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The Art of Sinking: Understanding Tai Chi’s Concept of Grounding

The Art of Sinking: Understanding Tai Chi’s Concept of Grounding

In Taiji Quan (Tai Chi) what does it really mean to “sink”? It is more than just dropping down physically and bearing the pain of the tightness of the body, which gives room for understanding this principle.

That is why traditionally Tai Chi forms involved them being first performed very low; of course, this may not be ideal for elderly beginners.

And you are doing more than just physically lowering you body, for starters the sinking is about relaxing the fascia, tendons, ligaments and harmonising them with gravity. Thus, the saying “connect to the earth”.

Also, the suspension of the head as per the 10 essences, connects the point baihui (on the head) with “heaven”. So, you have a push (up) and pull (down), harmony. Heaven (Yang) and Earth (Yin). Decompressing the spine and when you have the head suspended, the shoulders relax slightly down and the centre point of the chest slightly drops and this raises the upper back slightly.

 The excess tension in the body sinks to the ground and there is a sense of buoyancy. Although described here in words. 

This is what is described as “sung” caused by your intent simultaneously dropping to the lower dan tian and as it connects with yongquan, the point on the ball of the feet. This connection is established when you can feel an equal weight distribution in the front and back of the foot.

This is sinking and by sinking, you are placing your intent on dan tian and then yongquan.  It goes all the way to the ground, while the head is suspended from above.

Regardless of style or art, you here of the power coming from the waist or hips, well what drives the waist/hips? The feet, like my Shifu would say.

From Dan Tian to Yong Quan back up dan tian and throughout the whole body.

And with as you sink and open up the body, there is a sense of emptiness feeling up the whole body, head to toe.

Your level of emptiness determines your level of “sung” and in this state of emptiness, the mind begins to do the work. As the saying goes, use the mind and not physical force.



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