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Chi-Power Golf Part 2 - The Benefits of Stillness

I recently spoke to a golf professional who had been suffering from acute over-analysis of his putting technique, a fairly common malaise made all the more unbearable when the player I question looked up to see a young girl of no more than 12 years of age putting effortlessly and sinking one ball after another. Upon asking her what she was thinking about, the girl replied, 'oh, nothing much, just getting the ball into the hole.'

I'd like to share a similar situation that occurred within the world of kung-fu, in Beijing in the 1940's. (By the way, the term kung-fu can be translated as hard work - or more precisely, the time and energy spent mastering a craft or skill, so yes, golf is a form of kung-fu!)

Wang Xiang Zhai, founder of a revolutionary style of kung fu called Great Achievement Boxing, or Mind Boxing, felt that most kung fu practitioners were putting the cart before the horse, in that they were obsessed with outward forms and patterns of movement and spent very little time developing awareness and thus lost the ability to react spontaneously to a given situation.

Wang Xiang Zhai did away with the traditional repetitions of movement patterns (punches, strikes, kicks, arms locks etc) and took a journey into the heart of stillness, basically standing still for hours at a time learning to prepare his mind to lead and his body to obey.

Standing meditation trains the awareness and allows the mind and intention to develop and the body to rediscover its innate ability for natural movement. As you know from your own golf swing and endeavours to improve it, any conscious movement is produced / preceded by intention and the greatest shots you've ever hit come when intention and action (and breathing) are one and the same.

Wang Xiang Zhai's methods became extremely controversial and were perceived by many as an insult to their traditions, a situation not altogether helped when he placed an advert in the newspaper inviting all martial artists to meet with him for discussions and/or competition. Numerous practitioners accepted the challenge and many, many subsequent encounters later, Wang Xiang Zhai's methods were named 'Dachengquan' which means Great Achievement Boxing. His techniques are still taught to this day and indeed, at the first T'ai Chi lesson I attended, way back in 1987, we were taught to stand still for 20 minutes!

Golf as kung-fu

Try bringing this kung-fu training into your golf, a sport where every shot starts from a point of stillness and demands explosive and spontaneous yet controlled movement, and you will feel more comfortable, relaxed, grounded and committed to action each time you set up to the ball. Last issue we looked at a very basic standing posture (Chi Kung), with the emphasis on maintaining awareness of breathing and the centre-point (navel area). This issue I want to look at a more advanced posture ('Universal Post') which helps to integrate the arms with the torso.

I feel a bit like the priest who gave the same sermon every week until one of his parishioners, thinking the old man was going a bit senile, said "Father, do you know you're giving the same sermon every Sunday?", to which the reply came, "Well firstly I'm glad you noticed, now have you done anything about it..."

Universal Post

  • • Stand with your feet spread to shoulder- width
  • • Unlock your knees and sink your weight into the balls of your feet
  • • Gently draw in your navel and allow your tailbone to unfurl gently
  • • Empty your chest and relax your shoulders
  • • Hold your hands at eye level, as if you are holding onto a balloon
  • • Keep your shoulders relaxed and elbows pointing downwards
  • • Keep your chin ticked under and hold your head upright, imagining the crown of your head is suspended by a thread
  • • Gaze gently (one mile into the distance if possible) and quietly focus on your breathing
  • • Stand still for 10 minutes, repeating 3 times per week

What to expect

As an awareness exercise standing practice is first and foremost a method of preparing the body's three springs - foundational (legs), torso (centreline) and sphere (arms) - for unified action directed by the mind. In other words, as you stand you learn to relax and become more aware of your body and this in turn allows for greater freedom of movement, as the upper body becomes more relaxed, supported and under the influence/direction of the legs and feet. Persistent training will yield greater stability in your shot-making or as one golf shoe manufacturer puts it, one less moving part to your swing. For more information on Jayne Storey's teaching, please visit www.chipowergolf.com

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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