The most memorable impression I have of England is the passion everyone has for gardening. Everywhere I go, I can see gorgeous, lovely gardens. I enjoy the refreshing view and appreciate the energy the planter provided. For the plants to grow well, we need to provide proper water, fertilizer and plenty of sunlight. The plant itself also must have a strong root. Without a strong root, the flower will discolor, the life of the plant will not last.
Taiji training is somewhat similar to gardening. The correct information we receive from our masters are the same as the water and fertilizer for the plant. The encouragement which inspires us in our growth is the sunlight. Above all, it is the practitioner's desire and continuing quest for more knowledge which makes the difference.
Isn't it interesting? When a strong storm is over, sometimes you can see a strong, big tree uprooted, pulled out of earth just by the power of the wind, yet smaller and softer trees next to the big fallen tree survived the storm. Why does a bigger and stronger tree fall, yet a smaller tree survives? The reason is simple, the big strong tree is too rigid, too tense, too serious. When the storm comes, it is trying to resist the power of the wind. The small tree respects the power of the wind, it goes with the flow of the wind, wherever the wind wants to go. The upper branches are softer but the roots dig strongly into the earth. So, it could survive the terrible storm without being uprooted.
Rooting in Tai Chi is the same as the smaller tree. Your upper body should be soft and limber with resilience. The waist rotates to create the energy and the lower body, the legs, root it into the earth. Whether you are practicing Taiji form or push hands, with rooting, your upper body movements will become softer, your form will feel more serene; your response will become quicker in receiving the opponent's energy in push hands. You can sense more power in issuing energy. Rooting is the foundation of the body structure.
How does one feel if they are rooted? True rooting exists only when the following conditions exist: Body structure is correct and in line. Muscles and tendons are soft and extended to the point of resilience. And finally, the most important part, the intent. Your thoughts have to be on both legs in order to create rooting. If the body (structure) and mind (intent) are not coordinated together, you will never produce the feeling of rooting.
This feeling of rooting from Taiji practice carries on through our daily lives. Our foundation is in our belief or principles which are firm and strong. And the flow of the branches gives us the flexibility to change daily routines to survive and thrive.