We do not train to be merciful here. Mercy is for the weak. Here, in the streets, in competition: A man confronts you, he is the enemy. An enemy deserves no mercy.
~ Sensei John Kreese's "philosophy".

John Kreese is the main antagonist of the original The Karate Kid, a minor antagonist in Karate Kid 2 and the secondary antagonist of Karate Kid 3.

He was portrayed by Martin Kove.


Kreese was in the US Army, where he was part of the Special Forces during the Vietnam War. One of his war buddies was Terry Silver, whom Kreese had allegedly saved the life of on multiple occasions. Following Kreese's retirement from the Army, he opened the Cobra Kai Dojo, with Silver's backing.

Kreese instructs his students that mercy is for the weak, and an enemy deserves no mercy. He also order his students to use illegal strikes to their opponents at the All Valley Tournament. However, his best student, Johnny Lawrence, lost to Daniel Russo in the tournament. Getting angry at Johnny for winning second place and for calling him a sick and sadistic loser (as Johnny now saw him for what he really was), he violently chokes Johnny with his arms, ordered his students to stay back and even hit one of them. However, he was stopped by Miyagi and all his students depart from his dojo, and lost his Dojo.

Kreese has fallen on hard times, with the Cobra Kai Dojo bankrupt and empty. He plots revenge against both Daniel and Miyagi, with the help of his old Vietnam War buddy Terry Silver, after listening to his story. So, Silver hires Mike Barnes to harass and defeat Daniel at the All Valley Tournament. However, Daniel defeats Mike Barnes, while Kreese is disappointed and throws something at the audience for cheering for Daniel. The audience throws back their free T-shirts in disgust at Kreese and Silver, and Cobra Kai is closed down for good. After this, Kreese’s later fate is unknown.

He doesn't appear in the Next Karate Kid, however a character named Master Li mirrors John Kreese in a 2010 remake.


           Karate Kid Villains

Karate Kid (1984): John Kreese | Johnny Lawrence
Karate Kid Part II: Chozen Toguchi | Sato Toguchi
Karate Kid Part III: Terry Silver | Mike Barnes
Next Karate Kid: Colonel Dugan | Ned
Karate Kid (2010): Master Li | Cheng