Getting it right?

Students occasionally ask: "When will I get it right?" or "Is this right?" after only a few short months of training.
This may seem like a reasonable question. 

Unfortunately, the student is yet to realise that they are missing about 99% of the syllabus.
Given that there is still so much to learn, how can even the most simple exercise be correct?
Everything must be refined.
Again and again and again and again.

This process of correction and refinement may seem tedious to a new starter but it actually becomes enjoyable as you progress.
Students want to be corrected.
They want to improve their training.


Workshops & private lessons

Workshops are an excellent way to receive corrections. Smaller groups mean more time spent with the teacher.

Private lessons entail extensive tuition and thorough ongoing assessment.
It is very difficult to hide faults in your practice when training directly with the instructor.



At some stage a diligent student may become capable of self-correction.
This is a major step forward in terms of progress.

It does not mean that correction is unnecessary.
Rather, it indicates that the student has begun to take responsibility for the quality of their own practice.
They are now capable of determining to some extent what is correct.

Awareness, self-evaluation and the ability to see other possibilities is essential.
The ability to self-correct will speed-up the learning process.



Attention is very different from what is usually called concentration.

 Concentration is usually associated with a state of over-tension manifested by a furrowed brow and interference with breathing, almost as though one were trying to hold everything in place so as to be able to focus totally on a certain aspect of one's surroundings.

 (Michael Gelb)



The straight sword (jian/tai chi sword) is the main weapon for the expert to learn.
The form is lengthy, detailed and demanding.
Once learned, it must also be mirrored.
Students begin with a wooden sword, then work onto a lightweight steel blade, and finish with a real sword (unsharpened).

The expert also learns how to apply fundamental drills against a knife.


Students practice broadsword drills and the sabre form.
This heavy weapon offers a notable workout.

It develops upper body strength, whole body movement and wrist flexibility. Students learn how to extend their energy through the blade.


No corrections

Students who fail to receive corrections throughout the syllabus inevitably go astray.
This cannot be avoided.

Emphasising the wrong material, misunderstanding the significance of certain principles... inaccuracies... slowly it all crumbles to dust.
A slight error grows over time and leads to a monstrous deterioration.

Only the instructor can see the entirety of the curriculum, and see how it all fits together and operates.

A small error in principle at the beginning of training will have greater consequences as time goes on.

 (Yang Jwing-Ming)


Bad posture

Many runners run with extremely bad posture.
Their elbows are stiff and locked (often raised)... shoulders are lifted... the body is stooped... and weight is bearing heavily down into the knees.

This would be bad posture for any form of exercise.
It causes serious fatigue and adverse wear and tear on the body.



Although most people seem to believe that they understand what proper posture is, they generally apologise for not having it themselves.

 (Michael Gelb)


New starters work through the first 8 qigong exercises.

Lessons are divided into: 30 minutes qigong, 30 minutes form and 30 minutes partner work.


A healthy brain

Our syllabus challenges the brain in a wide variety of ways: promoting neuroplasticity.
Students are required to develop their memories, biomechanical sensitivity, spatial awareness and coordination.
There is a study component to the class which enables the individual to reflect, contemplate... and gain a deeper understanding.


On edge?

Most of us experience a sense of being 'on edge' or jumpy. This is really a habitual over-reaction to our environment. One way of deepening your understanding of this is to experiment with habitual patterns of reacting to a familiar stimulus, such as a door-bell or a telephone ringing.

 (Michael Gelb)



Every posture has its nature, meaning and purpose, and must be researched and studied before it can be really understood.

 (Yang Jwing-Ming)



There is more to life than earning money, buying things and seeking prestige.
What good are the 'finer things of life' when your health is poor and you feel stressed all the time?
Many people live unbalanced lives.


Sifu offers baguazhang to the keener beginner...
Approach cautiously.
Bagua is great fun but also terrifying and utterly confusing for the attacker.

Baguazhang involves a lot of shuai jiao and chin na; and both of these skills are extremely arduous on the body.
Shuai jiao allows you no time to prepare yourself or breakfall.
You just hit the floor.
Chin na involves joint manipulation, seizing and painful strikes to sensitive points.

Shuai jiao and chin na coupled with the weird angles and spiralling associated with bagua produce a pretty dangerous training regime.
Tensing-up only makes things worse.
There are some things that you simply cannot control. Bagua falls into this category.

Yes, train it early if you want to, but bear in mind that you need to complement this with a very serious qigong routine.
Look after your body.
Without strong progress through the mainstream syllabus, doing bagua is foolish.



Some schools of taijiquan regard the discipline as mere choreography. Students are taught a pattern and then another pattern. They skitter across the surface of taijiquan 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.


Poor health

Ask yourself:
Do you sleep well?
Are you clumsy?
Is your life hurried and rushed?
Do you have time for yourself?
Is your back aching or stiff, especially around the base of the neck and the shoulders?
Are your moods erratic?
Do you get headaches a lot?

People come to accept the lack of balance in their lives and do not imagine that there can be another way.

Alternative health

Going to the gym, running and swimming is not for everyone - tai chi chuan offers an alternative.
The training is not physically demanding at first but gradually grows in difficulty as you progress.
All you need is motivation.


Violence is unnecessary

We believe that self defence should be taught in an environment of fun and mutual respect.
People are more likely to be laughing than wincing in pain. They are too busy enjoying the cleverness of taoism and tai chi chuan.

Nobody is paying to get beaten up.



Everyone who starts tai chi chuan approaches the art with some sort of baggage: whether physical or psychological.
The habitual actions and thoughts, the misconceptions, preconceptions and expectations are all present from the very first lesson.

Shedding the accumulated impediments of a lifetime will be an arduous but rewarding experience.
Like dropping a rock you never knew you were carrying.


Finding your centre

It is common for people to over-commit themselves, to do too much.

We encourage people to find their centre, to become integrated and calm.
Students begin to see things differently and the benefits extend throughout their lives.

You can find peace in the simplest of activities.


Barriers will fall

A beginner must set aside conceit, competition and violence.
You focus upon play. You lighten-up. You realise that the class is a fun place to be.
You cease to be fearful and uptight. You begin to let-go and relax. You start to behave more like yourself.

This process of letting-go usually takes people a few weeks.


The acknowledgement

The instructor provides the student with an acknowledgment of succession, along with photographs posed in the traditional manner.
Other private gifts will also be exchanged.
It is important to note that the acknowledgment is conditional and that all gifts and proofs of succession are conditional.

Breathing room

Removing the unnecessary creates space and freedom.
You have room to move, to breath.
To be.


Stimulate your brain

You are required to explore, to think, to discover and to practice.
Our syllabus is complicated in content but simple at heart. You must engage with it fully if you want to claim the art as your own.
We will give you that chance. But don't worry. There is no pressure.


"I don't have time to practice"

People make time to watch TV but they do not exercise.

Setting time aside to practice is a matter of choice.
Everyone has the same number of hours in their day. You choose how to spend those hours.
No one is short-changed.

Playing the victim is pointless. You have a choice.
If you do not want to practice, be honest with yourself.



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.