Rooting is the corner stone of the internal arts such as Pa Kua, Hsing
I and Tai Chi. It is also fundamental to many martial schools particularly
of the Southern Chinese influence that include Goju Ryu, Uechi Ryu etc.
What is Rooting and how is it used?
It is a way of standing and moving whilst maintaining a low centre of gravity with optimum balance and stability in relation to the ground. Correct alignment of the musculoskeletal system is adopted in such a way that energy is transferred efficiently. The emphasis throughout is on maintaining a strong foundation by adopting an efficient structure using the minimum amount of effort
Rooting allows an opponents force to be absorbed and redirected into the ground. Conversely force is initiated from the legs, directed up through the trunk and projected out through the arms.
The first stage is to cultivate the feeling of being centered through sitting and standing practise. In Japanese the centre is 'Tan Den', in Chinese 'Dan Tien'. Next is to maintain and extend the sensory awareness of your centre in relation to the ground and your surroundings.
This is one of the reasons why stance and standing practise taught correctly in the dojo is so important.
When there is an awareness of being centered and extended then the study of rooting naturally follows.
Correct posture and muscular coordination is required for effective rooting. This can take years of practise to undue a lifetime of adopting bad postural and uneven muscle development.
When antagonistic muscles groups work in an uncoordinated fashion, excess tension and effort is used but with less effect.
It is important to be able to 'let go', of habitual tension that is not required. Whilst a movement may feel strong it may in fact be inherently weak in its effect. Moving with excess tension is like driving with the handbrake on.
Following are the key points of rooting
Sanchin stance - Heel, base of little toe and big toe form contact with ground.
The weight is pressed forward, to the inside of the base of the big toe. This corresponds with Kidney point 1 (bubbling well)
Knees bent so that they are above the base of the big toe.
The backs of the knees have a feeling of resilience. There is a feeling of spiraling the feet into the ground, this lifts the thighs and the pelvis rotates up.
A feeling of firmness in the lower belly (not stiffness but pliable tension).
Perineum pulled up by contraction of the anal sphincters and a firmness of the PC muscle. This is the muscle used to interrupt the flow of urine.
A firmness at the base of the buttocks (the hamstrings connecting legs to torso).
As the belly has a feel of circling up, sit down on the legs. Ie relax let the skeleton hold the posture then reaffirm the position. There is a feeling of the sacrum projecting like a third leg to the ground.
The waist remains relaxed, heavy and connected.
Chest relaxed, allow the breath to be natural.
Back is straight. The upper back has a feeling of slightly arched both vertically and horizontally (the elbow position in Sanchin creates the horizontal feeling).
Shoulders down, but arched naturally forward.
The neck and lower back are connected these are vertical. Chin pulled in so the eyes look straight ahead.
Crown and perineum connected by stretching.
Touching tongue on upper pallet, traditionally contact governing and conception vessel. Also makes muscles in the neck work more efficiently by aiding connection of head to torso Described in the Bubishi as carrying a great weight in the head
Use gravity by aligning the skeleton and correct amount of tension in muscles for joints to absorb and redirect force.
Stay down, don't let centre of gravity rise as you attack.
This is one of the key elements of Sanchin practise and should be studied deeply.
Sodokan Goju Karate Association
Best viewed at a display setting of 800 x 600.
© Mike Clark 1997-2005. Reproduction of material on this site is not permitted