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Renowned for his fight choreography and actor training in the “The Karate Kid” films, Pat E Johnson has peacefully passed away at his Los Angeles residence. At the age of 84, he left behind a legacy of martial arts expertise. The sad news was confirmed by his niece, Colleen Mary Johnson Summerville, who shared on Facebook, “It is with a sad heart I’m sharing my Uncle Pat has passed this Sunday morning.”
Johnson’s remarkable journey in the world of martial arts began when he achieved the esteemed rank of a ninth-degree black belt. His martial arts prowess found a special place on the set of the beloved coming-of-age classic, “The Karate Kid” (1984). He took on the role of training actors, including Pat Morita and Ralph Macchio. Morita’s iconic Mr. Miyagi trained Macchio’s character, Daniel Larusso, in the art of karate as he confronted bullies at his new school in Los Angeles. Johnson, in particular, played a pivotal role in coaching Macchio for the now-iconic crane kick that led Daniel to victory at the All Valley karate tournament in the first film. He also stepped into the film as a referee.
Pat E Johnson came into this world in Niagara Falls, New York, in 1939. His introduction to karate unfolded during his service as a U.S. army chaplain in Korea in 1963. It was there that he first delved into Tang Soo Do, an ancient form of karate. Astoundingly, within a mere 13 months, he earned his black belt in this demanding discipline.
William Zabka, who reprised his role as Johnny Lawrence in the spinoff series “Cobra Kai” alongside Ralph Macchio, spoke in 2019 about the profound impact Pat E. Johnson had on his life and career. Johnson’s dedication to “The Karate Kid” franchise extended to the sequels released in 1986 and 1989, as well as “The Next Karate Kid” with Hilary Swank in 1994. Furthermore, he lent his expertise as a stuntman and stunt coordinator in various films, including “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” (1990), “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (1992), and “Mortal Kombat” (1995).
In addition to his film work, Johnson played a vital role as one of the lead instructors at Chuck Norris’ karate schools, imparting his knowledge at the Sherman Oaks location. In recognition of his immense contributions to the world of martial arts, Pat E. Johnson was inducted into the North American Sport Karate Association Hall of Fame in 1993.
He is survived by his loving wife Sue, with whom he shared over 50 years of companionship, as well as his sons Brett, Garth, Larry, and Erik. His memory is also cherished by his siblings, Richard and Cindy. Pat E. Johnson’s legacy as a martial artist and film industry professional will continue to inspire generations to come.