Example instructor (level 1) questions

Question: Who in class will volunteer to help you out?

- how does this tie-in with the taoist insights regarding' te'?

- how does this tie-in with the taoist insights regarding 'being genuine'?

- can you teach a non-volunteer how to be an instructor?


Magic? No. Just physics

The MEA House receptionist (Susan) was amazed to see Brian pitch Eddie clean across the hall yesterday and stood gawping as Eddie picked himself up off the ground.

She had never seen anything like it.



When a student leaves the class, they typically need to justify it to themselves.
Rather than be honest, the individual blames the teacher, the art, the syllabus, the atmosphere.

In most cases, the teacher sees the seeds of their discontent months ahead.

If the student is keen, they are likely to seek out tuition elsewhere.
But this seldom happens.




Sometimes people have studied a similar system before and use this as a benchmark for comparison; rather than the tai chi classics.

Comparison has some potential flaws: the first is you and your ability to correctly interpret what you are seeing.
With tai chi, what you see is not usually what you get - the whole point of the system is to hide the substance.

If you base your comparison on what you were taught; was the tai chi taught correctly and did you understand what you were taught?

As a beginner you will be shown what you need to see and told what you need to hear.
This will not be the full measure of the syllabus.
You are taught in accordance with your ability to learn.



The student/apprentice must follow a very detailed syllabus that teaches forms, skills, drills, strength and flexibility exercises, along with many insights.

There is a layering of skills: each level furnishing the student with a degree of knowledge and ability.
Each new level assumes understanding and skill garnered from the preceding levels.
Without a strong grasp of each specific layer, the overall standard is weak, and the comprehension and application will be poor indeed.

The layers of the syllabus are interlocking, interconnected and incremental.


Modern tai chi?

The painters today mix their brushes and ink with dust and dirt,
and their colours with mud, and smear the silk in vain.

How can this be called painting?

(Zhang Yenyuan)


Walk like a cat

Have you ever really watched how a cat walks?

Watch a cat walk along a wall...

The cat is very stealthy. The whole body is coiled and ready to move in any direction. There is caution and reserve, but also forward movement.

The cat is never prey to inertia.



The tai chi system is built upon certain key precepts and these must exist if your class is teaching real tai chi.

If these qualities are missing, then you are not even learning tai chi - regardless of how much you like the class.
Tai chi is not about popularity. It is not about who taught who. It is a martial art and has very clear guidelines for practice.

Not everyone cares for the degree of work required of a martial artist.
When many people start tai chi they imagine that it is an easy option; no work required yet wonderful results.
Life is not like this.


Clean slate

The syllabus is about leaving everything behind.

White belt was like learning a new language. Now you must extend your range.
Your body and mind may resist the unknown but you slowly improve and get the hang of it.

People who reach the end of the beginners syllabus imagine that they have moved on from their bad habits and preconceptions, only to find them alive and well, and hampering their progress.

It is only possible to complete the beginners syllabus when you start to leave bad habits behind.
A person is simply incapable of performing higher level material until the past has been left behind.

For many people, it will be a tough internal trial involving a lot of unnecessary frustration.
Many people quit. In fact most people quit.

Those who make serious progress in our syllabus are not the same people who started it; they have undergone a deep internal change.
Nothing worthwhile is easy.


Consider self defence...

Very few tai chi classes offer a credible self defence syllabus.
Usually it is absolute nonsense that crumples in the face of an earnest attacker, or it is an external parody of tai chi - a ju jitsu/wing chun/karate hybrid.

A tai chi student who is confident in self defence should be able to apply the system in accordance with the nature of tai chi.
No aggression. No tension. No force.
They must be adaptive, sensitive, fluid and imaginative. Above all else, they must be effective.

To learn tai chi properly, you must set your ideas aside and embrace the system.
Until you stop listening to your opinions and your ego, you cannot understand the nature of tai chi.


Patience & faith

Martial arts classes require patience and faith.

If your teacher can perform the skills themselves and is willing to teach them to you, that is enough.
If you have doubts, look at what the more experienced students are doing.
Do they possess skill?

Not all traditional teachers are willing to share the secrets of the art.
If your teacher is sharing their knowledge, be grateful.


Not accountable

As much as you may not like this fact, your teacher is not accountable to you.
They are not answerable.
They do not have to explain their reasons, motives and deeper intentions.

And if they did reply, you may not understand the reply.
Without context, meaning cannot exist.

Modern classes often embrace coaching and mentoring methods rather than the traditional military-style tuition.
But this is not an invitation to treat the lessons casually.


Unlearning bad habits

We teach an 'internal' martial art and follows the teachings of the tai chi classics.
In order to start learning the system, a student must begin by letting-go of postural tension and the desire to use clenched muscles for strength.

For some people this is a gargantuan task because they rely on their arms for strength and do not really want to let-go.
The problem is attitude, as much as body. Being open-minded and receptive is not easy.

Tai chi is a 'soft' martial art.
It maintains a loose connection throughout the body at all times and the muscles never tense.


Question to Sifu Waller re strength

Question: How do I move with strength?

Answer: Start with standing qigong. Ensure that your alignment is accurate. If you can use stand correctly, try moving qigong. Make sure that no inaccuracy occurs. Correct any mistakes. Now, try form. Beyond form, take the structural parameters into gentle partner work and learn about sensitivity. Finally, work on combat.


Sore shoulders

If you get sore shoulders when training your tai chi, look to your elbows.
Drop them.
Let them sink.

Make sure that you are not reaching too far from the body.

Experiment with reach and range.
If you feel anything in the shoulders, you are doing the art incorrectly.


Question to Sifu Waller re designing a syllabus

Question: Your syllabus is so complex yet it all slots together like a jigsaw. How did you design it?

Answer: A martial art cannot be taught piecemeal; it needs a thorough, inter-locking curriculum that builds an increasingly integrated understanding of the art.
It is important to start with the fundamentals; what are you doing and why?
What purpose do the exercises serve?

It is essential to remember to introduce new things incrementally, not haphazardly.

Scientifically 'proving' the worth of each lesson/insight is good practice.
That way, the student has tried various options and recognises why they are being taught material in a particular way.

To design a syllabus you need the benefit of hindsight.
You can see how the apparently separate pieces are all part of a greater puzzle, and you can cultivate connections and associations in the student.
Finally, you must be willing to trim off any superfluity.
If any topic does not connect with everything else, discard it ruthlessly.
Functionality requires integrity.

Tai chi chuan instructors

A tai chi chuan instructor needs at least 10 years of experience and a serious commitment to home practice.
Martial instructors must show clear evidence of ability in all
8 areas of skill.

An expert has 20 years study and 10,000 hours of practice.

A master should have 30-40 years martial arts experience, with at least 30,000 hours of tai chi practice.
They are capable of teaching other instructors.

A grandmaster must have taught an extensive number of high-level instructors.
They would be in a position of significant responsibility within a school and have influence within the wider tai chi/martial arts community.



Learning a martial art typically involves a considerable financial commitment:
  1. Uniform & equipment
  2. Insurance
  3. Annual membership
  4. Monthly standing order for lessons
  5. Workshops
  6. Resources
Sound pricey?
Imagine if you liked cross-country cycling, scuba diving, golf or fishing?
Or if you wanted to learn a new language or how to play an instrument?
Would it cost less?

A martial artist is paying to learn a skill: self defence.
That skill typically involves getting fit and healthy, confident and happy.

Many martial art styles and systems can only be practiced safely until a certain age.
You can continue tai chi indefinitely; and it will keep on improving your health and wellbeing.
Tai chi is a lifelong investment.

Despite all these considerations, the real commitment is time and energy, not money.


Real curriculum

Many tai chi classes are tutored by people who have seen a fraction and believe it to be the whole.
Teaching people a fragmented view of tai chi is deceptive; it denies the student the richness of the complete art.

No matter what the style, tai chi practice must always contain the tai chi principles.

Any genuine tai chi teacher should be able to demonstrate the abilities mentioned on the principles list.

The teacher should also possess personal liability insurance and be following a coherent, methodical syllabus.

It is not enough for the teacher to understand tai chi. They must also be able to teach it to you.


Black belt

By black belt, a tai chi student should have working self defence skills comparative to any other martial art.
Ideally, the body use will be subtle, effortless and internal (to some extent).

In tai chi, your black belt is the end of the basics and the beginning of the serious work.
The grades ahead of you require sophisticated body use and a refined degree of physical sensitivity.
The journey has only just begun.



You are a rare teacher, I hope your students appreciate this.

 (Ron B)



Dress in bland, dull colours and outfits that do not draw any form of attention.
Avoid anything that catches the eye or makes you stand out.
Your aim is to be background, not foreground.

Wear loose, comfortable clothing that enables freedom of movement, and footwear that allows for rapid, nimble footwork.



Trying tires you out.

There is a significant difference between trying, doing and allowing. tai chi is a balance between doing and allowing, with more emphasis upon the latter. There is no trying in tai chi.

If you are trying, then it is not happening naturally - it doesn't want to happen. Trying is a kind of forcing, a resistance to what is.


Aging is inevitable

Life passes by so quickly and before you realise it, you are 40 years old.
So what?
Should we be concerned about getting older?
Is 40 a significant age?

What you think about aging is your own business. However, you cannot ignore your physical body.
You may feel like a 20 year old, but you are not 20 anymore.
It is important to accept your age.
Aging brings with it certain considerations, concerns and limitations.



Ultimately, tai chi works on health first of all.
If your body is not strong, fit and balanced, what use is it in self defence?

You may take longer to gain combat skills, but how many other martial arts can be trained almost all of your life?
How many medical studies/journals cite the positive health benefits of tai chi?

Do you read any equivalent journals regarding judo?
Maybe, but it seems doubtful.
In some martial arts you are deemed 'a veteran' by the age of 40. You gracefully retire and become a judge/referee.



Every martial art requires dedication and commitment. There are no shortcuts or exceptions.

Internal or external arts are the same in this regard.
Although the training itself may be markedly different, the need for sustained hard work is the same.

If you expect to use tai chi as a martial art, be prepared to put in the time and effort.



We cannot cover every topic every lesson. There is not enough time.

If you are unsure about a topic, then ask.
We can either look at it after 8:00 PM as part of the lesson.
Remember: you must practice and maintain the skill for yourself.

You will not remember a topic if you do not practice it.

Family first

It is very common for students to imagine that private lessons and long-term practice with an instructor guarantees receipt of the inner teachings.  
This is naive.
Traditionally, the secret workings of an art were passed on to family members first.
After family members, lineage students were the next consideration.

Everyone else was taught relative to their degree of commitment, and this seldom entailed the secret material.


No time?

Remember, it is up to you how much or how little you choose to train.

You may want to do a lot. You may not even want to train at home.

That is fine. It is your choice.



Be gentle with your body. Treat it with care.

High repetitions and exotic stances are not tai chi training methods.
Train with mindfulness.
With attention.
Pay attention to what you are doing, and train it slowly, thoroughly and cautiously.
If anything feels unpleasant, something is wrong.



It will not get easier.
If you are lazy now, expect difficulties ahead of you.

We are expecting your fitness level to improve as you move up the curriculum.
This should happen naturally.
You grow stronger, fitter and far more capable.

But it will not happen by itself.



The trick with tai chi is to keep your training mild.
It is not a gym workout.
You are not meant to be sweating and straining.

Go easy on yourself.

Little and often is the key.
If the training is gentle but works your muscles nicely, then it is easy to sustain and your energy levels will stay high.
Overdo-it and you will suffer from fatigue, aching joints and sore muscles.



This is the cornerstone of your tai chi training.

If you are neglecting to practice this daily at home, then you are missing out on a major training opportunity.
The form offers you a chance to train everything at the same time.



In the Western world we have no conception of how hard Chinese and Japanese people traditionally train.
We are soft and lazy.

Our culture is idle and pampered. We want everything doing for us.

In the martial arts, the hardship and the work is the whole point of the training.
You are not working towards a goal. You are simply working.



If you train the qigong exercises at home every day, your chest will open and you will start to develop greater strength.
You will breathe more deeply and your endurance will improve.

There will be a notable change in your physical appearance.



The less you try, the more will happen.

'Folding' and 'sung' will be introduced in the experienced syllabus.
These two qualities are passive; they are allowing rather than doing.
They teach you to 'step out of your own way' and let the tai chi do its work.

As a beginner you must learn to relax.
Do your moves in an almost dreamy manner; drifting rather than forcing.
Pause regularly and allow your weight to settle.

Power will grow imperceptibly.


More to life than money

The philosophical side of tai chi suits the older mind. You have lived a little, and you can look back and contemplate. What you explore in the tai chi has context, it can be applied to the fabric of your life.

There is more to life than money. Instead of having a mid-life crisis, learn tai chi. Do something practical.



Tai chi is often seen as being a bit 'theatrical'.
It lacks the apparent brutality of boxing or karate.

The emphasis is upon gentle qualities: softness, yielding, receptivity and openness.
Ask yourself: do these indicate fear?
Which characteristics suggest fear: a tense, locked, hunched body or a friendly, relaxed, open one?



The standard Yang set today is Yang Cheng Fu's final revision of 85 postures, which he demonstrated in his book published in 1936. Most of the other books published since then, including many Western ones, are either variations or reflections of the author's own personal expression of the set.

One should note that right from its creation, Yang tai chi has always been combat-oriented. Yang Cheng Fu always emphasised that the set should be practiced with its martial applications in mind. These applications may be taught through the fast set, individual posture explanations, tui shou (push hands), san shou (fixed-step sparring) and san da (free sparring).

(Alex Yeo)


Staff form

Rachel/tae kwon do

Rachel in her tae kwon do costume. Half a lifetime ago.

Completed by 3rd form!

Today I finished learning the pattern of the sabre form. I'm really happy. It was hard work but seems quite short in hindsight. Learning the YCF and baguazhang palm changes was much harder!


Sabre form

Out of joint

Modern life is filled with distractions that distort your perception of reality and make you feel strung out and tired.
Television, computers, junk food, noisy neighbours, work, videogames, mobile phones, driving and family problems can all make you feel unhappy and agitated.

It is important to find ways to earth yourself. To be centred once again and complete.

To find stillness and quiet. To rest. To stop. Exotic practices are not required.
You do not need to join some esoteric meditation group.
You can find tranquillity and balance without even leaving your house.


Experienced power

The experienced student finally learns how to use the art.
They have accumulated enough knowledge and practice for the power to have grown.
When the power reaches the necessary level, taijiquan skills emerge without effort or contrivance.

The student has changed: physically, mentally and energetically.
They are skilled enough to accord with the way, and can borrow power (te).



I never get the chance to talk to you as we leave in a hurry after class but I would like to say in this email how much we admire and respect you, your clarity and common sense approach to many aspects of the martial arts cuts through so much crap taught by others; we are humbled and honoured for you allowing us to train with you, I do not think some of the other students understand the difference between other classes and yours, believe me we do; I guess because we involved with other stuff we can appreciate just how awesome the art is you teach.

I was talking to Jonothan going home tonight and we remarked on just how deep Tai chi penetrates into every aspect of our lives, moving, thinking, interaction with others, it really pervades everything you do when you allow it to.

It must be frustrating to have all this cool stuff and not be able to get it across to the general public.



Periods of absence/poor attendance

When a student misses a lot of lessons it is common for the quality of their tai chi to severely diminish.

We offer two opportunities:
  1. Begin the syllabus from scratch
  2. Re-assessment
Option 2 costs £25 and the student will be assessed by Sifu Waller and awarded the appropriate grade.


Breathing hard?

If you are tired and out of breath after a few minutes of training, then you are simply not fit enough.
The training has barely started.

You must improve your fitness considerably if you want to complete the fundamentals.
This means training qigong and form regularly, along with perhaps walking, jogging, swimming or cycling between lessons.



People like the idea of tai chi but not necessarily the reality.
They want a quick fix, instant fighting skills or the ability to perform beautifully choreographed routines after a couple of lessons. This is fantasy.

Some unscrupulous teachers promise tai chi skills overnight but they are deceiving their students.
As with any martial art, a tai chi student must commit to weekly lessons and daily practice.
There are no shortcuts.



It is important to remember that a martial arts class is not modern in nature.
When you enter the training hall, you must leave modern culture at the door.
You are partaking in a tradition that has continued for centuries.

Fashion, politics and mass media are ephemeral things. They have no substance.
Tai chi has been practiced for centuries.


Form collecting

If all you learn is a lot of forms, you just become a good dancer.

(James Wing Woo)


Tao Te Ching

The title of Lao Tzu's book 'Tao Te Ching' is often translated to mean the way and its power.
This can be misleading, as many people assume that tao means way/road/route and suggests a path of some sort.
The book is an investigation of reality itself.
Lao Tzu studied nature and existence in order to better understand the way in which the world operated.
Modern physics does the same thing but works on the basis of hypothesis; which means starting from the known in order to understand the unknown.

Whilst both taoism and physics study the physical world, they differ quite radically in approach.

Taoism recognises that a person must lose knowledge - in the form of comparison, conditioning, education, measurement, opinions, preconceptions - in order to see reality without bias.

There is a folly in applying the characteristics of the known to the unknown.


Modern culture

Modern culture is filled with people who have 'attitude'.

Being cocky and macho is applauded. Showing off is encouraged.
People like to be sarcastic.
They enjoy being a 'smartass'.

Television is littered with talent shows and programmes that embrace the more unpleasant aspects of human nature.
Ugly traits are fostered.



Students of tai chi often want to learn tai chi as a martial art.
Having read a few tai chi books, they expect to acquire skills that exceed those of wing chun, karate, aikido or ju jitsu.
This sounds like a reasonable ambition.

But the individual is seldom prepared to put in the time or effort necessary.

A student of judo may train 2-3 times a week in class.
How can a tai chi person expect comparative skills when they only attend 1 class each week?



We are constantly caught up in speculative activities that upset our sense of balance.
Driving is one of the worst culprits.
It involves countless variables, very real danger and a limited margin for error.
Careful driving requires your nervous system to be very alert.
You may be in a condition of 'fight or flight' without even realising it.

We encourage students to commit 15 minutes a day to a lie down.
They adopt the 'constructive rest' position on the floor and close their eyes.
Gentle music soothes the nerves. The sound of the birds outside and the feel of the breeze calms the mind.
The tension sinks into the floor.
The student stops.

For many people, this is the first real rest they've had all day.

People set time aside to watch television, but are not prepared to invest in rest.
The 15 minutes spent resting on the floor may well be the most important 15 minutes of the entire day.



People are often reluctant to follow instructions. They get smart with the teacher or seek to debate the issue.
Martial arts classes are not democratic.
This is not politics.

A class is different: the teacher has the knowledge and the student does not.
The purpose of the class is the transmission of information.

If the teacher is not happy with the student, they will withhold information.
The student has no means at their disposal to coerce the teacher.
Democracy does not enter into it.


Firm yet empty?

The centre must be 'empty' - meaning that no one can locate it.
To make the centre empty, you must move it in accordance with the incoming force.
Any form of bodily tension or bracing will ruin this.

At the same time the centre must be strong enough to allow the body to sink and have substance.

Emptiness and substance must balance in order to represent yin and yang.
How is this accomplished?

When you evade/yield, you empty the centre.
When you strike, you firm the centre at the moment of impact - adding power to the attack.


Do not stray

There will be a tremendous temptation to collect forms, accumulate drills and qigong exercises. Do not bother.
Pare your material down constantly.

The larger your curriculum, the less you understand it.



If you want power in your tai chi, begin with your lower body.
Without a firm foundation, power cannot be expressed through the framework.
Your feet must have three points of contact and the weight balanced equally between front and rear of each foot.

Move up to the pelvis.
The pelvis must be stable, with most of the work happening in the hip joint.

Now focus upon the torso.
It must be comfortably upright, without strain; lengthening from the hip to the crown.

Without these basic skeletal requirements in place, your structure will crumple if you deliver through it.


Form without shen is simply a hollow pattern.
You may have the positioning, the movements and the timing right, but that is all.
Knowing the 13 postures will help to develop your sense of jing, but something is still missing.
Performing the applications is not enough either.

Intention is a start, but you need something more. You need spirit. Shen.



Balance does not necessitate accord.
You do not need to be in agreement with others to find balance with them.
You may want to pursue a certain approach and your partner may not share this view.

Each may stand on their side of the line/issue and get along perfectly well.
Conflict (internal or external) occurs when one of you expects the other to step across that line.
Why should you? Why should the other person?

You are not the same person.
You are entitled to have a different perspective.
Trying always to please another is not balanced, it is merely submissive.


Show offs

Students of the martial arts in the West feel that they must use their art to fight, or at least to compete, to show people how good they are. In tai chi, this is unacceptable, because that is against the principle of tai chi.

(Gabriel Chin)



The more ardently you force the tai chi to work, the slower your progress will be.
You must let-go.

People do not like the fact that tai chi does not embrace aggression and force, but this is not just a philosophy.
Tao stems from observing nature; seeing the physics of it.


Being in the moment

Lying on the floor and doing chores will help you to collect your thoughts, calm down and stop.
Hanging out laundry and cleaning are considered 'beneath' many people.

This is a foolish conceit.

No one is any better or worse than anyone else.
What standard could you possibly be applying if you feel that you are 'above' other people?

There is something truly wholesome about cooking a meal from scratch or planting your own vegetables.

Hanging out the washing or organising the drying is relaxing. Be slow. Be thorough.
Do it like it matters. As if there were nothing else in the world worth doing.

These so-called mundane tasks are opportunities to take a break from the bustle of driving or the flickering of the internet and television.




To teach tai chi as a complete martial art, you must be more than competent, more than expert.
In our school, instructor training takes place after you have passed 3rd dan.

Teaching the art requires you to transcend the norm, to exceed your expectations, to be mastered by the art itself.
In modern culture too many people adopt the mantle of instructor prematurely. Their combat skills are shoddy, and 4 ounces, softness, jing and neigong are not utilised in their practice.

If you want to be an instructor, you must have something to pass on. Something that adheres to the tradition, but also more than this... something that comes from you, from your own experience of the way.

Beyond instructor there are more grades. These are reserved for those who are scholarly and innovative. People who can comprehend, dismantle and re-build in original and surprising ways.



Following instructions has little to do with obedience and everything to do with self defence.
If you cannot act without preamble, you will be defeated in combat.

Thinking, worrying, planning and dithering will cause you to falter in action.
This deficiency will let you down.

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.

Voltaire wrote: Men argue. Nature acts.



Liz Koch, author of The Psoas Book wrote:
Safety is the first step when releasing trauma. Once instinctually safe, the body naturally begins to shake and discharge stored energy. With deeper levels of safety, the body spontaneously releases deeper levels of holding.

It’s vital for you to stay in the present. Staying present and matching the feelings with incoming impressions begins to shift the sympathetic (fight/flight) to the parasympathetic (rest and digest) nervous system. Releasing the energy held within a constricted psoas is both exhilarating and frightening.


Latent movements

There are lots of potential applications in every movement you make.
It is essential that you capitalise upon this.

Wasted movements represent a redundancy in your practice. These make you inefficient and sloppy.

Make sure that every latent movement is utilised.


Tim Cartmell

If you look at the sparring part or the technique part of it, you have to be here and now and pay attention or you are going to get hit.

You can do forms and visualise and all that kind of stuff - that's really good when you train on your own. But when you are with other people practicing techniques, it gives a 'live' quality to the training.

(Tim Cartmell)


I've lost 5 stone doing tai chi and eating sensibly. I drink a lot less alcohol now too. I put it down to being more aware of whats going on inside my body. Regular exercise has helped me straighten out my abnormal sleeping habits. Constructive rest and the relaxation associated with tai chi was immeasurably helpful throughout my stressful university course. I have a newfound self confidence in my ability to stand alone, independent, because of tai chi, self defence and tao. I'm also a lot more organised, upbeat, outgoing and approachable. I could go on (as I tend to with my sceptical friends) at length... but all that really remains to be said is thank you.
(John Knox) 


Martial art?

The way most people do tai chi, it's not a martial art. They could never use it the way they're doing it. Everything's in their hands, they just fill in the rest with fantasy talk.

(Paul Gale)


Becoming a student

A tai chi instructor is not a personal trainer. They are not selling you a product. You are not the customer.
Their job is not to please you or meet with your expectations. Their role is to teach an extremely sophisticated system to you. The teacher is there to be a mirror, to challenge you, to guide you and to question how you think.

A lot will not make sense at first, and could not possibly make sense.
Your role is to quietly explore what they are teaching you. To practice.

Do not argue, question or try to understand the tai chi. Simply feel what is happening and go along with it.

In time, skills begin to emerge involuntarily. You find yourself unexpectedly adept at the art.



Apprenticeship involves following the syllabus of one particular teacher.
Learning the art their way.
It is literally the cliché: "My way or the highway..."

Being an apprentice entails strict adhesion to the teacher's approach at all times...
No deviation. No debate.



First I am very impressed by your site. You have done the spadework and have so much to share (I have not yet read every page but will work my way through). Thank you for this.

 The attitude that you have to teaching and learning of tai chi is spot on.




Versatility is the key to good self defence.
Choices, options, variables, possibilities, opportunities and nuances offer you creativity.

Self defence is not to be found in any form or drill.
They only represent material.

Your ability to defend yourself must transcend the lessons.
It must extend into your everyday life...


Qigong/neigong framework

All of those countless qigong exercises, form movements and neigong qualities function to create a framework of strength.
This network of connected body parts exists at all times. It is inherent.
You do not to tense-up or apply contracted muscle power.

All you need to do is trust that this framework exists.



Trying is born of failure.

Students of tao learn to move with what is.
Instead of opposing, you allow, and then gently re-direct.
There is no resistance.
No tension.
And no thought of control.

Let-go and yield.

If you are trying, then you are struggling.
And that is not the way.


Martial arts fashion

Not many martial artists actually reach an impressive level of skill. The sad truth is that real martial arts are dying out because modern life doesn't value such things anymore. Unless its trendy and cool, who cares? Martial arts have become fashionable nowadays and students flit around like blue flies. The dogged staunch student of yesteryear who works diligently at one art, one mastery is almost gone. Sir Galahad or some such crusader; a lost knight in search of a forgotten mystery? Do modern people want Zen? Do they seek one-ness or enlightenment? Is there much evidence of Art?

(Andrew Clarke)




In the dojo, an attack or a response succeeds or fails. That's it. There is no need, no place, for excuses, no matter how relevant they may be.

(Dave Lowry)



There is a story about a king who wanted an artist to paint a bird.
The king asked the artist how long it would take him to produce the painting. The artist said "One year."
A year passed and the king called upon the artist.
The artist promptly proceeded to paint the bird whilst the king watched.

The king asked, "Why did you tell me that it would take you a year?"
The artist took him into a room. The room was littered with practice paintings, sketches of birds and research material.
The year of preparation enabled the artist to paint the bird spontaneously.



It is unusual to actually hold a posture in tai chi yet superficially that is exactly what we are doing with standing qigong.

With the feet shoulder-width apart, knees naturally bent (not forced), we extend our arms as if embracing somebody and then hold that position.

The scapula is pulled forward very slightly at first. Later, it is relaxed again.
Shoulders, elbows and wrists are loose and dropped, the fingers are open and apart.
Keep the arms rounded in shape.

The hands should be about chest height.
Place the tongue on the roof of the mouth as if saying 'la' and keep it there.
The eyes remain open and breathing should be relaxed.
Position 1 should be held for 10 minutes every day.

When complete, the arms lower to waist height and position 2 is held for a further 5 minutes.



Miyamoto Musashi was one of the most inspiring martial arts legends.

The man was a total genius and his Book of Five Rings has influenced our syllabus to a serious extent.
It contains countless practical hints and pointers concerning martial application.
His suggestions are relentless; the sheer volume of material is bewildering.

Any serious martial artist should be well-versed in his teachings.



When fighting an opponent who feints, stay calm, don't respond.
If your opponent is in range it doesn't matter whether the attack is a feint or not,
just step in and attack.

(Lau Kim Hong)


Psychological receptivity

The mind can easily become rigid and inflexible so it is important to make it supple again.

Reading texts such as Tao Te Ching and Chuang Tzu or studying Krishnamurti will help to release your mind from old ways of thinking.
Such material cannot be apprehended without considerable change within.

Meditation is the second aspect of this change.
This does not mean chanting, special breathing anything transcendental.
Simply be present.



It is very important to comprehend that you are not striking in the conventional way.
Tai chi is not like boxing.
You must not 'cock' the shoulder.

The power must come up and out - directed by the hips - inward to your opponents centre.

If groundpath is present, you should be capable of placing your hand on your opponent and delivering though without retracting the hand or cocking the shoulder.
'Moving qigong' will develop this ability.



When you are feeling tired it good to hold each standing qigong posture for a little longer than normal.

I try to hold one or two postures for around 20 mins each. It feels great...



There is a small risk of injury in melee.

Every participant must be careful to only use soft contact. Otherwise, it is very easy to break something.
Our aim must be exuberant play.

The disorientation of repeated ceaseless attack is necessary.
You stop conceptualising and just respond.

But be careful.
Without control, you are an amateur
The greater your skill, the softer and more flowing you will be.


The more you learn the less you know...

Progress in tai chi brings with it an expanded consciousness. You come to recognise that the art is much, much deeper than you realised and that the study you have undertaken to date is essentially superficial.

There is always a layer beyond what you now know, and another layer beyond that, and so on.

This is not about form collecting, or acquiring new things to practice. It is about thoroughness. Tai chi is complex and sophisticated. Your body use, application and adherence to the tai chi principles entails an unending journey of growing comprehension.

There is no actual conclusion.

Having proceeded into the experienced syllabus, the diligent student recognises that their new perspective brings not arrogance and ego, but humility. The territory seems vast from the heights, and largely unexplored. Ahead, unimagined mountains loom in the clouds.



Strength DVD is excellent ! Lots of material, and the pace/detail is good as well.




Questioner: My mother has been dead for some years. Quite recently I have lost my father also, and I am full of remorse. My sorrow is not only remorse, but also the feeling of suddenly being left alone. What am I to do? How am I to get over it?

Krishnamurti: If one may ask, do you suffer for your father, or does sorrow arise from having no longer the relationship to which you had grown accustomed?

Questioner: I don't quite understand what you mean.

Krishnamurti: Do you suffer because your father is gone, or because you feel lonely?
You are suffering, surely, not for your father, but because you are lonely, and your sorrow is that which comes from self-pity.



Soft meeting

Soft meeting refers to the way in which we encounter an opposing force.
If we stiffen and offer resistance, then the force can enter us.
If we remain relaxed and allow the force to move us, then then it will not find purchase.

Force meeting force is not tai chi.
Force must be met with softness and yielding.
Soft meeting requires a serious degree of physical sensitivity and awareness within your body; the ability to feel the tension within the incoming force and to dissipate your own tension at the same time.


Internal power

Internal power is different to external strength.
It unites the entire body and never uses local strength. The larger muscles of the torso and legs do most of the work.

Not many martial arts use internal power. It takes longer to learn, but requires far less effort to apply.



If you cannot gauge how much power to use, you are a liability to your practice partners and need to slow down until your sensitivity develops.

The use of muscular strength is the main sign of incompetence.
Tensing your arms, and shoulders means that you are struggling with the attacker, and this is not the way.
Only by letting-go can you hope to make progress.

Tensing blocks movement - both your own and the attackers.
What is the benefit of this?
What is the point of this?

You must be fluid and flowing like water, not stiff and unyielding like a robot.


The 70% rule

If you remain well within your limits at all times there is less risk of injury.

Most people exceed their natural range of safe movement frequently throughout the day without realising it.

The 70% rule encourages them to be aware of their natural range.
In self defence, over-commitment is a serious flaw because you have little room for failure.
Holding 30% in reserve is a useful safety precaution.



A karate blue belt will most likely possess more viable combat skills than a tai chi student of an equivalent grade/level of experience.
This is to be expected.
External arts teach self defence much more quickly and successfully than internal arts do.

A tai chi student must learn a different range of skills first: whole-body movement, jing, relaxation and sensitivity.
These are the priority.
Combat is introduced gradually and systematically.



When somebody attacks, they attack you with movement. Without movement, there can be no attack.
It is the movement they use to strike you and it is the movement that you must respond to.

This led to the exercise we call 'yielding'.
Yielding is all about incoming force. The line of force.

Yielding represents the foundation exercise for melee. It applies to punches, kicks and grapples.
Once you can sense and continue the line of force, your scope for response is increased.

As you proceed through the syllabus, yielding is attached to other drills in order to extend their scope.


Knowledge & insight

Knowledge without insight will never produce wisdom.
It is important for you to 'get out of your own way' and let the skills emerge of their own accord.

Thinking, pushing, second-guessing can all lead to arrogance and ignorance.

Understanding requires context, and context comes from experience, patience and insight.


Question to Sifu Waller re martial practice

Question: You always emphasise the martial principles and application in all your classes. With so many tai chi classes NOT doing this, are you not swimming against the stream?

Answer: Form follows function. Tai chi is a martial art. If your form is not practiced with martial concerns in mind, what is it following? It is following your ego.



Progress in tai chi is always hampered by physical, emotional and psychological tension.
This barrier must be dissolved from within.
Surrender. Give-in. Stop fighting.

There is so much more to tai chi than simply being relaxed and moving in a choreographed manner.
A person may train for decades and never truly let-go.
Tension is such an ingrained habit that a person seldom appreciates how brittle they really are.

The mind and the body develop 'holding patterns' of fixity intended to create a sense of security and stability.
Unfortunately, in reality they disconnect you from the ground and make you insensitive.
You must open-up, yield and become receptive.

Involuntary shaking during qigong practice is the first sign that you are letting-go and allowing your body work with gravity.


Peter Southwood's tips #11 Your opponent will not cut you any slack

As the student progresses, playing the attacker well becomes increasingly important.
The assailant must be ruthless, uncompromising and cunning.

A bad attacker is also a bad defender.



Softness feels heavy

Being soft allows the body weight to be transmitted to different parts of the body.
To another person, your limbs will feel very heavy.
To you, they just feel loose and relaxed.
This heaviness can be used to transmit the groundpath through somebody else.



An important point that Musashi repeatedly comes back to is composure.

Modern martial arts do not really consider this concern; they typically embrace aggression and allow students to become inwardly angry.
Emotional instability reduces your ability to function smoothly and easily.

If you are not inwardly calm, then you are caught up in the melee.
This is the wrong approach.

You must be the eye of the storm.


Self defence classes

A lot of people go to martial arts classes in order to learn self defence. They want to avoid violence and look after themselves.

There are quite a few ‘serious’ martial arts classes available in the UK where the training is so realistic that you actually get assaulted. You may learn great skills but the whole point in attending was to avoid being attacked…

Other classes promise self defence and offer nothing of tangible value.

Children in a playground ‘rough each other up’ without any animosity, fear or pain. It is just fun.

Our school looks at self defence as play. If adults can adopt a playful, exploratory attitude, they can develop practical useable skills without getting hurt or memorizing fixed responses.

Good martial arts classes of any style should be able to offer a practical syllabus without brutalizing students or giving them empty skills.

Space: Above & Beyond



Students who commit to all the classes have an opportunity to become an 'indoor/lineage student'.
They attend lessons twice a week and face a gruelling syllabus that is far more advanced than what a beginner encounters.

By training closely with Sifu Waller, the student has the opportunity to steal the art.
Hands-on work, receiving Sifu Waller's skill is called 'direct transmission'.
It will inform the student's own training by giving them the 'body feel' of the instructor.


The Exhibitionist

My neighbour mentioned that a lady did taijiquan on the beach…

Despite going there every morning, we hadn’t seen her. Then one day she arrived in her love heart sweater and short cropped hair. She stood on the shore in the most public place possible and did her yo-chi.

As time went by, we saw her repeatedly. She’d invite you to watch her. She sometimes brought her own audience; a short lady who got quite bored and resorted to jogging up and down or doing star jumps.

It may all sound sweet, but it had nothing to do with taijiquan. An earnest student finds a quiet secluded place and works intently on their form practice. They don't need an audience. They don't want an audience. taijiquan is not performance art.

This lady never did form. She was like a busker who couldn’t really play the guitar or sing, she just strummed the strings as a token gesture.

The rapturous expression and exaggerated arm waving of yo-chi were simply an attention-getting device. She may as well have stripped-off naked and jogged up the sand.


Taoist yoga

Tao yin refers to a wide selection of stretching exercises designed to improve circulation and boost the flow of energy within the body. It is commonly referred to as 'taoist yoga'. The stretches work the legs, back and psoas in particular.
The aim is to relax into the release the muscles, rather than force the body. In order to further release muscular tension and aid flexibility, the body is sometimes massaged during the stretch. It is encouraged to lengthen naturally. Typically the same exercise is performed a few times to enable a fuller release.
Taoist yoga is a gentle way to exercise the body:
• Simple to perform
• Easy to learn
• Improves balance
• Stress-relief
• Meditation exercise
• Encourages a calm mind and composed emotions
• Energises
• Does not strain the body
• Strength-building
• Emphasis is placed upon allowing rather than forcing
• Improves skeletal alignment and poise
• Low-impact
• No exotic/strenuous postures
• Can be practiced by most people



I sometimes wonder if the lack of enthusiasm we encounter is simply a sign of the times, or some fundamental failure to engage the interest of people. Modern culture views learning as some form of entertainment, which in the context of martial arts is obscene.

Sifu would never stoop to entertain students. Nor will he bull people up or cajole them. If enthusiasm is lacking and the student will not meet Sifu halfway, Sifu does not step closer to the student. Quite the opposite; he steps notably back and keeps a distant eye on the student.


Comprehensive workout

The Yang Cheng Fu system offers an extremely comprehensive workout, but only if you practice all or most of the forms.

Although the Classical Yang form is great for your body, the footwork is sluggish and the arms do very little.
Pao chui remedies the slow feet, as do the weapons forms.
The weapons forms also address the arms.


Use your mind

Students tend to think of martial arts as just being physical.
This is not correct.
All action begins in the mind.
Our perception of reality is psychological.


Beyond maths

Being an expert is more than just numbers.
You must also do the training skilfully, mindfully and carefully - following the taijiquan principles at all times.

A high degree of regular correction is necessary throughout much of your training.


Meat substitutes

There are many, many meat substitute food products available these days.
They are targeted at people who continue to think in terms of "meat and two veg".

This way of looking at food is limiting for the vegetarian.
It is better to move past the attachment to meat, and to regard food differently.
Instead of being restricted by the removal of meat, you might consider the massive range of food you can eat.

What's the point?

Training the internal arts is an endeavour that will enrich your life.
You will experience:
  1. Acuity
  2. Balance
  3. Calm
  4. Composure
  5. Flexibility
  6. Focus
  7. Mental clarity
  8. Mobility
  9. Strength
  10. Wellbeing
These qualities will affect your everyday life and enable you to live more fully and consciously.
Additionally, self defence skills will help to provide a sense of ease and harmony in a culture filled with conflict and adversity.


Your life

How do you spend your life?
Watching TV?

How many people suffer from a mid-life crisis? And what exactly is a mid-life crisis?
Surely it is the realisation that there is more to life than earning money.
Life is fascinating, mysterious, exciting.
Yet, sitting at your desk or on the sofa... life seems somewhat dull.


Shido-geiko (learning-by-helping)

Students seeking lineage must have a long-term pattern of shido-geiko.
If a would-be candidate has no history of helping new starters in class - before the lesson commences - then lineage is not for them.

 Becoming responsible for the art entails a commitment to passing-on the teachings.
 As with all things, action (rather than talk) is required.


Peter Southwood's tips #10 Application

Unless you can apply the art using the principles that govern the art, you are a novice.
You must be capable of application in a wide range of unpredictable situations.

All applications must be thorough and convincing.


The journey

Instead of fading slowly within the confines of their own life, the rare individual undertakes a journey of intimidating difficulty.
They do not withdraw in fear from the uncertainty ahead.
Nor do they question the need for a quest.

Learning an internal martial art is an intensely personal adventure.
There will be startling insights, unexpected joy and occasional moments of considerable fear.


Envy and delight

When I first saw a high-level demonstration in Japan I felt envy and delight. I knew I'd never get those skills and I was jealous, but I was also awed that those skills were possible. It is important not to resent your martial arts teacher. If you really want their skills, work hard and recognise that the responsibility rests in your hands, not your sensei's.

(Andrew Clarke)



Rather than use unnecessary tension, tai chi uses the least amount possible and focuses upon improving skeletal alignment for support.
We want the spine and the joints to be free and mobile.
Relaxing the muscles helps us to work with gravity.

Much of our training is concerned with how we use the body. This is a process-oriented approach, rather than a result-oriented one.
We are also interested in what we do with the body.

Our aim is to only move the body in a manner that is healthy, comfortable, easy and natural.


Playing taijiquan?

It is common for students to say that they are "playing" taijiquan...

This notion of 'play' must be considered carefully.
Most adults perceive play as tooling around - insincere, light-hearted and carefree.
But is this play at all?



The emotional aspect of conventional exercise is a point of concern.
You seldom see people working out in a happy, relaxed, comfortable manner.
They are usually pushing; forcing a result.

Aggression and other forms of adverse emotion shape the musculature of the face and body:
- the body becomes locked, tense, hunched and fixed
- the muscles of the face lose their flexibility, commonly producing a habitually hostile, aggressive expression



The keen student - burning with curiosity - needs no prompting to train, needs no incentives or encouragement.
The unknown beckons and they approach the mystery eagerly.

Self-reliance and self-discipline may seem necessary, but they are not.
When you are alive with interest and passionate to know, you have no need of self-discipline.
People always make time for the things they want to do.


The syllabus is hard because there's loads of amazing stuff to learn, which is why we all enjoy it.





Some forms of exercise require you to push your body. You are asked to apply willpower and force a change.

Tai chi is different.
Instead of forcing, you allow. Instead of pushing, you relax.



I just found your website. I have been looking for explanations of energy (and how it is linked to the martial arts and will) like this my entire life! The descriptions on your site are so straight forward and easy to understand. I’m finding it hard to express the gratitude I am experiencing.

(Angie Aukee)


Tai chi

In tai chi the body is placed in a position where the six outward rotators are eccentricity contracting with the abdominals and gluteals relaxed. This eccentric contraction of the the six outward rotators counteracts the short resting length of the iliopsoas as well as gravity. Being in the tai chi posture utilizes gravity to one's advantage. The main difference then is in the use of the abdominals and the gluteals, and that in tai chi the force of gravity is utilized to stretch the iliopsoas and flexors, while in ballet gravity is not used.

It is possible to use gravity to stretch the flexors and iliopsoas in ballet but this is not understood in the teaching of this art.

(Liz Koch)



There are so many different dimensions to what Sifu Waller's class offers, it is hard to know where to start. The main thing for me is that it is great fun - I never expected that learning to hit and be hit, escape holds and put each other on the floor would make me laugh so much.

This comes from Sifu Waller's unique approach, sharing his vast knowledge in a down-to-earth and non-macho way, which I think leads to the whole class being a warm and supportive place to be.

The key thing is that it works, such simple things that have a really dramatic effect on your body, not a spiritual, abstract set of moves but real 'I do this, he falls down' stuff. I can feel my own body responding now too - getting firmer, more balanced, more in control - and I think the qigong exercises are making my mind much calmer as well.



Not all exercise is healthy

The slogan 'no pain, no gain' is often used in conjunction with exercise. Being healthy sounds like an ordeal.
But not everybody wants to sweat and strain their way to fitness.

Conventional exercise has its drawbacks.
If you damage your body through goal-oriented exercise, you may have to live with it for the rest of your life.


Meaning & purpose

Many aspects of modern life are warped. The original meaning and purpose has been lost and only a parody remains.
Consider 'marriage': people commonly spend a colossal amount of money on an immense event that lasts only a few hours.
For what? What does it all mean?

The wedding has become a pantomime of greed.

A couple becomes engaged and expect presents.
Then they spend a year planning a wedding and booking countless elements before indulging in a lengthy hen night or stag night, before the actual day itself.
They pretend to be Christian in order to be married in a church because it looks nice on the photographs.
Finally, there is the honeymoon.

How much of this actually has anything to do with getting married?



It is common for students to train a martial art for a number of months or even a year or two and then quit.
Some may even last until black belt, only to leave then as though black belt was the end of their training.
A few years of practice really amounts to nothing.

An internal martial artist is thinking in terms of decades.
They train patiently every day.
Their expectations are realistic.
Neither lazy nor complacent, the student works through the many challenges and obstacles, becoming stronger, calmer and more adept.



Your muscles serve to move the bones in a required direction.
Contracting involves drawing the muscles inward, whilst extension requires the muscles to lengthen outward.
Neither contraction nor extension needs to be held or tense.

If you tense/overly-contract your muscles, the ability to move the bones is impeded.
Chronically contracted/extended muscles prevent the natural movement of the skeleton.



Sport seems to be a healthy social outlet until you consider it a little deeper.
Rivalry, competition, taking sides and animosity are frequent factors in sport.
People exert themselves in order to accomplish a goal and frequently injure their bodies in the process.

Money, medals and fame motivate sports people to push harder and harder, in order to prove something.
But prove what?
And why?

Sport is concerned with the end result at the expense of the means.
When a person swims, how often do they pay attention to the quality of their movement?
Are they interested in swimming with awareness, of accomplishing a whole-body action?
Or are they counting lengths?



Having looked around for Tai Chi lessons for mainly health but also martial applications, what I found immediately obvious with Sifu Waller was the practical "Real" teaching; None of the flowery waving arms about, but real scientifically provable methods to aid health and engage martial capability.

Having joined the class I find it great to train in an environment where everything I do can be explain in an absolute and scientific way; be demonstrated to be workable and when actually done see the results for myself.

Don't get me wrong there is a place for Tao and Zen for some people (both of which I study) but it supplements the training in our school,rather than confuses as in so many other schools.

In my life free time is in short supply; I want a class where I get value for money and concentrated pure teaching, Newcastle Tai Chi meets both these objectives.



Why tai chi?

Newcastle Tai Chi offers the most in-depth tai chi tuition in the North East.
Our sessions are suitable for:
  1. Staff training days
  2. Health/wellbeing days
  3. Alternative activity days
  4. Team-building workshops


The Karate Way


Great Site! I have been exploring your site and it is full of great information on tai chi. Even though I live in the U.S. It is great to see how tai chi has touched other lives.



Thoughts on mastery

Michael Garofalo has shared his tai chi insights and wisdom on-line information for many years via his blog and his other extensive on-line resources.
He is a very generous man who makes many well-considered points:

The word 'master' varies in meaning as it is used in different cultures and languages.

In the taoist/zen traditions, a 'master' is one who is enlightened, highly respected, venerated, a great contributor to the tradition, especially wise and insightful, and possibly possessing special and extraordinary powers of mind, body or spirit. If you had a relationship with such a 'master' it would often be one of a Guru and disciple, a Father and son, an Authority and learner, or a Superior and inferior ranks relationship. At some point, after many years of study and practice, such a 'master' would make a decision, based upon your abilities and performance and your face to face relationship with the 'master', to grant you authority to teach, or certify your enlightenment, or otherwise acknowledge your advancement into the ranks of a new 'master'. One aspect of the philosophical taoist tradition also tends to downplay the importance of titles, honours, degrees, and rank; and, instead, tries to bring more of a focus on natural living, simple living, committed ongoing inner practice, and having the heart-mind realize the tao as more important than social status. Some of these taoist/zen practices are part of the tai chi chuan teaching style.

As a general rule, tai chi chuan internal martial arts schools do not award degrees, levels, ranks, or belts as do other martial arts systems. Many excellent and experienced (10 years +) tai chi chuan teachers are also very modest, and prefer not to be called 'master'. They may ask to call them 'Sifu' or 'Teacher', or simply refer to them as 'Mr. Surname'.

Many tai chi chuan schools are also autocratic and non-democratic in their organization, do not have a formal and written curriculum, and are not coordinated with activities in other tai chi chuan schools. These tai chi chuan schools are a business, operated by individuals, do not provide for leadership changes; and, as such, are not interested in cooperation or sharing with competitors.

As for my personal preference, I favour a standardized tai chi chuan curriculum, written, and coordinated with other schools teaching the same style of internal martial arts. I would prefer a clear, written, and standardized system of testing and grading by ranks, levels, or degrees of proven expertise as is found other external martial arts (e.g. aikido, karate, kenpo, judo, taekwondo, etc.). I'd like to see tai chi chuan practitioners wear belts, specialized clothing, sash markers or other symbols to show their proven rank based on passing standardized tests. I prefer to see the curriculum of tai chi chuan structured and orderly, written and published, levelled, and accredited by an outside administrative authority. Yes, I'm more of a Confucian or Legalist rather than taoist on this subject.

I see the situation starting to change somewhat. For example, in the United States, the Yang Family Tai Chi Chuan Association now has a clear curriculum and ranking system. In China, the physical education curriculum at universities and colleges provides for a 'wushu' (martial arts) curriculum and awards degrees accordingly, and does include tai chi chuan in the curriculum. A number of tai chi chuan schools around the world are now developing a specific written curriculum and rank testing. Traditional Chinese medicine, medical qigong, and acupuncture now have accredited programs, standardized curriculum, publications and textbooks, and ranking systems in the United States. I applaud these efforts.

If you can earn a 'Master of Arts or Science Degree' in five years by taking classes and tests at an accredited university, and a Doctorate in 9 years, then you should be able to do the same in tai chi chuan and be called, at some point of proven accomplishment, a 'master'.


Conventional fitness

The ability to lift heavy weights, run, swim or workout in the gym may well improve your overall fitness level.
But this kind of fitness is not what we want in tai chi training.

A student must learn how to use their body in a very different way. The body needs to become agile, flexible, adaptive, sensitive and strong.

Conventional training will not necessarily improve your tai chi.
Many exercises actually create muscle tension, and tension impedes the natural movement of the muscle itself.


Weight lifting

Body building and weight lifting are fashionable activities today. The emphasis is upon developing external muscles which creates an armouring effect that can eventually distort the bony structure. It is the over developed musculature that actually torque's the bones and discourages them from bearing additional weight. The body attempts to compensate and problems arise.

(Liz Koch)


Receive guidance & feedback

Instructor training for each level is an ongoing process over many months.
It involves:

  1. theory
  2. questionnaires
  3. on-line media training
  4. how to promote the class
  5. class management methodology
  6. weekly teaching practice in class
  7. lengthy debates/discussions with Sifu Waller
  8. designing your own personal teaching notes/scheme of work
These teaching concerns are all in addition to your personal development through the syllabus.
Instructor training is free of charge.