Faster forms

We teach a number of forms derived from the Yang Cheng Fu form:
  1. Sabre form
  2. 2 person cane form/drill
  3. Staff form
  4. Walking stick form
  5. Pao chui form
  6. Straight sword form


Slow form

Beginners focus upon learning the Yang Cheng Fu form.

The Yang Cheng Fu form is sometimes called New Yang, Classical Yang, Traditional Yang, 88 or 108 step.
It is characterised by large, open, rounded postures and slow movement during form practice.

Does Sifu Waller have any lineage students?

Sifu Waller does not have any lineage students. No student has demonstrated the integrity necessary to perpetuate the art.


At what cost?

Success at any cost is not advocated by our school.
The aim of self defence is to avoid injury, not sustain it.

The internal martial arts of tai chi chuan and baguazhang aim to incapacitate the opponent without sustaining any injury to yourself.

Repetition of forms

One facet of any zen-related discipline is the repetition of a form or pattern; the accurate reproduction of a deliberate sequence of actions.
The aim of this practice is to lose the sense of self.
No thinking, no worrying, planning or anxiety.
Just being



Students have the opportunity to learn the sister art of tai chi: baguazhang.
The 8-part form is challenging and enjoyable.


When things are left alone, they settle of their own accord.
People become silent, calm and still.

Your body will do the same if you let it.



The tai chi form is one long movement in which the body explores a variety of different shapes.
It serves to train mind and body to move in the tai chi way.

For beginners, the form is split into segments referred to as 'postures'.
The definition of the word posture is: "the way in which a person stands or moves".
Unfortunately, for many people the word also has the connotation of fixity which can be very misleading.

Tai chi form is not yoga - we want to move - not hold a position. Tai chi is the movement itself rather than a sequence of held shapes.



Peter Southwood is a formidable martial artist. He will not just let anyone steal his art. There have been many pretenders to the throne but only Sifu Waller ever got inside the gate and he trained so very hard to get there.

(Michael Dutton)


Training in a morning before work totally transforms my day. My mind feels sharp and clear. I can work more productively; with greater focus and less tendency towards distraction.

Sifu has trained this way since 1982. It is easy to see why. The physical, psychological and emotional benefits are immense.


New starters

A new starter is always 'external'.
They use what they bring to class with them:
  1. Aggression
  2. Locked joints
  3. Force against force
  4. Over-contracted muscles
  5. Using the arms independently of the body
These habits are of no use in a tai chi class. They represent a major impediment to progress.

Unlearning is necessary.
'Internal' principles of body use are introduced, explained and explored from the very first lesson, but these will take a long time to become habit.
Daily home practice will significantly speed up the process of change.


What is stillness?

Stillness is the sense of inner calm that helps you to relax and just be.
Rather than rush around, you feel alert yet rested.

In order to become still, you learn how to slow down and eventually how to stop.



Internal principles of body use must be trained thoroughly and mindfully.
A verbal understanding is inadequate.

Tangible, functional application in your everyday life is the only way to truly understand the art.


Prospective lineage students

Often, the teacher will give good students a difficult time, pushing them to the limit (and perhaps beyond), for the purpose of testing both their character and technique. The teacher has to see whether they are strong enough and skilled enough to bear the strain. Although the demands may seem unreasonable at the time, students must not withdraw, lose faith and retreat. Only through trust and perseverance can one's character and spirit grow stronger.

(Adam Hsu)


Mixed martial arts

Mixed Martial Arts are perfect for modern society. I genuinely believe this. No grading. No belts. No commitment. No art. No philosophical underpinning. No uniform. You just walk in off the street and fight for the night. This fits modern attitudes because Yes you do get better, and Yes you can fight, so MMA does deliver as promised. But I have a sad feeling inside; like we've lost something.

(Andrew Clarke)


Form is external

The process of learning form is external.
A student is concerned with the postures and directions, not the internal biomechanics.

A form will remain external unless a student works diligently through the 5 stages and begins the process of internalisation.
This takes time.
Extensive, considered practice is inevitable, along with ongoing corrections and refinement.
There are no shortcuts


Is it taijiquan?

Longevity is no proof of skill. Years wasted on lousy material will not produce taijiquan ability. Learning countless form sequences means nothing. It is a shallow habit employed by bored students.

Where is the depth?

Look to the practice. Can you employ the taijiquan classics, jing, neigong, chin na, softness, sung etc?

5 stages

The importance of the 5 stages cannot be overstated.
Many tai chi people never get past stage 1 and therefore remain almost entirely external.
Each stage is necessary.
The different levels represent milestones on the journey from external to internal.
Cumulative skills build upon preceding material and understanding, taking the student from beginner to intermediate, to expert and finally; to an advanced level of skill.

Slow down

Tai chi chuan is an antidote to stressful living.

When you take things a little slower, you begin to notice the world.


10,000 hours

Being a tai chi teacher is more than just talent. You need to put in the work.
An instructor's experience should be measured in decades, not just years.

A good instructor should have at least 10,000 hours of practice behind them.
Dr. K. Anders Ericsson found that this was true of any art; whether tai chi, dancing or playing the piano.


Darkness & shadows

A traditional Japanese tea house balanced darkness and light to produce an atmosphere of ease and calm.
Shadows and dimness serve to settle the mind.

In modern houses it is possible to modulate the amount of light allowed into a room.
Voiles and curtains can be adjusted to adjust the mood.

Bright lighting and flickering screens are not relaxing.
Avoid the hypnotic dance of light.
Embrace darkness and shadow.



A significant amount of time must be spent practicing the basics:
  1. Standing qigong
  2. Moving qigong
  3. Form
  4. Reeling silk exercises
  5. Partnered drills
A beginner who trains the fundamentals every day and attends as many lessons as possible will make good progress long-term.
Neglecting the basics means a weak foundation and the tai chi will most likely remain external, and incorrect.

Aptitude test

Grading is all about aptitude.

A new starter could not possibly offer an experienced student good partner practice. 
The new starter's body use is too crude and clumsy and they lack the skills to take a fall or strike without injury.

Belts serve to differentiate the syllabus.
They allow students to progress in a clear, standardised, focussed manner.
At each stage, a specific degree of aptitude is required.

A student may well be keen, but without the competence this amounts to nothing.Grading involves a regular series of aptitude tests, and these serve to chart progress through the curriculum.


Sifu Walker?

Sifu should have been called Walker not Waller. He typically walks between 3-10 miles every day. If he doesn't walk he goes all stir crazy.


Rise early

Monks around the world get up in the early hours of the day and gain clarity from the stillness of the unawakened world.
We share this habit and have risen early for decades now.
Our preference is 4 AM but we typically rise at 5 because it offers a more practical bed time.

When you walk alongside a river or beneath trees at the start of the day, there is a magic in the air.
Such quiet.

Yes, there are birds and the occasional person or car, but the mood is one of tranquillity.
The streets are empty of commerce; the shops shuttered and closed.
There are no consumers, no hustle and bustle, no showmanship and competition.

It is like being backstage. Before the day begins.



Many people talk about meditation or claim to do meditation. Yet, meditation is not an activity.
It is presence.



Mindfulness is about being present, being here and now.
This may sound quite simple, but most people are distracted by their thoughts.
They are not present at all.

The value of being present cannot be over-stated. 
Your body resides in the immediate. Your existence takes place in the immediate.
Although your thoughts may wander near and far, you are here.



There is nothing mystical about 'presence'.

It is simply a condition of awareness whereby you are rooted in the immediate moment rather than absorbed in thought or memory.
In order to do anything wholeheartedly you need to be present, not daydreaming or 'spacing out'.


Peter Southwood's tips #3 Daily training

  1. Standing qigong
  2. Moving qigong
  3. Neigong concerns
  4. Form(s)
  5. Main drills
  6. Reading
  7. Rest
Stagger the remaining material across the week.

The Tao Speaks: Lao Tzu's Whispers of Wisdom by Chih Chung Tsai

Being mindful

Mindful conduct involves acting appropriately, in accord with what is happening.
This requires a certain degree of flexibility, adaptation, openness and awareness.

Being willing to change in relation to outside stimuli rests at the heart of mindfulness.


The 16 treasures are all neigong; habitual skills that transcend consciousness.
But they are very particular skills.