Tuesday 10 May 2011

The science of rooting?

In one of my recent tai chi classes, there was a lot of discussion about rooting (also called sinking or grounding). In simple terms the techniques for improving your rooting ability are to feel as if your weight "sinks" to your feet; to visualise roots like a tree passing into the ground; or to have a spiralling gripping sensation with the feet as if you are screwing yourself into the floor. I think this blog post gives a good initial explanation of the classical description (including good video).

Whilst I do agree with all of the above, I find it hard to come up with a scientific explanation. Your body is a fixed mass and irrespective of your posture, the sum of the repulsive force going through your feet is always constant, and exactly opposite to your weight (gravitational force). Clearly you can lower your centre of mass but I do not believe that is the complete explanation. What is going on here? Is it perhaps your ability to "get underneath" an opponent and therefore use their weight against them? But how does that translate to standing in isolation where you cultivate a feeling of rooted-ness?

I don't have any answers at this point, but I thought I'd share my puzzlement!

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