An old and wise martial arts master taking a young child under his special charge is a relationship we’re all familiar with. It drives the plot in the original Karate Kid (1984), and the remake, which opens on Friday.

But there’s more to the story. Mentoring is a prominent theme in martial arts schools, largely because students work their way through a progression of levels under the tutelage of teachers and trainers who have ascended in similar fashion.

“Our whole organization is based upon this mentoring model,” said Chan Lee, who operates five J.K. Lee Tae Kwon Do Academies in metro Milwaukee. “It is a wonderful dynamic.”

And just like in Hollywood, magic is made when a special teacher and a special student come together.

Lee’s father, Grandmaster Jae Kyu Lee, had largely retired from teaching when a prospective family came through the door. The parents were looking to enroll their youngest son, Aaron, in the program.

The couple brought their older son, Evan, along, too. But 11-year-old Evan had cerebral palsy, a condition that contorted his legs made all the muscles in his body rigid. He needed canes, a walker or a wheelchair to move.

It was difficult for him to walk unassisted, let alone kick, punch or perform the rigorous katas, or patterns of Tae Kwon Do.

Chan extended an open invitation for everyone in the family to attend a class. That’s when Grandmaster Lee looked at Evan and saw past his disabilities.

What he saw was a fighter.

“I could see in his face he was a boy who would never give up,” said Grandmaster Lee.

For 18 months, twice a week as regular as clockwork, Lee and Evan have been working together. Lee massages the boy’s legs, loosens his muscles and starts their training regimen. When Evan falls, Lee matter-of-factly tells him to get up and keep going.

“On their own, each of them have a resolution that is remarkable,” said Lee. “My father came to this country and has become one of the most successful Korean martial artists ever. And Evan is so tough, he doesn’t let anything stand in his way.

“Together, they’re an inspiration for all of us. They’re unstoppable.”

Their journey is chronicled in a video presentation entitled “Evan’s Dream.”

Today Evan has earned his high purple belt, and the two set regular goals that Evan must accomplish. Dancing at the Christmas party, once an unimaginable achievement, is a happy memory for both Evan and Grandmaster Lee. So is his dream of walking unassisted, which he does regularly around the Academy.

“My father’s relationship with Evan has brought the best in all of us,” said Chan Lee. “For all of us here, Evan is our Karate Kid. He’s the real deal.”