Chi-Motion GOLF is based on timeless principles from the Eastern art of Tai Chi and has been called the ‘missing link’ in player performance. This ‘missing link’ is the ability to unite mind and body to produce a fluid, powerful shot and to maintain this connection even under pressure. Here Jayne Storey explains why the Tai Chi principle of softness (relaxation) is the key to explosive power and how you can use it to channel more energy through the ball at impact.
Let’s take a look at the moment of impact, what I like to call golf’s singularity - that is, the moment your shot preparation and swing execution come together to drive the ball to its intended destination.
The Eastern approach to the martial arts such as Tai Chi, offers the secret to generating explosive power at impact, as it helps to unite mind and body and develop a level of awareness such that your technique becomes an extension of this connection which then determines how fluidly you can move your body.
A root cause of many problems golfers have with consistency is that they put technique first which is like putting the cart before the horse, hence the complex sequence of golf swing mechanics tends to break down under pressure.
Traditionally, the golf swing is approached as a technique to get right, with emphasis given to segmented parts of the body (head, shoulders, arms, wrists) and the various ‘swing positions’. The Eastern approach to movement highlights not only mind~body unity but how ‘the inside of the body moves the outside’ (mostly generated from the chi-core or t’an tien situated 2” below the navel) and by extension, how the club /club-head always responds to what the body is doing.
I was coaching at the K Club (Co. Kildare, Ireland) many years ago when my unusual approach to golf performance was still in its infancy, so I was pleased when my client stopped me right in the middle of the lesson to tell me he’d sat next to Tiger Woods at a dinner there during the 2006 Ryder Cup, and that Tiger had said pretty much word for word what I was advising.
And here’s the upshot of it. I was talking about explosive power at impact and how the secret to generating it has more to do with relaxation than it does with physical exertion or brute force.
In Tai Chi we call this explosive power ‘Fa Jing’. Bruce Lee’s analogy was that this devastating energy release is like an iron ball on the end of a chain – a sort of elastic, whip-like issuing of force which penetrates right through the target.
Fa Jing, which literally means to ‘issue power’ in a pulse-like motion depends on two fundamentals, which are good structure (hence my adherence to Tai Chi biomechanics), coupled with a feeling of true relaxation (why I strongly advocate the practice of meditation) - only then is it possible to explode through the ball, delivering the perfect body release, and maximum energy transfer.
At the K Club dinner Tiger had told my client the number one mistake the average player makes is the ‘grip it and rip it’ approach, believing that brute force and physical strength are what drives the ball through the air, whereas the key to power is actually softness or relaxation.
Here’s why. The more relaxed you are at set-up and right through to the top of your back-swing, the more force or stored-energy you have to drive through the ball. If you turn on the power too soon, (if you’re tense throughout the motion) you will negate much of this force at impact, which let’s face it – is the only place throughout your swing where force is needed.
So it’s not just about technique, it’s about learning to use your body in two distinct ways – almost like the yin and yang of the swing: yin being the soft, relaxed energy from set-up to the top and yang being the hard, explosive energy from the top down.
This training is about awareness, learning to turn power on and off like a pulse. We find examples of this pulse-like beat in nature – from the way birds fly then float on the thermals, the way fish swim then glide in the water and even the pulse of neutron stars in deep space.
So instead of focusing on the various positions throughout your swing (and if you’re a regular reader you’ll know why I have an aversion to this term!) try instead to focus on two distinct yet complementary ways of using your body - staying relaxed from address through to the top where your energy and intent will naturally change from yin to yang – from soft to hard, from relaxed to explosive.
As always, focusing on your breathing quietens your mind, reduces anxiety and has a direct bearing on your muscles, which in turn relax and work better to help drive maximum energy through the ball.