Rooting and sensitivity exercises are essential foundation skills in the martial practice of any internal arts, although they should not become the golden idols, which so many modern instructors seem to worship. Most are relatively safe and useful methods of training stu dents how to read another person's body movements through contact, while creating and maintaining a stable lower centre of gravity in themselves.
However, it is essential for instructor and students alike to remember that such games create skills that do not, by themselves, automatically bring self-defence abilities. Being sensitive and having an immovable root can be a liability if your partner doesn't play by the rules (e.g. by suddenly moving to get behind you, or simply striking) and you are unable to adapt instantly to such cheating.
In regards to the latter, please remember that the other side succeeds by cheating. Whenjyou do something unexpected, having done so is sound strategy. Isn't rationalisation wonderful? The exercises that we do are designed to help the student physically understand how important it is to be upright and firm, yet relaxed, while always having the potential for balanced movement.
In one stationary version of this exercise, one student assumes and holds what I call the Guard Posture while his or her partner pushes slowly and a bit stiffly (at least until the recipient gets the hang of relaxed heaviness) on either a forearm, shoulder, or the abdomen. All the student has to do is stand there without moving with as little physical effort or movement as possible.
The person being pushed upon should imagine that they are like a child or pet that resists being picked up by going dead weight. Try lifting a 30 lb toddler or dog that doesn't want up. They suddenly feel like they weigh twice or three times there actual weight. That is because their relative relaxation makes it harder for you to find the "stiff bits" that can operate as the fulcrum for you to lever them upwards. Similarly, which is harder to lift—20 pounds of iron chain or a similar weight of iron plate?
In the moving version of this method, your partner pushes properly from the waist and with connectivity to the ground while stepping through your space. The person reacting to that has to stick to their incoming force and deflect it off course as he steps diagonally to the corner or swivel on one leg and move the other. One arm comes up to help you deflect and keep your partner's hand away from your torso; the other pretends to strike the pusher's torso or head.
There are a variety of martial applications possible, but try to keep it simple and non-competitive. Remember to push and step at the same time, and experiment with how much force you give your partner. You should find that stepping and pushing stiffly makes you fall forward somewhat or lurch if your partner applies the correct pressure and method while swivelling out of the way of your pressure.
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