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#427185 - 05/15/10 02:25 AM Rooting and back problems.
trevek Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 05/15/05
Posts: 3337
Loc: Poland
OK, sorry if this has got all the Australians disappointed but a question about stability and posture (not the kind of rooting you may have been thinking of!).

Basically I have lousy posture, better in recent years but a couple of weak points unaddressed for too long.

I started MA in early 1990's with TKD. Great stuff but the usual tendency of jumping, high kicks etc didn't always lead to a good concept of grounding. That, and a tendency to be a bit of an airhead anyway, led to me having a quite high centre of balance. This was something my wreslting coach commented on when I later took up Backhold.

A good dose of back trouble led to me lowering my own centre to avoid pain. I stayed with this. I then began to practice Tai Chi for a few years (mainly form and a bit of push-hands).

Now, funny thing is, although this lowered my centre and gave me a bit more stability, my rooting is still pretty rubbish. In push-hands I still found myslef rolling backwards or over balancing forwards.

I'm now studying Wing Chun and have similar problems. I find what feels like a good, solid stance... nicely rooted, and then find I'm going wildly off balance when we start pushing, sticking-hands etc. I also have a tendency to collapse the chest when relaxing the shoulders.

I've suggested to my sifu it might be something to do with weak points in the thorasic and neck section of my spine. Perhaps also to do with my tendency to use the sides of my foot more (I forget the term).

Now, am I just being paranoid here or is this a real problem? Any advice/ideas?

Thanks in advance (and apologies again to the Australians).
_________________________
See how well I block your punches with my jaw!!

Supporting everyone saying "nuts to cancer"

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#427195 - 05/16/10 02:47 PM Re: Rooting and back problems. [Re: trevek]
Prizewriter Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 10/23/05
Posts: 2572
Hi Trevek

I too suffered from a similar problem. Basically I thought I had a strong stable stance in Aikido, but it fell apart all too easily. Same thing happened when I attended a Baguazhang seminar and the sifu wanted to show me how bad my posture was. I fell in to my "strong" stance and was then promptly shoved to the other side of the room!

I was shown at the same seminar a Qi Gong set designed to "open" myself up more and develop my postural strength.

Some of the exercises I have been doing were similar to those I've come across in Yoga or Pilates. You might want to try exploring yoga or pilates or qi gong to help open the body up. I know having more mobility and control in the joints seems to help me little more. Pilates in particular pays a lot of attention to good posture. Yoga (from a physical point of view) is more about increasing mobility of the body, particularly mobility of the spine.
_________________________
"Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food" Hippocrates.

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#427196 - 05/16/10 04:41 PM Re: Rooting and back problems. [Re: Prizewriter]
trevek Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 05/15/05
Posts: 3337
Loc: Poland
Sounds good, Prizewriter, thanks. I'll see what's available locally. I know there's some yoga somewhere and maybe pilates at some of the dance studios.

Just taken up nordic walking to help with the posture... sitting on a computer for hours certainly doesn't help it
Thanks again.
_________________________
See how well I block your punches with my jaw!!

Supporting everyone saying "nuts to cancer"

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#427205 - 05/17/10 01:45 AM Re: Rooting and back problems. [Re: trevek]
Gavin Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 05/11/05
Posts: 2267
Loc: Southend, Essex, UK
Trev,

The posture advice is all contained within the tai chi classics. One of the first pieces of great advice is to 'Suspend the head to lighten the body'. I wrote a blog post on the use of the head to correct posture - at the moment I've taken the site where my blog is hosted offline but here is the post:

Using the Head to Correct Posture

A while back I briefly introduced the importance of the head in the martial arts and this is a subject we returned to on the Shi Kon international instructors course over the weekend. In the tai chi classics it tells us to 'hold the head as if suspended from above to lighten the body' and over the course of the seminar we really delved into the genius and far reaching implications of this advice.

This advice is actually quite simple but on the course we found that hardly any of us were quite getting it right. I often advise students to imagine that they are being hung from a ponytail which raises their head up, but in reality all this causes them to do is to stretch their neck upwards. On the course we found that this 'stretch' was creating 'tension' not 'suspension' in the body - we were hitting the dangers of stretching that I discussed in my first blog post. The mistake most of us were making was in the process of trying to suspend the head we were actually taking it out of alignment.

In the classics there is another piece of advice that is usually left off of the quote, the full quote in some texts is 'Suspend the head and level the crown to lighten the body'. In trying to suspend the head many of us were tucking our chins in to get the stretch in the neck that we mistakenly believed was the suspension. In order to tuck the chin in the head must fall forwards meaning the crown of the head is no longer level. As a little experiment tuck your chin in as much as you can and you'll feel a 'stretch' go down to just around the base of the neck, maybe between the shoulder blades at best. Now this time make sure the crown of the head is level and raise the whole head up without tipping it off of its axis - you'll notice that as the head rises immediately the whole body will start to float. If you are sitting down you'll feel this 'float' all the way down to the pelvis and if standing it should lift you all the way down to the feet. This 'floating' feeling is the lightening of the body as it becomes 'suspended'.

Steve was explaining that this one simple correction can rectify many postural problems in students. Using the example of a puppet on strings Steve said that unless the puppet is pulled up straight to its full height it will always have postural problems. This is something that is seen in physical therapy when someone has a problem where they have slouches and sags in the structure - with the best will in the world you're never going to be able to correct their posture unless they are standing up straight - and usually just standing straight fixes many of their bad habits! This idea of suspension is something that I've started using with both my clients and students with some extremely positive results.

The idea of lightening the body by suspending the head is a follow on from our discussion on taking the bodyweight out of the bones and suspending it in the soft tissues which is an essential component of dynamic and healthy movement. We finished the seminar by looking at stepping and kicking and ensuring that we kept the head suspended and the body light. it was quite shocking the amount of us who let the body go 'heavy' and sluggish as soon as we lifted the leg up and amazing the difference mindfully suspending the head made in easing the movements. It is definitely something I'd recommend you experiment with in your own training, particularly in kicking, because as the classics warn, "without lightness of body all movement will be clumsy".
_________________________
Gavin King
www.SHIKON.COM
Follow me on twitter @taichigav

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#427209 - 05/17/10 03:28 AM Re: Rooting and back problems. [Re: Gavin]
Gavin Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 05/11/05
Posts: 2267
Loc: Southend, Essex, UK
Quote:
I'm now studying Wing Chun and have similar problems. I find what feels like a good, solid stance... nicely rooted, and then find I'm going wildly off balance when we start pushing, sticking-hands etc. I also have a tendency to collapse the chest when relaxing the shoulders.[/b]


In my experience virtually all the Wing Chun players I've cross hands with get uprooted when they push hands. I've only met one who could actually root in a manner that enabled dynamic movement... everyone else doesn't root they merely sit into the supporting leg and then find an angle to lean into any incoming force which is fine if your dealing with someone who only attacks in straight lines... but unfortunately people don't tend to attack so nicely! wink

The push hands of tai chi and the chi sao of wing chun produce very very different skill sets. My personal opinion is that chi sao is a very limited and overrated training tool - far more useful combative skills are to be found in push hands of good tai chi or the hand fighting skills found in wrestling. Pummeling for me is what chi sao should be. Just my opinion though.


Edited by Gavin (05/17/10 03:34 AM)
_________________________
Gavin King
www.SHIKON.COM
Follow me on twitter @taichigav

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#427214 - 05/17/10 08:27 AM Re: Rooting and back problems. [Re: trevek]
Ronin1966 Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 04/26/02
Posts: 3113
Loc: East Coast, United States
Hello trevek:

Awareness of something is the first (most important) step. NOT aware of something, not perceiveing something and we cannot actively change that thing actively.

When you speak of "rooting", or even grounding, what is your expectation re: that concept prey tell? Some have the belief they will be immobile, completely unmovable, in effect a human piano...

While I like the concept, and even aspire to being that kind of weighted, connected to the ground, I doubt it will be achieved by me at least.

So what is your ~expectation~ exactly...? What will be a tangible example that you will have achieved your particular goal(s)?

Jeff

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#427215 - 05/17/10 08:56 AM Re: Rooting and back problems. [Re: Ronin1966]
trevek Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 05/15/05
Posts: 3337
Loc: Poland
Hi guys,

Gavin, thanks a lot. This looks very interesting and I shall have a browse.

Jeff, it's not so much that I want to be immobile, it is more that I don't overbalance pushing against someone. Whilst doing push-hands I just found myself being pushed all over the place, unable to actually get a solid stance (although I thought I had one). With the WC, I find myself either rolling forwards onto the balls of my feet or back onto my heels whilst being unable to do likewise to my opponent (who is a similar level to me). Likewise, if my partner yields quickly, I overbalance forward and over-extend because I seem unable to locate and control something.

Obviously, all beginners have such problems, but I don't seem able to work this one out, for all my experience.

I have encounter non-MAists who, when they rooted/grounded just could not be shifted, and there were about four of us trying to lift one guy off the floor whilst he was playing a fiddle!
_________________________
See how well I block your punches with my jaw!!

Supporting everyone saying "nuts to cancer"

Top
#427219 - 05/17/10 10:24 AM Re: Rooting and back problems. [Re: Gavin]
Prizewriter Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 10/23/05
Posts: 2572
Originally Posted By: Gavin
Quote:
I'm now studying Wing Chun and have similar problems. I find what feels like a good, solid stance... nicely rooted, and then find I'm going wildly off balance when we start pushing, sticking-hands etc. I also have a tendency to collapse the chest when relaxing the shoulders.[/b]


In my experience virtually all the Wing Chun players I've cross hands with get uprooted when they push hands. I've only met one who could actually root in a manner that enabled dynamic movement... everyone else doesn't root they merely sit into the supporting leg and then find an angle to lean into any incoming force which is fine if your dealing with someone who only attacks in straight lines... but unfortunately people don't tend to attack so nicely! wink

The push hands of tai chi and the chi sao of wing chun produce very very different skill sets. My personal opinion is that chi sao is a very limited and overrated training tool - far more useful combative skills are to be found in push hands of good tai chi or the hand fighting skills found in wrestling. Pummeling for me is what chi sao should be. Just my opinion though.


Interesting observation Gavin. There was a post on another Forum about TJQ Push Hands vs. WC Sticking Hands. Basically the consenus seemed to be that push hands were for wrestling/close control, whereas sticking hands was more for striking. I'll send it your way via PM if you're interested (anyone else wants a look let me know!).
_________________________
"Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food" Hippocrates.

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