Daniel LaRusso is the main protagonist of The Karate Kid and the student of Kesuke Miyagi. Who initially learns martial arts as a form of self defense against school bullies yet later embraces it as a discipline.
Daniel and his mother, move from Newark, New Jersey to the "South Seas" apartment complex in Reseda, California due to Lucille's job transfer. Upon arriving, Daniel befriends one of his neighbors, Freddy, after karate kicking a gate door into Freddy's face, but Freddy doesn't take offense, and invites him to a beach party. Before the beach party, Daniel meets his future mentor, Mr. Miyagi, when Daniel goes to ask him to fix their new apartments leaky faucet.
Daniel then goes to the beach party. It is at this beach party that Daniel first encounters Ali Mills (Elizabeth Shue), and is instantly infatuated with her. he attempts to teach her how to bounce a soccer ball in the air. As he does this, Ali's ex-boyfriend, Johnny Lawrence is riding dirt bikes with his friends. They stop to talk, and it is pointed out to him that they can see Ali flirting with Daniel. This leads to Johnny going down to the beach to try and talk to Ali. She is less than receptive, and in his frustration, he breaks her radio. Johnny, the star pupil of the Cobra Kai Dojo, and the winner of the last All-Valley Karate Tournament, beats up Daniel when he tries to aid Ali. This leads to Daniel being humiliated, and Freddy abandons Daniel on the beach.
In the following weeks, Daniel frequently falls under the ire of Johnny and the rest of the Cobra Kai gang, who constantly bully and attack him. This conflict finally comes to a head at their high school Halloween party, where Daniel soaks Johnny with water in one of the bathroom stalls. Johnny and the rest of the Cobra Kai are dressed as skeletons, and chase Daniel from the high school to the fence of his apartment complex, when they are finally able to catch up with him. Johnny and his friends begin beating him up worse than before, and they aren't stopping. This is when Mr. Miyagi intervenes. He jumps down from the fence, and beats all of Daniel's assailants single handedly.
They then go to the Cobra Kai Dojo to attempt to make peace, and ask the head of the dojo, John Kreese to order his students to stop. Kreese refuses, until Miyagi suggests that the matter be settled during that year's All Valley Tournament. Mr.Miyagi begins to teach him the ways of karate. Miyagi teaches him through a series of labor tasks, including paint the fence, paint the house, wax the car, and sand the floor.
Then, it is time for the tournament. Daniel enters, and despite knowing the rules when he starts, he does surprisingly well, even defeating some of the best Cobra Kai students, Tommy, and Dutch. He makes it to the semifinals, against the Cobra Kai member, Bobby. Bobby is told by Kreese to put Daniel out of commission, and despite Bobby's protests about being disqualified, and the fact that could beat Daniel, He still breaks Daniels leg with a savage kick to the kneecap. When this happens, Daniel is given fifteen minutes to recover, and if he can't fight by then, Johnny will win by forfeit. But thanks to Mr. Miyagi's warm hands, and mysterious healing techniques, Daniel is able to limp back onto the tournament floor.
Johnny and Daniel then exchange points, with the fight coming down to the final point for both of them. This is when Johnny grabs one of Daniel's kicks from his injured leg, and elbows it, causing Daniel an insane amount of pain. Daniel is no longer able to stand on that leg, so he assumes the crane technique position as his final stance, and when the ref signals the next bout, Johnny moves forward, only for Danielson to kick Johnny in the face, winning the tournament. Daniel is then bum rushed by his friends and family, and Johnny grabs the trophy from the organizer of the tournament, and presents it to Daniel, saying, "you're all right Larusso! You're all right!" The movie then closes with Daniel looking towards Mr. Miyagi,who was sitting on the bleachers, and sees him smiling proudly.
As Daniel and Mr. Miyagi are leaving the All Valley Tournament, they overhear John Kreese berating Johnny for not winning first place. Kreese then starts to mercilessly strangle Johnny, despite the pleas of the rest of the Cobra Kai. Mr.Miyagi intervenes, and after tricking Kreese into punching two car windows, and making both of his hands bleed, Miyagi drops him, and offers him a choice of whether to live or die. He then honks Kreese's nose, because Miyagi doesn't kill.
Six months later, Daniel angrily comes to Mr. Miyagi's house with his car steaming stating that Ali did something to the car. He also tells him that Ali has fallen in love with a football player as well. To make matters worse, he is supposed to go away on a long trip with his mom. But Mr. Miyagi calls his mom, and convinces her to let Daniel stay with him. Miyagi then gets a letter from Okinawa saying that his father is dying, so he and Daniel travel to Okinawa.
When they get off the plane, they are told that a car is waiting for them, so they get in the car. But the driver was Chozen, who was Sato's nephew. He takes them to a warehouse, where Sato is waiting. Sato used to be Miyagi's best friend, until a girl came between them. Miyagi also fled before the two could fight, and this insulted Sato's honor, which he could not get over. Then, they go to Miyagi's house, and see miyagi's dad. While they are in Okinawa, Miyagi tries to teach Daniel the Miyagi family technique, but Daniel is unable to grasp it. Chozen makes life difficult for them when he goes to their house and starts screaming in the night for Miyagi to come out, and destroying the thin walls with a spear. Miyagi's father dies, and Sato gives Miyagi three days to grieve before they must fight. Miyagi goes to Sato's mansion, and talks to Sato while Sato is trying to break a thick beam of wood, which Miyagi and him had found on the beach when they were still best friends. This is when the famous quote happens. Miyagi says, "Same piece of wood we found on beach that day," and Sato says, "Same!"
Meanwhile, Daniel is hanging out with Kumiko, and it is clear they are developing a relationship, but Chozen is making Daniel's life miserable. Daniel then catches Chozen cheating the villagers on produce with fake weights. And, when Daniel and Kumiko stumble into a building where people are placing bets on how many ice blocks people can break, Daniel is telling kumiko how the people are doing it wrong. Chozen the challenges him to do better, and while aniel is trying to leave, Miyagi comes in, and places 600 dollars on Daniel breaking all of the ice blocks. Chozen says he can not cover that, and that is when Sato comes in and says that Chozen is covered. Daniel succeeds, and this further angers Chozen, who later goes up and robs Daniel to get his money back.
Things come to a head, when a huge storm comes, destroying much of Okinawa. Sato is trapped in a destroyed building, trapped beneath a large piece of wood. Miyagi hears his screams, and runs out from shelter to save his old friend. he breaks the wood, and helps Sato get to shelter. Sato then decides to forgive Miyagi, and turns on his nephew who had done nothing to help people. Chozen then runs into the storm.
There is a huge celebration that the storm has passed, and Kumiko is dancing in the island in the middle of the castle. Chozen ziplines in screaming, and holds a knife to Kumiko's neck. He then orders Daniel to come into the circle, and then drop the bridge. he wants to fight to the death. Chozen is winning, but Daniel is getting hits in. He attempts the crane technique, but Chozen knows the counter, and turns it against him. When it looks as if Danielson is going to lose, Miyagi starts twirling a hand drum. Soon, all of the onlookers are also twirling their hand drums. Miyagi is telling Daniel to use the drum technique, and Daniel finally understands the Miyagi family technique.
Daniel starts to repeatedly punch Chozen in the face, while twisting his upper body with every hit, so it resembles a swinging drum. He knocks Chozen to the ground, and tells him, "Live or die man!" Chozen responds, "Die." Daniel says, "Wrong!" and honks his nose. The camera then focuses on Miyagi, who is once again smiling proudly at his student, and the movie closes.