YouTube Premium’s hit original series “Cobra Kai” has never shied away from fight scenes despite being a comedy. But in the second season of the continuation of the “Karate Kid” story, Emmy-winning stunt coordinator Hiro Koda took things to the next level, including working on a showdown in the high school.
How are the stunts in Season 2 different from the stunts in Season 1?
It’s way more action in Season 2 than there was in the first season. We have a ton of new cast members this season so there’s more action, more fights. The kids continued to train after the first season. They took their break and then got back into training early before the season started. The cast members on this show are incredible because they work so hard. This season, Jahnel Curfman, who is my wife, was the other stunt coordinator. This season was so stunt heavy that she was very much involved. She doubled Peyton [List] as well. Martin Kove is probably the hardest worker there is. He works so hard and wants himself to look so good in everything that he’s doing. He was in the training hall with us every day just going over everything over and over and over again. When I was 12 I did a series of karate videos called “Kids in Karate” with Marty. He was like the guest instructor on the show. When he first came on the show, I introduced myself and he was like “Nice to meet you,” so I was like “I’ve met you before!”
What were the most difficult scenes for you this season?
There’s this big showdown in the high school. The fighting in this is totally different than what happened in the tournament [in Season 1]. The tournament style is a stop-and-go style because they’re competing and people are trying to score points. This was more street fighting. No rules, no judges, nothing. The fun part of the show is keeping the nostalgia, like the way Daniel LaRusso moves is the same style he used in 1984. Then all of LaRusso’s students, the Miyagi-do students, have that flavor of martial arts in their choreography. And the same thing with Cobra Kai: The Cobra Kai students all have distinct styles.
How is doing stunts for comedy different than doing it for drama?
It’s very different, depending on the level of violence. “Cobra Kai” is a comedy, but there’s drama on the show as well. The fights were more violent and more heavy this season, but there’s a lot of comedy relief in there from different characters. But slapstick comedy is hard to pull off because it can come off really silly and doesn’t come across as funny so it can be tough to pull off. It’s easier with dramas because you can go out there and just do a really violent fight.
Given that there has only been an Emmy for stunt coordination since 2002 and you’ve already been nominated four times, how does that feel?
It’s a great feeling. The first year they split the category for comedies and dramas was the year I won [for “Supah Ninjas”]. It’s an interesting process to go through with the voting and getting your submissions together and all that. I’m stoked that I’ve gotten nominated for multiple shows, because some people get nominated for just one show multiple times. Getting multiple nominations for comedy and drama is good for me.