Grounding, Centering, Stabilizing, Sinking, Balancing

Central Equilibrium, Zhong Ding, Gravity Powers, Vertical Forces


Research by Michael P. Garofalo

In Qigong (Chi Kung) and T'ai Chi Ch'uan (Taijiquan) Mind-Body Arts and E
For Power, Strength, Balance, Fitness, Vigor, Calmness and Good Health

Introduction      Bibliography      Quotations     Practices   

Valley Spirit Qigong      Taijiquan      Cloud Hands Blog

Loosened, Relaxed Sung

Rooting, Vertical Forces, Centering, Gravity Powers

Standing Qigong, Yi Quan, Wu Ji, Post, Embracing Peng, Shan Ti Shi

© Valley Spirit Qigong, Green Way Research, Red Bluff, California, 2012-2016
By Michael P. Garofalo, M.S., All Rights Reserved.







Animal Frolics Qigong

Bear     Tiger     Monkey     Deer     Crane     Dragon     Animal Frolics







Rooting, Centering, Stabilizing, Grounding, Balanced


    Most human beings can stand and walk capably on their own by the age of two.  The experience of learning to stand and walk, and our lifelong experience with standing and walking is deeply "rooted" in our consciousness.  Many metaphors essential to our thinking about life's experiences are based upon our bodily experience of standing and walking in a balanced, coordinated, efficient, and safe manner. 

    Good health is dependent upon standing and walking.  When in poor physical health we speak of lightheadedness, feeling faint, being dizzy, uneasy, too weak to stand, disorientated, unable to walk, being unbalanced, loosing ground, unstable, shaky, bedfast, disabled, crippled, collapsing, slipping away, etc. 

    Falling down is an unpleasant, painful, and possibly injurious experience at any age.  Nobody wants to loose their balance and fall, or trip, stumble, slip, tumble, be clumsy, or bump into things, etc.  Stumbling and falling out of a window, off of a roof, off a bridge or boat, or off a ledge or cliff in the mountains can all mean serious injury or death for the unlucky person.  Staying balanced and grounded and not falling are essential to our physical and mental well being. 

    When in good mental health we speak of being grounded, standing on our own two feet, being stable minded, balanced, level headed, being down to earth, earthy, etc.  Moral goodness is spoken of as being upright, standing firm, standing one's ground, standing up and being counted, rock solid, true grit, walking tall, etc.   We speak of our early upbringing as our "roots."  Strong "roots in the community" or "good moral roots" are admired.  Persons in poor mental health are unstable, out of touch, flighty, unbalanced, disorientated, off the edge, off their rocker, uprooted, drifting, fallen away, displaced, slipping, spaced out, on shaky ground, etc.  People with unethical behavior are on the wrong path, weak kneed, stumbling along, running away from responsibilities, fallen away, etc. 

    The "Tao or Dao" means "The Path" or "The Way."  Yes, we must stand and walk along the correct path in our lives, one step at at time, not falling, being upright, walking tall. 

    Beauty is associated with proportion, grace, nimbleness, strength, etc.; whereas ugliness is associated with clumsiness, awkwardness, stumbling, being ungainly, being unbalanced or disproportionate in some way. 

    Trees and shrubs require secure and strong roots for their well being.  They draw moisture and nutrients up from the earth through their roots.  Without secure and deep or wide roots the plant will fall down or be toppled in strong winds and die.   Being uprooted for a plant is death.  Likewise, human beings cannot be "uprooted" from familiar and safe surroundings without significant stress.  Metaphors, similes, and analogies connected with trees and plants are innumerable.  In Chinese, Gen = 根 = root, long slender objects; Shu Gen = 根 = tree roots; Zhi Gen = 根 = to take root or establish a base; Ben = 本 = roots or stems of plants, source, origin, basis.  The word "root" in English has over a dozen meanings and can be used as a noun and a verb.    

    Without plants all human beings and animals would die.  Without food from Mother Earth (Gaia) we die.  What Mother Earth gives us to eat we become.  Mother Earth is Our Home.  We are all married to Mother Earth.  When we lie down and die, Mother Earth swallows us. 

    Our ever-present connection with our Earth because of gravity is fundamental to our consciousness, sensation, and mind-body reality.  Our good health is dependent upon the role gravity plays in our lives, and the health of astronauts is adversely affected by living in a zero gravity environment.  Gravity "connects" us to the earth, fixes us in our place, roots us down.  Our lower bodies, legs and feet, are like our "roots" connected with the earth.  In Chinese, Di = = earth, ground, field, place, land. 

    "Roots" are associated with fundamentals, basics, essentials, causes, origins, reasons, etc.  In Chinese, Yuan = = root, source, origin; Gen Ben = 本 = fundamental, basic, simply; Huo Gen = = root of the trouble, cause of the ruin. 

    One of the traditional Chinese Five Elements, Phases or Forces is the Earth Element (Chinese: 土, pinyin: Tu).  Likewise, in Western cosmology, alchemy, and neopagan metaphysics one of the essential Four Elements is "Earth."  Generally, Earth energy in the West is associated with Feminine Powers, mothers, goddesses, nurturing, fertility, eating, birth, stability, grounding, body, sensations, touch, soil, roots, darkness, death, north, dark green or blue, winter, permanence and snakes.  In Chinese cosmology, the Earth Element or Phase is associated with the Supreme Yin, mothers, nurturing, stability, rootedness, inwardness, centering, patience, practicality, late summer, yellow, spleen, stomach, mouth, empathy, and the Yellow Dragon. 

    One common symbol or image used to represent Taoist philosophy is the T'ai Chi Tun or the Yin/Yang symbol.  This image is now recognized worldwide.  One of the primary implications of the image is balance, balancing forces, and the interplay and fluctuation of two complimentary forces that ultimately must reach a balanced and harmonious state (Tao Te Ching, Chapter 42).  Striving to be in harmony and balance with the Tao is an essential goal of a Daoist lifestyle. 



The many examples and metaphors mentioned above point to our preference for staying balanced, properly connected with the earth, being upright, centered on the correct path, not falling, being grounded in reality, and not being pushed around.  Therefore, it is easy to see our attraction to mind-body arts and practices that speak often of rooting, grounding, balancing, and centering.

The characteristic manifestations, aspects, and qualities of "Rooting" in Taijiquan and Qigong
to be cultivated through body-mind-spirit practices are as follows:

Maintain an upright posture, head lifted, chin tucked, back straight;
Keep the head, torso, and hips in a relatively straight "plumb" line;
Draw energy (Qi) up from the earth (
Di ) and allow energy to flow down into the earth through the "bubbling well" point on the bottom of the front pad of your foot (the Yong Quan acupoint KI-1);
Sink the body weight through the legs and feet into the Earth; 
Stay balanced and relaxed (sung) while moving gracefully;
Keep the kneecaps over the center of the foot in settled positions;
Imagine roots branching out and down 3 feet or more into the earth from the "bubbling well" point on your foot with roots that are deep, strong, and flexible;
Develop an improved proprioceptive awareness of the skills needed for the specific activity;
Maintain a steady feeling state of being centered, stable, fixed, and strong in your position;
Resist pushes from others by sinking into the Earth and holding a fixed, strong, stable, and settled stance and footwork;
When pushing others use the earth, your feet, and your legs to generate leverage and power;
Connect with the Earth, relate to Earth energies, integrate with the Powers of the Earth, feel the Earth's Forces;
Keep a calm, grounded, relaxed, and centered mind;
Don't be so stiff and locked you cannot move with some fluidity and grace in response to situations and others;
Align the postures with the path of least resistance (wu wei) in the body;
Rooting is a feeling state and sensation-motor skill and less an intellectual concept;
Maintain postures and footwork while moving that prevent you from loosing balance, slipping, or falling;
Breathe easily, deeply, and effortlessly through the nose;
Be aware of one's footing, i.e., uneven surfaces, slippery or wet surfaces, poorly fitting or inappropriate shoes, hazards, etc.;
Avoid practicing when ill, uneasy, rushed or upset; 
Maintain one's central equilibrium (Zhongding) in the postures and movements. 

The characteristic manifestations, aspects, and qualities of "Central Equilibrium" (
Zhongding 定)
in Taijiquan and Qigong to be cultivated through body-mind-spirit practices are as follows:

Maintain an upright posture, head lifted, chin tucked, back straight;
Keep the head, torso, and hips in a relatively straight "plumb" line;
dynamic stability, be stabilized within, be centered, be settled;
Develop an improved proprioceptive awareness of the skills needed for the specific activity;
Be calm, still and settled in one's mind and emotions;
Allow one's body to sink and settle into the ground;
Keep the kneecaps over the center of the foot in settled positions;
Direct bodily energy (Qi, Chi) downward into the earth;
Relax (Sung), loosen, untense, and unlock the joints of the body;
Avoid wobbling, getting out of balance, or straining. 

"Qi" is the Chinese word for energy, life-force, vitality, and aliveness.  Qi (or Chi) is similar in meaning to the term Prana in Hatha Yoga, and Ki in Japanese.  Qi is associated with breathing, the energetic aspects of respiration, blood flow, and the pathways for energy flow in the body.  "Gong" is the word for achievement through a disciplined practice, hard work towards mastery, and dedicated self-development.  Qigong (or Chi Kung) is a modern Chinese term for the ancient Chinese fitness exercises (Dao Yin), self-help health practices, longevity methods (Yangsheng Fa), meditation methods, internal alchemy (Nei Gong) and transformational body-mind practices.  All Qigong styles emphasize being centered, balanced, grounded, and being rooted in the Earth. 

T'ai Chi Ch'uan (Taijiquan) means "Grand Ultimate Fist" or "Supreme Boxing." Taijiquan, Baguazhang, and Hsing Yi Quan are all considered "Internal Marial Arts."  The majority of the popular Taijiquan styles created in China are all less than 350 years old.  The most popular Taijiquan styles practiced in the United States of America are the Yang, Chen, Wu, and Sun styles of Taijiquan.  Taijiquan movements are most often practiced by persons who have no interest in the martial arts, but can be.  All Taijiquan styles emphasize moving gracefully, attacking and defending while being centered, balanced, grounded, and rooted in the Earth.   

Many older persons choose to practice Qigong or Taijiquan because it improves their balance, coordination, and steadiness on their feet.  Elderly persons have good reason to fear the serious consequences of falling. Scientific studies have demonstrated that practicing Taijiquan improves leg strength and balance, and prevents falls.   

Taijiquan uses Sensing Hands (Tui Shou) or Pushing Hands to develop rooting power.  The regular practice of two people pushing hands will improve one's rooting and centering skills, and enable one to feel or sense this power in other people. 

The practice of Yoga also emphasizes being grounded.  Seated (e.g. Half Lotus Pose, Ardha Padmasana) and supine (e.g., Corpse Pose, Shavasana) meditation postures, and many yoga stretching postures, emphasize being in direct contact with the earth, comfortable, centered, settled, and fully grounded.  Seated and settled meditation postures held for long periods of time are very common in Taoist and Buddhist meditation methods.  The word "asana" in Yoga refers to being seated, settled, relaxed, secure, and maintaining an relatively straight and erect back. 

Static standing isometric postures are often held for long periods of time to develop rooting power and central equilibrium.  Static standing postures, Zhan Zhuang, are often used in Qigong and Taijiquan practices.  Yoga has numerous static standing postures (Kriyas), e.g., Mountain Pose, Tadasana, or Tree Pose, Virksasana. 

Best wishes for good health, happiness, and balance in the Year of the Water Dragon in 2012.


Mike Garofalo 
Valley Spirit Center
Red Bluff, California
January 2012 



Return to Main Index






Bibliography, Links and Resources
Rooting, Centering, Stabilizing, Grounding, Balanced



Achieving Root

Alphabetical Subject Index to the Cloud Hands Taijiquan and Qigong Website

Animal Frolics Qigong    

Balance in Tai Chi Chuan

The Carp Leaps Through the Dragon's Gate

Chi Kung (Daoyin, Qigong): Bibliograpy, Resources, Links, Lessons  

Chinese Healing Exercises: The Tradition of Daoyin.  By Livia Kohn.  University of Hawaii Press, 2008.  268 pages.  ISBN: 0824832698.  History of Daoist health practices. 

The Chi Revolution: Harnessing the Healing Power of Your Life Force.  By Bruce Kumar Frantzis.  Berkeley, California, Blue Snake Books, 2008.  248 pages.  ISBN: 978-1583941935.  VSCL. 

Chronicles of Tao: The Secret Life of a Taoist Master.  By Deng, Ming-Dao.  Harper San Francisco, 1993.  496 pages.  ISBN: 0062502190.  

Circle of the Dragon: Dragon and Serpent History and Mystery 

Cloud Hands Taijiquan and Qigong 

Cloud Hands Blog  By Mike Garofalo.

Correspondences and Alchemical Associations for the Dragon 

Creating Central Equilibrium in Bagua and Tai Chi by Paul Cavel. 

Dao De Jing, Laozi (The Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu)

Daoism: Bibliography, Links, Resources, Quotations, Lessons 

Daoist Body Cultivation: Traditional Models and Contemporary Practices.  Edited by Livia Kohn.  University of Hawaii Press, 2006.  243 pages.  ISBN: 1931483051.  VSCL.   

Daoist Nei Gong: The Philosophical Art of Change   By Damo Mitchell.  Singing Dragon, 2011.  240 pages.  ISBN: 978-1848190658. 

The Dao of Taijiquan: Way to Rejuvenation.   By Tsung Hwa Jou.  Charles E. Tuttle, 1998.  3rd Edition.  233 pages.  ISBN: 0804813574.  An outstanding textbook on Tai Chi Chuan.  All styles are introduced and explained.  A very informative introduction to the philosophy and practices of Tai Chi Chuan.  VSCL. 

Daoist Studies and Practices: Ripening Peaches  

Dao-Yin is the term used to identify ancient Chinese healing exercises.  The word 'Dao' means to guide, to lead, to show the way, The Way.  The word 'Yin' means to pull, to stretch out, to lengthen.  Dao-Yin is an ancient term, with many similarities with the 20th century term 'Qigong." 

Deer Frolic Qigong  

Developing Root in Tai Chi Practice by Hal Mosher  

A Discussion on Rooting.  Edited by David Chen. 

Dragon Qigong Presented by Mike Garofalo, M.S.  Bibliography, introduction, lessons, research.   

Dragon's Play: A New Taoist Transmission of the Complete Experience of Human Life.  By Charles Belyea and Steven Tainer.  Illustrations by Xiao-Lun Lin.  Berkeley, California, Great Circle Lifeworks,  1991.  196 pages.  ISBN: 0962930814.  VSCL. 

The Earth Element: The Season of Earth

Earth Energies or Phases (Wu Xing)

Eight Section Brocade Qigong, Ba Duan Jin  

Zhongding - Finding Your Central Equilibrium by Rick Barrett of the Tai Chi Academy

Five Animal Frolics Qigong 

Five Elements Qigong

Frolics Qigong 

The Healing Promise of Qi: Creating Extraordinary Wellness Through Qigong and Tai Chi 
By Roger Jahnke, O.M.D..  Chicago, Contemporary Books, 2002.   Index, notes, extensive recommended reading list, 316 pages.  ISBN: 0809295288.  VSCL. 

How Tai Chi Improves Balance by Strawberry K. Gatts and Marjorie Willacott

Improving Your Balance with Tai Chi Chuan

The Internal Structure of Cloud Hands: A Gateway to Advanced T'ai Chi Practice.  By Robert Tangora.  Foreword by Michael J. Gelb.  Berkeley, California, Blue Snake Books, 2012.  Bibliography, 141 pages.  ISBN: 9781583944486.  VSCL.  A thorough discussion of three components of internal power: 1) cross-body power, 2) left-right alignment or joint power, and 3) zhong ding power.  Six supplemental and complimentary exercises are precisely explained and illustrated.  "Cloud Hands is a paradigm for the internal symmetry in t'ai chi ch'uan through the hidden relationship between the stepping method, the changes of nei chin, and cross-body power. ... This book is beneficial for a a wide range of practitioners of movement, healing, and marital arts. ... The reader should be familiar with core concepts from t'ai chi ch'uan, e.g., song, nei chin, ch'i, and zhong ding."    

Lifestyle Advice From Wise Persons 

Lohan Shaolin Buddhist Qigong  Eighteen Buddha Hands Qigong. 

Long Chi Kung

Magic Pearl Qigong: A Tai Chi Medicine Ball Exercise Routine and Meditation Technique.  Developed by Mike Garofalo. 

Magic Pearl Qigong

Muscle and Tendon Changing Qigong - Yi Jin Jing  

Nourishing the Essence of Life: The Outer, Inner and Secret Teachings of Taoism.  Translated with and Introduction by Eva Wong.   Boston, Shambhala, 2004.   104 pages.  ISBN:  1590301048.

On Being Rooted  The Tai Chi Chuan Center of New York 

On Center Line and Central Equilibrium by Tu-Ky Lam 

One Old Druid's Final Journey: Notebooks of the Librarian of Gushen Grove   

Opening the Dragon Gate: The Making of a Modern Taoist Wizard.  By Chen Kaiguo and Zheng Shunchao.  Translated by Thomas Cleary.  Cheng Kaiguo and Zheng Shunchao are students of the modern Taoist master Wang Liping and live in Beijing.  Tuttle Publishing, 1998.  288 pages.  ISBN: 0804831858.  VSCL. 

Opening the Energy Gates of Your Body: Chi Gung for Lifelong Health (Tao of Energy Enhancement).  By Bruce Kumar Frantzis. 
Illustrated by Husky Grafx.  North Atlantic Books, 1993.  Second Edition.  174 pages.  ISBN: 1556431643.  VSCL.     

Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and Its Challenge to Western Thought.  By Geogre Lakoff and Mark Johnson.  Basic Books, Perseu Books, 1999.  Index, bibliography, 624 pages.  ISBN: 0465056741.   "The mind is inherently bebodied.  Thought is mostly unconscious.  Abstract concepts are largely metaphorical."  

Qigong Empowerment: A Guide to Medical, Taoist, Buddhist and Wushu Energy Cultivation Qi: Bibliography, Links, Resources and Quotations  By Liang, Shou-Yu and Wu, Wen-Ching.  Edited by Denise Breiter-Wu.  Rhode Island, Way of the Dragon Publishing, 1997.  Index, glossary, 348 pages.  ISBN: 18896590.  VSCL. 

Qigong Teachings of a Taoist Immortal: The Eight Essential Exercises of Master Li Ching-Yun.  By Stuart Alve Olson.  Heavenly Arts Press.  192 pages.  ISBN:  0892819456.  Excerpts  VSCL. 

Qigong (Chi Kung): Bibliography, Links, Quotations, Instructions, Lessons, Notes  

Qigong Meditation: Embroyonic Breathing.   By Yang, Jwing-Ming.  Boston, Mass., YMAA Publications, 2003.  Index, glossary, 389 pages.  ISBN: 1886969736.  VSCL. 

Realms of the Dragons Website  

Relaxation, Calmness, Sung, Poise, Effortlessness 

Relaxing into Your Being: The Water Method of Taoist Meditation Series, Vol. 1 
By Bruce Kumar Frantzis.  Fairfax, California, Clarify Press, 1998.  Reader's Edition.  208 pages.  Republished by: North Atlantic Books, 2001, ISBN: 1556434073.  VSCL. 

The Root of Chinese Qigong: Secrets of Health, Longevity, & Enlightenment.
  By Yang Jwing-Ming, PhD., 1946-.  YMAA Chi Kung Series #1.   Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, Yang's Martial Arts Association, 1989.  Glossary, 272 pages.   ISBN: 0940871076.  VSCL. 

Rooting in Tai Chi Chuan 

Rooting: Posts to the Cloud Hands Blog

Rooting: The Secret of Getting Power from the Earth.  By Gaofei Yan and James Cravens.  61K.  

Secrets of the Dragon Gate: Ancient Taoist Practices for Health, Wealth, and the Art of Sexual Yoga.  By Dr. Steven Liu and Jonathan Blank.  New York, Jeremy P. Tarcher, Penguin, 2011.  214 pages.  ISBN: 9781585428434.  VSCL. 

Shaolin Buddhist Lohan Qigong 

Silk Reeling Qigong  

Standing Meditation, Wuji Posture, Rooting, Zhan Zhuang Qigong

Subject Index to the Cloud Hands Taijiquan and Qigong Website

T'ai Chi Ch'uan 

Tai Chi Qigong Shibashi 

The Taoist Body.  By Kristofer Schipper.  Translated by Karen C. Duval.  Foreword by Norman Girardot.  Berkeley, California, University of California Press, 1993.  Originally published in French in 1982 as Le Corps Taoiste.  Notes, bibliography, index, xx, 273 pages.  ISBN: 0520082249.  VSCL. 

Taoist Classics.  The Collected Translations of Thomas Cleary.  Boston, Shambhala Press.  Four Volumes:  Volume One, 296 pages, 2003.   Volume Two, 640 pages, 1999.   Volume Three, 304 pages, 2001.   Volume Four, 464 pages, 2003.  

Taoist Meditation and Longevity Techniques.   Edited by Livia Kohn.  Michigan Monographs in Chinese Studies, 1989.  398 pages.  ISBN: 0892640855.  VSCL. 

Taoist Studies and Practices: Ripening Peaches 

The Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu  (Dao De Jing, Laozi)  Selected Quotations, Commentaries, Guides, Indexes

Temple Qigong

Valley Spirit Center, Red Bluff, California 

Valley Spirit Qigong 

VSCL =  Valley Spirit Center Library, Red Bluff, California 

Wang Hao Da Article by J. Reynolds Neson

The Way of Qigong: The Art and Science of Chinese Energy Healing
   By Kenneth S. Cohen.  Foreword by Larry Dossey.  New York Ballantine Books, 1997.  Index, notes, appendices, 427 pages.  ISBN: 0345421094.  One of my favorite books: comprehensive, informative, practical, and scientific.  VSCL. 

Way of the Cane and Short Staff  

The Web That Has No Weaver: Understanding Chinese Medicine.  By Ted J. Kaptchuk, O.M.D..  Chicago, McGraw Hill Contemporary Books, 2nd Edition, 2000.  Index, bibliography, appendices, notes, 500 pages.  Foreword by Margaret Caudill, M.D., and by Andrew Weil, M.D.  ISBN: 0809228408.  An excellent introduction to traditional Chinese medicine and modern research on the topic.  VSCL. 

Wild Goose Qigong: Links, Bibliography, Quotes, Notes 

Wu Qin Xi, Five Animal Frolics Qigong 




Yang Sheng Fa  The Chinese program for "Life Nourishing Techniques" or "Methods for Nourishing Life" or "Longevity Methods."    Yang Sheng Fa includes exercises (e.g. Dao-Yin, Qigong, Taijiquan, Baguazhang, Yoga, Walking, etc.), a proper diet for a lean physique, good sleep and rest habits, self-massage, acupuncture, the proper use of herbs and medicine, wholesome habits and self-discipline, a productive occupation, adapting to seasonal changes, Feng Shui, enhancing mental health practices, ethical behavior, meditation, guidance and wellness coaching from masters, philosophy, and study. 

Yang Sheng Fa: Longevity Methods   

Yi Jin Jing - Muscle and Tendon Changing Qigong 

Yoga: Bibliography, Links, Quotations, Notes 

Zhan Zhuang Gong: Postures for Rooting   

Zhan Zhuang Qigong: Standing Meditation, Rooting, Wuji Posture 

Zhongding = 定 = Central Equilibrium, Dynamic Stability, Stabilized Within, Centered and Settled.  In Chinese, Zhong  means in the center, within, in the inside, in the middle; Ding means to set, to fix, to settle, still, stabilized, balanced. 



Return to Main Index









Rooting, Centering, Stabilizing, Grounding, Balanced



    "If there is above, there must be below.  If there is Advancing, there must be Withdrawing.  If there is left, there must be right. If the initial intent is upward, you must first have downward intent.  If you want to lift something upward, you must first have the intent of pushing downward. Then the root will be severed, it will be immediately and certainly toppled."  - Olson, Stuart Alve, 2001.
    "Where there is something up, there must be something down.  Where there is something forwards, there must be something backwards.  Where there is something left, there must be something right.  If one intends to move up, one must simultaneously show a contrary tendency (downwards), just as one who wishes to pull a tree up pushes downwards first to loosen the roots, so that it can be easily uprooted." -  Jou, Tsung-Hwa, 1980.     
"If there is a top, there is a bottom; if there is a front, there is a back; if there is a left, there is a right.  If Yi (mind) wants to go upward, this implies considering downward.  (This means) if (you) want to lift and defeat an opponent, you must first consider his root.  When the opponent's root is broken, he will inevitably be defeated quickly and certainly."  -  Yang, Jwing-Ming, 1996.  
"There is up, and therefore there is down, there is forward, and therefore there is backward; there is left, and therefore there is right.  If one intends to move upward, the send the yi downward.  If one wants to lift something up, then a 'break' must be added.  In this way, the opponent will sever his own root, ruining him quickly; no doubt about it."  -  Davis, Barbara, 2004.    
"You should also follow the T'ai Chi principle of opposites: when you move upward, the mind must be aware of down; when moving forward, the mind also thinks of moving back; when shifting to the left side, the mind should simultaneously notice the right side - so that if the mind is going up, it is also going down.  Such principles relate to T'ai Chi movement in the same way that uprooting an object, and thereby destroying its foundation, will make the object fall sooner."  - Liao, Waysun, 1990.    
"If there is up, there is down; if there is forward, then there is backward; if there is left, then there is right.  If the Yi wants to move up, it contains at the same time the downward idea.  By alternating the force of pulling and pushing, the root is severed and the object is quickly toppled, without a doubt."  -  Lo, Benjamin, 1979.

-   Various translations of
Grandmaster Chang San Feng's Treatise on on Tai Chi Chuan, circa 1300 CE.    



"When we are trying to achieve rooting in Taijiquan, we should visualize below the surface of the floor or ground... much like the roots of a tree. The "Bubbling Well" an acupoint called Yong Quan (KI-1) located on the bottom of the foot should be used as the point from which this imaginary root extends into the ground from which to draw strength. Rooting in Taijiquan will transfer from foot to foot, but never stays equally rooted on the right and the left. The weight should remain on the outer edges of the feet and remain a slight gripping feel with the toes, the ball of the foot, and the heel. Although the Yong Quan never touches the floor, you should still focus on this area as the root of each movement. Techniques to build this skill vary from person to person. I recommend using different visualizations and thoughts to see what works best for each person.  
    Posture to be maintained to achieve proper rooting: The Bai Hui (GV-20) acupoint, located at the top & slight-rear of the head lines up vertically with the Hui Yin (C0-1), located at the exact center underneath the groin area. This is done by turning the hips upward... thus opening the Ming Men (GV-4) located at the small of the back... and also tucking the chin in slightly but keeping the head upright. 
    Rooting is an essential part of our Taijiquan training and often takes years to develop good consistent skills... so be patient and thankful for making incremental gains."
-  David West, Rooting in Taijiquan



    "Rooting is the process of making a good connection to the ground in stances and during transitions. ... When we refer to rooting we are talking about rooting the legs (and thus the entire body) of the completed postures as well as the legs during the transitions as well. When we are trying to achieve rooting in Taijiquan, we should visualize below the surface of the floor or ground... much like the roots of a tree. The "Bubbling Well" an acupoint called Yong Quan (KI-1) located on the bottom of the foot should be used as the point from which this imaginary root extends into the ground from which to draw strength. Rooting in Taijiquan will transfer from foot to foot, but never stays equally rooted on the right and the left. The weight should remain on the outer edges of the feet and remain a slight gripping feel with the toes, the ball of the foot, and the heel. Although the Yong Quan never touches the floor, you should still focus on this area as the root of each movement. Techniques to build this skill vary from person to person. I recommend using different visualizations and thoughts to see what works best for each person."
-  David West, Rooting in Tai Chi Chuan  



    "Finding your central equilibrium (zhongding) is as subtle as it is vital to your gongfu.  I consider it the foundation of any higher level martial art and the source of the ‘effortless power’ that is the hallmark of the internal styles.  It plugs us into the ‘Big Qi’– the universal energy source of earth and sky that makes it all go. So, beyond its value to martial artists, it also is a tremendous asset to energy healers and to any human being who wants to feel more vitality and ease of movement. 
    Yet it is very elusive. Hidden in plain sight. It is veiled by our own sense of personal safety. Most of us learn to stand upright and walk around when we are a year or so old. Our sense of balance is established when our primary concern is to not fall over and hurt ourselves. This was a valid concern then and it is now. But the body of a one or two year old is undeveloped and the way we supported ourselves then is not the best way to do it now. 
    There is a ‘sweet spot’ you find when you allow your body to center over the balls of your feet. But most of us feel like we’re ‘off-balance’ when at true center because it’s so unfamiliar. We are so used to leaning backward that any adjustment forward seems threatening. That old program kicks in and say’s “Whoa!  What’re you crazy? You’re gonna fall on your face!” But to an observer you would look straight and tall. 
    When I want to build a wall or hang a door I need to establish plumb and square. I use a plumb bob to determine the line that is vertical to earth. It doesn’t matter if the floor is tilted. I want my vertical line to be as plumb as possible. Once I have my absolute reference line, I can use a square to establish lines perpendicular to it. This way my door can swing freely and my walls don’t require a lot of additional bracing to keep from falling over."
-  Rick Barrett, Tai Chi Alchemy, Zhongding - Finding Your Central Equilibrium



    "This practice is part of an ancient Chinese health system of exercises. One of the first references found about this type of exercise is in the Huang-Ti Nei Ching (Classics of Medicine by the Yellow Emperor, 2690-2590 B.C. E.) which is, by the way, probably one of the oldest books in the medical field. This posture, practiced and transmitted secretly in martial arts circles, has been openly shown to the public since the last century. Wang Xiang Zhai, a very famous martial arts master of that period in China, made of this technique the base of a new martial art that he called I Chuan (Mind Boxing). He used to say, "The immobility is the mother of any movement or technique."
-  Victoria Windholtz, Standing Like a Tree, T'ai Chi: The International Magazine of T'ai Chi Ch'uan: Volume 19, No. 6, December, 2005, pp. 6-9. 



    "Rooting skill keeps you upright and stable, without a penalty of immobility. Instead of intentionally engaging your legs to counteract a push or pull, you adjust your center of gravity to nullify it. Since your joints remain unlocked, you can move your body and limbs at will.
    To root is to deny your opponent a surface on which they may productively apply their strength. They touch your body, but cannot disturb your center.
    How can you develop a strong root? Learning to sink the qi is not enough. Fortunately, there are specific, self-correcting partner drills designed to sharpen this skill."
Introduction to Rooting Skill



"Being rooted is also the key for the special striking and kicking power we get in tai chi. We call this the attacking power of root. Instead of relying on hand or arm power when you strike, you use the whole body power. And not just the whole body power; the whole body-rooted-to- the-ground power. This aspect of tai chi power is not at all mysterious if you understand the mechanics involved. 
    The trick is to be stuck to the ground when you strike, which makes your mass very great. Since all the definitions of force and energy in physics rely in part on mass, this makes your attacks very powerful. In each equation (force is mass multiplied by acceleration, F=ma; energy is mass times velocity squared, E=mc2; momentum is mass times velocity, M=mv)speed is important, but you can only be so fast. When you are rooted, though, you draw in on the mass of the whole earth, and your mass approaches infinity. If your mass approaches infinity, then theoretically your power approaches infinity also. You can see this in a train, which is very powerful even when moving slowly because it has such a big mass."
-  The Tai Chi Chuan Center of New York, On Being Rooted



"The Taichi Classics say that the proper root is in the foot.  A beginner can develop root by simply spending three to five minutes, morning and night, standing fully on a single leg.  Alternate legs and gradually increase the time as you sink lower.  This 'bitter work' not only develops a root, it stimulates the cardiovascular system, with benefits the brain.  It is essential that your ch'i sinks to the tan-t'ien, both feet adhere to the floor, and you exert absolutely no force.  When practicing this Standing Posture, you may assist your balance by lightly touching a chair or table with the middle and index fingers.  After a while us only the middle finger.  When you can stand unassisted, you my choose either the Lift Hands Posture or Playing the Guitar Posture to continue your practice.  Do not fear bitter work.  If you do you will never progress."
-  Professor Cheng Man-ch'ing, New Method of Taichi Ch'uan Self-Cultivation, 1965, 1999, p. 11  [Practitioners might also do Golden Rooster Stands on One Leg Posture or White Stork Spreads Its Wings.]  Standing on one leg, holding static poses, is also a common practice in Hatha Yoga, e.g., Tree Pose, Vriksasana. 



    "People lose root because they use the wrong part of the body to focus their strength. For example, when the shoulder moves first in an action to strike, it is incorrect. One should use the lower body to drive the force. No matter how hard one attempts to be soft, they will never truly relax and have power until the lower body drives the force.
Even when one uses the lower body to drive the force, the root can be lost because the shoulder, as well as any other joint or part of the body may interrupt the transference of power. When there is tightness or loss of coordination between the various joints and parts of the body, root will be lost. The hip, leg, etc. must act as one! Many times things inside the body fight against each other. For example, if the inguinal crease (part where the legs connect to the torso) at the hips is tight, the flow of energy will be broken in the body, breaking the root. When one practices in this way, the tightness or lack of body unity can give one the tendency to get injured. Sometimes one locks a joint. The hips and shoulders are typical joints that students will lock which breaks the root."
-  By Gaofei Yan and James Cravens, "Rooting: The Secret of Getting Power from the Earth"



    "Hsing I Chuan is mainly linear, but contains zig-zag footwork and evasive body movements. The system is designed for direct continuous attack until the opponent is overcome. Blocking and deflective movements are used to attack as they defend. The system works on the centre line principle, attack and defend on the extended centre line, so that the practitioner forms a wedge with his body, sharp end in front.  Everything coming into the centre is deflected or neutralized.  Steps cover much ground although it may not look like it to the observer, and are single weighted.  Much practice must be done to maintain the shape of the movements.  The stance is upright and "suspended", like sitting on a chair.  The elbows never touch the chest and the posture is semi-crouched.  There are a few low kicks but the emphasis is on rooting in the ground to deliver powerful blows. In this style the front foot stamps the ground to root and provide fast powerful arm and hand movements."
-   Hsing I Chuan  



    "What is the meaning of Elbowing Energy?  The function is in the Five Activities: advancing, withdrawing, looking-left, gazing right, and fixed rooting.  The yin and yang are distinguished according to the upper and lower, just like Pulling.  The substantial and insubstantial are to be clearly discriminated.  If its motion is connected and unbroken, nothing can oppose its strength.  The chopping of the fist is extremely fierce.  After thoroughly understanding the Six Energies (adhering, sticking, neutralizing, seizing, enticing, and issuing), the functional use is unlimited."
-   Stuart Alve Olson, T'ai Chi According to the I Ching, 2001, p. 74 



    "Stability By Sinking (Wen, Chen)
    Stability is a result of coordinated body structure in relation to the downward pull of gravity resulting in a net force against the earth from both body weight and downward projection of mass through a singular point identified as the root. Lowering the centre of gravity is essential to stability, we should lower it to the centre of the sphere of influence of our physical body.
    Agility (Ling)
    Agility is a result of non-double weighting and non-dead rooting. By only maintaining one point of substantial contact with the ground you gain the ability to move quickly, much like a ball which moves easily across the ground because it only has one point of contact with it.
    The key is the word "centre". We should avoid "dead rooting". The idea is to lower your centre of gravity to your proper centre which is at the Tan Tien, there it should have a net downward force but is "hung" from the torso in the correct location. This would give you a centred but light feeling. If you are trying to get your centre to the oot of your feet, that is not centredness. Ask yourself where the centre of your body should be and there is where the mass of the centre should be. Some information on the external and internal methodologies adopted to train this. The external way of training is to force the centre down as far as it can go and then slowly the reaction force from the ground would build up the musculature to support the downward force back up to where it should be centred. The internal method would be to centre the centre of gravity first, get a proper structure to support it and when that is done then slowly lower the stance through time to foster proper development without sacrificing efficient structure and alignment."
-  Peter Lim Tain Tek,  Principles And Practices In Taijiquan 



    "One ability that Tai Chi uses to develop serious power through internal ability is called root. The skill of rooting involves the ability to use mind intent to drop your center of gravity down below the ground.  Although rooting involves mind intent, it is more than just visualization. If you practice rooting, you will be able to actually feel the weight of your body dropping down below the surface of the ground. When you practice drills with partners they should be able to feel it too. This way, if you use root in a combat situation, an attacker will be able to feel your root as well so that you will feel to them like a concrete slab stuck deep into the ground. In other words, you will be very hard to push over.  When you first learn root, you begin by practicing standing in one place. However, you can learn to keep your root in the ground while you are walking or in a combat situation. It is possible to learn to drop your root deeper and deeper even as you are fighting.  Over time, you can develop your root so that it is deeper in the ground and contains more and more of your compressed body weight. Some Tai Chi masters can have a root that is 50 feet or more below the ground. To an attacker, being hit by someone with a really deep and strong root can feel like being hit by a 300 pound gorilla."
-   Richard Clear, Root: A Secret of Combat Tai Chi's Internal Power 



"And all the times I was picking up potatoes, I did have conversations with them.  Too, I did have thinks of all their growing days there in the ground, and all the things they did hear.  Earth-voices are glad voices, and earth-songs come up from the ground through the plants; and in their flowering, and in the days before these days are come, they do tell the earth-songs to the wind ... I have thinks these potatoes growing here did have knowings of star-songs." 
-  Opel Whiteley, 8 years of age, The Singing Creek where the Willows Grow - The Mystical Nature Diary of Opal Whiteley



"Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads."
-   Henry David Thoreau 


"Touch the earth, love the earth, honor the earth, her plains, her valleys, her hills, and her seas; rest your spirit in her solitary places."
-  Henry Beston


"I thought how utterly we have forsaken the Earth, in the sense of excluding it from our thoughts.  There are but few who consider its physical hugeness, its rough enormity.  It is still a disparate monstrosity, full of solitudes, barrens, wilds.  It still dwarfs, terrifies, crushes.  The rivers still roar, the mountains still crash, the winds still shatter.   Man is an affair of cities.  His gardens, orchards and fields are mere scrapings.  Somehow, however, he has managed to shut out the face of the giant from his windows.  But the giant is there, nevertheless.
-   Wallace Stevens, Letters, p. 73



"In all qigong practice it is very important to be rooted. Being rooted means to be stable and in firm contact with the ground. If you want to push a car you have to be rooted; the force you exert into the car needs to be balanced by the force into the ground. If you are not rooted, when you push the car you will only push yourself away and not move the car. Your root is made up of your body's sinking, centering, and balance.
    Before you can develop your root, you must first relax and let your body "settle." As you relax, the tension in the various parts of your body will dissolve, and you will find a comfortable way to stand. You will stop fighting the ground to keep your body up and will learn to rely on your body's structure to support itself. This lets the muscles relax even more. Since your body isn't struggling to stand up, your yi won't be pushing upward, and your body, mind, and qi will all be able to sink. If you let dirty water sit quietly, the impurities will gradually settle to the bottom, leaving the water above it clear. In the same way, if you relax your body enough to let it settle, your qi will sink to your dan tian and the bubbling wells (yongquan, K-1, 湧泉) in your feet and your mind will become clear. Then you can begin to develop your root.
    To root your body you must imitate a tree and grow an invisible root under your feet. This will give you a firm root to keep you stable in your training. Your root must be wide as well as deep. Naturally, your yi must grow first because it is the yi that leads the qi. Your yi must be able to lead the qi to your feet and be able to communicate with the ground. Only when your yi can communicate with the ground will your qi be able to grow beyond your feet and enter the ground to build the root. The bubbling well cavity is the gate that enables your qi to communicate with the ground.  
    After you have gained your root, you must learn how to keep your center. A stable center will make your qi develop evenly and uniformly. If you lose this center, your qi will not be led evenly. In order to keep your body centered, you must first center your yi and then match your body to it. Only under these conditions will the qigong forms you practice have their root. Your mental and physical centers are the keys that enable you to lead your qi beyond your body.
    Balance is the product of rooting and centering. Balance includes balancing the qi and the physical body. It does not matter which aspect of balance you are dealing with; first, you must balance your yi, and only then can you balance your qi and your physical body."
Grandmaster Yang, Jwing-Ming 



"Yang style Taijiquan, as a internal martial art (Nei Jia Quan), is grounded in a group of core practice principles: relaxation (Song),  circular movements, martial applications, rooting (Gen), moving from the waist (Yao), chi and springy (Jin) energies, softness (Rou), fluidity and expansiveness, vital energy on the move, good timing and coordination, fullness and emptiness, deep and coordinated breathing, becoming calm and quiet (Jing), mind/intent (Yi) leading bodily movements, and other principles found in the Taiji Classics."
Yang Style Taijiquan by Mike Garofalo  



"Develop your foothold so that five or six strong men together cannot push you. Also, develop your ability at neutralizing and softness so that you need never use that root. In this way, while having substantial root, you will always feel light and supple."
-  William C. Philips, Ten Essential Points of T'ai Chi Ch'uan



    "Therefore, rooting in Taijiquan should embrace the concepts of absorption, transmission and neutralisation of the incoming force with possible counter attack.
    Relaxing the muscles of the body will produce a sinking effect, which will make full use of the body weight to absorb the incoming force. Being relaxed will also minimise resistance upon impact and allow the incoming force to shift the body mass. Thus, the resulting force will be the incoming force less the body weight and will be further reduced by shifting the body mass away from the original position. In a way, this is borrowing the opponent's force to move one's own body mass and deflection will come very easy to deal with what is remaining of the incoming force.
    Extension or stretching of the tendons will facilitate connection of the joints, which will assist transmission of the incoming force to the arm, shoulder, mid-section, hip, thigh, calf, foot and to the ground. When a person is in a proper Taiji posture; he or she will experience this transmission. The incoming force will travel from the hand down to the foot smoothly. A good way to test whether one is in a proper posture or not is to apply a force on that person. Tension will build up to stiffen the part that is not extended nor relaxed otherwise it will be grounded. This is how one can "listen to forces" or "interprets forces".
    Once transmission is facilitated then neutralisation is easy, by moving various joints or shifting the whole body with the legs depending on the magnitude of the force. The mechanics of the legs allows the rotation of the hip, opening and closing of the thighs, bending of the knees, and flexing of the ankles for neutralisation. Therefore, the movements of the legs can be a little subtle to accommodate the weight of the body, the incoming force and to initiate motion."
-  Sufu Yeung Yn Choi, Rooting in Taijiquan  



    "The most basic method of training is zhan zhuang. Zhan zhuang is an exercise common to many Chinese martial arts, including Taijiquan. Usually, the practitioner stands with the arms held as if holding a large ball. However, the zhan zhuang exercise can be practiced using any of the end postures of the Taiji form. During "standing" practice a static posture is maintained for a period of time while using just enough strength to maintain the posture. ... Benefits of zhan zhuang include deep relaxation, strengthening of the legs, and increased internal qi. The first requirement is to have a calm mind. This can be achieved in a number of ways - for instance, concentrating on the Dantian, paying attention to one's breath, or silently counting. Through standing practice, emphasis is place upon developing awareness of maintaining the most efficient and relaxed structural alignment necessary to hold the position. Prolonged practice, along with enhancing postural awareness and tranquility of mind, greatly develops the strength of the legs. When the legs are strong and can bear weight firmly, then the upper body can relax and sink down into them, making the top more flexible. ... Taijiquan requires lightness and sensitivity in the upper body. At the same time, the lower body should have a feeling of extreme heaviness and connection to the ground. This feeling is often compared to a large tree with deep roots. While the branches move and sway in the wind, the trunk is solidly anchored by its roots."
-  Davidine Siaw-Voon Sim and David Gaffney, Chen Style Taijiquan, 2002, p. 106. 



    "The Art of Peace begins with you. Work on yourself and your appointed task in the Art of Peace. Everyone has a spirit that can be refined, a body that can be trained in some manner, a suitable path to follow. You are here for no other purpose than to realize your inner divinity and manifest your innate enlightenment. Foster peace in your own life and then apply the Art to all that you encounter.   ...     One does not need buildings, money, power, or status to practice the Art of Peace. Heaven is right where you are standing, and that is the place to train."
-  Morihei Ueshiba (1883-1969), The Art of Peace 



    "Central equilibrium is the basis of all the physical aspects of t'ai chi. Why is this so? If the body leans in any direction then the muscles must compensate for the tendency of the body to topple under the force of gravity. You can check this out for yourself. Stand upright in a natural relaxed position. Cause the body to lean forward. Observe the sensation of the muscles tightening in the body to prevent the body from falling forwards. Release those muscles and then lean backwards. A different set of muscles come into play. When you lean you will also notice that the sensation of weight in the feet moves forward and back or even to the edges of the feet if you lean sideways. To achieve the optimum potential for the body to relax, the body needs to be aligned vertically over the centre of the feet. The three tan tiens also need to be aligned. 
    When the body is aligned correctly you will be able to sink the ch'i through the body. When you can sink the ch'i you will be able to separate full and empty. When you can separate full and empty you will be able to move without breaking the ch'i."
Natural Way Tai Chi



    "According to the Tai Chi Classics, "the root is in the feet; issued through the legs; controlled by the waist; and expressed through the fingers. From the feet through the legs to the waist forms one harmonious chi." If just one part is not synchronized, there will be confusion. So when the hands, waist, and feet move, your gaze needs to follow in unison. This is what is meant by harmony of the upper and lower body. If one part of the body is not in concordance with the rest, it will result in chaos. When you first learn Tai Chi, your movements are larger and more open than those of a seasoned practitioner. The larger movements ensure that your waist and legs are moving in concordance, and all parts of the body are in harmony. The Unity of Internal and External What T'ai Chi Ch'uan trains is the spirit. "The spirit is the leader and the body is at its command." I.e.: When You open and close in the movements, You must also open and close in the mind."
Tai Chi Theory, attributed to Grandmaster Chang San Feng 



    "If you are well-versed in the language of martial arts, you may have heard the term “Zhong Ding.” You may have heard that developing Zhong Ding is crucial in order to correctly execute your Tai Chi forms. So what, precisely, is Zhong Ding? In Chinese, Zhong means center, in the middle or inside. Ding means stabilized, still, centralized and balanced. Together, Zhong Ding means central equilibrium. And it is the key to achieving balance in Tai Chi.  
    The basic idea behind developing Zhong Ding is that you must lift your Bai Hui point, the highest point on the crown of your head, towards the sky and keep your body centered and vertical, perpendicular to the ground. For beginners this is often very difficult to achieve. It’s easy to lose Zhong Ding while transitioning from one form to another. 
    In Tai Chi, we have Ding Shi (Still Stances) and transitions. Every form that Yang Style Tai Chi Founder Yang Chen Fu has in his book is a still stance. Any moves between two still stances are transitions. Think of each pair of still stances as dots. Our goal is to connect the dots using transitions. To achieve Zhong Ding we must first be able to hold the right two balanced still stances, and then connect them with transition moves."
-  Huan Zhang, Develop Your Central Equilibrium with Zhan Zhuang 



"When you train, free yourself from distracting thoughts:
Keep your hear buoyant, your body buoyant, too.
Do not forget the principle of "return to the center":
Strive and strive, with single-minded devotion.
This is the true path of softness.
This is the true path of softness."
-   Kyuzo Mifune (1883-1965), Judo Master, The Song of Judo
Budo Secrets: Teachings of the Martial Arts Masters, p. 30



    "Asana now refers to all the yoga postures.  In Pantanjali's Yoga Sutras, it meant the place on which the yogi sits and the manner in which he sits there.  All of the postures require a clear, conscious awareness of contact with the ground.  According to Pantanjali, asana is both firm and relaxed.  This is achieved through relaxation of effort, or by a mental state of balance.  The idea that firm and stable posture could be achieved through relaxation of effort seems to be a contradiction.  We need to learn how to find strength and stability without effort and stress."
-   Esther Myers, Yoga and You, 1996, p. 14



    "The trick is to balance the energies that either open or close in the six directions (up, down, forward, back, left and right)—not the physical range of motion. When the energies are balanced you open up the space in the central equilibrium.
    Just as the tightrope walker holds a pole for balance, there is a sense of expanding energy/physicality both left-right and forward-back. In this way all turning in bagua and tai chi comes directly from the central channel.
    Balanced spherical energy and turning on the central channel is what gives you the sense of solidity. When you shift your weight fully onto one leg (keeping the alignments in that leg correct) and take a step, you have the time and capacity to make that step deeply connected and smooth. This eradicates a lot of disconnection many internal arts practitioners experience. You won’t lose your balance and fall into the step, which destroys most—if not all—of the internal content.
    When you open up your centre and stay in this central equilibrium, you create a seat for the mind. When out of balance, your energies pull your body and mind one way or another (normally forward as our overly yang culture focuses on what is in front, ahead and in the future, rather than what is here and now).
    So, by default when your energies in the six directions are balanced, you more easily find central equilibrium and the seat for the mind opens. Naturally, your mind will be drawn there."
-  Paul Cavel, Creating Central Equilibrium in Bagua and Tai Chi



    "Correct central equilibrium {Zhong Ding} is the basis for everything else in Taijiquan. One must focus with their complete intention {Yi} to differentiate that which is external and separate from one’s centre. The centre is the key; it must remain straight and hidden, concentrated, deep inside the body constantly changing, spiraling into the earth for the most part. One must gather all the Qi {energy} to your centre. It is this structure that is the basis for internal power {Nei Jing} or Zhong Ding Jing, and essential for good health and longevity. The Dantien {lower abdomen} is alive! Not only does the Dantien push down inside the open hips but also it turns, spirals, bounces, and shoots; inside the structure is always full, always condensed. When you play the Taiji form you are performing the interaction of your Zhong Ding and Dantien. This hidden internal play moves the outside, not necessarily the entire body like a single lump of wood, rather by gathering everything to your centre, your outside body follows the direction of this internal command. It is because your inside works so intensively that you receive the health benefit of Taiji. If one only works externally and has strong skin and muscles but weak organs, vessels, and bones, then the outside may thrive while internally you are dying. 
    Spiritual concentration is crucial. Your Yi must be strong, focused, pure, intent, gathering, confident, and sensitive. It is the Yi/Qi that work together to develop Nei Jing, not ones outer display of strength, {Li} that epitomizes all that is Taiji. The Yi is used at first to search internally for correct alignment of the Zhong Ding, the Dantien and its range of motion, to differentiate between open and closed, empty and full, extension, rooting, and connections. As one develops this inner sensitivity the next goal is to practice control over these basic principles in the correct way, so that the body remains straight, connected, rooted, full, and spirals throughout the Taiji form. Yi is accountable for the gathering of the Qi, and works in harmony with it, in order for these principles to be applied. Yi is responsible for relaxing the external body, the muscle; for storing the Qi one develops in practice, for making smaller circles and spirals, for condensing movement to small frame, and eventually to no visible movement in order to develop Nei Jing. 
    Rooting three feet into the earth has a double meaning. First one must make their Yi/Qi thick and sink heavy into the earth at least three feet down. Secondly one’s Zhong Ding, like the tailbone, is a third leg and its foot must be buried into the earth. Rooting is a very important concept in Taiji. Your root must always be deeper than your opponent. In order to dig them out you must be below them. The Dantien and Zhong Ding must be structurally sound and without correct root this is impossible. However you must not be rigid! You must be light and agile, changeable, quiet yet quick. You must learn to balance your power downwards and upwards; the bottom is heavy, the top is light; connected. In order to root you must have a good understanding of the hips. The hips are very complex, the inside hip {Kua} must be free to open and close, spiral into the earth. The outside hip must be strong and flexible to grip the earth, and the sacrum and tailbone must be straight and changeable. The bowl of the pelvis, like a wok or cauldron must be round and accommodate the Dantien. When you develop an understanding of how these things work in harmony your rooting will become more profound."
-  J. Reynolds Nelson, Wang Hao Da Article 



"The final "step" of our "five steps" is zhong ding. "Zhong" means "centre" or "middle." "Ding" means "calm" or "stable." Zhong ding then refers to a state of centred stability, or as it is often rendered "central equilibrium."  Chen Pan Ling explains this as any time we have our weight evenly distributed on both legs. By extension, we could then see moving to the left as any time we take our weight (sideways) onto our left leg, turning our torso to face the new direction as we go. Moving right would be seen as any time we shift on to our right leg, again turning to face that direction. Now, if an enemy was directly in front of us, we might take our weight onto our front leg to advance, or on to our rear leg to retreat. Simple. Whether you are moving forwards or backwards or from side to side, each time your weight passes through the centre, it passes through centred stability (zhong ding)."
-  Joanna Zorya, Five Steps  



"Without a true connection to Earth energy your Taiji will be weak and your Taijiquan with be nothing more than a distant goal. You’ll be like a young sapling that can be uprooted by even a child.  Watch some videos and concentrate on the player’s connection to the ground.  Do they look like they could be pushed over at any time?  Can you see the Earth energy rising up the body, spiraling through the waist coming out through the hands?  Do they start and end each form completely rooted?  Most players have spent all their time learning the movements of the forms and have neglected the connection to earth.  They are without root and it is a foundational imperative."
-  Rod Morin, Rooting and Connection to the Three Energies



"The K1 Meridian point [the Yong Quan acupoint KI-1, Bubbling Well, Bubbling Spring], the only meridian origin on the bottom of the feet, and the Solar Plexus Zone point are two descriptions of the same overlapping reflex area ... both holding a reputation for dramatic healing response. After 18 years of percussion activation to this specific reflex point area, Brinkerhoff put forth a reflexology postulate in 2003 based on recipient response.  His conclusion: a surge of direct current bioelectricity (recharging torrent/surge of energy) can be directed throughout all 12 major meridians of the human frame by massive shock-type activation to either of these two reflex power-points.  Either of these means can help create the forceful activation to the K1 Meridian/Solar Plexus point needed to trigger the brain to discharge the negative direct current of regeneration into the deficient area of the body. The objective of this bio electrical recharging process is to help clear the interstitial space (space between the cells) of congestive mucoid debris, so that the body can begin to function more efficiently at the cellular level."
-   Modern Institute of Reflexology




"Someone with well developed Earth energy is a well grounded, nurturing, compassionate person, sometimes depicted as the archetypical “earth mother”.  Earth people like to bring others together and make good mediators or peacemakers and reliable friends. They often enjoy both preparing food and eating. You may be attracted by their generous mouth and full, sensuous lips.  
    The Qi of the earth element flourishes in Indian Summer, those golden moments of fullness before the waning of the light. The earth color is yellow, like the sun, and the ripened crops, and the root vegetables. Sitting meditation is said to strengthen the earth element.
    When people have weak Earth Qi, they can be  worriers and meddlers. They are prone to pensiveness. They may overwork, especially in studying or other intellectual work. They are vulnerable to digestive problems and diarrhea. They may gain weight easily and lose it with difficulty. Their bodies have a tendency to make excessive mucus, and they may suffer from cloudy thinking, muzzy-headedness, and a lack of clarity.  Those with weak Earth Qi often feel better when they limit cold, raw foods and dairy products. They should eat warming foods and grains to stay well grounded. They may crave sweets. The sweet  taste can be satisfied by eating sweet grains, vegetables, and fruits rather than processed sugars."
Traditional Chinese Medicine 



    "Harmony is itself paradise.  The "miraculous" element is the way that relaxation, well-being, and harmony allow the heart-mind to take control of and focus the greatness of the ch'i, the power of thought, and the effect that this can have in ourselves and in the world."
-   Wolfe Lowenthal, Gateway to the Miraculous, 1994, p. 14.



    "The second principle of Taoism is that of Dynamic Balance. There are always two basic distinctions in nature, symbolized by the yin and yang (sun and moon, heaven and earth, dark and light, chaos and order, etc.), but Taoism sees balance as the basic characteristic underlying these distinctions.  "The Tao is the One. From the One come yin and yang; From these two, creative energy (chi); From energy, ten thousand things, The forms of all creation. All life embodies yin And embraces yang, Through their union Achieving harmony." (Tao Te Ching, Chapter 42) 
    These two basic polarities (yin and yang) not only balance each other, but also complement each other in cycles. This is the third principle of Taoism: Cyclical Growth. The sun is replaced by the moon, then the moon is replaced by the sun. Summer is replaced by winter, then winter is replaced by summer. Light is replaced by dark, then dark is replaced by light. Everywhere in nature, you will see these basic cycles.  "The Tao moves by returning In endless cycles. By yielding, it overcomes, Creating the ten thousand things, Being from nonbeing." (Tao Te Ching, Chapter 40)" 
-  Bill Mason, Principles of Taoism



"First, last, and always the student must relax.  Various calisthenics aid him in achieving this.  All rigidity and strength must be emptied from the upper torso and must sink to the very soles of the feet, one of which is always firmly rooted to the ground.  Without proper relaxation the student can never hope to achieve the trueness of the T'ai-chi postures.  The student relaxes completely and breathes as a child - naturally through the nose, the diaphragm being aided by the abdominal rather than the intercostal muscles.  Man's intrinsic energy, the ch'i, should be stored just below the navel.  The mind directs this energy throughout the body according to need.  But the ch'i cannot circulated in an unrelaxed body."
-   Robert W. Smith,
Chinese Boxing: Masters and Methods, 1974, p. 26.














Rooting, Grounding, Centering, Stabilizing, Sinking, Balancing, Central Equilibrium, Zhong Ding, Gravity Powers, Vertical Forces

A "practice" is a physical activity, from gentle to vigorous, an exercise, a movement sequence, a workout routine, postures, Forms, warmups, strength building, etc.  A practice is done every day or with some regularity.  A practice is a behavioral habit.  A practice is a regular fitness routine.  In some ways, your practice is your Way.  But, a practice can blend into a philosophy of life, your life, and how you are going to live it.   


1.  One idea for a Rooting practice [practice means a routine, exercise, movement sequence, posture, Form, warmups), a practical and inexpensive Qigong/Taijiquan practice, a fitness exercise, was suggested by Professor Cheng Man-ch'ing.  In his book, New Method Taichi Chuan, he says,




Bear     Tiger     Monkey     Deer     Crane     Dragon     Frolics


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This webpage was first published on the Internet on December 15, 2011. 

This webpage was last modified or updated on April 11, 2016. 


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