Pat E. Johnson, the ninth-degree black belt and contemporary of Chuck Norris who choreographed the fight scenes, trained the actors and played a tournament referee in the first three Karate child films, passed away. He was 84.
Johnson died Sunday of natural causes at his home in Los Angeles, said his niece, Colleen Mary Johnson Summerville The Hollywood Reporter.
Johnson was also a stuntman, stunt coordinator, trainer and/or fight coordinator Buffy the Vampire Slayer; on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles And Deadly battle movies; and on other films including Enter the Dragon (1973), Living and dying in LA (1985), Confrontation in Little Tokyo (1991), Batman and Robin (1997) and Wild Wild West (1999).
Johnson served as a top instructor at the Norris karate schools in the Los Angeles area beginning in the late 1960s, and over the years his students included Steve McQueen, Bob Barker and members of the Osmond family.
For The karate kid (1984), Johnson told Sports illustrated in 2018 that he trained actors Pat Morita and Ralph Macchio “separately, very hard. They moaned and whined – they developed a relationship because they had that in common.
He also taught Macchio de “crane kick” that his desperate Daniel LaRusso delivers to end his All Valley tournament match with Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) during the first film’s climatic moments. However, he notes that the move is “not something that is really legitimate or realistic.”
Johnson then returned for the sequels in 1986 and 1989 and for the 1994 reboot. The next karate kidstarring Hilary Swank.
Born in 1939 in Niagara Falls, New York, Johnson learned Tang Soo Do, an ancient Korean form of karate, while serving as a chaplain with the U.S. Army in Korea in 1963. He said it took him just 13 months to earn his black belt. .
After the service, he competed in karate tournaments in the US and met Norris at an event in Detroit. “He and I were very close at the time because we had both trained in Korea and both earned our black belts in Korea,” he says. said in a 2016 documentary.
“He once said to me, ‘If you ever decided to come to California, I think we could work very well together.’ I really don’t know exactly why I did it, but one day I jumped on a Greyhound bus, came to California and said, ‘Chuck, I’m here.’
While Norris operated a chain of karate schools, Johnson served as his head instructor at the Sherman Oaks location (Norris had opened that place with legendary wrestler Gene LeBell). He later led the actor’s black belt competition team and won an individual national karate title in 1971.
(Johnson is also known for creating the sport’s penalty point system, designed to keep fighters safe and encourage sportsmanship.)
He did stunts and wrestled John Saxon Enter the Dragonstarring Bruce Lee and Norris, then worked on films like Black belt Jones (1974), The ultimate warrior (1975), Norris’ Good boys wear black (1978) and that of Curtis Hanson The little dragons (1979), where he played a karate instructor.
In 2019 Zabka told Men’s health magazine that the martial arts expert “built me from nothing.”
“I didn’t know anything about (karate) when I first started,” he said. “I was a wrestler in high school and very flexible and athletic. The discipline he provided physically, mentally and technically was incredible; so much so that I trained with him after the movie was over. It’s amazing how his teaching has stayed with me all these years.”
In the Sports illustrated In the piece, Zabka said he “got the attitude for my character from Pat. I used his Ki-yahs. I used the way he stood with his hands in his belt.
Johnon was also chairman of the National Tang Soo Do Congress, which was founded by Norris in 1973, until it was disbanded in 1979. He and Norris then led the United Fighting Arts Federation. He was inducted into the North American Sport Karate Association Hall of Fame in 1993.
In addition to his niece, survivors include his wife of more than 50 years, Sue; sons Brett (and his wife Leah), Garth (Lisa), Larry (Kim) and Erik; and siblings Richard and Cindy.