Over three decades after Ralph Macchio and William Zabka faced off in the 1984 cult classic, the duo are teaming up again to reprise their roles in the new series Cobra Kai.

By Mike Miller and Jodi Guglielmi
May 02, 2018 01:37 PM
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The Karate Kid stars are now karate grownups, but their childhood rivalries are still kicking.

Over three decades after Ralph Macchio and William Zabka faced off in the 1984 cult classic, the duo are teaming up again to reprise their roles in the new series Cobra Kai.

“There’s a lot more stretching now,” Zabka, 52, who played the villainous Johnny Lawrence in the original, joked on Today Wednesday.

"Cobra Kai" Tribeca TV - 2018 Tribeca Film Festival
William Zabka (L) and Ralph Macchio.
| Credit: Dia Dipasupil/Getty

The new series follows a down-and-out Lawrence who seeks redemption by reopening the Cobra Kai karate dojo that tormented Macchio’s Daniel LaRusso when they were kids. Opening the gym reignites Lawrence’s old rivalry with LaRusso, who runs a successful car dealership, but is struggling to find balance in life without his sensei Mr. Miyagi.

For years, Macchio, 56, told Today he was fine letting “the legacy of the film franchise stand on its own.” But after reading the script for the new series, he decided it was time to revisit the character.

“It’s kind of a nice, smart way in,” he explained. “These creators … wrote Hot Tub Time Machine and the Harold and Kumar franchise (and) they had a fresh take on how to write for the ‘now’ generation. They are the biggest Karate Kid fans. … It’s Star Wars to them.”

THE KARATE KID
William Zabka (L) and Ralph Macchio.
| Credit: Mary Evans/Ronald Grant/Everett

While Macchio was excited about the direction of the series, he previously told PEOPLE that most of the karate training he did for the original has been forgotten.

“Once 35 years goes by, nothing sticks,” he admitted. “It might stick, but it comes with a price. You just start walking funny or it takes you a half hour to get out of bed in the morning.”

He added, “Now that I’m older, it’s kind of nice to dip my toe back into the martial arts and that whole Eastern philosophy. And certainly the Miyagi karate style is all about that zen, finding your balance and karate for defense only. Where Cobra Kai, for the most part, is the best defense is more offense.”

Cobrai Kai Youtube Red premieres Wednesday on .