Recently a coworker of mine walked by complaining of knee issues. I asked briefly show me his golf swing and I noticed a couple of big alignment no-no’s right off the bat.
First of all, I pointed out it appeared that he was twisting from the knee instead of turning from the waist. I noted in taiji we have a rule where the knee should point the same direction as the foot. He appeared a bit perplexed so I demonstrated what I saw him doing with his knee and what he should be doing. I’ve always felt this is the best way to try and teach something as it give the person a concrete example of right and wrong.
Next, I showed him how he could turn his body by turning with the hips and folding with the kua. We did some stationary turning exercises (in front of my cubicle… ) to reinforce the idea. He immediately noticed a difference and commented how he felt different muscle groups activating by turning in this manner.
He showed quite a bit of interest so I also spoke about how the tip of the knee should not past beyond the tip of the toe. However, I explained that I like to be a bit more conservative and not allow the knee to go beyond the instep of the foot or past the acupuncture ‘bubbling well’ point. As an aside, I’ve seen some master keep a 90 degree angle of the ankle between their foot and shin. This is something I am working towards.
Next I explained how in taiji, the outer edge of the hip should not go beyond the outer edge of the foot. This was a hard one for me to grasp and integrate into my own training as it’s easy to ‘stand lazy’ and sink into the hip joint instead of keeping the hip aligned and letting the energy sink down into the foot and ground. (Great exercise for Putting Practice into Daily Life) The effect is quite obvious if we try and turn the body with the hip aligned and with the hip extended.
To top it off, I gave a little dash of harmony. I explained in taiji, we try to harmonize the elbows and knees. Everything starts together, everything stops together. I then demonstrated this concept in the motion of a golf swing. They do not have to move the same distance, but the elbows should not finish their range of motion before the knees. As an enrichment exercise, I asked him to think about the harmony between the shoulders and hips.
In the end, I told him these are some of the principles of unified, whole-body movement in taiji. While all of them may not directly apply to golf mechanics, think of these the next time you swing the club and either feel pain or a disconnect.