Old 05-25-2011, 08:23 PM
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jeverett jeverett is offline
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Default Disc Golf for Martial Artists

Preface: I'm presenting this not as a 'you should do this', but as a way for other martial artists to approach disc golf mechanics and form. I don't consider myself an expert at either disc golf or Hapkido (an art I've trained in for a number of years, and where this inspiration comes from). I'm currently throwing ~380ft., with occasional drives as far as 420ft. But I do think that what follows has helped my form, and I'm continuing to work on it.

So.. one of the things I've been trying to do lately is describe the disc golf drive 'hit' in terms of martial arts techniques, with the hope of identifying areas where my form needs work. For example, I've previously seen the disc golf drive form likened to the hammer-fist back strike of Karate Do. Recently, though, I've been thinking more in terms of the wrist 'throws' of Aikido, Hapkido, Judo, or Jujitsu. On to some video footage explaining it..

Disclaimer for those not familiar with these arts: The 'attacker' in these videos is not exactly being 'thrown' in a literal sense. Rather, the 'attacker' is demonstrating a technique known as break-falling, by which they prevent greater injury to their wrist, elbow, shoulder, etc. from the torque produced by the sudden redirection of their momentum.

In watching these clips, try to imagine replacing the 'attacker' (being held by the wrist and/or holding onto the wrist) with a disc in the hand. For example, watch starting at 2:10 in (I'd recommend turning off the sound):

For more dramatic examples:

What you can observe is the 'attacker' moving forward quickly and off-balance, only to suddenly have their momentum redirected sideways, yanking them even more off-balance or off their feet entirely. Translated into disc golf terms, this is 'snap', and the moment that the attacker is suddenly redirected is the 'hit'.

Important implications for disc golf

#1 - High arm momentum relative to body momentum - In each of the examples above, at the moment of the 'throw' ('hit'), the defender is completely stationary, and not moving with the attacker at all. It's pretty easy to imagine what would happen if the defender were moving in the same direction as the attacker.. it would be *much* harder to suddenly redirect the attacker's momentum to the side.

In disc golf terms, this means we want high arm speed relative to body speed at the moment of the 'hit' (i.e. arm moving forward fast, body moving forward little to none). Despite using an x-step walk or run up, ideally all body forward momentum should be stopped at the moment of the 'hit', and there should be very little forward (body) follow-through. In short, you shouldn't be stepping forward off the pad after the throw, but more toward the side of the pad (e.g. if you are throwing RHBH your follow-through step should be to the right side of the pad).

#2 - J or L hook - In each example, the 'attacker's' momentum goes from forward to suddenly sideways, whipping their body sharply around a pivot point. The defender's arm motion, though, is similar to a J or L.. the long part of the letter is the acceleration, pulling the 'attacker' forward and off-balance. Then comes a sudden jerk laterally or even laterally and then back against the direction of the 'attacker'. This serves to force the 'attacker' to rapidly whip around the pivot point, applying extreme torque to their wrist, elbow, or shoulder and/or forcing them to break-fall to avoid injury.

In disc golf terms, as you reach straight ahead of you starting from across the opposite side of your body there comes a point of arm extension where your arm cannot travel straight outward anymore, but must begin to pivot across the body (toward the right, for a RHBH throw). The goal, then, is to make this momentum change as instantaneous and sharp as possible.. make the disc have to work to keep up. The tighter the J or L arc you can force the disc to whip around, the more 'snap' you impart on it.

As mentioned at the beginning.. this is a work in progress, but I do feel like focusing on these two techniques has started to help my distance. I'd welcome any feedback too, particularly from other martial artists-turned-disc golfers.
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Old 05-26-2011, 01:11 AM
WillGrrr WillGrrr is offline
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I think what's clear here is that you are into your art and your dojo, and you're trying to make a connection to a newer passion--disc golf.

I had years at the instructor level of both aikido and iaido, so I know how far a chasm you are trying to bridge here. If you're referencing the sweet spot of a well-executed technique -- the "hit"-- you have an analogy, nothing more.

The heart of a martial art is that you must work with what uke gives you. In disc golf your partner is inert and in your hand as you grasp it. That's very, very different.

I appreciate that you understand that uke, the "attacker", is playing a role, and that his half of the training demands that he protect himself by taking a safe fall. This is without doubt one of the most valuable bits of repetitive training in a close-quarter martial art.

There is essentially no disc golf to be learned from these videos. Martial arts-wise I would offer that the irimi (entering) movement is convincing, but that the shihonage itself is stylized and weak. It is probably just as well not to clearly show that technique in its full potential, because there is no pretty fall out of it.
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Old 05-26-2011, 02:04 AM
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Old 05-26-2011, 02:31 AM
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BrotherDave BrotherDave is offline
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I always thought the backhand was pretty similar to a spinning backfist.
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Old 05-26-2011, 09:36 AM
JoshEpoo JoshEpoo is offline
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Conceptually you are right on, at least with your points related to disc golf. Translating that stuff into your throw is the difficult part, but knowing is half the battle.
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Old 05-26-2011, 11:34 AM
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Originally Posted by BrotherDave View Post
I always thought the backhand was pretty similar to a spinning backfist.
me too, that seems as close as anything
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Old 05-26-2011, 01:29 PM
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jeverett jeverett is offline
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Well, I appear to have confused a lot of people.. I definitely wasn't trying to suggest that the videos or techniques shown directly describe disc golf form or technique.. you definitely won't get far performing irimi with a disc in your hand, for example. But ideologically I do think that there are similarities between these 'throws' and the disc golf throw. The techniques in the video do a really good job of depicting a very large object (i.e. the 'attacker') being whipped around a pivot point (the hand of the 'defender'). Ideologically, that's what we want to do with a disc.. yeah, I know.. it's done using a different form and grip and lead-in, and a disc has a *whole lot* less mass. :P This definitely takes some imagining.. I definitely wouldn't recommend even looking at the videos to someone who hasn't had some training in one of the four(?) arts I mentioned, but hopefully the thread title covered that.

I guess what I'm trying to get at is it feels to me that the same principles that whip the 'attacker' nearly off their feet as they are forced to pivot around the 'defender's' hand are the ones that 'snap' a disc out of your hand at the moment of the 'hit'.. and these videos are really good at showing that whipping motion in a really exaggerated way (an entire human body is moving, instead of just a disc).

Yes, I definitely agree that in terms of the actual arm motion, a backhand drive is most similar to a spinning back-fist strike or hammer-fist back strike. That was my starting point too, but I eventually came to the conclusion that there are specific aspects of generating 'snap' and the disc golf 'hit' that aren't addressed by the spinning back-fist strike.

As an aside to WillGrrr: Sadly, I'm several years out of training in Hapkido at this point. I haven't been able to find a school in town for it. But out of all the arts I studied (Tae Kwon Do, Karate Do, and Hapkido) I definitely enjoyed it the most.. very practical, with a good mix of striking techniques as well as throws, bars, breaking techniques, and controlling techniques.. not to mention lots and lots of break-falling. The particular videos I linked were just examples I found from a (not very) quick search on youtube.. I agree with you that the irimi looks pretty solid (iriminage was always one of my favorites.. I can't remember the Korean name for it, though), while the shihonage form isn't fantastic.
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