Monday, December 5, 2011

Essentials of the Roots in Tai Chi

Photo by Pulpolux

When people get older, they start to feel it in their legs. Suddenly, balance becomes a problem. When walking, they can't land each foot precisely in the right place. They may experience lack of strength to lift their legs up to certain height. Or they may not be able to put weight on one leg for very long. They may feel numbness and stiffness in their thighs and feet. They may feel as if their entire bodies are hanging in the clouds because the whole lower part of the body is weak.

Legs are the major supporting tools of your body. Tai Chi Master Wu Yi Xiang once said, "Tai Chi's root comes from the feet, and its origins from legs. It is controlled by the waist and spreads to the hands and fingers. From the feet to the legs and extending to the waist, the body should unite as one. … If there are problems, the origin can always be found in the legs or waist.”

It's possible to train your roots (legs and feet) to prevent many problems. Legs and feet play very important roles in the 8 joints and 9 sections to unite and relax your whole body. Tai Chi requires the 8 joints and 9 sections to relax as one. If you do your Tai Chi well, you will know how to walk like a cat. You will also know how to support your body with your legs to form a good structure. Your legs will become very strong after practicing Tai Chi many times. You can train your legs in the following four ways:

1. Zhan Zhuan: Post Standing
Post standing allow you to hold one gesture for a period of time in order to build strength and endurance for your legs.

2. Strength and Leg Control

Strength exercises will flex your legs and allow your legs to turn, move, and reach more positions. Leg control, like standing on one leg and moving your other leg in different angles, will help with leg balance in different positions.

3. Leg Lifting and Landing
When we talk about Tai Chi steps, we often mention moving your feet like a cat. We want you to remember 3 points: Lift lightly and land lightly. Lift slowly and land slowly. Lift with one point and land with one point. For example, lift the heel first, keeping your toes on the ground. Then lift the toes up, and land with the heel first and then the whole foot.

4. How to Move your Legs Correctly
Tai Chi forms already include a full range of leg movements, so doing Tai Chi forms will strengthen your legs. When you move your legs, you want to pay attention to 3 points. One is to make sure you are stable. Once you are stable, then you can lift your foot. Once you lift up your foot, then you can move. Don't lift your foot if you are not stable. And don't move before you have lifted your foot up high enough off the ground.

Your roots (legs and feet) are important parts of your body and your Tai Chi. Having strong legs will definitely strengthen your body and your balance, keeping you healthy and powerful.

Copyrights Huan's Tai Chi 2011


  1. I like your article, it is great! I printed it out for my mother.

  2. Thanks for the comment. I hope your mother can benefit from it.