Ralph Macchio Weighs in on ‘Karate Kid’ Fan Debate: Was the Crane Kick Legal?

Ralph Macchio has finally settled one of the most hotly debated points of the original The Karate Kid movie: was the crane kick at the tournament actually legal? During an interview with Jimmy Fallon, Macchio presented a solid case for the kick.

Ralph Macchio visits 'The IMDb Show' on June 10, 2019
Ralph Macchio | Rich Polk/Getty Images for IMDb

Ralph Macchio weighs in on the crane kick debate

During a Jan. 5 appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Macchio was asked about some fan theories and rumors about The Karate Kid. The segment, called “The Final Word: Cobra Kai Edition,” allowed the actor to address one of the biggest debates about the 1984 hit film.

“At the end of The Karate Kid you famously win the All Valley Karate Championship with the crane kick,” Fallon said. “I hate to bring this up, but people have asked, was the kick actually legal?”

Macchio addressed how fans have debated this move and he had some thoughts. “Here’s my theory. Here’s the truth. I’ve been fighting off these theories a long time,” he noted.

The actor said he believes that LaRusso had the “ultimate teacher” Mr. Miyagi as his trainer, calling him “the human Yoda. He continued, “\You don’t bet against Yoda, you don’t bet against Miyagi, that’s number one.”


“Number two, I would say is, LaRusso … how did he train?,” Macchio asked. “He trained over a couple of weeks’ time by household chores. Never really having the ability or privilege to have a sparring partner. His opponent was like combat-ready, training years for this event.”

He continued, “LaRusso was injured in the final fight by an illegal leg sweep by a teammate of said opponent. Not to mention, if you look at the tape, Jimmy, not only does the ref say ‘point winner,’ a win is a win.’ The opponent, who shall remain nameless at this point, literally arguably, charged, ran into the kick.”

“LaRusso had nothing to do but defend himself,” he added.

RELATED: ‘Cobra Kai’: How Many Seasons Will the Netflix Show Run For?

Macchio hated ‘The Karate Kid’ title

During The Tonight Show appearance, Fallon also asked Macchio about the rumor that he didn’t like the title of The Karate Kid. Turns out, that rumor is totally true.

“I thought — and I was not the only one — thought it was kind of a hokey, kind of cheesy title for a movie being directed by the guy who made Rocky and all this stuff,” Macchio explained.

“Maybe it was foreshadowing,” he added. “I may have thought if I ever got the part I’d have to carry the damn thing for the rest of my life.”

When Fallon asked, “What do you think the movie should have been called?,” the actor didn’t have any suggestions, but did share an alternate title that director John G. Avildsen suggested: East Meets West in West.

Both Fallon and Macchio agreed that would have been a far worse (and confusing) option.

Macchio did share how the movie had another title internationally, however. “I think it was called The Moment of Truth in many countries when karate had a negative connotation in certain territories,” he explained.