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The Little Book: That Still Beats the Market by Joel Greenblatt

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Chapter 5. Chapter Five

I LOVE MOVIES, and The Karate Kid is one of my favorites. Of course, I would like any art form where eating popcorn and candy are part of the deal. But there is one scene in this particular movie that holds special meaning for me. In it, the old karate master, Mr. Miyagi, is supposed to be teaching his teenage apprentice, Daniel, how to fight. The boy is new at school and being bullied by a group of karate-trained toughs. Daniel hopes learning karate will help him stand up to his tormentors and win the girl of his dreams. But instead of teaching him karate, Mr. Miyagi puts Daniel to work—waxing cars, painting fences, and sanding floors.

So after a whirlwind of scenes showing poor Daniel working his fingers to the bone—waxing, painting, and sanding—the youth has finally had enough. He confronts Mr. Miyagi and essentially says, "Why am I wasting my time doing these simple and menial tasks when I should be learning karate?" Mr. Miyagi has Daniel stand up from his sanding duties and starts throwing jabs at the young boy while yelling "Wax on! Wax off!" Daniel deflects each jab with the swirling motions he learned from so many hours waxing cars. Next, Mr. Miyagi throws a punch while yelling "Paint the fence." Once again, Daniel deflects the punch, this time using the up-and-down action of painting a fence. Similarly, Mr. Miyagi's karate kick is then stopped by Daniel's expert floor-sanding ability.

In effect, by learning these few simple techniques, Daniel has unwittingly ...

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