If you do not want to commit a lot of time to the training, you need to stagger the material.

Address the main material as often as you can, and then stagger the rest over a few days.


Squirrel watching sifu train

Covent Garden

Covent Garden tube station

At the top of the stairs. No one else climbed with us.

193 steps

Covent Garden tube station. The climb felt endless.

St Pancras

Pao chui, St James' Park

Tai chi in St James' Park

St Pancras

London trip

Busy London

I practiced my form and pao chui in St James's Park at around 6:30 AM.
Even then, the roads were busy with speeding cars.

Hobos were sleeping rough in the park.

There was a very inquisitive squirrel.
It had no shyness to it and came quite close to watch.
Rachel filmed it.

French pastry shop

London trip

Rachel and I visited the Malaysian embassy in order to register our marriage there. The Malaysian staff were lovely.

However, London is not a good place if you are a tai chi person...
  1. Pollution
  2. Cigarette smoke
  3. Dirt in the air
  4. Muggy heat
  5. Ambient noise all day and night
  6. People rushing
  7. Tension
  8. Aggression
  9. Stress
  10. Traffic
  11. Population density

Maybe the outskirts are better, but there is no ease to be had in London city.
No relaxation.
No calm.
No composure.
No stopping.

Frenzy, bustle, agitation, restlessness.

We returned after 3 hot days to find the North East cold and wet.
The following morning we walked around Jesmond Dene and marvelled at how few people there were on the streets.

Carnaby Street

Carnaby Street map

Wellington Monument



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.



Taoism is concerned with the art of living.

Taoism is not a religion or a belief system. It is only interested in observable reality. Not ideas and concepts.

Consider: if a person were to truly follow nature, they would need no form, no tuition, no words and no doubts.
A cat is not anxious or troubled. Nor is a tree.
They simply exist and they move in accordance with what they are. With their own natures.
We (humans) do not.

What we refer to as taoism is simply the act of working with nature, rather than against it.

Bogus claims

My friend told me of a tai chi student who took private lessons sporadically with a Chinese master for only 3 years and now is claiming to be an 'indoor student' despite teaching a different style of tai chi and in no way perpetuating the master's teachings.

This seems odd.

By contrast, Sifu enjoyed a 20 year master/student relationship with his teacher Peter Southwood. It ended with Peter's sad death in June 2010.


Shredded tai chi suit

I got a taijiquan suit from:
It literally shredded when I tried to do my tai chi form in it. The jacket shoulder split at the seam and the crotch ripped wide open.
Appalling workmanship.

To date, the supplier is not communicating with me.


Tai chi in Tynemouth?

Rachel spotted a lady stood dead centre in the middle of the beach in Tynemouth. The lady was performing some unfathomable exercises. Our friends pointed out that this was 'tai chi'.

Isn't it scary how the general pubic lump any and all odd exercise into the box labelled 'tai chi'?

What the lady was doing looked bizarre, and after 20+ years of tai chi, I can honestly say that it bore no resemblance whatsoever to any tai chi I have ever encountered.

Imagine if tai chi practitioners were required to adhere to some kind of standard?


What is the point of a corporate session?

Tai chi is an excellent way to encourage staff to relax and unwind during the busy day.
It reduces stress, improves health and generates a sense of well-being.
Corporate sessions are an ideal introduction to tai chi.

Schools, rest homes and other organisations are quite welcome to book a corporate session.


Softness of mind

If the mind is rigid and inflexible, then the body will be too.
Mental tension is a kind of anticipation; a preparation for expected events.

We must learn not to anticipate and to go with the flow of what is happening instead.


Everyday mind

The state of mind should remain the same as normal...
let there be no change at all - with the mind open and direct,
neither tense nor relax,
centering the mind so that there is no imbalance,
calmly relax your mind,
and savour this moment of ease thoroughly,
so that the relaxation does not stop its relaxation for even an instant.

(Miyamoto Musashi)


What is yielding?

One of the most difficult aspects of learning tai chi is yielding or softness.
On a crude level, softness refers to the muscles being relaxed rather than tense, the joints being mobile rather than held.
This is really just the beginning.


Philosophy & religion

Our school does not subscribe to or promote any form of organised religion, philosophy or faith.

The study of taoism and zen can be likened to physics or chemistry; they are more about science than religion in the conventional sense.
Neither are 'philosophical' in nature - both are simply the observation of reality.

If you think of taoism as being an 'ism', as being some sort of religion or philosophy, study further.
You have perhaps misunderstood.



Your aim is to use just enough power to pull off the application.

Make contact, feel the bite and then come off immediately.
Do not wait around to see what happens. Strike like a snake or a scorpion. Fast and penetrating.

The exact same mentality applies to performing a fall or a throw.

Ignore what you think is needed.
What you think is irrelevant. The effect is all that matters. Judge your skill relative to the effect.


Choose wisely

When training in the martial arts, you need to take your age into account. It is a major factor. If you are 40, it is unwise to undertake a system that relies upon strength, speed and fitness.

(i) External

The external arts (karate, ju jitsu, judo, kickboxing, Thai boxing...) favour the young person. Strength, speed and aggression will work to the young person's advantage. You may find it intimidating (and demoralising) to be fighting a younger, fitter adversary. No matter how hard you train, your age will remain a negative factor. The risk of injury cannot be ignored.

(ii) Internal

Tai chi favours the older student. The subtle skills of the art require a mature, disciplined, patient mind. You focus upon physics, the application of pressure, sensitivity, rhythm, timing, balance and intention. Instead of wearing yourself out, you feel energised, relaxed and confident. You have a low risk of injury in tai chi, although bumps and bruises will occur in a self defence class.

(iii) Fighting?

The word 'fighting' has the connotation of reciprocity: two people trading blows. Taking turns. It is legally perceived as being mutually agreed upon combat. Both parties are involved in the conflict. Fighting usually involves emotion, stubbornness, pride and the desire to get your point across/have your way.

(iv) Self defence

The internal arts are about self defence, not fighting. Self defence is not the same as fighting. You have only one aim in self defence: escape without injury .It is not about winning awards and trophies or gaining a belt. It is not about looking cool or impressing anyone. In self defence you do only what you have to do and you leave immediately.