Darts: a game where participants compete with one another by throwing small arrow like devices at a target that is round and has numbers and sections and an inner bull with an outer bull and so on. Darts now refer to the standard game with a specific bristle board design and a set of rules. Rules that are general to the game and rules that govern games like, “501,” “301,” and “Cricket.”

Darts is a traditional pub game that was and is commonly played in the United Kingdom as well as other places in Europe and across the pond here in the America’s.

Wikipedia tells hits history in a terse form, i.e., “The dartboard may have its origins in the cross-section of a tree. An old name for a dartboard is "butt"; the word comes from the French word but, meaning "target". In particular, the Yorkshire and Manchester Log End boards differ from the standard board in that they have no treble, only double and bullseye, the Manchester board being of a smaller diameter, with a playing area of only 25 cm across with double and bull areas measuring just 4 mm. The London Fives board is another variation. This has only 12 equal segments numbered 20, 5, 15, 10, 20, 5, 15, 10, 20, 5, 15, 10 with the doubles and triples being a quarter of an inch wide.”

There have been a variety of darts created over the years but the most common today is the tungsten dart. There are electronic darts but for this blog and for my efforts in tossing darts I remain a steel dart fan and enthusiast. I am recommending a book for novice darters but only because it appealed to me and my studies and rest assured most of the dart books out there are outstanding. In short, find one if this one does not fit your needs and get it. I can tell you when I started to play over twenty years ago, before I laid down my darts in 96, I tossed darts for several years without knowing some very important and critical mechanics, etc., of the dart game. As I take up once again my steel darts I have found a fountain of information to help make the game both enjoyable and competitive. Enjoy, diddle for the middle and let the darts fly!

Friday, August 26, 2016

Relying on Technology

Dart Arts Article/Post Caveat (Read First Please: Click the Link)

In the dart arts, much like in the martial disciplines, people have become lazy because their focus is heavily on technological advances to replace solid, hard and continuous practice, practice, practice. Granted, you want good equipment in throwing darts competitively because lets face it the old brass darts that came with the early toy darts is not really good for competitive disciplines because no matter how good a dartist you are, the are bad, bad, bad darts. Do NOT get caught up in technological ways of darts until you have mastered yourself and found your throw. 

The only recommended technology I employ in my darts are the following:

  • Steel darts.
  • Dart weight (because it matters on how and what you throw when you find your perfect throw).
  • Tungsten quality of at least 80 to 95%.
  • Quality shafts and flights.
  • Knurling not for slippage but simply for the feel I get.

That is it, a solid quality dart for me and if you find something else that feels good and works well for you then you found your darts. I would just stick with them regardless. I would then say; practice, practice, practice as well as play, play, play competitively even if just in the local pub because it is about YOU and YOUR THROW and if you find your throw the dart equipment and other technologies, such as the no bounce darts, are just nice things to stroke your egoistic feelings, etc.

What is most important is how you throw darts, i.e., finding your throw (like finding your swing in golf). Finding your throw involves a lot of physiokinetic principles you must adhere to in order to find your throw then consistently throw. If you find yourself becoming frustrated and you begin to lean toward finding technological mechanical ways to improve your throw then you are never, ever, going to find your throw. The only factor here is to find the equipment that feels good to you then learn the principles; apply those principles in practice; find your throw; and then apply that to competitive experiences, etc. 

No bounce darts are not going to help you find your throw. No bounce is a meme that obfuscates your thinking toward and external fix when you should focus internally, i.e., the mind-state governed by applying principles of the throw and the mind-set that consistently applies said principles in finding, keeping and applying ‘your throw’ in the dart arts. 

Principles of a Throw (Caveat: Yes, all the following are a lot of things to learn and apply; yes, this all has to be instinctive-like, i.e., become a primal conditioned response action - your throw. You need to know these things in order to apply them and then you need to practice consciously until they are encoded - THEN, you need to forget them so that your procedural memory can use the primal conditioned response or actions of your throw without the interference of conscious human-mind thoughts; it is the only way to master. Your goal is create, find your throw, a chain of events that will allow for consistent instinctive primal conditioned actions to be a good solid consistent player of the dart arts - a master dartist!) (Caveat II: “Without knowledge, how can you find your throw?”):

  • Breathing ( when and how to breath; when and how to not breath)
  • Posture
  • Spinal Alignment
  • Structure
  • Positive Relaxation
  • Wave Energy (aim, cock, fire and targeting, etc.)
  • Body-Mind
  • Peripheral Vision
  • Tactile Sensitivity
  • Rooting (assuming a dart kamae, etc.)
  • Chemical Cocktail
  • Technique
  • Speed
  • Timing
  • Rhythm
  • Cadence
  • Balance
  • Attacked Mind (frustrations, disappointments, anger, etc.; adrenal stress-conditions effecting dart arts)

Breathing ( when and how to breath; when and how to not breath)

Breathing and not breathing, when and how become important not just in the throw itself but in the body and mind while engaging in a competitive arena. Deep, diaphragmatic breathing processes help us reduce and remove various stresses involved in a competitive environment and it does this by triggering counter adrenal stress-conditions of the adrenal chemical dump. This dump is a result of the human instinctive system often referred to as the freeze-flight-or-fight response (Note: I added in the freeze). When we are stressed the chemical dump occurs to various degrees with the highest being the most detrimental. These chemicals result in effects that are counter to your goals in a competitive environment. Granted these very chemical effects when conditioned through training, practice and especially experience can benefit the competitor in a positive way when controlling their levels and effects. You can become conditioned in a way that limits the dumps not so beneficial effects. 

Then there is the not-breathing parts. Often this involves the actual throw. I liken the throw to the art of target shooting, especially shooting a handgun. Why, because your body moves constantly even when you think you have it immobilized, i.e., there are slight tremor-like movements the body makes constantly that we are just not aware of until we try to do things like target shooting. The handgun, in the hand, held and aimed will move and you can perceive that when you aim down the firearms sights. The more you aim, the more it will move and the movement will become more as time passes - in milliseconds to a second or two. This phenomena is in almost all physical discipline such as archery and of course, darts.

When I am readying to approach the ochre line I do what I call combat breathing, i.e., a deep, slow, rhythmic diaphragmatic breathing to keep my calm and retain my focus. I approach and assume my dart kamae, raise my arm, hold out the dart with arm extended to aim at my target - breathing the same throughout that process - then when the arm begins to apply my personal throw I stop breathing. I recommend, as the same with firearms target shooting and other disciplines, that you stop mid-breath, i.e., breath deep, exhale and at the half out point hold the breath and make the complete throw from cocking to the cheek, throwing confidently forward to the release point and to the follow through. 


Your pose if you will, the way your body is positioned to maximize your throw. Poor posture caused many physical and mental issues such as poor attitude and poor health and poor posture all resulting in minute changes in your body that adversely affect your through. Posture involves how you take your stance, how you position your hips, waist, shoulders, etc., and effect how the dart flies when thrown. 

Affecting a solid posture means you can feel that posture so to assume that same posture each and every time you throw from the ochre line. Moving your body changes the throw in small ways often not detected when in the throw unless you can feel it. Feel your posture once you find your throw as a part of the programming of procedural memory of primal conditioned actions. 

Spinal Alignment

In order to assume a solid posture and to deliver consistency of body functioning in your throw you need to attain good spinal alignment, i.e., the spine should be upright, aligned and locked into position. If your posture leans one way or the other, the spine is not aligned. Locking the spine as well as other things ensures your throw will be effective, consistent and on target. 


To maximize the efficient generation of energy and force the bodies structure must achieve balance, stability and energy. The entire structure of the body from the feet on the floor, the position of the body, the arm and hand along with certain principles are the only way to achieve mastery and to find your throw. This goes to endurance as well simply because your body, your arm and your mind have to deal with the duration and disruptions found in the competitive environment along with the strategies and tactics of those adversary’s you will compete against. 

If the structure of the skeletal system, etc., are aligned to the greatest potential then the body makes use of its energy supplies in a conservative way allowing that energy to go toward enduring long periods. 

Also, structure along with other health fitness actions achieve resistance to things like repetitive action concerns. This is true because the achievement of proper throw requires one assume a body posture, alignment and structure that is maintained then add in the repetitive action of the throwing arm, throwing the same consistent throw to the target over a  period of time and under high stress-conditions. 

Positive Relaxation

No one can assume a completely relaxed state of either body or mind but one can achieve a state of positive relaxation. PR means that the body is supported by minimal energy consumption and minimal tension of the muscles, tendons and cartilage. The mind when quieted enough to remain in the moment and to take on a state of mushin or rather allowing thoughts in the moment to enter and leave without conscious thought or thinking of the human mind. No thoughts of past or future but remaining in the moment. 

Positive relaxation of the body allows it to move fluidly with a rhythm and cadence that fits the actual dartists personal throw. Add in the proper breathing processes that will feed positive relaxation while simultaneously releasing the relaxation chemicals that counter the adrenal stress-conditioned chemicals that themselves promote proper breathing and therefore positive relaxation. 

Wave Energy (aim, cock, fire and targeting, etc.)

The flow, how the whole process is triggered and completed. The ability to put the rhythm, cadence and flow into a singular holistic action that becomes the personal throw. It takes lots of practice, practice, practice and experience, experience, experience. It is the process that finds the throw that becomes a primal conditioned process, i.e., click and whirr the tape goes to automatic and remains consistent. 


As the old saying goes, ‘the body follows the mind and the mind leads the body.’ Making a body-mind connection means maximizing the potential of both when they work toward a mutually beneficial goal such as finding and using your throw. Most often when I see a person miss a throw and then suffer the emotional effects due to disappointment, resentment, anger and frustration I know that their minds suffer greatly and by osmosis the body follows quickly  unless the person can rein in the monkey brain antics, return to emotional maturity and then apply their processes to achieve their perfect throw. 

Peripheral Vision

In this one, in this instance and in this explanation of a narrow interpretation our peripheral vision is critical to the actual throw. We need direct vision to focus strongly on the intended target while allow our peripheral vision to witness the actual process of the throw. It is this effort that assures a good throw because it is this peripheral vision that tracks the entire movement of the throwing arm. It is PV that allows them to witness their perfect throw while at the same time tell them when something is off resulting in a bad throw so they can analyze and return to their perfect throw before the next dart leaves their holding hands, i.e., holding the two other darts for the throwing hand to grasp, the span of time to asses, analyze and return to visualize the correct perfect throw when the dart is in the throwing hand, aimed at the target and ready to be launched. 

Tactile Sensitivity

The sense of touch, to feel tactically how our feet root to the ground; to feel our body shift to 80% weight on the forward/leading foot; to feel the 20% remain on the rear foot; to feel the rear foot root completely on the ground; to feel the spine align as you assume the stance; to feel your structure enter into a balanced form; to feel your arm align the elbow in a vertical form (for me); to feel the fingers grasping and taking hold of the dart; to feel the balance point of the dart; to feel the arm, hand, wrist, shoulder and fingers assume a positive state of relaxed tension; to feel the motion and alignments and structures maintain integrity as the throw starts, travels and reaches the release point of the dart and on, this is the ability to tactilely feel the true personal throw, the darts, the target - a Zen like process similar to the art of archery of Japan. 

Rooting (assuming a dart kamae, etc.)

Rooting is creating stability of the body by the method of, in dart arts - standing in a throwing posture, standing where both feet, legs, torso, etc., align and sequentially lock so the throw becomes perfected. Taking a stance at the ocre line is rooting and the stability depends on how well the feet are planted to the ground and how well the body and mind are aligned and stabilized so the throw arm can perform without interference from the body. How well that stance is assumed provides stability in different degrees, i.e., such as the back leg and foot, if the foot is only touching the floor with the toe then stability declines and minute movement is introduced making the throw more difficult as it must adjust to that movement much like sighting in with a firearm, etc.

Chemical Cocktail

It has been discussed previously how one controls and overcomes the effects of the chemical cocktail, i.e., that adrenal stress-conditioned process that degrades many aspects of both the mind and the body such as narrow vision and degraded fine motor skills. If you throw like me those fine motor skills become important such as the wrist cock, the finger flex and their follow through in the throw. 

Chemical Cocktail effects: “Degradation of Technique/skills, Peripheral Vision Loss, Tunnel Vision, Depth Perception Loss/Altered, Auditory Exclusion, Weakened legs/arms, Loss of Extremity Feeling, Loss of Fine Motor Skills, Distorted Memory/perceptions, Tachypsychia (time slows), Freeze, Perception of Slow Motion, Irrelevant Thought Intrusion, Behavioral Looping, etc.”


The actual application of a technique such as the throw and the actual technique when applying techniques. The more wholehearted objective of technique is the technique of applying principles to techniques. In the dart arts that means the whole to make the individual work and the culmination of all the individuals to make the whole work. You can gleam this principle concept through a study of all the rest for applying technique and the technique of apply principles are the yin-yang of the personal throw. 


In the dart arts there are several speeds from slow and deliberate to fast with attitude of confidence. Like finding your throw, you have to find those speeds that compliment, enhance and master your darts as the dart throw and so on. Don’t allow the nature and competitive environment influence how you perform your processes to throw and achieve success in your goals. The other dartist will appear to perform in a variety of ways to include how they throw and what they score and that tempo, rhythm and cadence all have a certain speed that makes them work. That is there way and although their process may be inspiring it is still necessary to achieve your own speed in things of the dart arts. 


There is timing in everything of nature including how you perform your dart arts. Like speed, everyone has to develop their own timing as to things like preparation before approaching the line; visualizing the throw; standing the line; assuming your dart kamae and so on until the dart reaches its chosen target in each moment. Ignore everyone else timing because as humans such influences and compliance or mimicking are as natural as breathing so it takes effort and discipline to hold on to your timing, speeds, technique and so on. 


The ebb and flow of the oceans tide; the swaying of leaves and trees to the gentle gusts of wind on an open plain; the deep diaphragmatic breath of a monk meditating in a Zen garden. All of these as a butterfly twittering around the garden all have a certain rhythm to how, when, why and what they do. It is that which connects them to nature and the natural way of it. When one searches out their throw rhythm of that throw is a part of the whole that a dartist must discover, practice, experience and make their own. No where have I seen and felt such peaceful darts than when someone who plays well exudes such an aura of rhythm, cadence, timing, speed and technique consistently as if a monk meditating in a Zen garden. 


Modulation, like the inflection of your voice where your accent, your intonation and inflection speak and convey things. In dart arts modulation is a regulation according the proportion of action, a tempering if you will where change from one thing to another is done in a certain process such as a carrier or signal as in a radio. It is the way we connect with the dart arts to form a ‘Way’ much like a path followed through theories, physiokinetics, technique and philosophy. Those things that create a unique cadence to all we  do, say and experience. It is the path toward the perfect throw, the dart arts. 

Cadence is how we achieve consistency similar to the cadence of a group of military in marching.

A way to take all the individual components and bring them together into one whole that move in a way that accomplishes a group goal through its strategies in all the tactics employed.

Liken this to a school marching band that takes each person, instrument and music that must create a cohesive oneness so everyone stays tuned, in many ways, to achieve a physical presentation and musical rendition as one whole, holistic, performance.


Balance, it is not just physical but mental as well. When I say mental I am talking about both psychological and philosophical because what you think, how you feel and what effects that has on your body and its actions is intricate in its connectedness. More often than physical when my throw goes awry it is not because of any physical action I take but rather the mental stresses that in turn disrupt my bodies actions. Many often assign blame on a bad dart from some physical misstep that effected the throw such as, “My hand turned or my foot slipped,” but in truth it is our minds that provide the body its abilities and this means training, synthesizing and assuming a balance of the body and mind so that both will align and make for a perfect throw and a perfect game.

Balance is also about gravity and rooting and the body structure, posture and stability because if those don’t align then the darts won’t flow. Kind of confusing after reading the first paragraph but to achieve such bodily stability and consistency the mind must first see, feel and accept the body and the work necessary to achieve this balance. The body must be guided and then monitored and changed according to any events and issues that end up effecting the darts. 

The only physical way to achieve a balance body is to understand gravity and its effects along with how you can overcome it along with other environmental factors. Rooting, structure, posture, alignment and skeletal/muscular stability and control all factor in and must be balanced out to work holistically as one entity in lieu of various separate ones such as feet to legs to hips to waist to torso to shoulders to arms to hands and so on. This can only be accomplished by study, practice, training, experience and the strength of our minds as they control everything. 

Attacked Mind (frustrations, disappointments, anger, etc.; adrenal stress-conditions effecting dart arts)

I have mentioned this before and you will say to yourselves, “Yea, I did that and boy did it matter in that game.” Well, the mind, the body and our psychological mind-set and mind-state and mind-strength must be exposed to being attacked, the attacked mind. Every thing that happens to us either physically, mentally and/or spiritually (not a religious reference here) is from the self, the ego and the mind, i.e., the mind is ego, self and the conflict in our three brains - lizard, monkey and human. 

Example: I practice a lot and find that often what I do in practice is often not what happens in competition. I know that is due to the stresses induced by my mind and as a martial artists karate-ka I have studied and understood the martial disciplines for over forty plus years I know that the stress-conditions release certain chemicals in the brain that effect our use of our minds and bodies. In the above writing I have referenced the chemicals and their adverse effects along with ways to combat that to retain your stability for the dart arts. It is good to refresh that information in your mind and make it a part of your training, practice and participation in the competitive environment. 

As you can understand by now after reading a ton of stuff, the technological enhancements you can have from technology, i.e., darts, training devices and other things can provide you assistance, enhance your already considerable skills, but it is critically important that you develop those esoteric-like skills long before you add in the techie stuff. A good example is the type of dart I used long ago as a newbie, I bought and used those types because I threw darts not so well. They did help but reflecting back I realize that they never truly contributed to taking my darts beyond a level of ability that I am now experiencing in my new way of the dart arts. I also did some research to find, yeah for the Internet and the search functions, that today they have found that those particular type of darts actually contribute nothing to the dart throw and game. It turns out they are a gimmick to appeal to novices so they can achieve more faster in their game. Oh, by the way, there is no faster and easier way to the dart arts.

Happy Darting!

Note: There are some technological wonders that are fun to have and use that don’t add to your ability and game except to make you feel good like the carrying case I like to hold my darts and dart parts. That type of technology is good no matter what level you play at because that is just fun stuff to have. 

“In order for any life to matter, we all have to matter.” - Marcus Luttrell, Navy Seal (ret)

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