Kreese’s Vision vs. Silver’s Vision Of Growing Cobra Kai In ‘Cobra Kai S4’

Bringing Terry Silver (the main antagonist of The Karate Kid Part III) back into the fold for season four, where the war between the titular Cobra Kai and Miyagi-Do schools intensifies, has become the worst decision that John Kreese has ever done for himself so far.

WARNING: DO NOT read this any further until you have watched season four. Watch The Karate Kid Trilogy and then the first three seasons of Cobra Kai before watching season four.

Season three of Cobra Kai ended with John Kreese making a phone call to certain someone, hinted to be Terry Silver, which was confirmed in the promotional trailers. Even though the verdict’s still out there, Terry Silver likely is NOT the father of Tory Nichols.

Silver has done well from himself since his protege, Mike Barnes, was defeated at the hands of Daniel LaRusso end of The Karate Kid Part III, OR, SO IT SEEMS… I recently wrote how mental health was a major subplot topic for the series, especially in season four, and Terry Silver is NO exception.

Cobra Kai’s story is fueled by the consequences of Daniel LaRusso, Johnny Lawrence, and John Kreese’s inability to move on from the past. The three of them are hurting in their own different ways such as Daniel living in stagnation and Johnny being down in the dumps. In Terry Silver’s case, he DIDN’T heal properly and it inevitably make him worse than he was before.

Silver seemed to be happy with his life, a facade that Kreese easily saw through, but he was LIVING A LIE!

Silver’s return in season four is a game-changer that throws Eagle Fang and Miyagi-Do off their game, which Cobra Kai capitalizes on. He expanded Cobra Kai’s influence on another level, though diverging from how Kreese envisioned Cobra Kai’s influence and power.

The idealistic schism ends the short-lived bromantic reunion between Kreese and Silver where Cobra Kai’s philosophy has a subjective interpretation than an absolute doctrine.

Kreese exhibits the philosophy of “Strike First, Strike Hard, No Mercy” with a full-frontal force like an infantryman fighting on the frontlines of a brutal battle, which is not surprising given his military background. This is why Kreese is misunderstood, which Martin Kove brings up in a recent interview, he has seen his comrades die in Vietnam War. He DOESN’T want to see anyone else get killed.

This is not any different to someone who still has the mentality of a grunt in battle who resorts to engaging back when confronted. It’s a problem with many people with a background infantry.

As a martial artist, the mentality is problematic when other martial artists, especially fellow peers at the gym, hinder them from thinking critically. In a nutshell, Kreese interprets that philosophy in a narrowminded way and he’s unable to see the hidden dangers around him. That most devastating of those hidden dangers is none other than Terry Silver, which Kreese doesn’t see until it’s too late.

Kreese interprets the philosophy as being the first to use offense and aggression at all times. There will always be a time and place where that’s necessary, but NOT all the time. You have to be able to turn it back off at a moment’s notice and that’s one of the biggest mental health issues of former military operatives with Kreese being the prime example.

That mentality has consequences from season two onward to the current season.

Kreese even admonishes Terry for instructing students not to act first, which he adamantly believes is a violation of the creed.

On the flip side, Terry introduces another way of interpreting the creed, which shows that it can be interpreted loosely.

While Kreese wants to match force with force or use overwhelming force, Terry’s interpretation of the Cobra Kai creed is using surgical strikes and other tactics. The former thinks like an infantry officer and the latter thinks like an intelligence officer.

Snakes, especially cobras, attack in different ways.

Silver’s interpretation of the creed was striking, not the direct way, but the indirect way, where he brings up how Kreese turned Johnny Lawrence’s own son, Robby Keene, even further against. The rift between Johnny and Robby was there, but it widened throughout season three, where Johnny inadvertently chose Miguel over Robby.

Robby’s anger towards Johnny, understandable and justified, was the opening Kreese exploited. He joins Cobra Kai at the end of season three, turning his back on Johnny and Daniel. In Silver’s eyes, Kreese struck first, but not in the typical fashion.

It’s an immortal example that school codes, philosophy, and creeds are not subject to concrete interpretation. My TKD teacher and I, for example, observe and interpret the Tae Kwon Do tenets in different ways.

In Cobra Kai’s case, Kreese and Terry have completely different interpretations of the creed.

One person is going to interpret the creed differently from another person.

This can be compared to Star Wars: The Mandalorian, available on Disney+, where Din Djarin, the titular star, meets another group of Mandalorians, who don’t wear helmets.

Cobra Kai’s not the first show, nor will it be the last, that emphasizes how things can be interpreted in different ways. I found a good show with a similar commonality, an anime series to be exact, called The Irregular At Magic High School.

The Irregular At Magic High School centers on the Shiba children, Tatsuya and Miyuki, who are skilled magicians.

Tatsuya, magic-wise, is the Terry Silver to Miyuki’s Kreese.

Miyuki, magic-wise, is the John Kreese to Tatsuya’s Silver, which is coincidentally fitting because one of Tatsuya’s many pseudonyms is Taurus Silver.

Tite Kubo’s Bleach is another great title to use when talking about how Kreese and Silver interpret the Cobra Kai creed, too. The heroes enter Hueco Mundo, the realm of the Hollows, to rescue Orihime Inoue from Sosuke Aizen’s captivity, where they must fight all numbers of Espada. Ichigo rescues Orihime, but not before he has to fight the fourth-ranked Espada, Ulquiorra Cifer.

While the other Espada chose strength augmentation, Ulquiorra chose hyper-regeneration.

Having all that strength is great, BUT, big BUT, it doesn’t mean s — t if and when you’re incapacitated in battle. Ulquiorra made the intelligent choice and it allows him to last longer in battle. That augmented strength doesn’t mean s — t when you’re too injured and fatigued, but that’s not a problem for Ulquiorra, which mirrors Silver’s interpretation of the creed.

When you make comparisons to Cobra Kai, Kreese is playing the short game and Silver is playing the long game.

There are other contributing factors to the growing schism between Kreese and Silver’s individual versions of Cobra Kai. Kreese wants to destroy Miyagi-Do and Eagle Fang, BUT not at the cost of losing Johnny. Silver, who believes to understand Kreese’s mission, is thinking about the full annihilation of Miyagi-Do and Eagle Fang, which includes destroying Johnny Lawrence in the process.

The biggest factor is the direction Cobra Kai is growing where Kreese and Silver have contrasting views of how to do so.

Kreese is driven by his ideals and nihilistic view of the world while Silver is driven by money and influence. The former wants to keep Cobra Kai in one location and doesn’t have plans on physically expanding it, but Silver wants to turn the school into a franchise, which requires expanding into new locations.

Silver’s vision manifests when he orders custom-made swag for current and incoming new students, effectively sways Piper Eiswith, originally recruited to join Eagle Fang, to joining Cobra Kai. After Cobra Kai’s new merchandise was introduced, all the students at Cobra Kai wore the new clothes instead of the traditional gis.

This cemented the key difference between Kreese’s and Silver’s visions for growing Cobra Kai.

Kreese’s expression at Silver’s intent on opening a new franchise implies that the former wants to keep Cobra Kai centralized in one location. There is definitely NOTHING wrong with that because that may be the better choice in the future, especially when growing your school.

There is a huge difference between growing your school and becoming a franchise. Franchising means opening more than one location and that has its own unique sets of problems, too.

The big problem with Kreese’s vision is the school getting too big where you either have to move to a bigger location or open a second location. If you do neither, you lose out on promising students because there are no more slots to fill.

If something happens to the main location, the students can train at the other locations.

What if the sole location is too far to get to? Time and distance are important factors when choosing where to train at. Can someone even find a way to get to the Cobra Kai dojo, too?

Kreese’s interpretation of the Cobra Kai mentality is ableist, another problematic thing with his version of Cobra Kai’s growth. He doesn’t accept weaknesses of any kind such as not initially accepting Kenny Payne as a student. If you’re weak, you have to start somewhere to get stronger, which is something Kreese doesn’t understand.

The core point of learning martial arts is to be able to protect yourself against opponents who are physically stronger than you. Attackers, in general, go after people they perceive as being physically weak. They want a quick and easy “win” and won’t go after the dangerous-looking targets.

Silver’s vision for growing Cobra Kai is DIFFERENT and he, unlike Kreese, wants to turn it into a franchise. It is the display of financial power because Silver has way more money than Daniel LaRusso, despite the LaRusso Motor Group’s success, and can easily outspend him. I can compare this to the conversation between Mike Prince and Taylor Mason in the season six episode, “Burn Rate,” on the Showtime series Billions.

Taylor aims to make $100M before leaving because she wants to use the cash for humanitarian projects such as providing wi-fi to the people of Africa. Prince applauds Taylor’s goal as noble but explains that he could do it and she can’t because he’s a billionaire. It’s not to dissuade Taylor, though, as Prince explains that it would cost at least $150M a year to maintain the infrastructure.

Prince is the Terry Silver to Taylor’s Daniel LaRusso. Prince, nobler than Bobby Axelrod, would probably use his resources to tank Terry Silver for moral purposes. Taylor would admonish Daniel for his rigid and narrowminded idea of preserving Mr. Miyagi’s legacy; she would f — king tear Daniel apart with her words.

Kreese’s interpretation of the creed is striking first in direct confrontation with direct force, while Silver’s interpretation of the mentality is using deceptive strategies & tactics. Even though Kreese wants to put an end to Miyagi-Do, he has BETTER morals than Terry Silver.

Silver’s idea of growing and strengthening Cobra Kai is through franchising. He will do whatever it takes to make it happen, whether it’s legal or not (mostly through illegal methods). When Cobra Kai won the All-Valley Karate tournament in season four, it wasn’t a pure victory, even though Tory gave it her all.

This interpretation of the creed is deadlier, figuratively, because Silver backstabs Kreese by framing him for brutally assaulting Stringray (Silver struck first by taking advantage of Stingray’s Peter Pan syndrome).

It takes a f — kton of money to create a franchise, let alone expand to new locations, but money’s NOT an issue for Silver. This person can financially steamroll Miyagi-Do anytime. If Silver wanted to f — k with Daniel, even more, Silver could partner up with Daniel’s business rivals to kill the LaRusso Motor Group.

Even though Daniel has done well for himself, he will never outspend Silver, nor, will be able to absorb the same costs that Silver can.

When Daniel resurrects Miyagi-Do Karate in season two, he neglects his business obligations and the LaRusso Motor Group suffers. He focuses on getting more students to join by offering free classes, though nothing wrong with it, but it’s costly in more ways than one.

Daniel has a very nice luxury home, but it PALES in comparison to Silver’s beachside mansion. This is why they’re comparable to Michael Prince and Taylor Mason of Billions. Silver has the money and connections to get the necessary space for new locations.

Rent and other costs (utilities, payroll, accounting, marketing, insurance, advertising, and more) are nickels in the bucket for Silver, too, and there is no f — king way for Daniel to compete with that. Big-name gyms, for example, can offer services for a lower price because they can absorb the costs, and the smaller gyms can’t.

Silver’s Cobra Kai could do an after-school program with limousine service and it wouldn’t financially hurt him. He could make that service affordable enough that middle-income families can pay for it, which they wouldn’t even give Miyagi-Do a thought.

Silver has thought several steps ahead of Kreese, which is the more intelligent interpretation of the Cobra Kai creed.

Silver’s version, too, is problematic. The problem with expanding and franchising, even if the financial costs can be absorbed, is that it degrades the integrity of the product. Kreese, despite his ableist mentality and toxic interpretation of the creed, wanted only serious students. Many martial artists can relate to Kreese in wanting to teach only serious students and many lose the passion to teach martial arts because of the dwindling number of serious students.

Silver’s Cobra Kai crushes the f — k out of Miyagi-Do and Eagle Fang, HYPOTHETICALLY speaking (we’re confident it will never happen), then what?

This vision of Cobra Kai’s future is an inevitable cash grab because there’s no other direction to go after Miyagi-Do is gone for good.

Kreese was selective in allowing who trains at Cobra Kai for good intentions, though, toxic because his views were bigoted and biased. Silver would likely let virtually anybody and everybody into Cobra Kai, though I believe martial arts can enrich many people, and the quality of instruction would degrade over time.

This would attract self-entitled parents who would enroll their uninterested, often misbehaved, children, with the hopes of their children learning “discipline,” and that’s just talking about the kids’ classes.

There are a lot of people, especially adults, who have NO business learning martial arts, too.

You’ll need more instructors to delegate the responsibility of teaching classes at the other locations, too, or you’ll be stretched thin. With the exception of Mike Barnes, likely to appear in the upcoming fifth season, Cobra Kai doesn’t have anybody who’s able or mature enough to run classes.

That, too, further degrades the quality of Cobra Kai’s training.

We got to see Kreese’s version of Cobra Kai in modern times, making a kick@$$ story for seasons three & four, now we await Silver’s version of Cobra Kai in the upcoming season five. I look forward to Mike Barnes (portrayed by Sean Kanan in the original film) fated reunion with Daniel LaRusso, which will be different from the rivalry Daniel had with Johnny. I also look forward to Johnny Lawrence crossing paths with Mike Barnes, too.

Johnny doesn’t know Mike Barnes, one of the core reasons Cobra Kai got banned from the All-Valley tournaments, he will SOON. It will further the schism as it will be Kreese’s protege (Johnny) and Silver’s protege (Barnes) with everyone else getting caught in the crossfire.

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