Ralph Macchio Reveals The Movie Magic Behind Catching A Fly With Chopsticks In The Karate Kid

There are two things everyone who has seen "The Karate Kid" has tried to attempt. The first is the famous Crane Kick that Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) employs at the end of the film to knock out Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) for the All Valley Championship, and the second is catching a fly with chopsticks. Obviously, this is a near-impossible task, but with Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita) as your sensei, nothing is impossible. 

The scene in question involves Daniel watching as Mr. Miyagi tries and retries to nab a fly out of the air with a pair of chopsticks. With true LaRusso sass, Daniel asks if perhaps using a fly swatter might make the whole thing go a little faster, but Miyagi uses this opportunity to dispense some of that all-knowing wisdom of his and replies, "Man who catch fly with chopstick, accomplish anything." He then confesses that he has "not yet" achieved this Herculean task. The two then each set about trying to capture the fly. A few failed attempts occur all while the fly seemingly dances in the air unbothered between them (which, if you've ever tried to swat a fly, you know that thing disappears from the area at the first sign of danger), and then Daniel miraculously does it. He catches the fly with the chopsticks and essentially foreshadows his fate as the All-Valley champion. (See? He can accomplish anything, y'all!)

But just how did they film such a tedious scene? It turns out there was a lot more at work than just beginner's luck.   

From fake flies to real flies

In his new book "Waxing On: The Karate Kid and Me," Ralph Macchio dives deep into his time filming the classic martial arts film. One of the scenes he remembers filming is the unbelievable fly and chopsticks scene. "With today's CGI technology, shooting the fly-catching scene would be a breeze," he jokes before going on to tell readers how they really did it. 

There were quite a few different methods used to make the scene look believable. Some ideas involved the use of a plastic fly, while others used actual real flies that they got because the "on-set still photographer was a whiz at catching flies with his bare hands." The various attempts (of which there were five different types) ranged anywhere from tying a fake fly to the end of a fishing line to tying an actual live fly to the line and dangling it in front of the actors ("Essentially, we made a flying leash," says Macchio), and pretty much all of them weren't convincing enough. The fake fly on a string "looked artificial and appeared to be bouncing and not actually flying" while the real flies didn't live long past the call of "action!" "It was a massacre I'm not very proud of," recalls Macchio. 

The crew even attempted to film the scene in reverse, but that turned out to be a bad idea, too. "I would pay money to have this footage today," jokes Macchio. In the end, the actual scene is composed of various moments from the different attempts. Macchio explains, "I believe we wound up using a combination of the live fly on the fishing line and the tiniest plastic fly glued to the chopsticks." 

The result is believable if you don't look too closely. Besides, Miyagi never said catching a fly with chopsticks couldn't be helped along with a little bit of movie magic.