Homer Kelley and Bruce Lee?

By Dr. Matthew M. Rosman, GSEE
Director of Biomechanics and Sports Science, The Golfing Machine, LLC

The magazine Popular Mechanics published an article on their website (May 21, 2014) written by William Herkewitz entitled, “The Science of the One-Inch Punch, Physiology and neuroscience combine to explain Bruce Lee’s master move.” (http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/health/nueroscience/the-science-of-bruce-lees-one-inch-punch-16814527)  

In this article, Mr. Herkewitz states:

“From a single inch away, Lee was able to muster an explosive blow that could knock opponents clean off the ground.”

This article refers to academic resources including, Jessica Rose, “a Stanford University biomechanical researcher” to provide the scientific technical operational blueprint schematic of “the punch” mechanism as well as the identity of the sources of the harnessed forces.  Mr. Herkewitz writes:

“Because the punch happens over such a short amount of time, Lee has to synchronize each segment of the jab—his twisting hip, extending knees, and thrusting shoulder, elbow, and wrist—with incredible accuracy.”

Here, in essence, the application of performance and motor control is executed utilizing a biomechanical chain interaction of function that is analogous to Mr. Kelley’s (The Golfing Machine, in sections such as 2-K, 6-B-0, and 6-M-1) Swing Radius. The Swing Radius commences its mechanism of operation from the ground up, utilizing a biomechanical chain interaction functionality for a highly desired transfer of momentum (The Golfing Machine, sections 2-K, 7-12, and 6-M-1).  

The well-orchestrated coordination of the movement by a “master” enables the harnessing of a chain interaction of segments creating a propulsion of energy that functions like that of the terminal end of a whip’s  tip expressing its resultant “crack” upon the masterful “handle flick” by its operator.

This same Popular Mechanics article refers to a 2012 research study by neuroscientist, Ed Roberts of Imperial College London that analyzes the “coordination” and efficiency of the skill-sets of martial artists with that of comparably physically fit non-martial artists, in an approximately  “two inch” punching activity.  The results of the study indicated that the martial artists were superior in this "task" to the non-martial artists.  One key finding was that the efficient “synchronization” of biomechanical segments of the body was the key to “punching power” performance superiority by the martial artists in the study. 
Mr. Herkewitz notes in this article that Mr. Roberts’ research study concluded that the source of the superiority is found in the brain and not the muscles. In review of Mr. Roberts’ research study this Popular Mechanics article states:

“The more the karate experts practiced these coordinated moves, the more the white matter in their supplementary motor cortex adapts.”

This “adaption” process, from the brain to the body, is in essence a representation of the science of the skill acquisition mechanism: the physiological schematic for performance optimization. This motor learning process of specificity for skill-building cannot be substituted through the utilization of aerobic and/or anaerobic based activities, i.e., exercise.  

One cannot weight train their way to performance optimization of a motor skill, nor can exercise be used as an equivalent substitute for the skill-building developed through motor learning performance training.

Karate and other martial arts disciplines are highly regulated through supervised master-student education in a controlled and intensely strict environment of study.  Students learn AND practice under direct supervision for many, many years.  It would be impossible to attain the skill-sets required to be highly competent as a martial artist and generate such explosively powerful forces of energy using the complex choreography of motion conducted by the biomechanical system unless the required skill-building was under the constant scrutiny of a master teacher.  The repetition, feedback, modification, and precision required for this specific type of skill-building must be anchored in science fact rather than science fiction.  

Therefore, education and the development of a technique-performance skill foundation in martial arts is the primary hub of study and focus just as it needs to be in the development of total skill for an uncompensated Central Stroke Pattern for golfers. Mr. Kelly is referring to this in The Golfing Machine’s Preface (7th Edition) as he states on page XII:

“It’s not instant perfection but continuous progress toward a practical goal—mastery of the STAR SYSTEM TRIAD: The Three Imperatives (2-0) applying the Three Functions  (1-L-A/B/C) through the Three Stations (12-3)—which should be sought.”

And, in 3-F-6, Mr. Kelley states:

“Learning step–by-step to maintain the essential Geometry, per 5-0, under all conditions, alone leads to a MASTER’S level of execution.”

Mr. Kelly’s work is filled with references to the importance of an evolutionary, progressive, pursuit of mastery through study and applied practice, under the watchful eye of an AI, in a tradition that is also present in martial arts study. Martial arts science and G.O.L.F.-BIA science is the primary hub of study for proper skill-building for each respective area of participation. There is no viable “fitness” substitute for technique-performance skill-building to attain a “MASTER’S level of execution”.

Medicine ball throws, volitional cable pulls, physio-ball twists, “rebounding”, heavy bar swings, lunges with a golf club across the shoulders, and so, on will not “build” white matter, neuro-dense tissue in the appropriate as well as required motor regions of the brain that will create the specificity of skill enhancement required to be able to substitute for the supervised skill-building education a golfer requires to develop an uncompensated, “Master's level” G.O.L.F. Central Stroke Pattern.

Holding a golf club across the shoulders while squatting or lunging does not change the fact that the activity of engagement is a form of physiological exercise and NOT a “golf fitness specific” activity that is directly tailored to develop the specificity of precise, specific, neurological motor skill-building required for the optimization of performance of the golf stroke.

If a broom was substituted for a golf club, and placed across the shoulders while engaging in a lunging or squatting activity, would that then define this activity as a “broom sweeping specific" fitness activity? Would the broom across the shoulders while squatting or lunging directly enhance cleaning and sweeping performance or is there a technique to proper broom sweeping that must be learned?  

The tradition of the educational approach of skill-building for martial arts or any type of classification of performance based discipline such as golf is motor learning specific.  The martial arts world recognizes the benefits of optimal nutrition and physiological fitness.  However, the martial arts world is not substituting aerobic and anaerobic activities in replacement of, or as the equivalent substitute for martial arts skill-building acquisition.  Why should the golf world approach technique and performance optimization differently? And yet there is increasing "concern" that the golf world has been, and is presently participating in, an over-indulgence in "fitness" based activities as an “apparent” selected methodology of choice to supplant technique and performance motor learning instruction for skill acquisition.    

A clear example of this current "concern" in the golf industry is reflected in the following Sports Illustrated (SI Vault) article  (April 07, 2014), entitled “Father Time”, written by Gary Van Sickle, in the section entitled, “IS THE WEIGHT REALLY WORTH IT?” (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1210170/2/index.htm):

“‘There are more guys hurt now than ever, and they all work out,’ Azinger says.  ‘I don’t recall this rash of injuries before the fitness trailer showed up.  I’m not saying, “‘Be a Pillsbury Doughboy.’”  You’re far better off doing hot yoga every day than pushing weights.’”

Aerobic and Anaerobic physical activity is essential to help optimize life-long health and vitality so that  individuals may participate in every aspect of daily life including sports such as golf with the highest level of physiological fitness as is possible. Properly designed exercise (along with optimal nutritional practices) permits the human body to thrive and meet the demands of an array of activities of daily living while reducing stress to the structural and functional physiologic systems of the human body, as well as reducing the type of strain that could increase the probability of duress and breakdown, leading to unfortunate opportunistic circumstances for illness or injury.

For optimizing the level of skill proficiency for golf, the main approach, like that of martial arts, is to place all primary manner of technique and performance skill acquisition protocols into the building of neuro-dense white matter in the appropriate motor center(s) of the brain: motor learning for optimal coordination and choreography of the pattern of motions required to build an uncompensated Central Stroke Pattern for golf. This is the true path to the attainment of mastery.  

The notion presented by some factions in the golf industry that the employment of volitional and excessively rigorous ballistic exercise protocols, with the single-minded intention of belief that this approach will produce a superior golfer with elite skill, supplanting motor learning as the most important priority for the golfer seeking performance optimization, is counterproductive as well as misleading.  

If today’s elite golfers were presented with a change in the rules of golf that required mandatory conformity to use the equipment and golf ball type of that of the era of Ben Hogan, Sam Snead and Byron Nelson for tournament play, would today’s elite players elect to spend more time in the weight room or the practice tee to prepare themselves best for competition?  And, how does this change to the current equipment and golf ball technology and materials of manufacture reflect upon the "purported" benefits attained from “fitness” activities upon golfer performance display?

It is up to all of us as educators in the industry to review and ponder our resources as well as designed protocols utilized for every golfer we teach.  In that manner we can provide the highest quality assurance possible to ensure that the development of skill is technique and performance centric rather than “fitness” centric.

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