San da: what can you do?

Students are welcome to use tai chi, baguazhang, chin na, shuai jiao or any applications from our syllabus.

Skipping around, fearfulness, an unwillingness to commit or external tactics will all be considered redundant and pointless.

This is an exercise in initiative, in feinting, luring, provoking commitment, evasion and countering.


The long haul

The study of the internal arts is the work of a lifetime.
And so he sets off on a path to mysterious destinations. He does so in spite of observations by others that such a way is naïve, outmoded or idealistic. He goes because he knows others have gone before, because the unchanging direction of the way attracts and calls to him.

He goes because he is compelled. He sets out on a journey of a lifetime because he senses that this way is the one to lead him to a place very much worth the going.

(Dave Lowry)


Conditioning the body

We can address balance and connection once the muscles soften, the joints relax and the body opens.
The psoas muscle needs to lengthen naturally; this will aid in strengthening the body without tension, as well as providing stability.

Qigong and neigong serve to internally work and support the body as you perform tai chi.
From this foundation, you learn how to move in a tai chi way.
The form and self defence training exercises explore this unique way of moving.

Each new exercise offers an opportunity for you to increase your physical awareness.
It is an inward journey of subtlety and relationship.
The conditioning and awareness training encourages your mind to soften and your body to grow in new ways.


8th dan

Partner work
Challenge – full circle qigong (30 mins x 4 weeks)
Assignment #1 - Q & A
Assignment #2 - Attitude & etiquette

Long Yang form (section 1)
Stick drills (intro)Yielding basic skills
Challenge - form challenge (60 mins x 4 weeks)
Assignment #1 - Q & A
Assignment #2 - Attitude & etiquette
Assignment #3 - The Sword Polisher's Record: The Way of Kung Fu
Leg stretches (set 1)
Monkey paws
Psoas exercises
Pushing legs
Single pushing hands 

Challenge – standing qigong (4 postures) (20 minutes x 4 weeks)
Assignment #1 - Q & A
Assignment #2 - Attitude & etiquette
Assignment #3 - There Are No Secrets

Knife drills (intro)
Leg stretches (set 2)

Tao yin/Taoist Yoga

Challenge - knife 
drilling (30 mins x 4 weeks)
Assignment #1 - Q & A
Assignment #2 - Attitude & etiquette
Assignment #3 - The Essence of Tai Chi Chuan - The Literary Tradition

Chin na applications
Form applications
High circle qigong

Horse stance
Long Yang form (section 2)
Long Yang form (section 3)Martial concepts (intro)
Monkey paws (stepping)

Qigong development 
Single pushing hands (stepping)  
Challenge - chin na applications (60 mins x 12 weeks)
Challenge - form applications (60 mins x 12 weeks)
Challenge - form challenge (section 2) (60 mins x 4 weeks)
Challenge - form challenge (section 3) (60 mins x 4 weeks)
Challenge - horse stance qigong (5 mins x 12 weeks)
Challenge - qigong development (40 mins x 4 weeks)
Assignment #1 - Q & A
Assignment #2 - 5 Elements of Effective Thinking

Assignment #3 - The Book of Five Rings
4 directions with a partner (no contact)
70/30 stance

Broadsword drills
Countering/pushing peng
Double pushing hands 
Form posture qigong (70/30)
Penetrating defences 
Pushing peng exercise

Pushing peng (partnered)
Pushing peng (striking)

Qigong on one leg
Silk arms
Small san sau
Standing post with arms
Stick drills (3 sets)
Stretches & joint work

Challenge - broadsword drills (30 mins x 4 weeks)
Challenge - double pushing hands (60 mins x 4 weeks)
Challenge - mirrored form (60 mins x 4 weeks)
Challenge - penetrating defences (60 mins x 4 weeks)
Challenge - silk arms (60 mins x 4 weeks)
Challenge – small san sau (60 mins x 4 weeks)
Challenge - stick drills (60 mins x 4 weeks)
Assignment #1 - Q & A
Assignment #2 - The Way of Chuang Tzu 
Assignment #3 - The Art of War

Countering punches, kicks & grapples
Dying ground
Everybody falls
Floor work 
Qigong revision
Shuai jiao applications - subject to fitness
Yielding/chin na
Yielding/shuai jiao - subject to fitness
Challenge - floor work endurance (10 mins)
Challenge - shuai jiao applications (60 mins x 12 weeks) - subject to fitness
Challenge - yielding/chin na endurance (10 mins)
Challenge - yielding/countering endurance (10 mins)
Challenge - yielding/shuai jiao endurance (10 mins) - subject to fitness
Assignment #1 - Q & A
Assignment #2 -
 The New Lao Tzu
Assignment #3 - Tao of Being

3-tier wallbag
13 energies
Being hit
Breath meditation
Da lu
Form applications (section 1)
Freeform triangle
Gravity striking
Loose striking
– yielding/shuai jiao
– yielding/chin na
– yielding/countering
Neigong (1-10)
Sabre form (regular & mirrored)
Silk arms (peng)
Small san sau (peng)
Speed striking
Challenge - 13 energies (60 mins x 4 weeks)
Challenge - da lu (60 mins x 4 weeks)
Challenge - sabre form (regular & mirrored) (60 mins x 4 weeks)
Challenge - section 1 form applications (120 mins x 24 weeks)
Challenge - silk arms (peng) (60 mins x 4 weeks)
Challenge - small san sau (peng) (60 mins x 4 weeks)
Assignment #1 - Q & A
Assignment #2 - The Book of Life
Assignment #3 - The Inner Way
Assignment #4 - Sword & Brush

2 person cane form/drill (regular & mirrored)
4 ounces exercise
5 bows
5 elements stepping
8 powers striking
Countering a knife
Floor work (control)
Form applications (section 2)
Improvised weaponry/knife
Long Yang form (round version)
Meditation on emotions
Neigong (11-20)
Obvious power (ming jing)
Pushing hands development
Reverse breathing
Challenge - 2 person cane form (regular & mirrored) (60 mins x 4 weeks)
Challenge - improvised weaponry (5 minutes) 
Challenge - section 2 form applications (120 mins x 24 weeks)
Assignment #1 - Q & A
Assignment #2 - The Little Zen Companion
Assignment #3 - Moving Zen
Assignment #4 - Tai Chi Secrets of the Ancient Masters

5 animals
5 centres
Crude fa jing
Form applications (section 3)
Holding down the pillow
Meditation on body sensations
Moving with kwa
Neigong (extras)
Newton’s Laws of Motion
San da stage 1: freeform application
Silk arms (jing)
Small san sau (jing)
Spiral body
Staff form (regular & mirrored)
Challenge - 10 minute freeform application endurance challenge
Challenge - sections 1, 2 & 3 form applications (120 mins x 48 weeks) 
Challenge - silk arms (jing) (60 mins x 4 weeks)
Challenge - small san sau (jing) (60 mins x 4 weeks)
Challenge - staff form (regular & mirrored) (60 mins x 4 weeks)
Assignment #1 - Q & A
Assignment #2 - 
36 Strategies
Assignment #3 - Steal My Art
Assignment #4 - Zen in the Art of Archery

5 challenges
5 elements striking (part 1)
6 balanced pairs
Freeform grappling
Full syllabus revision
Leverage principles (misplacing the bones)
Projections (set 1)
Shuai jiao: footwork
Shuai jiao: elbow & bump
Shuai jiao: mutual arising
Shuai jiao: use of legs
Shuai jiao: throws
Silk arms (combat)
Small san sau (combat)
Walking stick form (regular & mirrored)
The way of the bear
The way of the bird
The way of the monkey
The way of the snake
The way of the tiger
Challenge - 5 challenges
Challenge - projections (set 1) (30 mins x 12 weeks)
Challenge - silk arms (combat) (60 mins x 4 weeks)
Challenge - small san sau (combat) (60 mins x 4 weeks)
Challenge - walking stick form (regular & mirrored) (60 mins x 4 weeks)
Assignment #1 - Q & A
Assignment #2 - The Art of War (Cleary/Shambhala)
Assignment #3 - The Complete Taiji Dao
Assignment #4 - The Tai Chi Journey
Assignment #5 - Blink
Assignment #6 - Commentaries on Living volume 2
Assignment #7 - Curious

5 elements striking (part 2)
60/40 stance
Balance, rhythm, timing
Cold jing
Entry methods
Fa jing
Flowing chin na applications (misplacing the bones)
Flowing shuai jiao applications
Full syllabus revision
Heavy bag
Jing/leverage principles (misplacing the bones)
Projections (set 2)
Reflex drills
Small san sau against a knife
Small stick drills
Small stick flexibility drills
Straight sword form (regular & mirrored)
Wu nien
Assignment #1 - Q & A
Challenge - knife attackers (5 minutes) 
Challenge - reflex drills (60 mins x 4 weeks)
Challenge - projections (set 2) (30 mins x 12 weeks)
Challenge - small stick drills (60 mins x 4 weeks)
Challenge - straight sword form (regular & mirrored) (60 mins x 4 weeks)
Assignment #1 - Q & A
Assignment #2 - Don't Sweat the Small Stuff
Assignment #3 - Free Yourself From Back Pain
Assignment #4 - How to Win Friends and Influence People
Assignment #5 - Tao Te Ching (various translations)
Assignment #6 - The Way To Love
Assignment #7 - The Willpower Instinct

5 pre-emptive methods
Becoming the centre
Being in the back
Combining chin na, shuai jiao & jing
Dividing the muscle
First hand/second hand
Full syllabus revision
Hidden power (an jing)
Large rhythm, small rhythm
Latent movements
Neigong (21-30)
Penetrating defences against a knife
Projections (set 3)
San da stage 2: freeform combat
Shih (martial advantage)
Shuai jiao against a knife
Silk arms against a knife
Sparing yourself
Yielding/chin na against a knife
Challenge - projections (set 3) (30 mins x 12 weeks)
Challenge - shuai jiao relay (5 minutes) 
Assignment #1 - Q & A
Assignment #2 - Who Moved My Cheese?
Assignment #3 - The Pavement Arena
Assignment #4 - In the Dojo
Assignment #5 - Mindwise
Assignment #6 - Outliers
Assignment #7 - The Road Less Travelled
Assignment #8 - Your Erroneous Zones
5 elements striking (part 3)
Bone marrow washing
Cultivating sung
Dying ground (expert) 
Energy drainage
Fa jing (variations) 
Form application (power) 
Form in self defence
Full syllabus revision 

Kinetic pathway
Large san sau
- 20 qualities
- incorporation 
Open & close
Overwhelming attacks 
Pao chui form
Pre-natal breathing
Reeling silk 
Sealing the breath
Small circle
Tortoise breathing
Unite upper & lower
Yin body
Challenge – large san sau 
(120 mins x 24 weeks)
Challenge - mass attack (5 minutes) 
Challenge - non-cooperative relay (5 mins) 
Challenge – pao chui form
Assignment #1 - interpret a koan
Assignment #2 - write a poem
Assignment #3 - 
The Art of Chinese Swordsmanship: Manual of Taiji Jian
Assignment #4 - 
The Book of Tea
Assignment #5 - Keep it Simple
Assignment #6 - The Power of Internal Martial Arts
Assignment #7 - 
Embrace Tiger, Return to Mountain: The Essence of Tai Ji
Assignment #8 - 
Back to Beginnings
Assignment #9 - Chuang Tzu in a Nutshell
Assignment #10 - 
Tai Chi Theory & Martial Power

2 person cane form/drill
Adapt, change & improvise 
roadsword drills dismantled
Dim-mak (dim-su/incapacitation)
Eastern philosophy
Form application (cane)
Form application (pao chui)
Form application (sabre)
Form application (staff)
Form application (straight sword)
Form application (walking stick)
Kinaesthetic awareness
Knife drills dismantled
Large san sau dismantled
Long Yang form dismantled
Martial theory & practice
Neigong dismantled 
Pao chui form dismantled
Partner work dismantled
Penetrating defences dismantled
Power generation
Pushing hands (all variations) dismantled
Qigong dismantled 
Sabre form dismantled 
Silk arms dismantled
Small san sau dismantled
Small stick drills dismantled
Spiritual inquiry
Staff form dismantled
Stick drills dismantled
Straight sword form dismantled
Striking methods
Syllabus design
Taijiquan principles
Teaching methods
Walking stick form
Whole-body movement


Scientific analysis

The opposite of exploring 'natural responses' to attack is when you respond in a contrived manner. You deliberately limit yourself to a certain drill or movement and practice that.

Your partner attacks with a variety of strikes and grapples, whilst you carefully think your way through each response. Be slow and thoughtful; contemplate what you are doing and why. Do not rush this. Do not lose your whole-body response at any point.

Be aware of where you are leading your opponent and what the effect of each counter-strike will be.

This type of work helps you to practice form applications and drills against a wider range of attacks, and the results should feed into the natural responses training.

Remember that scientific analysis, form applications and partner drills are all contrived. Natural responses training is what you will use in self defence: it is the proof of where you are. What comes out, comes out.

If you are faced with a legitimate threat and take time to think, you will fail. The tendency to do this can be removed through melee training, in which the thinking time is removed by the immediacy and variety of the threat.


Mild stretches

Taoist Yoga is a gentle way to exercise the body:
• Simple to perform
• Easy to learn
• Improves balance
• Stress-relief
• Meditation exercise
• Encourages a calm mind and composed emotions
• Energises
• Does not strain the body
• Strength-building
• Emphasis is placed upon allowing rather than forcing
• Improves skeletal alignment and poise
• Low-impact
• No exotic/strenuous postures
• Can be practiced by most people


Small san sau - 2 ways

Small san sau is taught in two ways initially:
  1. Sequence
  2. Combat concerns
The 'sequence' is just the pattern of movements: the framework.
It must be performed quite well.
Small san sau is introduced in green belt and students complete the basic sequence during the blue belt syllabus.

The second learning stage takes place at purple belt.
Students learn how to use the set in actual combat.
Subtle changes and corrections enhance the set, making it much more versatile and functional in combat.

Traditional instructor

When Sifu Waller studied with Peter Southwood he was required to stand for 40 minutes a day (every day) at 5:00 AM.
Standing was followed by moving qigong, drills and then two hours of form training.

He was given very little verbal tuition.
The training was primarily learning through doing.
Every qigong exercise, partnered drill and all 8 forms had to be studied thoroughly before Peter Southwood was prepared to share any in-depth knowledge.
Neigong and application had to be earned.

Peter Southwood used the Confucian teaching method: he showed you the example once and expected the student to go away and practice it.
Only the diligent student was shown more.
There was a significant onus upon the individual figuring things out for themselves.
Corrections, tips and pointers were only offered when a pattern of committed practice had been established.

Sifu Waller used to ask students to stand for 40 minutes at the start of class.
There were many grumbles and complaints, but most people actually felt better afterwards.


(i) If they are your instructor

If the person is currently teaching you, then you call them Sifu (No Surname).

(i) If they are not your instructor

In Chinese martial arts you call the instructor Mr Surname or Sifu Surname if they are not your teacher.

To refuse to call an instructor Mr Surname or Sifu Surname is considered to be very arrogant and disrespectful.

Prove yourself

If a student wants to be considered for lineage, they need to approach Sifu Waller and persuade him that they are serious enough.
Sifu Waller will assess the student and determine suitability. 
Lineage is for the instructor to decide, not the student.
The instructor must be confident that the future of the art resides in capable hands.