Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Martial Arts and Golf

Steven Pressfield is a well known author who wrote The Legend of Bagger Vance, Gates of Fire and many other well known books. Below I have an excerpt from his blog. The full post may be read here.

The Professional Mindset

By Steven Pressfield | Published: April 11, 2012

Have you ever wondered why so many CEOs and high-achievers (including sports superstars like Michael Jordan and Wayne Gretzky) are so taken with the game of golf? It’s not just because they get to wear white belts and plaid pants.

(With apologies to everyone who lives along the banks of the Cuyahoga, here is Tom Wolfe’s definition of a white belt and white shoes worn as part of the same outfit. Mr. Wolfe calls it a “full Cleveland.”)

But back to golf.

The reason high-performance professionals are often smitten with golf is that golf, more than almost any other sport, requires the player to perform over and over the following mental/emotional action:
To focus exclusively on the shot in front of him, no matter how horrifically he has just screwed up the previous shot(s).
This exercise is identical to what the World Bank President or the NBA champ have to perform in their day jobs.

Golf makes performance of this action particularly difficult because unlike full-speed sports like basketball, football, tennis or hockey (where the player is in motion), golf makes the competitor execute each stroke from a standing start. As anyone who has ever tried to sink a three-foot putt under pressure knows, this is where the mental game (aka psyching yourself out or “choking”) rears its ugly head.

All this is a long wind-up to the concept of the professional mindset.

Mental toughness.


walt said...

" judge by our own standards and no one else’s how true we have been to our heart’s calling..."

I've never swung a golf club, but I've swung with Pressfield's adage through the years. Can't say that it ever profited me greatly in a material sense, but it has been a big influence on how I've approached material issues.

An idea that is truly TRUE has applications in all directions.

Zacky Chan said...

My recent practice in Kyudo has made me think about this same topic considering golf, very interesting!

Amen Walt: "An idea that is truly TRUE has happlications in all directions."

Rick Matz said...

I think this all applies to the practice of budo.

Rick Matz said...

@Zacky - I was just thinking about you. I just finished a delightful book written by an Englishman about his experience in Japan with the JET program.

"For Fukui's Sake: Two Years in Rural Japan by Sam Baldwin"

I think that you'd enjoy it. I certainly did.

Journeyman said...

Interesting point. I love the tie in to requiring new and refreshed focus no matter what is behind or what is ahead. Living in the now. Very zen...

Rick Matz said...

Your last shot is finished. What lies before you is your next one.


The Strongest Karate said...

great post. As a spectator I've always found the game of golf boring. But I also find baseball, soccer, volleyball (except women's v-ball) all dull as well, even though I enjoy playing them all.

I think I might just try golf though. After reading your post I think I might have a better appreciation for the mental game it requires.

Rick Matz said...

It's worth just learning the stance and swing just to learn about paying attention to the mechanics.

I also think a key to golf and to martial arts is to learn that it's not muscle, but technique.