Zhongding- Finding Your Central Equilibrium


Finding your central equilibrium (zhongding) is as subtle as it is vital to your gongfu. I’ve written about it in other posts (see archives) and will do so again. I have also posted videos showing how to use it to greatly amplify your effective power. (see YouTube vids) I consider it the foundation of any higher level martial art and the source of the ‘effortless power’ that is the hallmark of the internal styles. It plugs us into the ‘Big Qi’– the universal energy source of earth and sky that makes it all go. So, beyond its value to martial artists, it also is a tremendous asset to energy healers and to any human being who wants to feel more vitality and ease of movement.

Yet it is very elusive. Hidden in plain sight. It is veiled by our own sense of personal safety. Most of us learn to stand upright and walk around when we are a year or so old. Our sense of balance is established when our primary concern is to not fall over and hurt ourselves. This was a valid concern then and it is now. But the body of a one or two year old is undeveloped and the way we supported ourselves then is not the best way to do it now.

There is a ‘sweet spot’ you find when you allow your body to center over the balls of your feet. But most of us feel like we’re ‘off-balance’ when at true center because it’s so unfamiliar. We are so used to leaning backward that any adjustment forward seems threatening. That old program kicks in and say’s “Whoa!  What’re you crazy? You’re gonna fall on your face!” But to an observer you would look straight and tall.

When I want to build a wall or hang a door I need to establish plumb and square. I use a plumb bob to determine the line that is vertical to earth. It doesn’t matter if the floor is tilted. I want my vertical line to be as plumb as possible. Once I have my absolute reference line, I can use a square to establish lines perpendicular to it. This way my door can swing freely and my walls don’t require a lot of additional bracing to keep from falling over.

In this video , I show how to use an  existing wall to find your zhongding. You line up your heels and back to this vertical surface. The wall is perpendicular to the floor so it acts as a big square that establishes the rearmost vertical line. THIS IS NOT CENTRAL EQUILIBRIUM. The mass of your body is not centered (front to back). Your weight is in your heels and you are almost as far back as you can go. Try it. You are at the edge of the cliff leaning backwards. This puts a lot of stress on you muscles and joints, leading to painful injuries over time. It also makes your energy stagnant. It does, however, allow you to elongate your spine and correct some of the compensations that are adopted over the years. You ‘reach’ up with the crown point of your head (baihui) to connect to the yang energy of the sky.

Once you have squared up the posterior line of your body you can then seek the plumb line. You do that by stepping forward from the wall. unlocking your knees, and center your weight over the balls of your feet. That is the location of two of the primary “five energy gates”, the “bubbling springs” (yongquan or K1 acupuncture points), which ground our energy to the earth.

When you line your body up with the energies of heaven and earth, then you tap into the universal power source and you’ll resonate more deeply with what is actually going on in the present moment.