Tai Chi for Golf

Tai Chi for Golf

All these activities are very different in many ways – but all share the core of Tai Chi practice – balance, relaxation, posture, power, mental and emotional aspects, plus the sensitivity to relate physically – either to the environment, other players or body extensions such as bats, balls etc. Even in the workplace we find manual workers needing to take care of their bodies, skilled workers needing to balance their body with mental/emotional factors so as to enhance and extend their ability – intellectual workers also find a similar need lest they ignore the non-intellect and find they become no longer able to perform intellectually to the level they aspire.

Tai Chi becomes useful simply because it is in one sense a collection of proven exercises which guide one to an optimal balance. The combination of physical practice with intellectual and emotional awareness is invaluable in itself, however at the core of Tai Chi is the movement it encourages – movement and a way of moving – indeed a way of thinking about moving and of relating with the “outside” that works to maximise the human potential.

Tai Chi’s focus on “natural movement”, principles and power means that the way of moving derived from practice is easily transferred across all areas of human activity and in particular this is often seen most clearly in sport where golf handicaps may tumble, or relaxed focus may be increased, but is also seen in reduced back pain while at a computer or steering wheel and even in improved writing ability.

By not seeking to “force” any particular pattern the Tai Chi practitioner seeks to allow the body to move easily in a centred way – we do this by cultivating certain principles which include centred segmented movement, upright poise, full/empty weighting, opening/closing of all parts of the body, sensitivity, awareness, relaxation, fluidity, light limber movement, absorption, neutralising, deflection, internal power and release of power.

Consequently one may access Tai Chi exercises which promote:
–    Balance
–    Meditation – quiet mind – quiet body
–    Good structure
–    Resilient soft tissues
–    Relaxation in movement
–    Centred movement
–    Sensitivity to the environment
–    Sensitivity to other people
–    Strength
–    Co-ordination
–    Physical connection
–    Mental and emotional awareness
–    Good breathing
–    Good posture and poise

It may be no surprise that many of these may be the same exercise – on the principle that “it is not the exercise you do – it’s what you do in the exercise.”

Stepping at an angleIn class I have often used the analogy that learning Tai Chi is very like learning to play a musical instrument , or golf or indeed probably many other things.

We all go through similar stages a bit like these:

1. Like it/attracted to it

2. Start and find it confusing but see the possibilities

3. Practice – find some things come clearer, but more things even more confusing

4. A measure of capability, becoming aware of how much there is to go

5. Start to feel the body, movement, music, rhythm etc.

6. Understanding starts to dawn

7. Relaxed capability in some areas

8. Further exploration

9. Comfort with own ability, respect for that of others and for beginners. Developing the feeling of the movement.

My kids can’t/won’t have their breakfast, brush their teeth, get dressed, go to school in the morning until I have done their breakfast first – it is a time honoured sequence – there are many occasions in life where one action or outcome depends on a defined sequence like making a cup of tea. In my golf I find that the ball does not go where I want it to unless I prepare in a particular sequence then hit it – if I omit part of the sequence then it does not do what I would like. If I decide to have a shower and get myself dressed first in the morning then I am late doing the breakfast and the kids are potentially late for school, if you do not boil the kettle first then you have only cold tea. We can of course multi-task – but that simply involves juggling a number of parallel sequential processes – we still end up constrained by the length of the longest sequence – check out Critical Path Analysis.

So far so obvious – but look around and check just how basic this is – whether or not time exists in the quantum world – here in the macro world it certainly involves one thing happening after another – likewise in Tai Chi.

You cannot crack a whip without first moving the handle then sequentially each and every part of the whip one after the previous one – each building on the movement of the last to accelerate the next until finally the very tip is moving at the speed of sound – your relatively slow hand movement of the whip has been transformed into supersonic speed. Consider then if we work backwards from the handle to the hand and arm into the body to the centre and even further down our legs to the ground. Now let us travel backward – surely the force of the whip is rooted on/in the ground by our feet which are stationary, with the force itself initiated by the movement of our centre and augmented in the legs controlled and directed by the centre then transmitted sequentially out through each segment of the body, all the way down the arm where it initiates the movement of the whip itself. Our body has become a part of the whip – and infact works like the whip. Similarly with a weapon or a golf club – so we can say that the Chi is projected down the weapon or  club to the tip or the head where it gets transferred to our opponent – or ideally the ball.

It is this movement which gives us the feeling of connectedness and fluidity – derived from the way each segment interacts with its neighbour and as with the whip any stiffness inhibits that interaction – we can say that “the Chi is blocked”. So we relax the stiffness, then we can move from the centre to initiate the power so that it can move outward in a fluid segmentally sequential movement. Indeed everything moves together – from the centre to the feet and from the centre to the finger tips.

If we get the sequence right then as with the whip we can create great speed and power in what looks like a very simple way. So perhaps in life – get the sequence right and life can be simple?

Statue of Chen Wangting at ChengiagouI was intrigued by a story on the radio recently of a western freediver who went to learn from Japanese pearl divers – whose only advice was ” get in the water and dive”

It reminded me of the only advice I got while in the Chen village ” relax and sink, practice the form”

While it does not appear that simple from our western deconstructionist viewpoint – it actually is – as I am finding yet again with my golf. In a lesson today with my coach I found that I need to relax and sink my right hip and my right shoulder. So there is an element of learning which bits need to relax and sink – but only because they are the tense bits in the first place – if you just relax and sink everything then you can move naturally.

There comes a point where you have to make it your own – as my Karate teacher Vince Morris used to say “wear your Karate like your own suit of clothes”.

I more and more appreciate Chen Wangting’s nickname of Chen the Tablet – so named for his upright and no doubt relaxed and sinking posture.


Tai Chi for Golf well recieved

23 August 2012

I am delighted that the new Tai Chi for Golf classes at The Letchworth Centre for Healthy Living were very well recieved – all that attended the 5 week program seemed to find it of value with one person kind enough to say that: “Ian’s Tai Chi for Golf sessions have improved my flexibility and helped […]

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Tai Chi for Golf @ Colmworth

17 July 2012

Unfortunately we need to postpone the Tuesday classes at Colmworth – but expect to restart them in September – a shame especially since the people in the group expressed excellent experiences in their golf following the classes – so watch this space! Share the post “Tai Chi for Golf @ Colmworth” FacebookTwitterShare…

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Tai Chi for Golf evening

26 June 2012

My first evening of the Tai Chi for Golf seminars at Colmworth ( following last weeks free taster ) was interesting for all of us I think – judging from the feedback – we spent time on body awareness, posture, balance, moving about a vertical axis and moving from the lower abdomen ( the dantien ) all of […]

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Tai Chi for Golf @ Colmworth

20 June 2012

We had our free taster session of  Tai Chi for Golf last night which went well, hosted at the friendly family style clubhouse of  Colmworth & North Beds Golf Club where the function room proved ideal – the people attending seemed to enjoy it and were able to quickly relate the class to their own Golf […]

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Tai Chi for Golf at The Letchworth Centre

8 June 2012

It looks like a bit of a roll for Golf related Tai Chi  at the moment – I will be running classes at The Letchworth Centre for Healthy Living with 5 weekly sessions starting on Monday 23rd July. Contact the centre for bookings. As for my own golf related practice – that has taken a back […]

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More on Golf and Tai Chi

23 May 2012

My own Golf lessons are proceeding well – lots of internal awareness and structural corrections, plus course craft about reading the layout and topography etc. Really satisfying when it goes well – laugh it off when it doesn’t! Following on from which I have arranged to run a 7 week series of “Tai Chi for […]

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