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Chi-Power Golf Part 11 - Body - Energy - Spirit

In this issue, we’re going to examine the classic principle of unity in kung-fu training, the unity of Jing – Chi – Shen (Body - Energy - Spirit) towards an intended action. In the case of kung-fu this intended action would be a strike to the opponent (punch, kick and so forth); in the case of golf this intended action is your swing.

Jing – Chi – Shen is a classic phrase from Taoist philosophy and refers to the individual aspects of the self that need not only to be functioning optimally, but also functioning in synch with each other. Translated into the golf swing, this approach argues that it’s not enough just to have good technique, but to really maximise your potential as a player, you need to train your body, your energy and your spirit to be unified towards the common purpose of making the shot.

Traditional coaching for golf sees the swing and the mental game as two very different things and development of these individual aspects of the golfer are trained separately by different experts. However, as many of you know the results can be less than satisfactory, for although you may be capable of executing a terrific swing under the tutelage of your golf professional or indeed when practising alone on the range, when you come to display this same finesse in the middle of a round, you can be left wondering where on earth your game has gone.

Viewing your mind and body as one and the same thing and training them as such can be a far more productive way to develop your game in its entirety. In fact training yourself (body-energy-spirit) as well as your swing technique are fundamental if you want to become the best golfer you can be.

Let’s look at each of these concepts in turn and show you how you can incorporate them into your very next game.

Body

Contrary to popular belief there is more strength in gentleness and relaxation than there is in brute force. In fact, the more relaxed at address, the quicker your clubhead speed and the more explosive power you can drive into the ball.

Bruce Lee gave a good analogy that might help to illustrate this point, when he explained the difference between a Karate punch (a hard, external style) and a kung-fu punch (like the soft-style T’ai Chi from which chi-power GOLF takes its name). To get hit by a Karate punch is like being hit with an iron bar, yet to be hit with a kung-fu punch is like being hit with an iron ball attached to a chain…ouch! The effect of the kung-fu punch hurts the opponent on the inside as the force penetrates through the target. How much more effective, then, will this approach be, next time you set-up to the ball!

Body for Golf

Pay attention to your grip during set-up as this will denote how you’re holding the rest of your body. When your grip is just right, neither too firm nor too loose, then you’ll find this feeling flows into the rest of your body and thus your shoulders, chest and so forth will all be fairly relaxed. So much of the rhythm and flow of the swing stems from the grip.

Be aware of how this changes during the course of a round, for instance when stepping onto the putting green many golfers automatically tighten-up as they become more anxious the closer the ball gets to the hole. Relaxing your grip and with it, the rest of your body will pay dividends around the greens.

Energy

Better breathing is the key to developing your energy and is a form of training (Chi Kung) that permeates the health, martial and spiritual disciplines of the East. Golfers and other athletes in the West derive their energy principally from food and sleep, yet breathing deeply into the lower abdomen (T’an Tien) is a sure way to get more oxygen to your brain and nervous-system and with it the ability to master your body chemistry (adrenaline) and help you to perform at your best even under pressure.

Energy for Golf

Many of you have called or emailed to say that after reading in these articles about the benefits that come from awareness of breathing, you have made a conscious effort to focus on your breath out on the course – and in many cases enjoyed playing some of your best golf for a long time. Now, I don’t make this stuff up! Awareness of breathing is one of the oldest principles in the world and it works in every scenario wherever and whenever you need to control your nerves and perform your best…so long as you make a commitment to practise!

It takes a little effort of course (20- 30 minutes Zen meditation 4 times a week) but it’s worth it. If you can make this commitment you’ll always remember to bring your attention to your breathing when you’re out playing golf (rather than dwelling on negatives that lead to mental self-interference) and it will take your game to a new level.

Spirit

This is a huge concept in the East and we really can’t do it justice here, but suffice to say that spirit can translate into competitive spirit or even better, as intent – the intent behind an action. We often use visualisation in golf – for example, to create a picture of our intended shot in our mind before executing the swing – but having the energy of intent behind the shot means having absolute commitment, without doubt, hesitation or anxiety. Usually the only shots in golf where we exhibit this spirit of intent are when we’re playing “in the zone” and, having switched off the analytical part of our mind we start to play instinctively with a high degree of confidence in our shot-making abilities.

Spirit for Golf

Take your game to another level by committing never to play another shot – either on the course, in front of your golf pro, or practising on the range – without taking a few moments to breathe deeply into your lower abdomen (thus reducing anxiety), releasing any tension in your grip (immediately alleviating any tension in the arms and indeed in the entire body) and visualising the flight and intended final position of the ball.

In this way, your body, energy and spirit will be unified towards the common aim of executing a great shot every time you set-up to the ball.

To learn more about Chi-Power Golf, visit www.chipowergolf.com where you can find out about personal tuition, talks and workshops, and also sign up for a free newsletter, "The Mindful Golfer".

To contact Jayne Storey, ring 07986 447250

Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine





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