How to Build Root With A Partner

Working with a partner to build root is much faster and more effective than solo practice.

If you haven’t already read the previous post on rooting on your own, you’ll want to read it now. It sets out the fundamentals for how to drop root.

Sometimes, when you are practicing by yourself, it can be difficult to tell whether you’ve gotten a deep root. A partner can check you to see how deep your root is. At the same time you can learn to sense your partner’s root.

Without Structure Rooting is a Waste of Time

Before you really get into working with root, you will need to work on your structure. You can use push hands exercises to help you get your structure so that it is very correct. If your structure is off, it will limit how deep you can drop and even if you can get some depth your partner can just attack your structural errors instead of your root. This is true for the martial applications of root as well as for push hands exercises.

Be Strong & Soft

To do this exercise well, you will need a very specific quality of touch when you put your hands on your partner. It should be soft, with little exertion, but with a substantial amount of strength.

Think of the way a very strong 200 pound man would pick up a baby. There’s not a lot of exertion going on. It’s 200 pounds against the baby’s weight. The man is also very gentle with the child as well. It’s a very soft touch.

To begin…

Stand in Clear’s Internal Push Hands stance facing each other. Put your hands on each other above the waist and below the neckline with that strong-yet-soft quality of touch.

  1. Person A drops their root until they are below person B.
  2. Then Person A stops and stays exactly where they are.
  3. Person B now drops their root until they are below person A.
  4. Person B then stops and stays exactly where they are while person A drops below them.
  5. Continue taking turns. One person at a time until one person cannot go deep enough to get below the other.

How do I know if my root is below the other person?

Eventually you will be able to feel where someone’s root is and this drill will build your ability to do that. However for beginners this can seem next to impossible.

Here is a simple way to check and see who is lower:

If someone pushes, whoever has the higher root will move.

When it’s your turn, drop and relax until you think you might be below your partner. Then simply push them. If you are lower they will move easily.

If they do not move easily you still need to relax and drop more.

Do not actually move your partner when you push them.

Remember the purpose of this game is to drop lower and lower. Not to move your partner.

Push enough to see if you can easily move them but not enough that they have to step. This way they can then continue with their turn.

Building these skills is hard work

Once you have both dropped your root as deeply as possible, you can break off your practice with your partner. Spend a few days practicing on your own and learning to more deeply drop your root and then practice with your partner again.

It takes physical strength to really drop your root so you will need to multiple practice sessions with a partner over time to develop a deep and strong root.

Remember to go slow. This is about rooting and sensing, not about winning a game.

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