If a person is afraid to take pain, then there is no hope for progress. In the Tai Chi Chuan Classics it says, “The root is in the foot”. If a person is afraid to take pain, it will mean that the foot cannot be dropped into the ground to grow root. There is also no doubt that such pain taking is beneficial to one’s heart organ and the development of the brain. The fundamental method for a person who has just begun to do Tai Chi is to take three to five minutes in the morning and the evening, alternating standing first on one leg then on the other. Gradually the time is lengthened, gradually the person sits lower. The mind should be put into the tan tien, and without forcing, even a little bit, the heart of the foot should adhere to the ground. When one is rooting, he should extend his middle and index fingers to hold onto the back of a chair or the edge of a table, in order to be stable. After a while, when that is familiar, he can take away the middle finger, using just the index finger for assistance. Eventually even this will become very stable and the person will not need to be assisted by his fingers anymore. Then one can utilize the “lifting hands” and “playing guitar” as two positions for this standing (or rooting) discipline. The basic “preparation stance” is also the rooting exercise – the basic rooting exercise – for the complete gung fu of the person’s “one unity with the ground”. The “single whip” is the extending and opening discipline, with all the joints open. All of these positions greatly benefit one’s health and one’s self-defense ability. One cannot afford to overlook them.
Text from the book There Are No Secrets by Wolfe Lowenthal