Rooting not Rooted

Everybody who has been involved in Tai Chi for any length of time knows that Rooting is an important part of generating internal power. Most people confuse root-ING with being root-ED. Tonight, I will demonstrated the benefits of continuous root dropping.

A lot of people want to get their root down as deep as it will go and hold it there. Some benefits can be gained by training this way, but never forget that Tai Chi is the art of change! The process of dropping itself is incredibly powerful. To do this effectively, you have to work on getting the feeling of pouring down through yourself and into the ground.

Imagine you are pouring water out of a pitcher. If you just tip it over right away, all the water comes out and there is nothing left to pour. If you want to pour it out over a longer period of time, you need to pour a thinner stream of water. It works the same way with your body. You need to feel your energy pouring down, slowly at first, and sustain that feeling for as long as you can. By doing this you add power right away, and you build a deeper and stronger root over time.

The deeper your root is, the longer you can pour down into it, and the more you practice pouring into it the deeper your root can go. This can (and should) be worked during your normal, every day Tai Chi set. Once you’ve trained it up a bit, the “stream” of the pouring becomes thicker, and the pouring still lasts longer.

At an advanced level, the pouring continues indefinitely. (If that seems to you like it should be impossible, you are not alone, but it is true nevertheless. There’s also a perfectly good but somewhat complicated explanation for it. For now picture a slide at a water park, with water constantly being pumped back to the top behind the scenes, and constantly flowing down again in plain sight.)

Even more advanced than that, once you have good volume and continuous pouring, you can change the direction. You’ll want to start downward first to benefit from the natural pull of gravity, but once you’ve got that going on you can work to flow it outwards, sideways, or even up. To make things even stronger (and stranger), at the highest levels the energy can flow in any direction while you are maintaining a steady root.

If you want to build that kind of internal power, don’t try to jump the gun. Begin at the beginning and put in the work. Get the feeling right. Practice it in your set until it is second nature. Work the fundamentals and the rest will come. If you try to get too far too fast, you’ll end up skipping steps and getting frustrated without gaining any real skill to show for your effort. Tai Chi is internal work, but it does take work. This is just one bit of work you’ll need to really master Tai Chi.

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