I’ve been recently getting more into Tai Chi lately. Not specifically for golf. I was just interested in the “slowing down” part of the practice and just the physical beauty of it. However, the more I practice the more I can see its benefits – health, mindfulness, exercise, meditation – it’s all there.
If you don’t know what Tai Chi is, it’s defined as: “a Chinese system of slow meditative physical exercise designed for relaxation and balance and health.”
Now this isn’t the first time I have written about martial arts and golf. I wrote an article a few years ago called: Alternative Golf Power Using Martial Arts – so I would say this is another aspect of that conversation.
I have never really practiced Tai-Chi before but I contacted a Qi Gong Master who suggested a form of Tai-Chi called “Silk Reeling” and said if practiced long enough (didn’t really say HOW long) it would totally transform your golf game. He said he had seen it, many, many times. Of course, I was immediately interested.
He recommended a specific DVD (which I will list below). Let me just tell you it’s a lot harder than you think it is. But it does get easier the more your practice. I’m only on the first set of forms but my breathing and movements are starting to synchronize more and more. You can almost feel the internal power (Chi) building.
And, believe it or not, you actually get quite a good workout, particularly your legs as all the movements are initialized from the ground. Hmmmmmm, sounds familiar. It also teaches you how to relax your body while moving – again, not as easy as it looks.
But back to the original intent of the article. I was perusing an older golf forum and found some video of Hogan I have never seen before. It was weird. He was showing a friend of his one way he practices – in slow motion.
When you watch it, it actually looks like a slow motion video until Mr. Hogan hits the ball and it goes about 15 feet or so. But I was unaware how often he did this slow motion practice.
It ties perfectly to Tai Chi and is a wonderful way to practice because it makes you immediately aware of your body movements. Like Tai Chi it helps you sense areas of tension or Chi blockage in your swing. It makes you keenly aware of how your golf swing movements flow together.
But, you know, no one wants to slow down. Everybody just wants to pound balls at the range with the biggest (or hottest) driver they can find and expect instant results. The art of Tai Chi runs just the opposite of that. It *intentionally* forces you to slow down. To really empty your mind and just be aware of your body, balance and breathing.
I think Ben Crenshaw used to practice this too. Of course he was tied in with Hogan and his teacher Harvey Penick so I’m not surprised at all.
So try the slow motion practice. It’s one of those things that seem so obvious but it’s the last thing you might think of trying. To me, anything the great Hogan did to practice and improve is well worth, at least, trying.
Here’s the DVD I mentioned above: Qi Cultivation and the Secrets of Manipulating Energy, Progressive Silk Reeling, Series I
Recent “GolfDash Show” podcast with Jayne Storey: #4: Jayne Storey: Using Ancient Eastern Arts to Improve Golf Performance
A nice Slow Motion Golf Drill
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