WHAT IS STEP ROOTING IN TAI CHI?
What is step rooting in Tai Chi?
On the internet, you will find fantastic videos of martial arts exponents who are tai chi practitioners or exponents of other martial arts, maintain their balance as they are pushed by one or multiple people. These demonstrations to the layman sometimes look like magic.
However, upon observation from those with keens eyes or those with experience in step rooting. Usually what you will notice in the demonstrations, is that the exponent will use his hands. The use of the hands gives the exponent leverage, where they will control the person who is pushing. With good biomechanics and this leverage, the concept of step rooting becomes child’s play.
The magic for the layman disappears and the demonstration is nothing but a neat trick.
EXAMPLE OF THE NEAT TRICK
But this use of leverage is not step rooting.
So what is step rooting?
Step rooting stems from the concept of Zhong Ding. And step rooting is having the ability to maintain your centre of gravity. By being empty, empty of physical tension and realigning the structure of the body under the guidance of the mind. You do not rely on physical force. The pressure from the push is absorbed into the ground. All of this without using your hands for leverage.
STEP ROOTING WITH NO LEVERAGE
"The lone wolf does not seek refuge, he is a refuge. He does not seek out the community. He is a community. Now melancholy might settle, and weakness may creep in. So, he seeks advice from the other lone wolves."
This is where the concept of “sinking” is used, as mentioned above letting go of tension. The result is that you are then capable of redirecting the pressure or force. Back into the source of the pressure-the person pushing. Or redirect it into the ground.
The exercise allows Tai Chi exponents to understand the concept of Song and it also a test, on how good your rooting is.
In combat the warrior who loses his balance, whether it be mentally or physically loses the war, never mind the battle. Step rooting is the perfect example of keeping together and be able to “empty your cup”. It is more a concept of mental strength as supposed to your physical prowess. And with this comes the health benefits of being able to maintain your balance while weathering the storm. If you stray away from its combat aspect. Health or combat is just two sides of the same coin.
Step rooting is emphasised in Tai Chi, but it is a concept that pervades throughout traditional Chinese Martial Arts.
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Written by Narcisse Sadi who is a Tudi (student) of Dr Jeff Lan. He is a certified 1stDuan Health Qi Gong by the International Health Qigong Federation. And a 1st Duan Yang Style (Cheng Man Ching lineage) Tai Chi Chuan Instructor, certified by Dr Jeff Lan.