Growing up, watching Saturday Kung Fu theater in our basement was a great memory. Some of my all time favorite movies were/are Chinese Super Ninjas and the Five Deadly Venoms. Of course, when a Bruce Lee movie came on, I would imitate him in front of the TV screen in the basement. He moved with lightning speed and furiosity. Later in life, I came to study Bruce Lee’s art of Jeet Kune Do under Sifu Micah Farris. The name of the art translates to the Way of the Intercepting Fist. How can Bruce Lee’s intercepting fist help you turn around a bad round of golf?
Philosophy of the Intercepting Fist
On top of being a fighter in top physical shape, Bruce Lee developed his martial arts with a deep philosophical foundation. Bruce Lee created his martial art in a realistic world setting where the world comes at you fast and you respond just as fast if not faster. He used all styles and techniques to end the fight quickly. If an enemy is preparing to attack, there are different stages of defense. Each one takes on the enemy sooner.
- Enemy strikes, you block.
- Enemy strikes, you parry and attack.
- Enemy strikes, you bridge their attack and strike. Bridge could be a side step and slide your arm along theirs to strike, thus parrying and striking in one motion.
- As your enemy coils to attack, you strike.
Looking at these techniques, how can we apply them to a bad hole in golf? I don’t mean to take your vengeance physically on the hole. If we treat the bad hole as the attacker on our enjoyment of the round and positive mental state, how can we combat that attack?
So, you just screwed the pooch and killed chances of scoring a record breaking round with an 8 or worse. Your approach shot flubbed 50 yards instead of landing pin high and it went downhill from there. You are on the way to the next tee box carrying this albatross around your neck. The other players in your foursome show concern about your minor case of terest. Before you pick up your driver, take three deep slow breaths and let that hole go. Focus only your drive and that is it. Do not focus on any of the following items:
- Score needed to erase your last hole.
- How many holes are left.
There is only the now and the now is your drive. Get a ball in play and where your skill level will place it safely.
So you just shanked your approach shot after a beautiful drive. You only had 100 yards to the green and the scorecard was calling for a birdie and you were planning to back it up with a birdie on the net hole. Take you medicine, and penalty shot if needed, and turn your mind to the next shot. The bad shot is over and now you have the chance to scramble to make a solid shot. Nothing can change the past but you can live in the present and focus on the shot at your feet.
As you stride to the ball, something feels wrong. It is your Spidey senses tingling that the club in your very hand does not feel right. Stop and walk away. If you are not convinced of the shot, how do you expect it to fly to your mental target. My first blog post was on this difficult exercise. Read it here: Shaking off a Shot.
The challenge is to react quickly to squash bad play before it takes over and destoryed your mental fortitude. Bruce Lee had a lot to say about martial arts but his words can be applied to all sides of life and even to golf.