One very effective way of lowering your root, creating power, and becoming more effective in sparring/fighting is to imagine that the ceiling of the room you train in has been lowered to about a foot or two shorter than your height. An actual room like that would be hard to come by, so you’ll just have to visualize it when you train. You would literally have to lower your head and bend your knees just to get in the room. Imagine it.
When practicing kicks in this room, your stances will have to start low so your head doesn’t hit the ceiling. When executing the kick, your stances must then stay low – don’t pop up! This means you must sink your weight throughout the entire kick. This will help your kick become even more powerful. It also makes you difficult to sweep to the ground if your kick is caught as your center of balance – your root – makes you very heavy to the opponent and you have much greater balance.
Practicing single-step movements and forms in a room with a low ceiling also requires a great number of changes so as to not bang your head. Let’s disregard movements that require standing at full height, jumping kicks, etc. Focus on the majority of the movements that require stepping, turning, twisting, switching stances, punching, kicking, etc. Like with the kicks, performing these movements with such low stances will create enormous power and stability.
During sparring, San Shou and even when implementing Chin Na, keeping low will provide a new perspective to your training. Don’t mistake keeping low with being slow. Your legs will burn for some time by keeping so low and that might seemingly slow your movements down. Realize, however, that it’s only temporary due to your legs being gassed. As you continue with this type of training, you will become incredibly stronger, your body looser, and those two things will help you move far quicker than before.
This new way of training will likely have an almost immediate impact on your skill level. You will become a much more solid and smooth martial artist. However, this type of training takes a good deal of focus and willingness to suffer – your legs will undoubtedly go through a great deal of growing pains. But, if you care about progressing in your kung fu, it’s worth the pains. In class, take a low stance in kicks, single step, forms, etc. and use the mirrors to try to maintain the height of your head through whatever you’re working on. If you’re not in a position to look at a mirror, simply envision yourself doing what you’re doing and keeping your head on a level plane. Do not bend your back to make this happen. There will be times when movements dictate a higher or lower stance, so allow for them when they occur. Otherwise, try to keep low, stable and supple.