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The Dying Man

Ages ago in my youth, I took golf lessons, a seed that found no fertile ground. The teacher, however, was a sweet man: thin, frail, aged, and dying of cancer. His disease left him in constant pain. Despite his handicap, this gentle soul was still teaching kids. And one of the lessons he wanted to impart before he passed was that power-- external, obvious, extroverted power--was an illusion. True power, he told us, was often hidden.

By way of demonstration, he took us to a tee-off overlooking a long fairway. He wanted to show us that even a small portion of the human body, utilized correctly, could generate astonishing effect. He locked his body, and smoothly moving only his wrists and forearms, drove a Titleist so far down the fairway I thought it would never come to earth. It was magic.

I thought of other golfers I knew: big, strong men like my father. Screwing their feet into the ground, they wound up and shellacked the ball as if it were a mortal enemy, their clubs cutting the air with a sound like ripping nylon. They smacked the ball with enough oomph to skin the dimples off the thing.

But even as, in my mind's eye, I visualized my father's spirited drive succumbing to gravity and falling to the fairway, the ball of the dying man sailed on. He turned to us, a gaggle of kids, our open jaws flapping in the wind. For a moment, a thin smile traced his face. For a moment, the pain vanished from his eyes.

 "Practice," he told us, and walked away.


Yours in Martial Arts,

Roger Salick