San Ti Shir 3 Treasure Stance
San Ti Shir is the foundation stance of Xing Yi Quan.
The name San Ti Shir is translated as Three Treasure Stance. There are two primary ways of interpreting the meaning of the name. Which interpretation is favored depends on your Xing Yi Quan lineage. First, we’ll look at the meaning of both of these interpretations. Then, we’ll look at the whole of idea of training a foundation stance and its purpose in your development as an expert martial artist.
First, What does Three Treasure Stance mean? What are the Three Treasures? and why are they important? Both of these answers are deep, and point a finger at the heart of Xing Yi Quan.
San Ti Shir means Three treasure Stance and refers to Heaven, Earth, and Man. This includes both a philosophically and a tactical awareness. Heaven is above us. Earth is Below us. We are in between. Feet on the earth, eyes looking toward heaven. Facing the present moment demands balance. This is the fundamental predicament of the human. We are in the realm of life or death and we must constantly choose our every step with consciousness. Standing on the earth we are aware of the terrain. We are aware of our footing. Is it solid, or shifting? Can we balance? Can we leap? Are there hazards to avoid stepping into or that we can trick our opponent into? Facing Heaven, also means being aware of all the things up, or not on the ground. This includes the weather, wind, sun or moon, their position and angle, avoiding being blinded by brightness. Facing heaven also means being aware of opponents above you, and things being thrown, or shot for a high angle. This signals a tactical awareness of our surrounding to assess their advantages and dangers and how to use them to survive. Having good balance in a strongly coiled stance, ready to move from it swiftly, in any direction, to seize advantage, and avoid danger, is the main idea.
San Ti Shir also refers to the Three Treasures of Jing, Qi, and Shen. Jing is essence, literally often semen. However, it really means the physical strength and health of your body, your physical vitality. Qi means your life force, and the energy associated with blood and breath. Shen is your spiritual nature and wisdom. Cultivating your Jing, Qi, and Shen is the primary method and goal of training. Cultivating your Jing, Qi, and Shen is the essence of martial arts, and constitutes the internal training, and inherently mystical nature of Xing Yi Quan. Using the body method to cultivate and concentrate your Qi, and build your wisdom, is the higher teaching of Xing Yi Quan.
Every art has a foundation stance. For Shaolin styles it is the Horse Stance, for Tai Chi, the Post Standing Qi Gong stance, for Ba Gua Zhang it is actually walking a circle with the mud gliding step. The foundation stance is used to build the strength, both mental, and physical, of the boxer. It improves posture, and becomes the frame, or core, of the movement method that is unique to each style. A Xing Yi Quan novice is expected to spend a considerable amount of time practicing this stance. In Xing Yi Quan, San Ti Shir is one of the most important practices a student learns. These days, people rarely hold or practice San Ti Shir for extended periods of time. If people practice San Ti Shir it is more likely to be for a few minutes as part of the warm up to practicing the movements of the art. However, in the old days students often practiced San Ti Shir for long periods of time. “Long Periods” means holding the stance for an hour, or more, every day, for as long as the entire first year of training. To our modern minds this seems to be, well, rather extreme. Perhaps it is. But if you would like to have an extreme amount of skill perhaps it is the shortest and quickest route to your goal.
However, there were reasons for, and benefits from, this strenuous practice. Stance training is one of the most strenuous and challenging parts of learning any martial art. If you have not practiced martial arts it may be hard to realize why it is strenuous. After all, you are merely standing without moving. How hard could that be? Well, pretty dang hard is the answer. If your legs are bent, especially, significantly bent, your thigh muscles will tire quickly. If your arms are raised your shoulders will also tire rapidly. If your body is well aligned and correctly positioned none of your weight will be held or supported by your joints. This is great for joints, but puts even more strain on your muscles. Since you are practicing the stance the idea is not to stand up. Even if your legs really, really, really hurt, and you really want to stand up. The idea is to stay as low as possible, with the best possible posture, for as long as you possibly can. By enduring this training, not only your legs become strong. Your whole body becomes strong. Most important, your mind becomes strong.
Mental strength is far more important than the physical strength. No matter how strong your body is, if your mind is weak, you will not succeed. You’ll give up. An expert martial artist builds indomitable spirit and will power to drive forward through opposition. Xing Yi Quan is an aggressive close quarters style of boxing focusing on sudden explosiveness and shocking power. In Xing Yi Quan, you strive to crash through the opponent controlling and dominating the encounter with aggressive entering and striking. Having a sense of penetrating, relentlessness in driving forward is Xing Yi Quan’s mind and method. It epitomizes mental strength, this is reflected in the name Xing Yi Quan translated as Form and Will Boxing. Shaping and strengthening your will power is fundamental to Xing Yi Quan. Its not just the name because it sounds cool. It is called Xing Yi Quan because this art is really good for strengthening your will. Of course all masters have strong minds, but Xing Yi Quan highlights the importance of this aspect of martial arts practice and endeavors to master it.
Your mind becomes stronger because, even though you want to stand up, and ease the pain in your legs, you don’t. Instead you stay down using your will power and determination. This strengthens your mind. With a strong mind you can accomplish many things, and become indomitable in both life, and in martial arts. Every career has activities and requirements that you won’t like no matter how much you love every other part about that career. Often the parts you like least, are the same ones almost everyone else doesn’t like. Those unwelcome, or unpopular, actions are also often critical for success. If you have the mental strength and determination to perform those actions with precision and integrity you can succeed where others fail.
In the course building your will power with stance training your are going to end up with really strong legs. In terms of building physical strength holding the San Ti Shir stance is one of the most important parts of Xing Yi Quan. You need to stand in San Ti Shir long enough to transform your body and become completely acclimated to the body posture of San Ti Shir. Then whenever you move in Xing Yi Quan it will also be based on this sunken rear legged stance.
The essence of San Ti Shir is not defensive. Xing Yi Quan is an aggressive attacking art that drives forward like a charging Rhino. San Ti Shir is the launch pad for you to attack and penetrate the opponents defense. When you combine San Ti Shir with the Following Step, you are attacking, closing rapidly, while keeping your weight off your front leg, protecting your front leg as you attack. Although you’ll practice San Ti Shir standing still, don’t expect to stand still in it in a fight. In fight, you’ve got to move like lightening, before the other guy even thinks about moving, you’ve already arrived. San Ti Shir is about how to coil your body and then move suddenly and explosively with balance and composure.
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