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Wax On / Wax Off Reprint

Was reminded of a practice tip I wrote close to 15 years ago.

Assume most of you either hadn’t “seen” us yet, or if you had, a good one to read again.

Want to talk in this practice tip about how we learn the golf swing. We have discussed many times before, but it was of interest Todd, myself, Brent, Ken Martin and the Director of Golf at the Cowboy Club (Ft. Worth) (previously the director of instruction at the Byron Nelson Golf Academy) sat down to dinner last night and discussed how our students learn. Those that are effective learners and those that have a little more difficulty mastering what we are teaching them. It was interesting that the conversation seems to always come back to what Todd and I call the “Wax On / Wax Off” theory. We didn’t term this phrase (in fact, I think we may have heard it on the golf channel years ago) – but it is SO TRUE it seems to fit all golfers trying to learn any methodology.

Let me explain.

Do you remember the movie “Karate Kid”? (I know I’m going to mess up the names, so I’ll apologize early).


Ralph Maccio (Daniel LaRusso/the karate kid) is getting beat up at his new school by a bunch of kids that know karate. (At that time he had known nothing about martial arts). The gentleman and resident handyman Mr. M (a master of martial arts) decides to help him learn to defend himself.

One of the first scenes is the karate kid showing up at Mr. Miyagi house and looking at all his awards, prizes, martial arts material, etc… He is “pumped up” … (Sounds like one of our students coming to our school or getting our instructional material, right….)

After talking to Mr. Miyagi for a while, the karate kid (novice right now…) states is willingness to learn.

The next scene, you see Mr. Miyagi handing the karate kid a bucket and sponge and tells him to wash all his collection of cars (about 6 sitting outside his house).


As he is washing the cars, there is a VERY SPECIFIC way he is supposed to use the sponge to wash the cars (a circular motion to the right with the right and to the left with the left hand).

The karate kid finishes washing the cars. Now he is ready to LEARN KARATE!!

The next scene you see, Mr. Miyagi is handing him a pail of wax and a wax sponge and cloth. Mr. Miyagi very specifically tells him to put the wax on the cars with the right hand in a right circular motion and to take the wax off with the left hand in a left handed circular motion. He is VERY SPECIFIC with the directions.

The karate kid starts waxing. As he is on the 2nd car, Mr. Miyagi comes out and corrects his waxing – he has lost focus and is just “rubbing” the wax on the car. Mr. Miyagi describes in VERY DETAIL of how to put wax on the car and how to take wax off the car. He calls it WAX ON (right hand) / WAX OFF (left hand). Wax on, wax off, wax on, wax off, repeating over and over as he walks away.

(Hopefully most of you remember the scene as I am butchering the description…)

The next scene, it is now dark and the karate kid is mad. His arms, hands, elbows, shoulders are very obviously sore. In fact, he can hardly lift them. He has washed and waxed cars all day and learned nothing about karate. Mr. Miyagi says good night to him and they part ways…

The next day, the karate kid shows up again to Mr. Miyagi’s house. He is a little bit sarcastic this time and not sure he wants to be there. Mr. Miyagi takes him out to his large wooden deck/path and describes the process of sanding the deck by hand. Circular motion to the right with the right hand, and then circular motion to the left with the left hand. During the day, Mr. Miyagi again comes out many times to check on the sanding and to correct the sanding motion of the karate kid.

The 2nd night is now there. The karate kid is furious. He has spent two days washing, waxing and sanding this “old man’s” (as he says) car and deck and has learned nothing about karate. And he is about to go to school again and get beat up by those who do know something.

Mr. Miyagi comes out to say good night again and the karate kid lets him have it. “What are you doing?” “You’re a nothing, you only have me here doing your dirt work!” “I wasted my time for two days for absolutely nothing!”

Mr. Miyagi walks over to the karate kid (very calm) and has the karate kid show him the motions he has learned the previous two days. The circular to the right with the right hand and circular to the left with the left hand. Karate kid shows him the motions.

Now, Mr. Miyagi stands in front of him and says, you have just learned the fundamental blocks of karate – the core/basics of all martial arts, the key to success.


The final scene (of what we’ll talk about) Mr. Miyagi stands in front of the karate kid and punches at his head numerous times – with each blow, the karate kid using the WAX ON / WAX OFF technique and blocks every punch thrown at him. Mr. Miyagi backs off, bows and says the lessons will continue tomorrow.

To me, this is one of the coolest scenes in a movie – think of what went on and think of what you are trying to do to learn your golf game.

It is ABSOLUTELY a WAX ON/WAX OFF scenario. And all good golf instructors you talk to will tell you “I can explain the swing until I am blue in the face, over and over and over again, but it ultimately comes down to the student repeating the PROPER MOVES over and over and over and over again until it becomes a habit. And once you think it has become a habit – go sand the porch – do it again and again and again and again.

Let’s compare the story I just talked about to what we are trying to accomplish.

1st – Karate kid is getting beat up at school by the “bullies” – maybe your buddies are beating you at golf, maybe not. Maybe you are just frustrated with your golf game – maybe you just want to get better for a personal goal, whatever the reason, you have made a decision to get better at golf.

2nd – Karate kid asks for help from the local handyman… call the GGA your “golf handyman” …

3rd – Karate kid goes to his house and sees all his awards, etc… – Come to our academy, we’d love to show you all our awards, but more importantly, our Moe “stuff” (videos, pictures, clubs, etc…)

4th – The karate kid is given a task by the “master” teacher. He is not explained why he is doing the task, but he told VERY SPECIFICALLY how to perform the task. When he is doing wrong he is corrected. What are your tasks/drills? We have many. We have listed them often and “preach” them again and again and again. Examples – PVC drill, leverage bag drill, etc… You can see these on our past eTips on our website. EVEN BETTER – these drills and motions can be seen on our instructional material – Single Plane Solution, 7 Principles of Golf Improvement, Improve Your Move, Troubles and Solutions. This is a perfect example of how 1 picture is worth a 1,000 words, but one moving picture (seeing in action) is worth 1,000+++ pictures. This is your reference, how you see the WAX ON / WAX OFF.

5th – Mr. Miyagi has him do the task over and over and over again. Until it what – becomes a subconscious habit. You need to focus on particular areas of your swing. You will have weak areas and strong areas. For example – maybe your grip is not very good, but your take away is. You need to FOCUS on a correct grip – maybe get a grip training club, look in a mirror OFTEN, check the grip every time AFTER you hit a shot… there are many ways to check and drill over and over and over again on all areas of the swing.

6th – During the process, many times the karate kid thought Mr. Miyagi (the master teacher) was crazy. “Why is he having me do this?” “I am wasting my time”. Let me give you a hint – there is a method to our madness. We are not here to waste your time. We are here to teach you the fundamentally correct positions of Moe Norman’s Golf Swing – some ways may seem “very unusual” – but guess what – we have seen dramatic positive results with these drills and methods in MANY students and ourselves in the past – and better than that – it is what Moe taught us… trust us, there is a method to our madness.

Would you have ever imagined swinging a piece of PVC to learn the golf swing???? And it works – WAX ON/WAX OFF!!

7th – Finally to the amazement of the karate kid – when put to the test, he has learned some basic fundamentals of karate. He is amazed… Question for you is how much time to you think you need to spend doing a particular drill/movement over and over and over until it becomes a habit for you??

I can tell you from experience, it is more time than you think. Remember Ben Hogan’s theory – working on the same movement every day (one thing) for 21 days starts to create a habit….

Here’s your homework:

1. Figure out what you need to work on in your swing. Study our video(s), ask us a lot of questions, call/email anytime, use our coaching program, come to a school/camp/lesson – do whatever it takes to figure out what you need to work on.

2. Set a goal or two on what you want to accomplish. Can be very specific or not (depends on what you want to do…) and time period can be short or long – again depends on you… but at least set a goal.

3. Start working on the “fix” – figure out how to “Wax On” / “Wax Off” properly. It is not hard – JUST DO IT RIGHT. That is what we are here for – ask us, use our instructional material….

Last hint/suggestion – I would rather you do NOTHING – THAN DO IT WRONG. It is not hard, but you need to learn to do it correctly. Make it easy on yourself….

Please let us know what else we can do for you,

Thanks for reading.

Remember – Always Practice with a Purpose

2 thoughts to “Wax On / Wax Off Reprint”

  1. I really appreciate all the information that you have on your website this has been very important in my journey of being a better golfer thank you Todd for spending the time with Moe and the time you spent on breaking the single plane down where the rest of us can’t understand thank you and Tim and the rest of your staff very much

  2. I really appreciate all the information that you have on your website this has been very important in my journey of being a better golfer thank you Todd for spending the time with Moe and the time you spent on breaking the single plane down where the rest of us can understand thank you and Tim and the rest of your staff very much

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