Cobra Kai S05 Star Xolo Mariduena on Miguel's Journey, Martial Arts

Xolo Maridueña has come a long way on his journey in martial arts. In the Netflix hit series Cobra Kai (as Miguel Diaz), he's the primary student for Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) originally for Cobra Kai before following him to Eagle Fang. He's also developed a bit of a rivalry with Johnny's son Robby Keane (Tanner Buchanan. The actor spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about how far along he's been with his own martial arts, how competitive he is in real life and what we can expect from Miguel's arc for season five.

cobra kai
Cobra Kai. Xolo Maridueña as Miguel Diaz in Cobra Kai. Cr. Curtis Bonds Baker/Netflix © 2022

"I've been doing [martial arts] for five years, almost six," Maridueña said. "While we're filming, I feel pretty proficient. I should be practicing a ton during our hiatus, but the reality is I like practicing other things. Proficiency-wise, I'm maybe a six-and-a-half, seven out of 10? And that's like, the lowest of all the kids on the show. None of them had really done karate prior to this. But my gosh, considering that I started practicing back in season one, some of the kids who [joined the cast in] season two or three, they're already so much better than me."

Cobra Kai S05 Star Xolo Mariduena on Miguel's Journey, Martial Arts
(L to R) Xolo Maridueña as Miguel Diaz, Tanner Buchanan as Robby Keene in Cobra Kai. Cr. Curtis Bonds Baker/Netflix © 2022

As far as if the actor wanted to compete given his current skill level, "You know, after seeing Mario Lopez and Tom Hardy doing Brazilian jiujitsu, I want to stay as far away from competitions as possible. I feel like I might get laid out, you know? It wouldn't be the first time," Maridueña said. As far as who among his Cobra Kai castmates is the most skilled, "The adults are impressive with how fluid they are with their movements. They stretch a bunch, and it definitely translates on screen. I have the most exposure to [William Zabka, who plays Johnny], so it feels like he does really well," he explained. "But for the kids, technique-wise and maybe technically, Tanner Buchanan (Robbie) has the most skill. He's buff as hell and super flexible. You give him a month or two to learn something, and he'll have it perfect. But I think Jacob Bertrand (Hawk) picks things up way quicker. He's naturally really good at putting the karate puzzle pieces together."

Cobra Kai S05 Star Xolo Mariduena on Miguel's Journey, Martial Arts
Cobra Kai. (L to R) Tanner Buchanan as Robby Keene, Xolo Maridueña as Miguel Diaz in Cobra Kai. Cr. Curtis Bonds Baker/Netflix © 2022

When it comes to Miguel's season five journey, "The new season picks up right where we left off. Miguel had an epiphany at the most recent tournament that there's more to life than just karate and that — although his mother and grandmother shower him in love — he wants a father figure," Maridueña said. "That hole was filled by Johnny in a great way. One of the things that I've loved about playing Miguel is he didn't need an actual father to connect with someone. I know tons of people who aren't around their biological fathers but yet have great relationships with older males or older females. Johnny was a great influence and motivator for Miguel, and I think he made him feel wanted and secure. But there was only so far that was going to fly. The journey Miguel is about to take is not going to be easy. He's embarking on something he knows nothing about. Whether or not it works out, my hope is he finds some answers. It's a bit surreal because I never thought the show was going to tackle this subject matter."
For more on how Maridueña breaks down the bond with the cast, his feelings on social media, where he hopes Miguel goes when Cobra Kai ends, & more, you can check out the whole interview here. Season five of Cobra Kai premieres on September 5th on Netflix.

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Tom ChangAbout Tom Chang

I'm a follower of pop culture from gaming, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, film, and TV for over 30 years. I grew up reading magazines like Starlog, Mad, and Fangoria. As a writer for over 10 years, Star Wars was the first sci-fi franchise I fell in love with. I'm a nerd-of-all-trades.
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