Tai Chi Ground Path

Ground Path training is essential work for rooting and peng jings. Ground Path refers to the idea that there is a properly aligned internal structural integrity from every external part of the body connected through the body down into the ground. The connection from the point of contact down through your body to the point where the foot connects to the ground is the focus of Ground Path work.

Basically if a person pushes on your shoulder, chest, back, head, etc the incoming force gets routed through your body and down into the ground. If the pusher quickly releases and lets go then you should not be uprooted, unstable or moving in the direction that they were pushing from or anywhere else. After they release you are still in the position you were in when they began pushing you because ideally their force has passed through the pathway and is not otherwise affecting the inside of you.

When you start learning this practice you will probably need to use a lot of skeletal structural stability but over time you can stay extremely relaxed and still route incoming force down through your body and into the ground. Learning this practice can help you to learn and understand Sung (relaxing) without collapsing and will put you on your way to learning Peng.

Please do not mistake ground path work for rooting or Peng. Ground path connections are valuable tools to assist rooting and peng but the ground path work by itself is NOT rooting or peng. Rooting involves allowing force to go deep into the ground and manipulating the energy way beyond the limit of the physical body. Proper Peng uses ground path and also utilizes a number of other principles. I will be writing an article on Peng that will be posted soon.

Ground Path work has to be worked on and built over time. First you work on it slowly with assistance from the person who is pushing and then you work on doing it with less assistance and from increasingly difficult positions and faster and faster. This is one of the practices being shown in our new video on Building Internal Strength through Internal Push Hands training.

Once the pathways have been developed then you can begin other practices as listed above and over time you can move Chi through the pathways. There are other types of pathwork but the Ground Path is one of the first to develop and practice for Tai Chi partly because it is one of the easiest to develop simply by virtue of the fact that you are assisted in your development by gravity. For most beginners, it is much easier to let energy drop through your body into the ground and maintain your position than it is to disperse force in any other direction.

Comments

  1. Dan Eidson says:

    Can you return the energy from the person who is attempting
    to push you by visualizing a spiral or jolt of energy going back into them–like a ground path lightning strike? (of course not using that much power).
    It is easier to let the energy drop down through your body into the ground. Certain sounds coordinating with this sinking create more power I think.

    • Sigung Clear says:

      Hi Dan,
      You have the right idea of the “pathway” for the energy to go back to the person but I have found that (although visualization is important) many folks try to do “everything” through visualization and then have little or no success at returning the energy in real time if at all.

      You want to feel the energy that they are sending and then actually send it down the ground path and then actually return it. If I had to put a word to it then I would say “feel” is the important word.

      Sound work can be used with all sorts of things to add more power and more of whatever you are trying to do depending on the sound and what you are doing. I have an entire body of training based around sound and may get around to adding that to our video curriculum one day.

      Best Regards.
      Sifu

  2. Dear Sigung Clear

    Is it possible to do Ground Path training using a wall? For example I stand in front of a wall relaxing my whole entire body with all my weight in my legs and slowly pushing the wall and take the force from the wall to the ground. Is that a very effective training method? I call it Ground Path Wall Pushups. What do you think about it Sigung Clear?

    • If you don’t have a training partner then you could substitute a wall or a heavy bag. Just be careful not to start leaning into the wall. A training partner who is applying pressure can let go suddenly to see if you suddenly pitch forward because of an improper lean. A wall can’t.

    • Richard Clear says:

      Ben is correct. There are also other benefits to training with the wall specifically in regards to making internal alignment adjustments. The better your internal alignment the better and more that you can express and receive power.
      Best Regards.
      Sifu

  3. When using Ground-Path do you need Visualization to assist you or do you need to use Tactile Sensitivity to assist you? When you take the force to the ground, do you take it under the ground or above the ground? Do you place your focus on the ground or do you travel the force you feel from their push from a path inside your body to the ground? I don’t know because i am really confused about Ground-Path even the i am starting to show signs of improvement.

    • Hi Abu,
      Visualization can be useful but ideally you want to feel what is going on. For ground path training you take the force down into the ground, but ideally you are working on being able to direct their force anywhere you want to.

      I would recommend getting the Internal Power dvd for a bunch of drills that will build this skill and let you feel exactly what you are working on.

  4. Dear Sifu!

    Thanks to your videos and ground path training i have a very heavy punch now. When i threw a jab at someones hand it feels very heavy on their hand to the point of breaking it! I wonder what i will be able to do after groundpath training and move to the next level.

  5. Is ground path another term for internal leverage?

  6. Richard Clear says:

    Hi Abu,
    Do you have our Internal Power dvd? If not, I suggest that you purchase it as it will answer all of the questions you have asked here plus much more.

    Ground Path refers to the direction that you send or allow energy to travel to through your body. By itself it does not constitute internal leverage (just as a stick planted in the ground does not either) however it can be utilized for the purpose of utilizing leverage.

    I hope this helps.
    Best Regards.
    Sifu

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