Personal trainer?

Your instructor is not a personal trainer. They are not in 'the service industry'.
They are not obligated to please you or give you what you ask for.

Tai chi cannot be taught piecemeal. You cannot pick and choose how and what to study.

Instructor levels

There are 5 levels of Tai Chi Instructor in the UK these days:

  1. Tai Chi for Health & Fitness Teacher
    - 10 years experience
    - these are the majority
  2. Tai Chi Chuan Instructor
    - equivalent of 3rd dan black belt in any martial art
    - 10 years experience
    - these people are less common
  3. Tai Chi Expert
    - 20 years experience
    - 10,000 hours tai chi chuan practice
    - 10 years teaching experience
    - fewer to be found
  4. Tai Chi Master
    - 30,000 hours tai chi chuan practice
    - 20 years teaching experience
    - pretty rare
  5. Tai Chi Grandmaster
    - extremely rare

Peter Southwood has graded Sifu Waller as being a Tai Chi Expert based upon his practice quality and experience.


Adapt, change, improvise

Intelligence is all about awareness. About seeing and moving with what is happening.

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.

(Charles Darwin)

In self defence, it is not enough to learn by rote and then churn out techniques.
This simply will not work in reality.
You need to proceed with no techniques, no formulas, no methods.

Intelligence is not about planning or being prepared in advance.
It is about 'thinking on your feet', making the best use of what is available and being capable of instantaneous change.
Appropriateness is entirely contingent upon your ability to keep adapting, changing and improvising.
You do what is necessary, and you keep on changing as the situation demands.



Those who lack wisdom are convinced that they are truly awake;
they think they understand what is happening;
they think that the king is really the king,
and the servants are really servants.

(Chuang Tzu)


Security & confidence

Self defence is the practical application of your art. This means that you should be capable of handling:
  1. Punches
  2. Kicks
  3. Grapples
  4. Multiple opponents/gangs
  5. Armed assailants
  6. Unexpected attacks
  7. Going to the floor
It is necessary to maintain composure, stay calm and apply a wide variety of pragmatic skills in combat.

These skills cannot be learned overnight.
You need them to work spontaneously and comfortably.
You must pressure-test them with different situations and variables.


The instructor does not exist to please the student.
Their role is to teach the system, and to re-shape the student into somebody capable of performing the art.

The student is incapable of seeing where this journey will lead or what steps are relevant and necessary.



The self defence approach taught by Sifu Waller aims to incapacitate the attacker.
We are not interested in 'beating' anyone up or winning contests.
Self defence is all about escaping injury, not causing it.

If you can escape without inflicting pain, that is good. You have nothing to prove to anyone.
Self defence is not about payback or vengeance.


Finding out for yourself

Figuring things out for yourself is an important component in learning.
An intelligent mind does not have to be 'told'.

You should have the capacity to make connections and associations, have insights and discover things for yourself.


Learning from mistakes

People frequently fail to learn from their mistakes. They just keep on doing the same thing again and again and again.
There is far more to intelligence than acquisition. We must be alert.

If something does not work, it is necessary to determine why it failed and try something else.
This capacity to change is a key factor.
A dull mind is doomed to repeat the same error continually. An intelligent mind adapts and moves on.



Learning is a complicated process.

People tend to think of learning in a very formal way. They go to school, college or university and they learn.
Or they are taught something at work.

Setting time aside in order to learn is a wasteful use of our brain. Ideally, we want to be learning all day every day.
This is not about making time to study. Or 'bettering yourself'. It is about absorbing things informally.
Instead of sitting down and studying, we can learn things constantly - by interacting, by observing.

You do not even need to try.
There is a difference between looking seeing, listening and hearing.
A healthy mind is like a sponge. It learns constantly. It is passive but receptive.

Learning is not simply proceeding from a condition of 'not knowing' to 'knowing'.
That is merely acquisition, the collecting of information.
What good is that?



Boycott Christmas?

If you have no desire to waste hundreds of pounds on pointless gifts - in a celebration of greed and obedience - then you could boycott Christmas altogether...

Is boycotting Christmas the answer?

Well, it is one option. But there are others.

Why not consider a return to the essence of Christmas?

Give to those who are genuinely suffering and in need.
Give freely and without any need for gratitude or recognition.

Re-discover Christmas through your kindness and your generosity...


Letting go of anxiety

What is anxiety?
Is it not a state of worry in which the mind considers various future possibilities and attempts to avoid problems by anticipating what will happen?
Let go of anxiety.
Worry comes from fear of failure.
If you fail, so what?
What is the worst thing that can happen?
Be spontaneous.
Be alert and alive, capable of moving in any direction without anticipation.
Respond to what is happening in the world, not to the worries of your mind.



Whether an application works or not depends entirely upon whether it is the right thing to do at the time.
If you think about what to do, it is already too late.
After practising form applications and drills, the student must forget everything in the face of an attack and just move.
The body will know what to do.


Your own study and experience, during which you ponder silently in your own mind, is the main source of improvement.

 (Yang Jwing-Ming)



The role of qigong in the internal martial arts

Taijiquanbaguazhang and xingyiquan use forms to practice combat movements, build strength and gain agility.
The forms are highly intricate, with many different levels of skill.

Yiquan (mind fist)/dachengquan (the great accomplishment) - an offshoot of xingyiquan - does not use forms.
Instead, it uses static standing qigong postures in lieu of form.

Xingyiquan uses form(s) for power development.
Dachengquan uses standing qigong.
See the difference?

What should a tai chi school do?The answer is somewhat self evidentisn't it?
Taijiquan is not dachengquan.
It uses forms, not standing qigong postures.
Read The Tai Chi Classics... There is no mention of standing qigong but a whole lot of information about movement.