August 12, 2016 / in Techniques and Styles / by Tim Kittelstad
“Be like water my friend.” This quote by Bruce Lee has become famous around the world. But not as famous is the concept of becoming like a tree. This concept is summed up in one word, rooting. But what does Wing Chun rooting in martial arts do with your effectiveness? Everything!
Rooting vs Ground Work
Before rooting can addressed there must be clarification on one subject, ground vs stand up. While an entire article can be devoted to the topic of ground work (i.e. wrestling, Brazilian Jiujitsu, etc) versus Karate, or boxing, or Wing Chun, we can only touch on it briefly here. At Sifu Och Wing Chun the mentality that is present is one that favors stand up or staying on one’s feet. While Brazilian Jiujitsu and wrestling are also trained there, should the need arise, our focus is staying on our feet. Why? Multiple attackers, weapons, unknown terrain…these are just a few reasons.
The Importance of Wing Chun Rooting
Now, back to the topic of Wing Chun rooting and why this is important. No matter what art one is training in, Tae Kwon Do, Muai Thai, Silat, Northern Style Praying Mantis, rooting is essential. It’s very much tied to the Wing Chun stance and structure as well. Should an individual come upon another individual that is to any degree larger than themselves, one can almost assume a power difference in favor of the larger opponent. When that power is being delivered into another body it can only do one of two things. It can overcome a person causing a loss of structure, or it will pass through the body into the ground. This second option is the goal of rooting.
“A tree without roots is just a piece of wood”
– Marco Pierre White
When Wing Chun rooting is accomplished it gives the user a solid foundation to then apply any attack desired. However, if there is no structure, just as a tree with no roots can be easily blown over, so will the martial artist be overtaken without good roots. In Wing Chun the rooting is done through the heels. Similar to the form of a squat, driving through the heels is the correct way to line up the skeletal structure for the most power. This can be reversed to say that supporting through the heels is the best way to support the most weight. Reverting to the squat example, when you have 300 lbs. on your shoulders you have two options, toes or heels. WIth the weight on your toes you now have to utilize your Calves and Tibialis Anterior to attempt to keep your legs underneath the weight. Switching to the heels allows the bones to line up in a way that the structural integrity of that system to not be comprised. The weight has a direct line to be directed into the ground.
Get your rooting right in Wing Chun, and you can stand strong, redirect an opponent’s attack energy, and fight stronger.