About two weeks ago Bruce Tiemann told me that he had been tying his shoes wrong and saw a lecture about how to do it correctly.  I don’t recall what brought this subject up, but it might have been something about tying Jai’s karate belt.

Of course I learned to tie my shoes the same way, and when he explained it to me I knew I was in the same boat.  Aside from pure curiosity, I had a vested interest in testing this whole shoe-tying thing out.

I have a pair of LL Bean slippers that are among my favorite things, especially on cold winter days like today.  My aggravation has been that, as comfortable as they are they have leather laces that constantly come untied.  As a result I’m regularly tripping on them and I’ve developed a love-hate relationship with these shoes.  I’ve even been looking at a different kind of slipper to replace them with.

So home I went to try this “new way to tie my shoes.”

How’d it go?

With the correct way, i.e. a stronger knot, my leather laces stayed tied for about a week and I haven’t tripped over them once.  It turns out it wasn’t the slippers’ fault.

Success!  Thanks for the tip Bruce.

Here are three BIG points to take from learning how to tie your shoes:

1.  Never take for certain how you’ve been taught something.

You might not have been shown the best way to do things, and you might not have learned correctly and completely.  Kenpo Grandmaster Ed Parker said that tradition should be bound by knowledge, that tradition should change as we learn more about our world.  There are many ways to perform the same task, some are equally correct while some are objectively superior.  If you’ve learned something incorrectly or inefficiently don’t hold on to it because of habit.

2.   Always be prepared to change and adapt your beliefs and behavior based on new evidence.

This is not waffling, flip-flopping or being wish-washy as politicians are apt to accuse each other of, it’s being an intelligent person.  I’m not talking about changing because of an opinion, but because of new, proven information.  Prior beliefs may no longer serve you and need to go for you to progress.

I’ll never consciously tie my shoes the old way again, based on this new information.  As Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “a mind stretched by a new idea never goes back to its original dimension.”

3.  Little Tweaks Make Big Differences.

Sure these two knots are similar and when it comes to tying your shoes it might not matter to you much, but what if that knot was responsible for saving your life?  A little difference like looping the knot in the other direction has major consequences.

Whether it is god or the devil in the details, details matter.  Martial arts students know that the small details are the difference between a technique working and failing utterly, which is why the expert eye of a master instructor is necessary.

I’ve posted a link to the video so you can see for yourself and try it out:

Terry Moore: How to tie your shoes