Last night I was watching the Karate Kid 2.   Daniel and Mr Miyagi run into Daniel’s old rival, Bobby Brown.

After an impromptu challenge and a scuffle between the two boys ending with Daniel running out of the dojo, he says to Mr. Miyagi, “Now will you train me?”

In the first Karate Kid, you may remember that Bobby did a leg sweep and took out Daniel’s knee during a match. Rather than giving up, Daniel fights back on one leg making use of “the crane”.  It’s his key move that helps him win.  The problem now is that Bobby knows the move and is ready to fight again.  Daniel begs Mr. Miyagi to further train him as a fighter.

in the scenes that follow the two boys take dramatically different pathways in preparing for their fight.  Daniel & Mr. Miyagi train on soft sand outdoors, Danile slowly and methodically repeating Mr. Miyagi’s movements.  They go through slow motion skills perfecting every muscle involvement, every joint angle and every intention of movement.   There is little thought placed in the upcoming fight itself, rather they focus only on the quality of Daniel’s movements and finding perfection through repetition, repetition, repetition.

In contrast, Bobby’s trainers are in the gym and have Bobby working up a sweat, punching the pads over and over with all his might, kicking with all the force he’s got, taking down his training partners with aggressive angry moves.

Cut back to Mr. Miyagi and Daniel at the beach. Mr Miyagi’s words of advice to Daniel, “Your mind is the most important weapon you have”.

Becoming a better swimmer and triathlete is EXACTLY like the Karate Kid!
It’s all about the quality of the movement.  The speed of the movement must be slowed down to the point where the intention of the limb, the activation of the correct muscles, the release of muscles that are not needed and the imprinting of the position of the joints can occur flawlessly. When this is done, the movement is repeated, with intention…over and over and over.

Like martial arts or wrestling, swimming has moves!   The entry, the catch, the anchor, the recovery, the breath…

Just as you would not expect to master punches, kicks, “the crane”, a reverse roundhouse, a high block a low block, etc in your first week of of karate classes, you shouldn’t expect to master all the components of swimming when you are first learning.
Choose ONE element of your stroke to work on for a period of time…a few swim sessions.  Decide on a  few discrete focal points and sensations that you’ll want to experience rehearsing the move on land AND in the water.  If possible, find a Mr. Miyagi…a mentor of some sort and get small pieces of feedback when you can. Shoot video of yourself, in land and in the water and see if your actions match up with your intentions.

As your movements become more fluid you’ll find them naturally speeding up.  You’ll reach a point where you want to add just a little bit of velocity to them…when you reach this point, make sure that the QUALITY of the movement is still present. Interrupt repeats of faster movements with repeats of slower high quality movement to make sure you still remember the proper feelings…then find those feelings in the water as well.

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