Season 5 of Cobra Kai continues the saga of warring karate dojos that began all the way back in 1984’s The Karate Kid. But a lot has changed since then. Johnny Lawrence, the bully who made hero Daniel LaRusso’s life hell in the movie, is now one of the good guys, and trying his best to reconnect with his own wayward son Robby, as well as his surrogate son Miguel. Daniel has taken on Mr. Miyagi’s mantle and is now teaching karate to a new generation of teens, although his efforts to espouse peace and balance have been thwarted repeatedly by a carousel of returning villains, including John Kreese and Terry Silver.
But luckily, Daniel has a powerful ally on his side this season. Somewhat fittingly for a show with constantly shifting allegiances, it is a former nemesis turned trusted friend whose history with Daniel and Mr. Miyagi goes all the way back to the movies: Chozen Toguchi.
Who Is Chozen Toguchi?
Chozen made his first appearance in The Karate Kid Part II in 1986, as Daniel LaRusso’s opponent and ultimate enemy. He was the nephew and number one student of Sato Toguchi, a dojo owner in Okinawa, Japan, and a practitioner of Miyagi-do karate.
Throughout the movie, Chozen would speak about the importance of honor, but at the same time seemed to demonstrate a somewhat twisted version of the concept, cheating the residents of Tomi Village and escalating conflicts when he felt he had been disrespected. His animosity towards Daniel ultimately led to a violent showdown in which he threatened the life of Daniel’s friend and love interest, Kumiko, and then attempted to kill Daniel himself.
Chozen was played by Yuji Okumoto in The Karate Kid Part II, and he first reprised the role in Season 3 of Cobra Kai when Daniel once again traveled to Okinawa and reconnected with Kumiko.
While initially reintroduced as being just as angry, confrontational and threatening as he was in his youth, Chozen was eventually shown to have matured in the years that have passed since his first clash with Daniel, and to have even developed a sense of humor, mimicking the “got your nose” move that Daniel used on him in The Karate Kid Part II. When reintroduced to viewers, he was teaching Miyagi-do karate, and harbored feelings of shame and regret about his past actions.
Chozen still wasn’t Daniel’s biggest fan, however, and the two men (now both in middle age) got some of their old rivalry out of their systems while sparring at Chozen’s dojo in a scene which delighted fans of the movie, and dovetailed with the season’s main plot. As the guardian of the secrets of Miyagi-do, Chozen held the key to helping Daniel train his students to protect themselves against Kreese’s Cobra Kai bullies.
We next saw Chozen at the very end of Season 4. Following Miyagi-do’s defeat to Cobra Kai at the All Valley Tournament, Daniel was shown to be visiting Mr. Miyagi’s grave, saying he would need help to take down Terry Silver. The camera then panned out to reveal that Chozen was there, and the season ended with him agreeing to aid Daniel in this fight.
Season 5 begins shortly after. Chozen is a house guest at the LaRussos’, causing some mild friction between Daniel and Amanda, before then getting a job as a sensei at one of Silver’s new Cobra Kai dojo locations with the goal of infiltrating Silver’s operation. He also uses his skills as a teacher to get to know some of Silver’s troubled students, including All Valley champion Tory Nicholls, who still feels that her victory at the tournament was tainted.
While Chozen has been depicted as a good guy for some time now, the writers felt it was important that the character actively earn his redemption this season. “Chozen is somebody who ties into the more aggressive past where fighting wasn’t about a contest, it was about life and death,” says showrunner Josh Heald. “He still feels like he owes Daniel some help, and he wants to make amends even though Daniel has forgiven him.”
Season 5 also gives fans more of a look at the steely sensei’s soft side, and it is revealed that he has deep feelings for Kumiko which he has been afraid to express, both out of respect for Daniel, and guilt for the way he treated her during the events of The Karate Kid Part II. While Kumiko herself does not appear in Season 5, Chozen does leave her a message saying that he would very much like to spend time with her when he returns to Okinawa. So that’s one happy ending on the horizon for our villain-turned-hero.
Philip Ellis is a freelance writer and journalist from the United Kingdom covering pop culture, relationships and LGBTQ+ issues. His work has appeared in GQ, Teen Vogue, Man Repeller and MTV.