I had the opportunity to test swing a few good clubs yesterday – and chat with my instructor James about the feel and balance and how the clubs work – and I was impressed by the feel of the drivers which in some cases seem to float and to have a balance and feel similar to a good sword – but was not inpressed with the irons – until James offered a Japanese Mizuno from his own set which had a much smoother feel and got me thinking further about the whole question of extending one’s body with a tool – sword makers have been working on this for thousands of years – it is not surprising that there has been similarity of development.
I recall being told that the part of a Japanese sword that was used for cutting is the top 4 inches from the tip – so everything was designed around focusing all the speed and power at that part of the blade – pretty much the same as a golf club.
The best sword I ever handled was made in around 1360 and had clearly been used for real – it was quite worn and had small nicks – it came from the high period of Japanese sword making and useage between 900 and 1450 AD – it was quite unremarkable to look at and unsigned like many of the best ones – on the basis that if you couldn’t tell how good it was by the feel of it then you didn’t deserve it anyway. It felt like it had a life of its own and I can well understand the way a very good sword was regarded by people whose life daily depended on it. I imagine that this was a common experience around the world since the need was the same wherever swords were needed.
Surely the same principles apply to any tool or extension to our bodies in achieving the kineaesthetic feel and the mechanical strength to convey power with control from the centre of our movement to the end of the implement – which brings me back to thinking about Chi – and the flow of that power from the centre of the body where we initiate it radially out through our limbs and by connection fluidly along the shaft to the end where it is needed. It is certainly true that when I make a good shot I am barely aware of hitting the ball ( or how I did it ) the flow of power is a lovely feeling. Tai Chi principles all the way!
Does this perhaps explain some of the popularity of Golf – in that it appeals to the ancestral feelings of swinging a weapon in the outdoor world against the elements – very grounded in reality and using ones body in a very integrated way – the golf warrior in fact!