Wai San He - The "Outer Three Relationships" 三合

Change your practice from theory to EXPERIENCE

In my experience, learning to develop and work with sensations related to Wai San He as part of my internal martial art, healing, qigong/ ch'i-kung, and meditative disciplines changed my practice from theory to experience in a deep and personal way.

The wai san he (三合), or “outer three relationships(OTR), is one part of a pair of subdivisions of mind-body energetic principles known as the “six inner and outer relationships” (六內外合).

Excerpts from The Search for Mind-Body Energy

Drawings of a Taoist yogi from a 1779 French manuscript suggest that the practitioner was paying attention to the alignment of his wrists.


Diagram 3-20  外 合                      Wai San He “Outer Three Relationships”  The wai san he principles demonstrate how the elbow relates to the opposite knee, the wrist to the ankle, and the shoulder to the hip.

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Wai San He “Outer Three Relationships”

The Body’s Energy Matrix

From the viewpoint of the OTR, the body is understood as a network of interconnected, or “holographic,” relationships. As illustrated by the patterns featured in Diagrams 3-20 and 3-21, the OTR model demonstrates how some parts of the body have an energetic relationship with others. For example, as illustrated in the diagrams, when the right elbow is held just the right way in relation to the left knee, this “harmonizes,” or creates a strengthening relationship with, the left knee. The OTR principle is common in energetic yoga and Chinese internal martial arts, providing an important diagnostic and intervention technique that also applies to some systems of traditional Chinese medicine. An example of this can be found in acupuncture, where, in some therapeutic interventions, a needle might be placed in the left elbow as a means of treating an issue in the right knee. Sometimes, however, the OTR principles apply to the same side of the body.  Drawing 3-22 is borrowed from a paper on the subject, authored by Dr. Henry McCann, published in the Journal of Chinese Medicine  1

McCann, Henry, “A practical guide to Tung’s acupuncture,” Journal of Chinese medicine, February 2006