The Foundation of Taijiquan
A strong root is one of the most important aspects of Taijiquan. To be able to use your movements for self defence requires a great deal of skill, and understanding rooting will aid you in developing this skill. However, even if your are not worried about this side of training strong legs are a great aid to a healthy body.
y most memorable im pression of England is the passion people have for gardening. All around, are lovely gardens, beautiful to behold. I appreciate the energy that has gone into creating such visions of harmony. As every gardener knows, it is essential to provide proper fertilizer, water and plenty of sunlight for plants to grow well. The plant itself must have a strong root. Without this, flowering may be brief and discoloured, and the plant life will be short lived.
Taijiquan training is somewhat similar to gardening. The correct information we receive from our masters is just like water and fertilizer helping us to grow a strong root. Encouragement, which inspires us in our growth is like sunlight. Above all, our desire and continuing quest for more knowledge makes the difference.
With rooting, whether practising Taijiquan or push hands, your upper body movements will become softer, your form will feel more serene; your response will become quicker in receiving opponents energy during push hands. When issuing energy you will sense more power. Rooting is the foundation of body structure.
Isn't it interesting? Sometimes, after a major storm you might see a big strong tree completely uprooted just by the power of the wind, yet smaller softer trees nearby have survived. Why does a large tree fall while a small humble tree survives? The reason is simple, the big tree is too rigid, too tense, too serious.
When the storm comes, it tries to resist the power of the wind. However, respecting the winds power, the small tree bends and flows wherever the wind wants to go, its upper branches are softer but the roots are dug strongly into the earth. This tree will survive the terrible storm intact.
To describe rooting in Taijiquan let's use the example of the smaller tree. Your upper body should be soft and limber but with resilience; your waist rotating to create the energy, while your lower body, the legs, root into the earth. However, rooting is a very abstract concept. It can't be achieved by just sinking down. Beginners in Taijiquan with limited knowledge to go on, will have little or no idea what rooting is.
Then how do we know we are doing it correctly? Are we on the right path? How do we feel when rooting?
In order to experience the true feeling of rooting, the following conditions need to exist; (1) Body structure is in line. (2) Muscles and tendons are soft and extended to the point of resilience. (3) The most important part: Intention; your thoughts must extend into both legs in order to create rooting. Without the body (structure) and mind (intention) coordinated together, the desired feeling
will not be produced. It is vital to remember this. To fully comprehend the concept of rooting, we must first understand that Taijiquan energy is created by two equal and opposite forces, either pulling or pushing against each other. A good example of this is drawing a bow to shoot an arrow. The bow is pulled in opposite directions, creating a new energy which is then stored in the bow ready to be used. In order to draw the bow economically and efficiently, body posture must be correct, then the new energy can be maintained for usage. The mind (intention) finally directs where the arrow will fly, as it is released towards its target. Consider rooting in the same way as drawing a bow. As an example let us use the posture push (press) in 'Grasping the Birds Tail*. Your intention is to push your opponent, releasing your energy forward. Your back leg is used to support your upper body by lining both up into a straight line (see the article on bodv Dosture straight vs. uorieht shoulders and released through your arms into your hands. At this point you can be easily pulled or led, since you are using only one energy. However, Taijiquan energy requires two equal forces pushing and pulling in opposite directions. Therefore, while your back leg is pushing forward, your front leg needs to push backward at the same time. This feeline in the lees is
"Without the body and mind coordinated together, the desired feeling will not be produced. It is vital to
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