“Wax on, wax off” is the quote I most closely associated with Karate Kid, a favorite movie from my youth. Mr. Miyagi taught Daniel the basics of self-defense through the repeated motions of waxing the car and painting the fence. Repeated motions and activities can influence the way you move and complete other tasks.
My morning ritual of walking my dog, Dublin, is an action I habitually repeat. Dublin weighs about 80 pounds and, although we took him to obedience training, he is not always well- behaved on a leash. He will occasionally pull and quickly try to move us toward deer, fox, rabbits, squirrels, and other dogs. Managing a powerful dog on a leash is a decent workout and difficult with simply pure force. I don’t want to give the impression that he is a bad dog; he is a wonderful part of our family. He does get wound up from time to time, though.
I am often reminded of fighting a large fish as I attempt to steer Dublin from his intended direction. The similarities between walking a dog and fighting a large fish include:
- You need to manage the leash (or the line) to prevent tangles and getting crossed up. This requires gathering and letting out the leash continuously and being aware of where the dog is located.
- Consistent tension on the leash establishes control with the animal (constant tension is required to keep a hooked fish on the line)
- You often need to lift your arm quickly to gather slack. Lifting your arm straight up is a natural instinct.
- Once your arm is lifted, you may have tension, but it is harder to control the dog or fish directionally. You also lose access to the full strength of your body weight.
- If the dog is pulling straight away from you with his shoulders squared up, he can put maximum pressure on the leash and on you.
- Slight pressure to the side of the head or neck of the dog can change its direction with much less force than pulling against the full weight of the animal and allows you to keep your arm and body weight in control of the leash.
- When you stay calm and anticipate the movements of the dog, the dog comes back under control much faster (similar to remaining calm catching a large fish).
Observing and experiencing the strength of my dog and my ability to change his direction in these ways has helped me learn to fight larger fish with more success. A lot of these observations follow similar guidance from Dominick Swentosky and Devin Olsen. Using our everyday actions to repeat movements needed for other skills is a great way to expand our muscle memories without needing to be entirely focused on one activity. I don’t have a 100% success rate of landing larger fish. I would doubt anyone who says they never lose a fish. But I do feel much calmer and skilled at moving my fly rod and controlling the line when I have a large fish hooked. The shared motions and reactions of fighting fish and walking my dog I believe have worked together to help me improve my fish-landing rates.
John Wooten once said, “The eight laws of learning are explanation, demonstration, imitation, repetition, repetition, repetition, repetition, repetition”. What everyday items help you with other skills? It’s cool to think about how the elements of our lives can work together to help us learn.