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Starting Xing Yi P3: The stance of san ti shi

“San Ti is the source of all skills” Xing Yi Maxim

There can be no practice more fundamental to Xing Yi than the practice of standing in the fighting posture san ti. San ti shi wonderfully translated from Mandarin as “trinity pile (or post) standing” is the fundamental training posture of Xing Yi Quan. One of my taiji teachers once told me (but all of my Xing Yi teachers have echoed the same) that standing practice is the most important component in the first 10 years of your training...let that put it into perspective.

In traditional Xing Yi training san ti is trained exclusively before students are taught other skills. As in, your entire lesson which could last an hour or two is just holding a single posture, sometimes swapping legs and sometimes closing with a yin counter posture. When I trained in China a modern variation of this practice was to have standing take up the first one hour of a three hour session, twice daily. I cannot emphasise enough how important it is for developing internal fighting skills to be able to stand and settle into your stance. One good way to think about it is this is power training for your internal boxing. Just like heavy compound multi-joint lifts (squat, bench and deadlift) performed explosively are your strength and power training for your external muscles and fundamental to an external martial artist, an internal martial artist derives their maximal power output from standing practice.

You need to do this practice and you need to do it daily. Standing meditation is the missing secret sauce that has been excluded from external and particularly Japanese martial arts. For a basic overview of standing meditation for health see my articles: here, here, here and here. If doing standing meditation for health is like maintaining and servicing your ford escort, san ti posture is a pit stop for an F1 super-car. It is similar but more intense and more involved.

If you are not training san ti daily you are doing fake Xing Yi. I would also strongly advise other Chinese martial artists especially southern mixed external/internal styles like Wing Chun, Chow Gar, white crane and others to include San Ti Shi in their training routine. Some of these styles do standing practice but it is mostly bastardised taiji practice in the mother posture ie it is internal training focused on health rather than for developing fighting skills and building a martial arts body.

Lets do it

Observe below the opening of the stance. If this is a bit complex I have a simplified breakdown below.

Step 1: Stand feet together at 45 degrees, knees bent

Step 2: Kick the front leg out hip width apart and double hip length long

Step three: Hold up the front hand palm forward, fingers separated

Step 4: Hold out the rear hand, palm rotated inwards and fingers separated

In this introductory series I break down the basic structure (above and more to come) and then go on to the core training cues from the Ba Zi Ge (Eight work song). Look out for a breakdown of this song and the first cue Ding (push forward) in an upcoming article.

For a full detailed description of the san ti posture; how to enter it, how to program it, and how to progress in it, including all associated breath work, qi gong, mind and gazework will be available in my upcoming book; San Ti Shi for martial arts (Working title)

Good luck with your san ti soldier!

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