What The Movie “Karate Kid” Taught Me As A Pitching Instructor

In 1984 the movie Karate Kid was released. For some of you reading this you may not be familiar with the movie. But for those of you who have seen the movie you will understand pretty quickly where this post is going.

In the movie the young character Daniel desires to learn karate. Daniel befriends an elderly gentleman named Mr. Miyagi from whom he desires to learn the martial art. Daniel is very excited when Mr. Miyagi agrees to assist him.

Daniel arrives for his first lesson and Mr. Miyagi has him washing and waxing cars and painting fences. Mr. Miyagi is very particular on how Daniel is to perform these activities. Daniel reluctantly performs these chores for multiple days until one day he gets frustrated and upset and decides to confront Mr. Miyagi about how he is tired of washing, waxing, and painting and when was he actually going to learn karate. Mr. Miyagi begins to demonstrate different martial art punches and strikes and tells Daniel to “paint the fence” and “wax on and wax off” as the punches are coming towards Daniel. Daniel has the proverbial light bulb go off in his head as he realizes he had been “learning” karate all along by breaking down the individual components and practicing them over and over and over. Daniel became even more motivated to learn after this experience.

If you have ever had a conversation with me or have read any of my other posts, you most likely have heard / read that I am a student of pitching. I strive to learn – learn about it AND learn how to teach it.

For the past couple of months I have been working with multiple groups of baseball and softball players (primarily pitchers) in my P.I.T.C.H. Program. These overhead athletes were like Daniel at first – excited to learn but became “frustrated” after a while because they were not “pitching”. But now they have made the connection of how each of the individual movement patterns / segments of pitching are being broken down and they are mastering them in anticipation of putting them all together in time for the upcoming spring season.

What they have learned started with mobility of the more common problem areas for overhead throwers. This new found mobility was quickly joined with the body segments required for stability. Lastly these “Daniel’s” are learning the movement of trunk acceleration. For them to see their trunk acceleration velocities go up each week reminds me of the scene in Karate Kid when Daniel’s eyes light up as he is able to defend Mr. Miyagi’s “punches” without thinking about it – instincts took over.

At the time this post is being written spring baseball and softball seasons are six to eight weeks away. If you or your athlete is a Daniel and needs help learning before the “big karate tournament”, contact me asap to begin the process before the season is already here.