Does God expect us to trust Him and obey Him even when we don’t understand what He’s up to?

  10. Read the following passage:

      Psalm 111:1-10 (NIV)

      Praise the LORD. I will extol the LORD with all my heart in the council of the upright and in the assembly. 2 Great are the works of the LORD; they are pondered by all who delight in them. 3 Glorious and majestic are his deeds, and his righteousness endures forever. 4 He has caused his wonders to be remembered; the LORD is gracious and compassionate. 5 He provides food for those who fear him; he remembers his covenant forever. 6 He has shown his people the power of his works, giving them the lands of other nations. 7 The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy. 8 They are steadfast for ever and ever, done in faithfulness and uprightness. 9 He provided redemption for his people; he ordained his covenant forever– holy and awesome is his name. 10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise.

  11. ASK A FEW: How does this passage describe the works and deeds of God?

  12. ASK A FEW: Verses 7 and 8 say, “The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy. They are steadfast for ever and ever, done in faithfulness and uprightness.” In what ways can this help us to understand God’s intent even when we don’t understand what He may be doing?

  13. ASK A FEW: According to verse 10, who is it that has “good understanding”? What does that teach us about faith? (Leaders – This is the key question for the discussion, really. The bottom line is that sometimes we cannot know what God is up to until we actually obey Him. We want all the information up front, but oftentimes, God says, “You will understand AS you obey.” If we want understanding, we must continue being obedient.)

  14. ASK A FEW: Has there ever been a time in your life that you didn’t understand what God was up to, but then you had a “Mr. Miyagi moment” and everything clicked and you understood what God was doing? If so, can you briefly share?

  15. ASK A FEW: Can anybody think of men and women in the Bible who didn’t understand what God was up to at first, but then, they realized that God was working through them all along? (Leaders – One of the best stories is Joseph. God allowed him to go through a lot, but he realized it was so he could save his family. Samson was another. The hulking man was used by God even though he was disobedient at times, and God used him even in his death to accomplish His purpose. How about Noah? Moses? These guys followed their trustworthy God even when they didn’t know if God really had their best interests at heart.)

  16. AROUND THE CIRCLE: In what ways do you need to obey God right now, even though you may not fully understand what He is up to?

Wrap Up:
Wax on. Wax off. It’s a saying we all know even if we weren’t born in the 80s. That’s because we all know the universal lesson Mr. Miyagi was trying to teach his karate student, Daniel-san. Wax on, wax off had nothing to do with automotive care; it had everything to do with training for karate.

Even when Daniel-san thought that Mr. Miyagi was taking advantage of him and wasting his time, the master was actually training his student. Scripture shows that this is often the case with us and our faith, too.

There are times when we doubt whether God is interested in us. There are times in which we doubt that God is working on our behalf. There are times when we wonder if God really loves us and sees what we’re going through. The Bible tells us the answer to that question.

God’s works are always good. He is always trustworthy. He has been shown faithful millions and millions and millions of times.

He will be faithful to you, as well. He will continue to be good to you, too. He loves you and His love is perfect. That should give us the confidence we need to follow Him, trust Him, and obey Him even when we don’t understand.

I think it’s OK to ask God for what I call a “Mr. Miyagi moment.” You know, that moment where we ask, “God, what’s really going on here? Can you explain what this is all about? Can you give me a little bit more of the answer I seek?” Bear in mind, God doesn’t have to give you an answer, and in fact, He may not. But I believe that He will speak to you if you ask Him to.

So, let’s take a moment to pray and ask God to show us what He’s up to. Who knows, He may lay out His plan for you as clearly as Mr. Miyagi did for Daniel-san. Of course, He might also tell you to just keep on trusting and obeying.

(Leaders: Give students time to pray. Have your adult leaders filtering through the crowd to help in any way possible. After everyone is done praying, give a final invitation for more help.)

One last thing before we dismiss. If you want to talk about what you’re facing or what you’re up against or what you’re going through, we’d be happy to talk with you some more. Just grab me or one of our adult leaders and share with them your need. We’ll do all we can to help you keep trusting and obeying God.

Close in Prayer

Written by David R Smith


Jonathan McKee

Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Guy's Guide to FOUR BATTLES Every Young Man Must Face; The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices; If I Had a Parenting Do Over; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers on Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.


  1. jack jorgensen
    December 16, 2013 at 12:00 am

    thank you for sharing. this looks great!

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