Force on force alerts the nervous system. A block or a tense strike represents an obstacle and the attacker's body automatically stops and resists.

This does not happen when the counter is soft.



Our syllabus is very versatile.
It offers a wide range of skills, including kicks, punches, grapples, floor work, weaponry, joint manipulation, energy projection...

There is also a significant health component, and very little risk of injury despite vigorous self defence work.





In combat, you cannot be overwhelmed by your emotional mind. If you fight only with your emotional mind, you will lose control of your self spiritually and physically. When the emotional mind is calm, your mind is clear and the judgement will be accurate.

 (Yang Jwing-Ming)


The rabbit and the fox

This excellent story comes from the book Zen in the Martial Arts:

A zen master out for a walk with one of his students pointed out a fox chasing a rabbit.

"According to an ancient fable, the rabbit will get away from the fox," the master said.

  "Not so," replied the student. "The fox is faster."

"But the rabbit will elude him," insisted the master.

"Why are you so certain?" asked the student.

"Because the fox is running for his dinner and the rabbit is running for his life," answered the master.

(Joe Hyams)

The same lesson can be applied to fighting and self defence.

A fight is a mutual conflict - about something.
Self defence is when somebody assaults you - and you must protect yourself.

When you are defending your wellbeing (and possibly your life) the stakes are high.
You have everything to lose.



If we take taoism as our starting place, we can find the most comfortable, nature position to be in throughout the movement of each and every posture. No strain, no tension, no imbalance. Optimal comfort and optimal power. Without effort. Without force.


Effort-to-reward ratio

What makes the training appealing is the fact that the applications are simple, direct, subtle and effective.

There is no struggling, sweating and straining.
No forcing.
If you are using obvious strength, you are doing something wrong.

In fact, once you possess neigong, the less effort you use, the greater the effect.

Keep it simple by Nick Page


High kicks?

You are trying to kick higher.

High kicks are not encouraged in tai chi or bagua, and kicking will not be taught until 2nd dan.


Conventional martial arts favour the younger, stronger, fitter student.
By contrast; the neijiaquan encourage a mature mind.
Instead of retiring from combat at the age of 40, a student can look forward to spending the rest of their life training the art.

Tai chi chuan is the gentlest of the internal arts, and works the body in a very safe manner.


Second-guessing the instructor is foolish.
Inevitably you are lacking the entire picture.
You are making a judgement from an incomplete perspective.

Playful training in class

Self defence students do not need to beat one another senseless in the pursuit of self defence skills.
This seems somewhat counter-productive.

We adopt a playful
attitude - like children who exuberantly throw one another around, without aggression, without malice and without harm.


The joy of learning

Gaining skill is an occasion for enthusiasm and fun.
If you are studying something you enjoy, it should not feel like hard work.

As your abilities improve and your insight deepens, you recognise how much you have learned.


Be smooth. Do not prepare. Do not suddenly counter. Do nothing. Then act as if not acting. Do not alert the attacker by being abrupt or jerky. Think of the I Ching. Think of being in a neutral state.

True learning

She did not consciously think, "Ah, today I learned this and that; I gained this much." You do not do it step by step that way, by adding on coatings of varnish, or new paint. When learning becomes you, then it appears as you need it, when you are being you. Sometimes true learning surprises you when it emerges.

(Chungliang Al Huang)


Adding new material

The syllabus was designed to teach you what you need to know at each stage of your development.
It is a massive, comprehensive syllabus.
It is very well thought out.

Adding something from the outside is unwise.



There are many aspects of the tai chi practice that cannot be conveyed on-line, via DVD/video or a book.
We have no intention of illustrating form on-line, teaching gravity strikes or attempting to explain neigong in detail.
If you want to understand these things, you will need to take lessons.

This is not a commercial decision. It is a functional one. Tai chi chuan requires direct transmission.


Just do it

When instructed to do something, just do it.
If the directions are unclear, ask for confirmation. But refrain from argument, discussion or debate.
Just act.


Peter Southwood's tips #5 High repetition

High repetition is used to encourage the student to pass the threshold of self-consciousness.
To become so fatigued that they can no longer think clearly.

Worn out, struggling and clumsy... the student finally lets go and begins to produce spontaneous, natural, honest responses.
The applications may not be skilful but represent what the student is capable of under pressure.

Teaching experience

Sifu Waller has considerable experience teaching tai chi chuan:
  1. Bradford Yang Style Tai Chi Association (1995 - 1999)
  2. Dynamic Balancing Boxing (1999 -2004)
  3. Newcastle Tai Chi (2004 - present day)


Swift feet

Considerable balance is acquired through learning baguazhang.
Walking the circle requires the student to sink their root deep into the ground in order to become stable in motion.
Evasive footwork is vital.
The feet must be agile, alert and swift.

Circle walking needs to be smooth and natural, casual and comfortable.
Awkward stepping cannot be used in self defence.


Test your teacher

If your taijiquan teacher has groundpath, you should be able to put your hands on their arms at any point during practice and ‘bounce’ their structure.

When they are halfway through form, ask them to freeze. Then test their posture. Is it substantial? Is it stiff? Are they tensing-up against you?

Be vigorous. Feel for gaps and weaknesses.

They should be springy like elastic, yet internally connected. They should feel relaxed but strong, with absolutely no conscious effort required.

If your teacher crumples in a heap or pushes back into you, find another instructor. Yo-chi and kara-chi are not the way.



Most martial arts are pretty effective. The question really is: which system suits you?

What are your criteria?
Are you looking for kicking, punching, grappling?
Do you want to fight? Or do you want self defence?
Are you seeking a more philosophical component?

See what is on offer.

Does the class teach a 'complete martial art'?
Do you need to supplement the training with gym work, running or weight training?
How concerned is the class with health and wellbeing?
Are the students friendly and relaxed?
Is there a macho atmosphere?
Can smaller students use the art?



An instructor should have an in-depth, extensive syllabus, good teaching skills and the ability to perform all aspects of the art spontaneously and easily.
The lessons should be stimulating; challenging and thought-provoking.
The instructor should be articulate, calm, composed and skilful.



Your movements will be agile and your spirit of vitality will be high. You will begin to feel that your tai chi practice goes beyond simple form training, and you will be able to perceive things as energetic combinations rather than as static physical bodies.

 (Yang Jwing-Ming)