Santi Standing: Setting Up and Refining
by Yang Yang, Ph.D.
Santi Standing is an important part of the wisdom we inherit from Taiji and other Chinese martial art training. It can effectively improve posture, balance, and daily function. But it is sometimes not so easy to get the hang of, especially at the very beginning.
For some time, I have been refining a way to present Santi Standing practice to beginners, and also to those who have been doing Taiji for years but not doing Santi or perhaps not any standing at all.
I was not satisfied with my teaching technique until late last year. Since then, I have been using the following technique when I teach students with different backgrounds. I am happy with the results and now feel comfortable to share the protocol with you all. Hopefully you will find something in it to improve your own standing.
- Stand in a squared room.
- Choose your focusing direction: south if possible.
- Put your feet at a 90 degree angle with heels touching each other.
- Have your right foot pointing to the south wall, and your left foot to the east wall.
- Step with your left foot one-half foot away to the east without changing the angles of both feet.
- Step with your right foot one foot straight toward the south wall. Please do not deviate to the east or west as you step out: Turn your left foot in for about 15-20 degrees (since people are physically different, some people may change this angle as they proceed), turn the right toe in for about 3-5 degrees.
- The key is to feel comfortable in your knees, hips, and ankles.
- Raise your arms chest high with your palms facing down and your fingers pointing to the south wall. Your left foot is the back one, the right foot is the front one.
- Imagine that you are sending your whole body’s energy gently toward the south wall and let that adjust the orientation of your whole body for a minute.
- With this intention, different parts of your body will adjust their orientation to accomplish this motor task. This is the key part of the practice. Through regular practice, you improve the awareness of your body. This leads to continued refinement of your whole body orientation toward the most efficient and powerful stance for push-hands and daily activities.
Now, you let your body grow one inch, imaging that you hold a light piece of paper on top of your head, open your kua, bend your knees slightly, image that you are standing in the water, let the water hold your body weight. You are ready to enter the standing practice for 5-10 min depending on your physical condition.
Practice the other side: In step #4, have your left foot targeting the south wall, the right foot to the west one. And follow the other steps to set up the Santi on the other side.
On a personal note:
First, I want to congratulate Matthew Komelski for successfully defending his dissertation. All who got this far or lived close to someone who did know how hard the work on a doctorate degree is, especially when you have a family to raise and a taiji school to teach. You made it, Dr. Komelski! Congratulations also to your family.
The center has been busy for the past few months. To an extent you can tell this by the calendar on our website. Now we are getting ready for the summer camp and then EBT training in August.
Now, in addition to my training tip, I have a story to share with you.
This past Monday, when I was passing a restaurant on my way to morning practice in the park, I heard loud yelling that was startling several of the people passing the restaurant. I couldn’t resist turning my head to find out what was going on. The yelling was toward a dog, a poor dog that was barking to his master for some food.
I couldn’t keep from laughing to myself at the folly of this guy punishing himself and his dog when there is a way to live a healthier life for the both of them.
Can we practice a little tranquility everyday? Can we meditate a little every day to cultivate awareness of ourselves and the rest of the world, including dogs? When we have more awareness of our differences, maybe we won’t judge other people’s or dog’s behavior. That would cut down significantly on our yelling. The world will be more peaceful and the dog will have an easier life.