Tai Chi Ruler

The basic method in Tai Chi Chih [tai-chi ruler] uses a circular breath that is long, slow, fine, and continuous. As you inhale the breath penetrates deeply and you gently pull the perineum up and "nourish yourself" while allowing the breath to propel the movement of the hands. This method combines the prenatal and postnatal chi at the center and fills the hands with chi so that the soft gung can be developed in the arms.

After finding the correct stance [see side bar] hold the ruler with your palms in front of your abdomen. Imagine a circle in front of you and put the ruler on the bottom with the weight in the back leg. Inhale and gently pull the perineum up as you rock forward and circle the palms from the bottom of the circle to the top. Now smoothly begin to exhale and relax and rock back into the back leg and complete the circle with the hands and ruler.

The Taiping Ching is the earliest revealed Taoist scripture known from literature. A first version of the text was presented to the Emperor Cheng of the former Han in 32 B. C. E.

Translated from- Tai Chi Chih Prenatal Chi Kung

By Chung Du Che

 Tai Chi Ruler- Five character formula-

Tung, Huang, Yao, Do, Ching

  1. Tung- moving, this is the posture of Jup-tien [Greater Heavenly Circuit] turning in circles as if the flow becomes one around the body. The circle of breath and palms turns the circuit of chi up the spine and down the front of the body. This exercise suits a person who is strong and free from illness.  It cultivates T’ai-chi “soft gung” in the arms, legs and whole body and it is for martial arts training only.
  1. Huang-to swing or sway, like the leaves of a tree, which fall to the water and make the water ripple- the ripples are continuous.  The blood of the body is all connected.  Through the practice of the Tai-chi Ruler moving in circles the blood will be activated and cleared.  Huang suits people with illness of the stomach, liver, sinews, waist and kidneys.  It may be practiced by anyone.
  1. Yao- rocking, or swaying of a cradle.  This is a very quiet posture like rocking a baby’s cradle.  Because of the gentle swaying the chi and blood will be very calm and relaxed.  This form suits people with insomnia, weakness of the heart, and neurosis.  This is used by older people and people in weakened condition.
  1. Do- tremble, like the rain beating on the surface on the water, the ripples become big wave and splash.  This exercise suits people with acute liver illness, cold energy, and chronic disease.  It may be practiced by younger, stronger people also.
  1. Ching- quiet, this is considered the most important one of the Five Word Formula.  Move, rock, sway, and tremble all must be done quietly.  This eliminates the three fires: Heart fire, Liver fire, and Sexual fire.  This process nourishes the pure chi, which in turn nourishes the prenatal chi.



Explanation of the Five Character Formula

Huang is very often taught because it can be used by anyone in any condition. Tung is used only in gung-fa wu-shu.  Do is used in soft postures. A big wave in a storm creates muddy water, which cannot be used carelessly.  Yao is a bridge toward Huang. Yao is done during convalescence and it may be changed as needed according to the circumstances.  Ching, quietness, relates to stillness but within quiet there should be subconscious movement.  If you do not stir the still water then it will become stale.

T’ai-Chi Ruler Seated Practice

For many years Tai-Chi Ruler has been used in clinical situations and in hospitals in China. Usually this type of practice is done seated, or even lying down, by convalescencing patients. There is much to learn form this aspect of the practice as seated practice allows you to focus more or moving the arms with the circular breath and less on the legs.

Wear comfortable clothing, which does not restrict your breathing or circulation.  Sit erect with feet shoulder width heels touching the floor, if this isn’t possible it’s all right if the knees touch. The upper thigh should be almost horizontal and the angle of the knees should be between one and ten degrees.  The upper body remains the same as in the standing practice with spine straight, shoulders, and elbows sunk. The sternum is depressed and the back ”lifts up” while the whole body relaxes. The mouth is closed softly and breathing is natural.

The height of the chair should be a little higher than the knees so when seated your heels just touch the floor. This position can be adapted to the individual’s circumstance, for example the feet can be flat on the floor or the exercise can be done from a wheel chair. The chair must be steady and the seat flat.  You can sit on the side of a bed and perform the exercise also.

       Both hands hold the ruler and the body sways with its slow oval movement.  Lightly close your eyes and focus your Yi [conscious mind] and concentrate on your lower tan t’ien.  Relax and regulate your breathing to two breathes per minute as you slowly make the oval movement with the ruler between the palms.  The circular movement is 5 inches in circumference and does not come too close to the breast at the top or the knee at the bottom.  Slowly move in quiet oval “rounds” front to back, allowing the upper body to follow subconsciously as if you were drunk.  After 100 days change the focus point to your third eye.

      Seated practice can be done in conjunction with the standing practice or alone.  It is suitable for older and weaker patients and for people living in cities who have sedentary lifestyles.  This is especially for people who need to exercise but can not for whatever reason.

Wooden Ball

      Wooden ball training is done standing or seated using a special round table with a lip around the edge that keeps the ball on the top. You touch the ball very lightly and move the ball in circles with your intention, not muscular force. This practice teaches you to extend your chi beyond your fingertips.

The ball is made from Willow or other hard but light wood.  It is eight one half inches in diameter. 

The table- is 23 ½ inches tall and 23 ½ inches around.  It is made of hard wood and the top is two inches thick.  The surface is concave; the middle dips 6/10s of an inch, and the rim is raised ½ inch.  These dimensions are the traditional ones passed down.  They can be adjusted to the individual’s requirements, the top of the ball should be at a height that is natural and comfortable. 


First Stage- same as Horizontal Fishing

1.      The ten fingers lightly press the ball.

2.      With the left foot forward both hands rotate right to left with the right foot forward rotate left to right.

3.      Both hands lightly stick to the ball; the hands and ball rotate the body.  The movement should be slow and steady.  Mind, hands and ball should be joined as one, turning slowly without stopping.

4.      The body leans forward as the weight rocks forward and the rear heel raises up.  Hands go forward.  When the weight rocks backward the ball and the hands rotate back and the heel of the back foot goes down and the toes of the front foot go up.

5.      After 2 ½ minutes change the feet and the direction of the rotation.  This makes five minutes total for each exercise.

The function of these exercises is to make the arms relaxed and soft so that the chi fills the whole body.  The chi is pushed from the heel to the legs, from the legs to the waist, to the back, arms, and hands to the fingers and finally to the ball.  This exercise gives you “whole body strength”, it steadies the chi and “trains the Shen”.


1.      Relaxed and natural, light and easy, easy and steady, nourish the chi.

2.      Slow and fast, to very fast; fast and slow should be natural and relaxed.


Stage Two- This stage uses the same postures as Stage One but they are performed with the knees bent lower.  The actions of hands and body are the same as the previous exercise.  These exercises differ from stage One in these ways:

1.      The movements in Stage One were on a horizontal plane, now these movements are done on a diagonal.  As the body rocks forward the movement slowly goes from the lower posture to the horizontal fishing posture from Stage One on a slant.  When the body rocks back the movement slants from the higher position to the lower position.

2.      As your body moves, in a slanting way, forward slowly let your concentration move the ball forward.  As your body moves backward slowly let your concentration move the ball back.

3.      When the body rocks back the perineum should relax every time.

4.      Touch the ball with all ten fingers only.  Your hand motivates the ball, the ball motivates the hand.  Let your mind rotate the ball continuously.

5.      Five minutes and then change the stance [put the other foot forward] and change the rotation of the ball.  Ten minutes total for each exercise.


1.      Nourish yourself as you practice, up and down should be natural.

2.      Action is motivated by your consciousness

3.      Sticking but not resisting


ORAL TRANSMISSION wooden ball poem:

Practice your ball without palms touching the ball,

Use the ten fingers tips and roll freely;

When your Yi moves, the ball should move,

It’s so cohesive, so slow and soft that the ghosts have to stay away.


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