Following the news that Karate Kid referee and trainer, Pat E. Johnson, has died at the age of 84, the film franchise’s star Ralph Macchio paid tribute to Johnson by calling him both a “friend” and “ultimate cheerleader.”
In a statement provided to Fox News, Macchio stated he was very saddened to hear about Johnson’s death. “Pat was the driving force in all of the martial arts choreography and stunts we have come to know and love from the projects we worked on together,” Macchio explained.
The actor also stated that while Johnson was a “fierce martial artist,” his memories of him are galvanized by his calm, gentle, and supportive demeanor.
“I considered him a friend and my ultimate cheerleader,” The Karate Kid star continued. “He inspired me with such confidence and I always felt he was in my corner. Even to this day, I can feel his cheerleading in my current work. My thoughts and love go out to his family as I celebrate all that he has given to me personally and the world at large through memorable entertainment.”
As previously reported, Johnson was a ninth-degree black belt. He choreographed the fight scenes and played the referee in the final tournament of The Karate Kid. Johnson passed away over the weekend from natural causes at his Los Angeles-area home.
Along with the statement, Macchio also posted a special tribute in his Instagram stories. “RIP Master Pat Johnson,” he wrote. “My friend, teacher, and ultimate cheerleader. Still with me today and beyond.”
Fellow ‘The Karate Kid’ and ‘Cobra Kai’ Star William Zabka Spoke About Pat E. Johnson’s Impact on Him During 2019 Interview
While speaking to Men’s Health in 2019, fellow The Karate Kid and Cobra Kai star William Zabka spoke about Pat E. Johnson’s work on the 1984 film as well as his martial arts influence.
“He trained all of us,” Zabka explained, calling Johnson a legend in martial arts. “He built me up from nothing. I didn’t know anything about it when I first started. I was a wrestler in high school and very limber and athletic.”
The Karate Kid actor further explained that Johnson’s discipline in physical, mental, and technical was incredible. “So much so, that I trained with him after the film was over. It’s amazing how his teaching has stayed with me all these years.”
Johnson also helped Zabka when the actor was almost replaced in The Karate Kid. This was after he performed flying side kicks in front of Columbia Studios executives and Macchio. “The first time I tried it, it was really sloppy,” Zabka recalled. “You could feel the air go out of the room. Still, Johnson said, ‘You can do this.’ I focused and did it again, but this time, my heel went through the pad and into the drywall and actually punctured a hole in it. There was dust everywhere.”
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