Master Jones, thank you for taking the time to discuss your background and some of your thoughts on Karate as it might relate to the discipline I teach, that of striking a golf ball.
I work very hard with my students on how to properly use the feet and how to apply ground forces and pressures to enhance the movement of the body, looking at martial arts, that is the first thing I see, your thoughts?
In Karate, we call this rooting the tree. Very important for stability.
He showed me several of the starting stances and how pressures were applied, very similar to what we have been working on in the swing modules.
Wide stances are very standard because they offer the best balance.
I mentioned a great golfer George Knudson was a big advocate of wide stances.
Wide stances encourage proper balance and allow the Martial Artist more support for quick weight transfers. There are four ways to change our stance.
First the front leg becomes the back leg. Second, the back leg becomes the front leg.
I thought how our back leg in golf is the leading leg in our backswing, then this switches for us during transition.
I explained to him about applying vertical ground forces in the golf swing, and how we take and gather the vertical pressures then that energy is transferred into horizontal forces, which then are quickly transfered into rotational acceleration. He raised an eyebrow and really liked that.
That is correct, the energies travel very fast within the body like electricity through a wire.
We discussed brick breaking, and his process for doing so.
We manifest this in the mind using magnetic energy… that energy is raised through breathing, then that intensity is raised throughout the body.
I thought it was interesting that he said the entire body must be firm and rigid from the feet all the way through. Very much what I call a cohesive body tension in the golf swing.
He talked a lot about different types of strikes, and these were determined by the attitude of the hands. I couldn’t have agreed more. The first thing that came to mind was hitting vs swinging.
There are four types of strikes, the snap, the thrust, the hammer and the slice. Each has a different protocol, technique and intention. The snap intends to vibrate the object without breaking it. The Thrust is for breaking. The hammer crushes. The slice dissects.
Various hand positions for each.
I described to him hitting and swinging in golf, and he said that it sounded like a different discipline for each.
[i]In the Martial arts there are four basic forms. Chinese, Japanese, Okinawan, Korean. I once asked Bruce Lee which was best and Bruce said:
“it depends upon the level of mastery of each one. There is no clear answer”[/i]
We discussed torquing.
When we deliver a punch, we twist the arm in doing so, this increases the speed, the accuracy and the focus.
I could relate this to our two different release types, and how a hitter’s golf release is a torquing process as we uncock and rotate simultaneously with a firm handed thrusting strike.
Module #7 students should really be feeling this martial arts principle.
I asked Master Jones the meaning of Tae Kwon Do.
Tae is kick. Kwon is punch, and Do is the peaceful place you train.
My thought was feet, hands, and our private workout on our impact bag that often seems meditative or almost temple like.
Master Jones, What are your thoughts on teaching?
Teaching and learning are two different lessons. To learn, you first must truly seek knowledge. To teach, you must truly know the knowledge. You cannot teach if you do not know. As a teacher, your job is to bring the student to the point of understanding.
As a golf instructor, acceleration through the strike zone is a major cornerstone in my teaching, what are your thoughts on acceleration as would be applied through
the martial arts?
Both the speed and control of a strike is always enhanced through accelerating the strike. When striking either blocks or bricks, We always focus on a point well beyond impact, and focus the mental chi energy there. The expending of the chi or “kiap” which we hear as the loud audible sound Karate Masters make when striking, is expended after impact. This increases the body’s natural strength, creating a magnetic electrical energy which gains intensity. It also removes fear from the body, it removes pain from the body, and enhances the ability to concentrate.
That’s interesting, because in golf, we really see this when a pro goes after a drive really hard, and we also see it in the long drive competitions.
Thank you Master Jones for your time today and for sharing your thoughts with us
Master Bill Jones can be contacted through his school in the San Francisco Bay Area or via his website at masterbilljones.com/
As I work on Module 7 I am finding deeper connections between Lag’s ABS program and Karate. I was asking myself why I hadn’t really made the connection before. I realized that much golf instruction does not apply Martial Arts principles. Lag’s teaching does. I now better understand why that in the past I was losing power and precision in my golf swing. Although Master Jones touched on some of these applications I would like to expand on Master Jones’s comments and add some of my own experiences coming from a Karate and ABS student’s perspective.
After much study and training I am convinced a student, learning the “hitting” protocol as taught in Lag’s program, can benefit from learning the fundamentals of Karate. It is certainly not a leap to think the golf swing can be enhanced from a better understanding of an ancient art founded, tested, and developed over many years based on efficiency, power, balance, fluidity, precision, and probably most of all, training, practice, and discipline.
The system I trained in is Okinawan with Chinese influence. Black belts were only attained after hours upon hours of training the mind and body. For most of us it took years. I am finding the same seems to be required in order to hit a golf ball like Lag does which I have had the privilege of experiencing first hand.
There is much more I could write on the subject as I am excited about the connections for my own growth. I will try to keep my comments focused around Lag and Master Jones discussion. Hopefully this will benefit others.
Prior to ABS I worked hard on getting to my left side. I read and heard from several golf instructors how important getting to the left side is. I now understand— like in Karate when striking correctly— getting to the left side is simply a vapor trail and is the result of momentum moving to and through the target. When striking or blocking, if I lose my connection to the ground my strike loses power. Try standing on one foot and throwing a punch. Now try it while rooted in the ground allowing you to use your feet, hips, torso to their fullest advantage. Power comes up from the ground though the feet then hips then torso on out to the end of the fist. Momentum is building all of the time culminating at the end of the fist through the target. Naturally, a wider stance helps facilitate the power and stability. Lag’s teaching applies this principle to the golf swing.
My Karate Master’s Master taught, what he called, “beating the fist back”. Much like a tree that bends with the wind, beating the fist back uses the same principle. As the strike comes toward you from an attacker, training teaches the defender to shift back away from the attack and then flow back toward the attacker as the attacker retreats and doing so while returning a strike. In the course of doing this the weight shifts to the back leg and then flows with power to the front leg delivering a powerful strike.
While moving away from the attacker, with the weight shifting to the back leg, the upper body, most often, needs to tilt back toward or over the back leg depending on the aggressiveness of the attack. This allows one to move out of the line of fire while also increasing one’s range of motion resulting in more power. The more pressure the wind puts on a tree limb the greater power and speed it snaps back with. Naturally this is a fluid motion and not a stop-start motion.
I have thought about this feel while practicing Module 7. While I don’t want to sway off the ball I do need spine tilt, range of motion, a slow building power toward the target while creating a continual flow. Lag teaches that the golf swing is not static positions but instead fluid motions. I am able to harness and practice a feel that I trained with for years using it with confidence in the golf swing. My swing has become more natural and more powerful.
In Martial Arts we are taught not only are we are weaker when not using ground pressures but we also weaken ourselves when our limbs extend out away from the body. My Karate Master (Hanshi) would continual try to push us off balance (balance and ground pressure testing) and he would also try to push our arms up, down, or sideways, while we were blocking or punching. He would do this to test how “focused” we were. “Focusing” was concentrating our power to the center of our body. This was done by gripping the ground with our feet, the correct width of our stance, the pushing down of our shoulders while pushing up with the pelvis. The pushing down with the shoulders helped keep the arms in toward the body while feeling pressure under the armpits. “Focus” occurred during a strike, a block.
New students would typically start out punching and blocking with the shoulders up thus there was no cohesive body pressure. It was easy for Hanshi to move their arms farther away from the body thus throwing off their balance and ability to respond. Cohesive body tension at the culmination of a block or strike was a cornerstone of training. It was a discovery when applying “focus” to my downswing my shoulders start to flatten without conscious effort and my swing is much more balanced and powerful.
Delivering the strike (a hitter’s protocol) has been the biggest light bulb….Martial Arts- ABS connection for me. A proper powerful strike or block requires the majority of Lag’s teaching focus. It encompasses: forearm rotation, opposing forces, ground pressures, pivot driven action, acceleration, and cohesive body connection.
While I have hit on cohesive body connection and ground pressures I would like to attempt to connect the dots as they pertain to the balance of the actions. First off:
I was at the driving range a few weeks back and the pro came out and said, “Dave, you are way too flat and way off plane.” He said it in front of several people. He is a great guy, a TGM instructor and someone I had taken lessons from in the past. Him being the venerated pro I am sure those around me were questioning why after his comment I was continuing to work on the same thing. What I was working on was a flat and laid off, pivot driven swing squaring the club with forearm rotation (angled hinge).
I had never heard of the importance of forearm rotation until becoming an ABS student. While I have read a library of golf instruction books, watched too many YouTube instruction videos, and probably taken too many lessons over the years, I never heard anyone discuss forearm rotation. The exception is Mike Maves and Mr. Hogan’s Five Lessons…supination and pronation. Maybe it is addressed in some circles and I simply missed it but being such an important part of ABS, it required me to pay special attention and allowed me apply my Karate training to better understand the importance of the move.
Lag has a diagram, showing swinging the club without wrist cock and forearm rotation and one with just wrist cock. It shows the difference of the range of motion and thus the comparison of power created and the distance to create it. Comparable in Karate, forearm rotation is a cornerstone of technique. To demonstrate, have someone simulate a punch toward your body while trying two ways of blocking the punch. It may be safer just to have them hold their arm still while you block it. Without forearm rotation, put your arm a couple inches from their arm palm facing yourself and then block it away. Now with your arm in the same position rotate your forearm until your palm is facing the other person and your knuckles are facing you (180 degrees). Now block the arm away by quickly rotating the forearm (snapping the wrist) until your palm is facing you. You can see the significant difference in power created by forearm rotation.
We know that a lot of arm travel in golf, in order to create power, opens the door for things to go wrong and also requires excellent timing. Forearm rotation allows for less arm travel. This is probably why Hogan and Sneed didn’t need much arm travel.
The power in a strike is not only the arm and hand thrusting to and through the target but it is also in the opposing force of the other arm and hand snapping back the other direction. If I am punching with my right arm/hand and I leave my left hand dangling at my side, I am missing out on a significant power source. While the typical punch in Karate is in fact a double strike (one hand thrusting forward while one is thrusting in the opposite direction), meant to strike an aggressor in front of the defender but to also strike an aggressor approaching from behind, the primary purpose is to create force going forward while force is also going back or toward the rear. Try punching with one arm while the other arm is passive. Then try it with one arm thrusting forward while the other is thrusting the opposite direction. This is the push/pull relationship Lag teaches in the Modules. Significant power is left on the table without this relationship of opposing forces.
Pivot Driven Action:
Anyone who follows fighting has heard of the arm puncher. An arm punch is more of a pesky irritant than a punch that can change a fight. Good fighters are not concerned with arm punchers and typically do not respect their power. Contrast that to a fighter that puts his whole body into the punch therefore taking advantage of the big muscles. A power puncher is pivot driven with the arms following the movement of the big muscles. By definition, Mr. Hogan was a pivot driven golfer. The swing initiated with the lower body working up finally to the arms and hands.
Driving ranges are full of golfers swinging with their arms and hands with little intrusion from the big muscles of the body. Likewise, as a Sensei, my experience with most beginning Karate students was they often neglected the use of the big muscles concentrating on the movement of the arms and hands. Once they learned proper technique, from the ground up, they begin to change form multiplying their power many times over. The power generating golf swing employs the same principles as the power-driven Karate punch. It comes from a pivot driven action.
Both the speed and control of a strike is always enhanced through accelerating the strike. When striking either blocks or bricks, we always focus on a point well beyond impact, and focus the mental chi energy there.
I can humbly say in the past I fell in the golfing category of premature acceleration…starting hard from the top and slowing into the ball. It certainly doesn’t make sense when executing a proper strike why would it make sense in the golf swing? In Karate the target is “out there” and therefore that is where the energy is focused. It is to and through with emphasis on through the target. The climax of speed should culminate past the target not to the target. A cornerstone of Lag’s teaching is acceleration continuing on up to PV5…pure intensions. Mr. Hogan spoke of accelerating past the target. I have heard many pros say the secret to golf is acceleration. It is what amateurs don’t do and what pros do.
After dedicating many hours of practice to Lag’s ABS program I have discovered many correlations between golf and Karate. It gives me confidence I am in the right golf program with the correct fundamentals and the right teacher.
Thank you Littlealm for that insightful post. It’s good to get the Okinawan view from another high level Black Belt and expand on what Master Jones put forth somewhat briefly.
I am by no means a Martial Arts disciple, only had some exposure to Tai Chi, but did get a dose on Chi, and ground pressures.
I have always felt as strong connection exists between golf and some of the Eastern methods and philosophies, and I am not surprised to see many of the Asian golfers having success as they are quickly learning how to apply some of this ancient form into the game of golf as the years go by and golfing popularity explodes on the far side of the Pacific Rim.
Would like to know more about ground forces meaning how close are we to the way martial arts performs there rooting and here at abs mod 2. Obviously two different sports but both need the ground for energy. Lag Mr. Jones liked the priciple of vertical and horizontal pressures anymore insight? Is alot of this discuused in mod 7?
I don’t know if in the Martial Arts there are names for all the options.
Squeezing in, pushing out, in combination with rotational pronating or supinating pressures, and diagonal applications
could turn hundreds of descriptions.
Putting a rotating torso on top of legs that are supporting or driving pressures around as things rotate and shift weight could be a very complex study or analysis.
A lot of what will go on in a golf swing will be vapor trail stuff because so much of it will just be instinctual for anyone who has learned to walk or run. Resistance is simply a natural reaction to many of the movements in a golf swing, and getting too carried away with endless descriptions of every transfer or pressure that happens within two seconds it takes to complete a full golf swing isn’t necessary in my opinion. I know there are the scientific minded that love to catalog, categorize, and file away every possible option and application which is fine. But most golfers don’t actively apply any extra forces available and leave a lot on benefit out on the table.
In Martial Arts ground pressures are accomplished by simply grabbing the ground. That can be done by bending one’s knees as in a squat and pressuring into the ground…digging in and twisting both feet in opposite directions or in both directions. The objective is using the earth as an anchor. The natural process is using gravity. Animals as well as humans exist using gravity why wouldn’t we take advantage of the natural process in the golf swing? Not only seems to be what we should be using but what we are naturally required to use. Why not embrace and take advantage it?
In addition to the twisting of the feet, it was always emphasized in my training that there should be a cohesive tension in the legs drawing the feet together, exactly like we do in module 2. Not only did this make it quick to advance or retreat by prefiring the muscles, it provided a macroscopic vertical friction due to the roughness of surfaces involved. Training was in bare feet so the toes and arch could curl and grip the floor. An attack would come, crouching would not only make a head attack miss its target and be easily parried, it would de-weight us for fast maneuverability, lower our center of gravity for balance and give us a starting platform to de-crouch from during the counterstrike, massively loading into the ground and providing a firm backing to hit from. The grandmaster of my style at the time, Gogen Yamaguchi, would train under crushing waterfalls and although he was only a very small man, legend has it that it took many men to lift him up.
Lag, as you know, forearm rotation has been a weakness in my golf swing. You were able to identify that my steep entry into the ball had to do with a premature rotation of my forearms…trying to close the club face too early.
One of my biggest lightbulb moments was connecting forearm rotation to my Karate training. The last moment rotation in a punch or block is foundational to proper technique. Rotation too early is a power loss and energy waster. Without forearm rotation one would have to make a longer arm swing to try and generate the same power a punch or block can achieve delivered from a short distance using proper forearm rotation.
As I wrote in my initial post, a person can feel the difference by having a helper simulate a punch and then blocking it using forearm rotation and then blocking without it. Properly done it will feel like a last minute snapping of the wrists/forearms. There is a significant power difference. As I stated before, this is probably why Hogan and Sneed created power with less arm swing.
In ABS vernacular it is laid off with an open clubface then at the last moment rotating the forearms 3:00 o’clock into the back of the ball.
I have been working hard on this feel when working on Module 7. I am very enthused about this lightbulb. I know it will be key in generating power as well as greater consistency along with improved accuracy. I don’t think I would have ever discovered this FULLY without the ABS program. Thanks Lag
I would also like to mention, another benefit of forearm rotation in Karate is that it is a deterent to an aggessor. If a punch is blocked properly…IT HURTS!!
Yamaguchi had a great influence over my early training years. I had a book, which I can’t find now and wish I could, that talked about his life and training. Probably the most famous legendary story about him was his capture by the Russians. They put a tiger in his cell that they thought for sure would kill him but in prevailed. Not bad for a guy a little over 5 feet tall.
Another great Okinawan system, Goju Ryu. I probably would have ended up in Goju Ryu but the only school available to me as a kid was Shudokan. But I am thankful. Shudokan took me on a great journey. A journey I will always treasure and never forget.
I don’t know anatomically why we pronate during a strike, it’s something you just do because the effect is so noticeable, but here are some thoughts:
the triceps, responsible for straightening the arm, seem to work more effectively with the forearms supinated (palm up)
pronating at the end gives a skin-ripping effect to the punch
using the strike to deflect an oncoming strike at the same time bounces the strike away with the snap rotation of the forearm
The common mistake of a lot of beginners is a medial rotation at the shoulder to throw the punch, which throws the elbow out the the side. Not only does this lose energy by losing the line of force, it allows the punch to be spotted quicker. Sevam1 had a section in one of his videos showing how he could rotate his forearms without the broom he was holding changing broomface angle. I wouldn’t mind seeing that again if someone remembers where it is to see how that ties in here.
The common mistake of a lot of beginners is a medial rotation at the shoulder to throw the punch, which throws the elbow out the the side. Not only does this lose energy by losing the line of force, it allows the punch to be spotted quicker.
Great observation and very true. I would like to add, not only does it lose force but some of the force it does have is absorbed by the one throwing the punch which can cause damage to the hand or arm or both. This is one reason body cohesiveness is so important. Shoulders down and into the body pressuring the armpit into the chest will elminate this problem.
Great conversation, guys, keep it up!
The concept that always leaves me questioning is that the energy comes from the ground up. My sense is that we send it into the ground to then retrieve or use, kind of like jumping, we push down to go up, or the downward load in the golf swing. I always wonder if ‘from the ground up’ is a misleading, or incomplete phrase. Any thoughts? We talked a bit about some of it a while ago, Littlealm, in terms of a mid air kick or punch. It’s a long term fascination of mine…
Steb, I’m thinking that square face broom idea can be achieved with upper arm rotation of the forearms. It does help to develop some dexterity in the upper arms, they can accomplish a lot. I’m not sure if that’s the same thing or not…
There certainly should be some pronation and or supination of the lower legs below the knees. Most of the time, we hear about forearm pronation and so forth, but the lower legs have this ability also. Screwing into the ground I know Sevam1 has discussed, and I agree. Vertical and horizontal pressures can be applied in different ways, and are worth further experimentation. Most people don’t apply much of anything, and it shows.
Cohesive body tensions can be a choice of active involvement. Inner legs, abdominal muscles, upper arms, grip pressures… when all these are working properly together, it can be quite powerful, and add great control to the golf club.
I am sure these things are common place in the Martial Arts.
The concept that always leaves me questioning is that the energy comes from the ground up. My sense is that we send it into the ground to then retrieve or use, kind of like jumping, we push down to go up, or the downward load in the golf swing. I always wonder if ‘from the ground up’ is a misleading, or incomplete phrase. Any thoughts?
Great to have you enter into the discussion. I enjoyed our talks and exploration in the past.
Very good question. Kind of the chicken and egg…do we start from the ground or do we send it into the ground and use the ground to propel ourselves.
This load into the golf swing is what Lag teaches. I can’t speak for him but it seems from Lag’s instruction that we pressure into the ground.
From a Karate perspective this is consistent. Dropping into the ground is a common place technique. It provides stability and power. To illustrate: a person comes up from behind you and gets you in a full-nelson. What should you do? A powerful move is to drop your weight to the ground (squat) while pulling down with the elbows straight to the ground. The power is felt in the armpits. Exerts a lot of pressure on the assailant and breaks his grip.
The bottom line to me is, the ground is critical in order to exert force. If we don’t use it to it’s full advantage we leave a lot of power on the table.
I failed to mention when performing the defense against the half-nelson a person should push their chest out while pulling down and back with the elbows toward the ground.
For the wives or girlfriends, the drop should be followed with a head-butt back and toward the face of the assailant along with a heel on the instep. If that fails the testicular pull down is very effective.
My sense is that we send it into the ground to then retrieve or use, kind of like jumping, we push down to go up
Don’t want to spend much time in the Karate thread here 'cuz I’ll get my butt whipped quickly…did some time studying Japanese Shito-ryu moons ago…that is until a few toes started to break and that was enough for me. But the downloading is a key concept.
It’s kinda like what we were talking about in Small World, I think it was, about backhoes…and I was trying to make a point that the club is always seeking incrementally “up” even though it is falling downwards. With the backhoe legs pushing vertically downward into the ground for support…the shovel, although traveling inwards towards the cabin while scooping…eventually goes up. So all those backhoe pressures are loading down for the bucket to eventually go up.
That’s how I sense the movement from the top…a reversing download that, even though the club is dropping, it is dropping so that it can get through impact to find a place to then get “up”…then how it gets “up” is more a matter of how we choose to either let, or make, it happen based on our mental constucts.
Cheers, Littlealm… likewise on enjoying our previous explorations. I’ll try not to sidetrack this because I think hearing your guys thoughts from a purely Martial Arts perspective is just great. Your insight is invaluable really.
The thing I can’t get away from, and it’s to do with the mid air kick/punch, is what the body does when it only has itself to leverage against. I’ve mentioned in a few other places here that I’ve been doing a lot of swimming and figuring out some water exercises that aid golf. It’s a fascinating laboratory under the water because of the lack of friction or grounding, but also because of the time you have to be in that condition- lung capacity is an issue, obviously. Btw, if I drop off the map here without saying anything, you guys can be well sure I’ve met my end in a swimming pool somewhere.
There’s all sorts of stuff I could say about underwater training, but not on this thread.
Anyway, one of the things I’ve been doing is a sort of underwater boxing action where I alternate punches with each side in a cross jabbing sort of way. Opposing work of the sides is all in play and just great. But the thing that I can’t get away from is that the lower body also has an opposing role, it goes in the opposite direction of the punch, always. And the harder you punch, the harder you have to leverage in the other direction with the lower body. And the thing is, even though it’s underwater, I don’t ‘feel’ like I have any less power potential. I’m convinced Rory McIlroy utilizes a similar technique in his golf swing as his lower body does the same thing when he really goes after one. And he does it with the correct upper body and hand dynamics- he’s a pure ABS style hitter in every way up top through the zone, yet his lower body is actually going the other way in a very similar manner as it would do underwater.
I’m not saying we don’t use the ground, because obviously we do, and Rory does too, very well. But there seems to be a point where it doesn’t matter anymore, and it appears to be well before the delivery of the strike- with Rory, that is. He appears to use it for a downward and upward loading and unloading for the most part, and not nearly so much for torquing- he seems to do that against himself, like you do underwater or in mid air.
The bottom line in relation to this discussion is where does that upper/lower body opposing directions show up in a grounded punch if at all?
And again, I love what you guys are doing in this thread so keep it going…