Baduan literally means “eight sections” and jin, “brocade”.

Like most popular traditions in any culture the origins of Baduanjin are shrouded in myth and legend. Some say they began several thousands of years ago. There are, in fact, historical records of exercises that resemble Baduanjin dating back 4000 years to the time of the Yao settlements. An exciting piece of evidence was unearthed in the late 1970’s known as the Dao Ying Xing Qi Fa (Method of Inducing Free Flow of Chi). This silk book dates from the Western Han Dynasty and contains 44 drawings of men and women from different social classes in exercise postures very similar to Baduanjin.

Baduanjin It is known for certain that the famous General Yeuh Fei who lived during the Southern Sung Dynasty developed a set of 12 exercises to train his army. These later, he simplified to eight. In the course of its development, Baduanjin has appeared in a number of different versions. Two fo the more popular versions are one done seated and another done standing. The seated version was devised by Zhong Li in the Tang dynasty (618-907) and rearrand rearranged by Li Shixin, a lecturer in the Physical Education Department of Beijing University. The standing version was compiled by Zhuo Dahong, associate professor at Zhangshan medical College, on the basis of several already existing standing versions. Today visitors at the Shaolin Temple in Henan, China can see statues of monks performing Baduanjin and use them as part of their daily training. Listed below are the names of the eight standing movements:

  1. Supporting the Heavens with Two Hands (Tonify the triple warmer)
  2. Drawing the Bow as Though Shooting the Eagle (Tonify the lungs)
  3. Separating Heaven and Earth (Tonify stomach and spleen)
  4. Wise Owl Gazes Backwards (Tonify eyes, neck, and spine)
  5. Shake the Head and Wag the Tail (Tonify the heart)
  6. Reaching Down to Dissipate Kidney Disease (Tonify kidneys and lower back)
  7. Punching with Intense Gaze to Increase Ch’i (Improves strength and shoulders)
  8. Shaking Body to Ward Off Disease (Helps release tension)

Also listed below are the seated movements:

  1. Internal focus with clenched fists (Helps to stabilize body and mind)
  • Relax the whole body.
  • Clench fists and focus there for about 10-15 breathes.
  1. Hold the Mountain with Hands (Knock teeth 36 times)
  • Interlock fingers behind head
  • Strike upper teeth with lower teeth 36 times.
  1. Sound Heavenly Drum (Tap fingers 24 times)
  • Move hand to cover ears.
  • Tap back of head 24 times with middle finger pressed under index finger.
  1. Rotate the Heavenly Pillar (10 times)
  • Slowly rotate the head around the shoulders 5-10 times in each direction.
  1. Whirlpool (36 times, swallow in 3 gulps to dantian)
  • Stir tongue 36 times between hard and soft palates to produce a mouthful of saliva.
  • Swallow it in three gulps.
  1. Rub Lower Back (Rub hands to make them warm)
  • Rub hands together until warm.
  • Slowly massage lower back with both hands 36 times.
  1. Push breath down (3 times, do so gently)
  • Inhale, hold it, then breath out and push downward.
  1. Rotate Shoulders (36 times)
  • Rotate shoulders as if hands are hold the pedals of bike.
  1. Support Heaven with Two Hands (9 times)
  • Palms up, raise hands over head with fingers interlocked.
  1. Pull Toes with Two Hands (9 times)
  • Grasp middle part of both soles with separate hands and pull feet.
  1. Whirlpool (36 times, swallow in 3 gulps to dantian, a repeat of #5)

  2. Prime the Orbit (3 times, a repeat of #7)

We like to finish with some isometrics and relaxation techniques then do microcosmic orbit meditation.

Taiji Ruler

Taiji Chih or Ruler (no relationship with Taijiquan) is a sacred and secret qigong first made public in 1954 by Master Zhao Zhong-dao. It is called the Ruler (Chi, sometimes spelled Chih) because during the basic exercise the hands are held about a foot apart. You may practice this qigong while holding a foot-long “Ruler” between the palms. The Ruler is made of a light porous wood such as willow and rounded at both ends so it fits comfortably in the hands. The physical ruler encourages the flow of ch’i. The Taiji Chih system consists of gentle rocking and swaying movements that build ch’i in the feet, the dantian, and the hands. It can be used for self-healing or as a preparation for any form of massage therapy or therapeutic touch. Your hands will feel warm, vibrating, full of healing power after a few minutes’ practice. In the United States, several bizarre variations to the Ruler have become popular, many with little relationship to Zhao’s original techniques. The method we present here at Dao-yin Taiji Study Group has been handed down from direct students of Zhao, several second- or third generation students, and then corroborated by comparison with Zhao’s original Chinese text.

The Ruler has a fascinating and venerable history. The Taiji Chih is one of the several forms of qigong attributed to the tenth-century Daoist recluse Chen Xi-yi. Chen lived on Mount Hua, the Daoist sacred mountian in Shenxi Province. The Jade Spring Temple at the foot of the mountain was designed by Chen and contains a statue of him. The monks still recount a legend that after Chen died, his bones glowed with red light. A visitor once stole a shinbone. This so infuriated the monks that they moved his remains to a secret location, never again revealed.

For many years Chen was friends with a young visitor name Zhao Kuang-yin. Zhao loved the beauty of the mountains and frequently journeyed to Mount Hua to join Chen in two of his favorite pastimes: playing Chinese chess and practicing qigong. Years later, when Zhao rose to power as the first emperor of the Song Dynasty, he taught Master Chen’s qigong methods to his children. Chen’s T’ai-Chi Chih method was maintained within the imperial family, passed down from generation to generation as a precious heirloom and secret to good health. Toward the middle of the nineteenth century, the art was transmitted to a direct descendant, Zhao Zhong-dao (1844-1962). Just before Zhao’s grandmother died at age 108, she told her twenty-two year old grandson, “Although the Taiji Chih cannot make you an immortal, it can certainly rid you of disease and increase your life span. Do not overlook it.”

Zhao kept up the family practice, and in 1954 he founded in Beijing “The Gentle Art of Taiji Health Society,” the first school to publicly teach the Taiji Chih. The Society was like a university teaching hospital. Scientists and qigong practitioners from all over China came to learn the art. Patients with debilitating and chronic diseases arrived for treatment. The Society was very successful treating digestive and nervous system disorders, insomnia, high blood pressure, and numerous other problems that had failed to respond to medical treatment.

According to Master Zhao’s biography, when Zhao passed on at age 118, “He did not have the appearance of a flickering lamp. On the contrary, he had a child’s complexion and silvery hair. His face exuded a health reddish glow and he could chat for hours. One glance and you knew this was an exceptional human being… . His hearing and vision were sharp. He had strong teeth, unwrinkled skin, and he slept and ate like a young man.”

The Taiji Chih is a complex and complete system of ch’i development that includes numerous solo exercises, exercises with training equipment, and two-person routines. Almost all teachers of the Ruler begin with the same foundation exercises. Here is a good article about Tai-chi Ruler Article by Bob Flaws.

Taiji Ruler Set

Taiji Ruler Set

Taiji Ruler Youtube Video


DaMo or Bodhidharma, an Indian holy man, came to China where he came upon the Shaolin Temple. While there he noticed the deplorable state of health the monks had. DaMo then went into seclusion into a natural rock cave for nine years. During that time he invented a form of ch’i-kung called Yijinjing (meaning “Muscle/Tendon Transformation”). And though DaMo certainly must have drawn upon his Indian yoga techniques in inventing Yijinjing, what he actually did was combine his own internal kung fu theory to the already existing Chinese theory of qigong, while taking the differences in Chinese physiology and physical environment into account. Chinese ch’i-kung was actually invented independently approximately 3,000 years ago, curiously enough also by a religious leader, Lao Tze, the founder of Taoism.

Yijinjing is a very important part of qigong, but that there are other forms of ch’i-kung in existence. Yijinjing is an internal exercise that makes the body almost indestructible, capable of withstanding tremendous physical force and even injury from knife stabbing.

In addition to Yijinjing, DaMo invented another type of ch’i-kung called Xi Shui Jin or “Essence of Bone Washing,” an internal exercise designed to cleanse the body. A later Shaolin Monk called Fu Yu Chan Shi invented two other forms of Shaolin ch’i-kung: baduanjin, meaning “Eight Section Brocade,” an internal exercise practiced to make the body as soft and flexible as cotton to increase healthiness, rejuvenation, and longevity, and Shi Da Gong Fa, meaning “Ten Great Skills,” an internal exercise to make the body as hard as iron, and a very important skill in developing hard ch’i-kung breaking skills. What Yijinjing and the other forms of qigong have in common is ch’i.

Ch’i is usually translated as “breath,” “life principle” or “power,” and though all of these terms are partially correct, none alone conveys ch’i’s true essence. Ch’i-kung allows us to combine the external forces of life through physical movements, such as respiration and different bodily postures, with the internal force called ch’i, thus transforming the practitioner’s body and the mind to a higher plane of physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.

Wuji Qigong

A very simple and effective approach to meditation is called Wuji Qigong in Chinese. Its core is standing meditation. Loosely translated, “Qigong” means “energy work” and “wuji” means “void” or “emptiness.” The two pillars of this practice are to still the mind and the body. Once we are into the silence of the mind, the void or empty mind, we begin to sense the natural state of our being.

Wuji Qigong may be practiced while either sitting or standing. In either position, the three harmonies are an essential part of this practice. The three harmonies are as follows:

Harmonizing your body: Allow your eyes to eventually close naturally. Your back and neck should be straight but definitely not tense. Your hands rest on your thighs or knees. Now, mentally scan your whole body from the top of your head to the bottoms of your feet, simply being conscious of your body. Don’t try to modify anything at all. Allow yourself to move but only with unconscious thought, not with a verbal command in the mind.

Harmonizing your breath: Just put your attention on your breath at the level of your lower abdomen. Don’t try to modify your breath in any way but welcome it as a reflection of yourself in this present moment. Breathe normally and naturally.

Harmonizing your mind: Forget about what was happening one minute, one hour, or one day ago. Don’t plan anything for the next minute, hour, or day. Allow yourself to pay attention to what you are doing now-simply breathing. Don’t think of anything in particular but don’t try to not think. If ideas come, don’t dwell on them. Just let the thoughts pass by with the same detachment you show when watching cars pass by on the street, and bring your attention back to your breathing.


Retire to a calm and peaceful place where you will not be disturbed. Take a chair and sit on the edge so that your back is not resting against the back of the chair. It is all right if you rest your back on the back of the chair if you need to rest instead of practicing ch’i-kung; otherwise, you should be sitting straight and forward so that your centering mechanism is functioning. Your feet should be about shoulder width apart and parallel as much as is comfortable. Your lower legs should form a right angle with your thighs; again, as long as it is comfortable. Being comfortable within reason is a priority in this practice. Next, follow the three harmonies.


When you feel like it, stand with your feet remaining at the same place as when you were sitting. Your knees are slightly bent and definitely not locked. Your arms should be relaxed hanging to the side of you. Your back and neck remain straight as if suspended by a string out of the top of your head. Remember to remain comfortable in your posture. When you feel tired, sit down on the chair in the position described earlier and rest. When you feel like standing again, stand. Remember-keep breathing normally and naturally and maintain a comfortable posture. This process of sitting and standing, while maintaining the three harmonies, is Wuji Qigong.

Begin with sessions of 60 minutes. From there, any lesser amounts of time are “a piece of cake.” At first you may feel some negative sensations. If you are patient and don’t push yourself too far, these negative feelings will go away rather quickly and probably not return. For the best results, you must practice each day.

With practice and time, you will become less and less stressed. Your mind will become clearer and it will be easier to see your goals, as you begin to sense the natural state of your being.

Stand up in any posture naturally. You’re comfortable, like you stand every day. You are standing in the posture | very comfortably without using any effort. This is the most economical way of standing in that particular posture. You are doing it at its best, so any unnecessary effort added to your posture is counter-productive. ~ Dàshī Fong Ha (1937-2019)