TAI CHI DRILL: Root, Up

CMC 37 Postures Tai Chi Form, 5-lb weights in each hand, Root/Up drill, front view - 4/15/15 (Spring)

Throughout this drill, whether I hold 5 pound weights in each hand, or not
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bFFvBXWf74Q
I repeat only these two words while doing the entire Cheng Man-ch’ing 37 Postures Tai Chi Form:

- ROOT

- UP

When I think ROOT my eyes look down approximately 15 feet in front of me. At this moment, I am dropping my weight through one supporting foot, establishing a firm base. My abdomen expands downward, pressing the sole of my weighted foot deeper into the earth. The 5-lb weights move closer toward my center.

In another video, I use the words “Look Down, Look Straight Ahead”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nskiVXYurng
In this drill, I equate the “Down” beat with the moment of ROOTING - - when my weighted foot establishes a firm base, so all of my body weight can be supported on that one leg, if need be.

In a 70/30 Forward Stance, 70% of my weight passes through the dominantly supporting leg. So I expand my abdomen into that foot. For example, in a 70/30 Forward Left Stance, when I root, I am expanding my abdomen downward into my front left foot. That’s my primary rooting foot. When I retreat onto my back leg from a 70/30 Forward Left Stance, I expand my abdomen into my back right foot, and root through my back foot.

When I think UP, my eyes look straight ahead at the horizon. During the UP beat, my body expands upward from the firm base I set up during my ROOT moment. The 5-lb weights move further away from my center.

During UP, any one of several possible actions may occur. The empty foot may “float” up into the air, completely disconnected from the ground, while taking a step in a new direction. Or, an empty leg may bend at the knee and rise up preparing for a kick.

Or, the toes of the empty foot may lift off the ground, while the heel continues to contact the ground, acting as a pivot point for a turning of the leg (like during 4 Corners). Or the UP beat can coincide with a moment when the heel of an empty foot is lifted off the ground, while the toes continue to contact the ground - - like during Single Whip (when the right hook hand extends outward), as well as during Punch Under Elbow.

Either possibility can happen throughout the form - - either the front part of the foot lifts off the ground, such that only the heel contacts the ground; or the heel lifts off the ground, such that only the front part of the foot contacts the ground (toes / ball of foot). In either case, that foot is “empty” of weight. It can be lifted completely off the ground, without disturbing one’s balance. Like during Crane Spreads Wings, or Step Back & Ride Tiger. Or preceding various kicks.

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UP could be shorthand for:

- lift heel of empty foot UP

- lift toes of empty foot UP

- float empty foot UP to take a step

- pick empty leg UP to kick

- lift toes of empty foot UP and pivot on heel

- lift heel of empty foot UP and pivot on toes / ball of foot

- look straight ahead at horizon (raise gaze UP from 15 feet in front of self)

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Sometimes both feet remain connected to the ground throughout a movement, like during the Grasp Sparrow’s Tail sequence. Then the main UP action occurs in the eyes looking straight ahead at the horizon (head held “as if suspended by a string from above”). ROOT coincides with eyes looking down at the ground, about 15 feet ahead.

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Breathing can be synchronized with ROOT / UP either way

ROOT (inhale) / UP (exhale)

or

ROOT (exhale) / UP (inhale)

I stay consistent throughout one Form. One day I breathe one way, another day, the other way.

However, with either method of breathing the rooting action has to take place BEFORE the body (and weights) can expand upward and outward from a firm base. A firm base has to be established on one leg before the body can be stable during any follow-up movement.

ChiGuy396

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Added on March 24th, 2017
Last updated: December 31st, 2017