There have been some pretty weird definitions of 'internal' from various teachers across the years.
A lot of needless debate has been carried out.

Whole-body soft movement is quite unique and easy to identify.
If you have received an internal strike, you are unlikely to confuse it with anything else.
Anyone who has tried to grapple with a real tai chi person tends to be amazed by their malleability.
The fluid, adaptive approach creates a sense of 'fighting with yourself' or with water.

What people find most odd about tai chi is the ease of the art.
A small movement produces a disproportionate consequence; and no muscular tension is ever used.
Yet it works.

To accomplish this, the tai chi classics must be adhered to strictly, with no deviation.
Yielding must be your first and last thought at all times.


Grass roots

We adopt a 'grass roots' attitude to tai chi, going right back to the basics.
Students explore the human body, physics, biomechanics, principles and martial theory.
They discover the difference between jing and li; and come to recognise the significance of tao.

Such an adventure is not for the half-hearted. This is no quick fix.
The syllabus is lengthy and thorough, but you can study it at your own pace.



A tai chi teacher needs to cultivate an atmosphere of friendship, care and respect.
The classes need to be akin to an extended family, with students feeling quite safe and comfortable with one another.
No matter what is happening in your life, the school remains a good place to be.

Traditional tai chi designations are familial in nature: 'older brother', 'younger sister' etc.


Tai chi is not yoga

A new starter complained to Rachel that the tai chi body mechanics were fundamentally different to those of yoga.

Rachel confirmed this: "Yoga teaches postures. Tai chi is movement. They are not the same."



Our students have many opportunities for study:
  1. Evening classes
  2. Workshops
  3. Private lessons
  4. DVD's
  5. Recommended reading
  6. Home training
It is important to recognise that you are directly responsible for your own level of progress.

You may have the desire. You also have the opportunity.
But if your commitment to practice does not tally with your ambitions, this will be a slow, arduous journey.
Be patient. Do not lose faith.



There is a lot more to tai chi than talking, reading books, participating in on-line discussion forums or downloading video clips.

The tai chi is found in your hard work, your patience, endurance and perseverance.
Talkers seldom even complete their white belt.


Allowing time

Tai chi has an exciting, complex syllabus that cannot be summed-up in a few words or a 90 minute class.
If you start a new class, open your mind and accept that you are only experiencing a fragment that lesson.
To truly understand the art for yourself takes time.

Few things in life yield their treasures quickly or easily; you need commitment, sincerity and patience when studying tai chi.



The danger with ideas is that you can go badly astray. How?

Consider China...

Some Western tai chi people litter their houses with Chinese paraphernalia and become obsessed with the culture.
They visit the graves of dead tai chi instructors and stand in tai chi poses.

If you want to understand the culture that spawned tai chi, look to tao and zen, not your local New Age/feng shui shop.

Tai chi is not about three legged toads or I Ching mirrors.


Your idea

When somebody has an idea in their head they often invest a great deal of emotion in that idea.
It becomes valuable to them.
They are prepared to argue for it and sometimes even fight for it.

In the case of tai chi, if you have a strong opinion about tai chi, then you start classes looking for a confirmation of your view.
Your opinion is naturally based upon the degree of exposure you have to tai chi.

If you start a class with certain expectations in mind, you will like or dislike the class relative to whether or not the class meets your expectations.
This is not a prudent way to commence your study of tai chi; the art does not exist to gratify the individual.



The danger with ideas is that people confuse the idea with the actual.

Your idea of tai chi is based upon your experience of tai chi and how you choose to interpret what you have seen.
This will not necessarily correspond with reality.

You should be careful not to warp reality to suit your ideas; this will only lead you astray and result in frustration.



A ju jitsu student will probably attend 2-3 lessons a week.
Although tai chi combat students have different skills to train, you really ought to be putting in the same amount of hours.

If you find that you cannot manage 2-3 lessons, then consider training every day at home.


Qualified to teach

In 1996, Master Waller obtained a post-graduate professional teaching qualification from The University of Leeds.
He is also registered with The Tai Chi Union for Great Britain.
Teaching experience:
  1. Bradford Yang Style Tai Chi Association (1995 - 1999)
  2. Dynamic Balancing Boxing (1999 - 2004)
  3. Newcastle Tai Chi (2004 - present day) 



Feeling good

Relaxing both mind and body will improve your health and make you feel better.
Your quality of life will change.
It takes time to re-balance, so you must be patient.

The commitment you make towards being relaxed will prove itself worthwhile when you start to feel fresh and energised.


Traditionally, mastery was confirmed by the production of some proof of skill.
In terms of tai chi this can be demonstrated in a wide variety of ways.

After a 20 year Master/disciple relationship, Peter Southwood awarded Sifu Waller advanced-level 'Master' status in
the Year of the Tiger .
He said that Sifu Waller should start wearing the red sash instead of black.

Sifu Waller began as an apprentice, proceeded through the journeyman stage, culminating in the production of a masterwork/masterpiece.
Peter Southwood felt that Sifu Waller qualified as a Tai Chi Master on the basis of the following accomplishments:

  1. The 1300 page website giving unparalleled insight into tai chi
  2. Exceptionally good shuai jiao, chin na, jing and form applications
  3. His grasp of whole-body strength, how to cultivate it, refine it and teach it
  4. His study of taoism and the Tai Chi Classics and his skill in infusing the art with the requisite principles
  5. The production of a professional-quality syllabus, complete with logical, comprehensive grades, belts and assessment