Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What Golf can Teach Us About the Martial Arts.

“It’s all about the swing, not the club.”

I heard this phrase from a golf instructor once and it stuck with me. I mean, if you really think about it, it’s very true.

Let’s say you and Tiger Woods decide to play a round of golf. You get to play with the most expensive, well-designed clubs on the market. Tiger Woods has to play with a used driver he bought at a flea market, a 60 year old putter he found in his father’s garage, and a broomstick. I’d bet dollars to donuts that Woods would still get a significantly lower score than you. Why?

“It’s all about the swing, not the club.”


You see, Tiger Woods spends most of his time perfecting his swing: working with a swing coach and conditioning coaches (who help Woods strengthen his swing). Woods spends very little time worrying about what brand of clubs he’s going to be using. Why?

“It’s all about the swing, not the club.”

(besides, the clubs are provided by his sponsors anyway)

“Your Kung Fu is Weak!”

But what does all this have to do with the martial arts? Well if you’ve been involved in the martial arts for any length of time then you have, no doubt, heard (or even took part in) the perennial debate: What is the Ultimate Martial Art?

Inevitably the debate becomes a pissing match between two or more practitioners with each listing their art’s respective strength and attacking the other guy’s system and its supposed weaknesses.

“My style specializes in pressure point strikes.”

“My system focuses solely on trying to prepare for real life or death self defense situations.”

“My art is centuries older than your art and still contains myriad secrets.”

“My style has proven itself in the cage which makes it the best.”

“My styles focuses only on developing Qi.”

I could literally go on for quite a while with this. What so many martial artists fail to realize is that they are thinking about their martial arts training all wrong.

“It’s all about the swing not the club.”

What we have to remember is the primary purpose of martial arts training is to become a better fighter. If your focus is on being a better fighter it doesn’t really matter what style your practice. For example, Muay Thai has proven itself to be very effective in the ring and in the cage. However, if you remove sparring, strategy and tactics drills, and training to become mentally and emotionally prepared for upcoming violence then what you are left with is little more than cardio kickboxing. And that's the point:

“It’s all about the swing not the club.”

It doesn’t really matter what style you practice so long as you work on realistic sparring, go over combat strategy and tactics, and prepare yourself psychologically for violence. A Taiji (Tai Chi) player who includes these aspects in his training will always be a better fighter than a cardio boxer or Karateka who rarely (if ever) spars. Because it is all about how you approach your training. It doesn’t matter what style you practice so long as you do what it takes to turn yourself into a better fighter.

So, don’t get caught up in the pissing contests with the guys who want to somehow prove their club…I mean style, is better that any other. Because you know it is all about HOW you train not WHAT STYLE you practice.

Train Hard,

Josh Skinner (donjitsu2)


  1. That was great. I completely agree that it comes down to the individual practitioner.

  2. I always love your entries. they're so insightful!

  3. Thanks guys, I really appreciate the support!