I loved these distinguishing features of the Japanese "ancient swimming art":

  1. There must be beauty as well as effectiveness in the form of swimming.
  2. There is no competing with others in speed.
  3. You should swim quickly, but you should never be tired when you reach land.

If those can't be applied to any human endeavour (strive for elegance, compete with yourself, don't exhaust yourself) I'm a banana. Along similar lines I can recommend reading The Wheelwright's Shop, an excellent treatise on craftmanship in the late 19th century which a friend recommended to me a while back...