There are two types of Wai Dan exercise, moving and still. In moving Wai Dan, a specific muscle or part of the body is repeatedly tensed and relaxed with full attention. The tension should be as little as possible because great tension will constrict the channels and prevent the flow of energy. Some people do not tense their muscles at all, but merely imagine tensing them. Others tense them just enough to aid concentration. When one exercises a part of the body in this way for several minutes, the Chi accumulates in that area, which usually results in a local feeling of warmth. At this time not only the energy, but also the blood will be collected in this high potential area. When the muscles relax, the highly charged Chi and blood will spread to nearby low energy areas and so increase the Chi circulation.
According to acupuncture theory the Chi channels are connected to the internal organs. If Chi is circulating smoothly, then the organs will function nor mally. If an organ is not functioning normally, then increasing the Chi flow in the corresponding channel will help to restore its normal function.
In moving Wai Dan exercises the mind concentrates on the breath and at the same time imagines guiding energy to the local area. As was mentioned earlier, the channel system and the brain are closely related, so that when one concentrates, he can control the circulation of Chi more efficiently. This in turn results in the muscles being able to exert maximum power. This is what is known as Wai Dan internal power. For example in order to guide the Chi you have generated to the center of the palm, imagine an obstacle in front of your palm and try to push it away without tensing any muscles. The better you imagine, the stronger the Chi flow will be. Frequently, when an object seems too heavy to move, and you have tried in vain to push it, if you relax and calm down and imagine pushing the object, you will find the object will now move. Therefore, in practicing the moving Wai Dan exercises, you should be calm, relaxed and natural. The muscles should never be strongly tensed, because this tension will narrow the Chi channels. The mind should be concentrated on breathing with the Dan Tien and on guiding the Chi.
There is a disadvantage of Wai Dan moving exercises, however. Because of the repeated tensing and relaxing of the muscles during training, the muscle itself will be built up, as in weight lifting, and can become overdeveloped. This overdevelopment will slow you down, and at the same time will constrict the channels. When these overdeveloped muscles are not regularly exercised, they accumulate fat, which will further narrow the channels and the Chi and blood will become stagnant. Common symptoms of this phenomenon are high blood pressure, local nerve pain, and poor muscle control. In the Chinese martial arts this is called "San Kung" or "Energy Dispersion". As long as the practitioner avoids overdeveloping his muscles, San Kung will not happen.
In still Wai Dan specific muscle groups are also stressed, although they are not tensed. For example, one type of still Wai Dan is practiced by extending both arms level in front of the body and holding the posture. After several minutes the nerves in the arms and shoulder area become excited to a higher energy state, and when you drop your arms and relax, the generated Chi will circulate to areas of lower potential, much like an electric battery circulates electricity when a circuit is made. Because the muscle is not being exercised, there is no danger here of overdevelopment, as there is in the case of moving Wai Dan, so consequently there is no risk of San Kung. Although the muscle is not built up in still Wai Dan, its endurance is increased. Still Wai Dan exercises, however, are only effective for promoting health, not for use in the martial arts. This is because they do not train the coordination of energy circulation with muscular exertion.
If a practitioner of Wai Dan also has training in Nei Dan, he can accumulate Chi in the Dan Tien with breathing and concentration and guide this energy to the area being stressed to enhance the Chi circulation. In this case the method is a mixture of Wai Dan and Nei Dan, and this kind of training is commonly used in the practice of Tai Chi Chuan.
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