Never fight

It is a common mistake for new students to regard tai chi chuan as 'fighting'. This is a misconception that reflects a conflict-based, competitive mentality. Our training is designed to cure people of their aggression.

In self defence, we have no desire whatsoever to fight. Fighting is when you stand in front of someone and trade blows with them. It is a struggle. Struggling occurs when you try to impose your will and encounter resistance.

In tai chi chuan, we wish to evade and depart - not struggle.

A tai chi chuan student merges with the incoming attack and does not fight the assailant. Our skill lies with allowing the assailant to move as he pleases, without blocking the line of force. We redirect that force, and borrow its power for our counter.

There is no fight. A fighter tires himself by contesting the incoming force. This is not the way.



Some schools of tai chi chuan regard the discipline as mere choreography. Students are taught a pattern and then another pattern. They skitter across the surface of tai chi chuan without ever looking beneath the ice.

What they would see might just shatter their ignorance. The immense complexity of the art is astounding. There are not enough years in a lifetime to truly understand all aspects of the system.



If we recognised that animals have emotions, we might not treat them the way we do.

 (Paul Ekman)


It's all made up

Zen koan are very good fun. They wake you up.

Read a few koan (or Krishnamurti) and you begin to realise that almost everything is made up.

Conventions, ideas, beliefs and traditions encase our lives. When you see how much is made up, you find an enormous reservoir of humour within. So much that we worry about isn't actually real. It was all made up. It is only real if you believe it to be.

Consider: engagement, marriage, fidelity, infidelity, trust, faith, authority, hierarchy, money, mortgages, loans, commitment, debt, insurance, fashion, prestige, status and meaning.

The list is relentless, feel free to add your own topics.

None of it is really real. If you grew up in the jungle, raised by chimps, would you care about your car? Why do you care, now? Because somebody conditioned you to be bothered.

Welcome to the real world, Neo.



In his book There Are No Secrets, Wolfe Lowenthal spoke of students who employ a curious mixture of muscular strength and yielding in order to defeat other beginners during partner work.

Lacking the skills of softness, yielding and connection, they cannot manipulate gravity skilfully and employ a kind of cheat. Lowenthal explained that these internal/external tactics are typically used by people who want to bully others and will only work against other beginners.


Re-inventing the wheel?

Bruce Lee saw this division of grappling or striking/kicking as being an imbalance he wanted to correct.
However, traditional martial arts were already complete.
They did not need anything adding to them.

Tai chi chuan and baguazhang teach 3 martial expressions:

Chin na involves cavity press, dividing the muscle, misplacing the bones and sealing the breath.
Jing teaches sensitivity, awareness, manipulation and all forms of striking without tension.
Shuai jiao is about putting the opponent on the floor.


People who quit the class have not stolen their teacher's art.
They quit because their training is poor and their attitude wrong.
The knowledge and skills the student possesses are not representative of what was taught.

It is no use quitting when experiencing weakness and failure in class, for no growth can emerge from confusion.
Only a properly trained student, with full knowledge of their teacher's art (endorsed by the teacher) can claim to accomplished true skill.


Small san sau

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.



The training gives you a serious buzz.

Once you commit to weekly lessons and start practicing at home, you really notice a difference.
Instead of feeling lethargic and bored, you feel energised and vibrant.

Your mind is quite calm and your emotions composed, but you feel alive.


Do I need prior experience?

Prior experience is neither expected nor required.

 All new starters are treated the same, irrespective of experience.
 If you have skill with jing, peng, sung, softness and sensitivity; please demonstrate your ability to us.


Making time

If you want to do something, you make time for it.
People have a tendency to cram too many activities into too little time or leave things until the last minute.

Pace yourself. Putting things off only creates a future impediment...
Why not do it now and then forget about it?
If you don't have time to do something now, prioritise.
Do what you can immediately and do the rest later, or don't.

If you make relaxation one of your priorities, you will treat it seriously.
When relaxation becomes important enough to you, you'll make time for it.



Everyone becomes stronger in our classes.
condition the body to endure more exercise and develop some serious stamina.

Age is not a problem unless you have serious health concerns.
Nobody is ever pushed; they proceed at their own pace.

Slowly, patiently, the body re-grows.
We test this emerging strength to encourage further development and confidence in the training.


Why rush?

People spend their whole life just rushing. They hurry from place to place, their lives filled with inane activities.
The necessity of ceaseless activity suggests a deep psychological disturbance in the consciousness of humanity.
Can people just sit down and relax? Can they unwind?

If your life takes you minute-by-minute closer to death, why hurry?


Tai chi is good for your health

Tai chi is characterised by a gentle internal coiling and twisting of the body.
The soft, relaxed movements help to reduce bodily tension, whilst the martial art focus gives purpose and intent to the practice.

This is an ideal form of exercise for people who suffer from illness or simply want to improve their health.
Stronger muscles and bones, combined with greater flexibility of the joints, will improve body usage beyond the class.



Relaxation is a condition of ease that arises from feeling comfortable.

You may do many things in order to relax:
  1. Sit
  2. Walk
  3. Read a book
  4. Talk with friends
  5. Spend time with your family
  6. Gardening
  7. Cooking
  8. Eat a nice meal
  9. Watch TV
  10. Socialise
What is relaxing for one person may not be relaxing for another.
It is important to discover ways in which to relax.

You may even choose to do absolutely nothing...



The immediate now

Your assessment is about what you can do now.
It is not about how well you have revised or prepared.
If you do not know something, fine. This is the truth/reality of the situation.


Who are we looking for?

Friendly, receptive, intelligent people seeking something that will challenge them long-term.
Curious individuals.
People who are willing to acquire new insights, adapt and change.

Playful, relaxed, sociable people who are aiming to make tai chi a part of their lives.


Standard practice

Training martial arts is a potentially dangerous business.
People can be injured if rules are not adhered to.
This is why we have a code of conduct in place.

If you attend a variety of martial arts classes or research 'code of conduct' on the internet, you will find that it is standard practice for a school to have boundaries.

No rest

Watching television, drinking and sleeping-in on a weekend do not count as rest.
Sports and other activities may seem restful but they are often just as competitive as work.

Ceaseless activity is not rest.


Large circles

The large frame employed by the beginner is quite ungainly but serves as a foundation for progress.

In order to use the tai chi in partner work, the movements must be quite large and flowing.
These sweeping movements encourage the student to follow the line-of-force instead of blocking it.

The larger movements help the student to utilise peng and sustain groundpath.

Mind & body

Relaxing both mind and body will improve your health and make you feel better.
Your quality of life will change.
It can be hard for busy people to relax, so you must be patient.

The commitment you make towards being relaxed will prove itself worthwhile when you start to feel fresh and energised.

Tai chi aims to make you feel rested, relaxed and energised.


Martial tai chi

The problem with combat taijiquan schools is that they are often replacing weak tai chi for health & fitness with something worse: karate-style taijiquan.
It is difficult to see the sense of this. In attempting to solve one problem, they are merely creating another.

Taijiquan is not karate and should not be trained like a hard-style martial art.
The Tao Te Ching quote at the top of the page perfectly captures the importance of passivity, of softness, of yielding.
These are not hard-style attitudes. They are fundamental taijiquan approaches.


Being sifu is about helping students to access the art.
It is not an ego-trip. It is not always fun.
But it is something worth doing.

When a student 'gets it' and their face lights up with wonder, the effort is rewarded.