If you think that's tacky, come and have a look around where we live...

One house has that Santa you described, plus Blackpool illuminations, plus new addition - 7 foot mock snow-globe with Santa scene.

That's just one house, I think they're aiming to be seen from space.

Up My Street)


Santa Claus

Santa Claus was not always a mythical Hollywood character.

St Nicholas was born in Patara on the southern coast of Turkey. He was raised as a Christian and used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering.

No reindeers. No North Pole. No elves. No present lists. No Christmas cards, tinsels, trees, cakes, holly, mistletoe or carol singing.

Deviate from the essence and all is lost.


What about tradition?

If you are a Christian, give to the poor.

If you are not, why let marketing and commerce bully you into feeling guilty for not buying presents? People are just trying to make money out of you. They want you in debt.
They want you spending more than you can afford. Your greed finances their greed.

If you recall the Charles Dickens story A Christmas Carol you may remember that celebrating Christmas traditionally entailed giving gifts to the poor.
This is seldom the case these days...

There is nothing miserly about rejecting consumerism.


Sifu teaching taijiquan in Borneo

All show and no substance

I look at the wedding photos of people I know and the events are so over-the-top. Many of these people are now having marital issues, are in couples therapy, or more sadly... separated/divorced.

When Sifu and I got married my brother looked at the photos and commented that our wedding was "beyond simple". To him, there seemed little point in getting married if you don't put on a big, flamboyant show.

Two of my old friends told Sifu about their so-called simple wedding, but when quizzed, admitted to stag night, hen night, big meal, fancy country hall, evening do and a band.

I think that the problem with modern culture is this need to show-off all the time. When we were married, our only interest was in saying our vows in front of our friends and family. That was the whole point of the event.

18 months later and our marriage remains awesome. We're closer than we imagined possible and have so much fun together.


Re-discover Christmas

Do not get caught up in the sickening sentimentality of carol singing and Christmas decorations.
Go to the Salvation Army over Christmas or donate money to the thousands of charities out there.

Take nothing for yourself. Ask for nothing. Make it a season of giving. A time for caring.


Sifu with a staff

When Sifu has a staff in his hand he moves as though the weapon were an extension of his body; like an arm or a leg.
Many of his movements are so fluid and fast that I cannot catch them on video.


Freedom from tension

Modern living leads to most people accumulating unwanted tightness in their muscles. This limits their range of movement.
Common causes:

  1. Too much sitting
  2. Repetitive activities
  3. Insufficient exercise
  4. Straining/forcing the body
  5. Dehydration
  6. Poor sleep
Tao yin exercises are an excellent way to free the body and mind from tension.

Not cheap

Martial arts lessons are not cheap.

Usually you should expect to pay for some (or all) of these items:
  1. Monthly tuition fees
  2. Annual membership
  3. Affiliation with a third party organisation/federation
  4. Insurance
  5. Licence
  6. Competitions
  7. Grading (usually quarterly)
  8. Uniform
  9. Patches/badges
  10. Equipment/weaponry
Many classes expect new students to buy a uniform within a month of starting a class.
The new starter is also asked to pay annual membership, insurance and commit to a monthly standing order.


Non-Christian Christmas?

If you are not a Christian, what exactly are you celebrating over Christmas?
Why are you wrapping up all those presents, sitting through family meals and over-indulging?
For what? In aid of what? Tradition? For the sake of it? Why? It is far less expensive not to bother.

If you are having Christmas in order to over-eat, get drunk and indulge yourself, what does that say about your character?



If you are studying an internal art, then you are not the average member of the public.
You have chosen to learn one of the more challenging martial arts.
This is not what most people do with their time.

Your curiosity had led you on a journey that is not for everyone.
It requires a steady commitment, patience, enthusiasm, money and time.
In order to make progress you will have to make choices, face doubts and be criticised by your peers.


Discover for yourself

Instead of travelling to China or Japan, why not look at your own life? 
Find significance and meaning in your everyday activities.

Read, study, meditate, contemplate and practice.

Do not be satisfied with being a tourist. Ignore the kitsch and the reproductions. Seek what was once sought.


Live as though there were a fire raging in your hair...

My husband exemplifies this quote. He does not rush, dither or cram his life with ceaseless activity, but his days are meaningful and complete. He works, he rests. He spends his time doing things that he deems important. It is a mindful life, of contemplation, study, awareness and consideration.

One of his books admonishes: Talk alone is not enough. The path to tao means sweating white beads.

This is what my husband is like. He squeezes every drop out of life.

When student come to class: frazzled, harried, tense, confused... my husband does what he can for them. But there is not much he can do. He watches certain students become increasingly haggard and drawn; victims of their own lifestyle choices. You can see that Sifu wants to help, to advise, but usually doesn't. People only hear what they want to hear.

We must find the path for ourselves.


How many people learn an internal art?

The internal arts are the hardest of the martial arts to learn. 
They involve a lot more patience and take longer to yield their results.

A would-be martial artist could learn judo or wing chun far easier than they could learn baguazhang.


Alternate Christmas?

Imagine refusing to buy anyone a present or even a card?

Say no to the greed, to the commercialism, to the blind conformity of it all...

How much money have you just saved?

Now give it all away.
Consider donating the money to charity.
Or go out on Christmas morning and help to feed the homeless.
Or knock on the doors of lonely old people in your community - give them food and some of your time and attention.

Help the poor, the forgotten, the lost, the lonely, the needy...

Suddenly, it sounds rather like Christmas again.


Training Tuesday classes with Sifu makes me think of these quotes:

The highest level of tai chi practice is high stance and small circle. In high stance and small circle you can conserve your energy to a maximum level. This is very crucial in battle. Endurance has always been the crucial key to survival in a long battle. Moreover, due to high stance and smaller posture you can reach to the deepest relaxed stage, the mind is highly concentrated, and the sensitivity and alertness can be extremely sharp.  

(Yang Jwing-Ming) 

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) 

Though the jing is soft, the damage is hard.

(Yang Jwing-Ming) 



Many people in the West buy what they want when they want it (within reason).
They overeat, overindulge and worry about losing weight.
Greed is at the root of this.
'Wanting' and 'needing' are not the same thing at all.

Obesity is on the rise in the West, whilst the 'Third World' goes hungry.

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.
Buy things that are appreciated and required.
Give freely and without any need for gratitude or recognition.

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


Wake up

Real life combat is not glorious or exciting. It is dangerous and should be avoided at all costs. 
It will not be choreographed in order to make you look good.
There will not be a dramatic soundtrack.

You may panic.
You may be afraid.
You may be surprised by multiple opponents. 
They may be armed.

You may be seriously injured, and you may even die.
You may be arrested and put in jail.


If you do not want to give cash, just clear out your wardrobe.

Whenever you buy something new, take something old to the charity shop - it makes more space in your house and the sale of the goods will
profit somebody else.



To pass belts in judo, a student must compete with other students and score points in combat.
Although there are rules, these tests of skills are very useful.
Only by successfully defeating non-cooperative opponents can the student move up a grade.

We do not use this approach ourselves, but the Chinese internal arts do have similar challenges.

Beating a man to the floor with your fists...

On-screen characters beat a man to the floor with their fists and this is seen as being heroic.
Usually this involves punching the face with your knuckles.

Bone on bone damages the knuckle joints.
The mouth is filled with sharp teeth and bacteria; there is a high risk of cutting your knuckles open and getting an infection.

Force-on-force is not a sign of skill. It shows no artistry whatsoever.

Apologetic vegetarian

An apologetic vegetarian eats food that looks and tastes like meat.
Rather than embrace the non-meat diversity of a real vegetarian diet, they eat meat substitutes in order to maintain a 'meat and two veg' diet.

Third World?

The term 'Third World' is a disgusting attempt to distance Western culture from poverty and despair.
People are
people, irrespective of where they were born.
In a world that has so much
wealth, so much excess and waste - no one should go without food or shelter.

There is only one world.


Have a heart


Knowing that somebody cares is important to the homeless.
They have worth, they matter.

You can show your compassion financially by giving money or by taking your old belongings to a charity shop.

Giving money to beggars is not such a good thing; charities are better.
They will use the money constructively.



There are many tai chi classes around the world that offer a reproduction of tai chi that has very little bearing on actual tai chi.
It is quite easy to fake tai chi: move slowly, dress well, appear peaceful and speak softly.
If you are pretty and graceful, it helps.

Being hit

When somebody hits you, throws you to the ground or into a wall or another object... the experience affects you.
A knife cut cannot simply be shrugged-off.
A break cannot be dismissed.

Concussion disorients you. 
Injury prevents your body from working properly.
Pain wakes you up to the reality of your situation and warns you that injury is occurring.

Hard hearted

When Big Issue vendors or beggars hassle you in town, it is easy to become hard hearted or rationalise the homeless situation and explain it away:
"They can afford to smoke."

"They have a dog - so they can't be so badly off."

Few things in life are logical, reasonable or deliberate - being homeless is not a lifestyle choice.
Keep your
heart open.
Don't look for excuses to close your eyes to these people; this is somebody's son or daughter.
This is a human being.

In a world where so many people have so much, homelessness and
poverty are embarrassing signs of our callousness.

Worse than this are incidents where homeless people are
assaulted or set on fire.
What kind of person could do such a thing?


Using your mind constructively

All learning begins in the mind so it is important to use your mind well.
Reading the website and the reading list will furnish your mind with the necessary background information.

Focus on the basics.
Gain knowledge and understanding that will assist you in class.
Train at home.
Move up the syllabus.
Complete the questionnaires.


Most martial arts involve force against force.
The defender drives their fist into an unyielding, solid opponent.
This is common.

Newton's third Law of Motion dictates that for every action there is an equal an opposite reaction.
In other words, the force that you exert against a solid object is also fed back into you.

Impact affects you.
Hitting somebody else, or being hit yourself has consequences.

Free from...

It would be nice if we could all eat organic, wholesome food and live without exploiting the planet.
The world has been regarded as a resource since the dawn of time.
Pollution, strip mining, deforestation, environmental disasters, garbage, water shortages and livestock are all sad testimonies to our modern way of life.

Plastic is a petroleum by-product. Metal is acquired by strip mining. Stone is obtained by quarrying.
Wood involves the destruction of natural forests.

Could we realistically live without any of these products?
It would be nice.
Sadly, there is often a need to compromise, to fall short of the ideal. But this does not mean that you should not try.

Poverty spiral

Caring at Christmas explain how it can be very difficult to get out of a homeless situation:
  1. No work means people are unable to pay for conventional lodgings.
  2. Homeless people do not necessarily have a family home to go to.
  3. Without a permanent base, it is hard for people to make themselves presentable.
  4. When finding work becomes difficult and depressing, they may be tempted to find relief in alcohol or drugs and become even less employable.


From coarse to refined

A beginner lacks the experience necessary to see the art in a refined way.
They are taught large, coarse movements appropriate to their ability level.
Only by training frequently can the journey towards subtlety be undertaken in earnest.
Neglected practice perpetuates the coarse.
Insight arises from regular consideration, from exposure to the concerns of the art and strict adhesion to the corrections.


If you trained taijiquan for 2 hours a day (every single day) for a year, that would mean 730 hours a year.

It will take 13 years to become an expert.


Sadly, some people consider the homeless to be an invisible underclass.

Many homeless people have no wish to be in that situation.
Once homeless, it is exceptionally difficult to change the situation.

Charities like The Big Issue provide an opportunity for homeless people to believe in themselves.
By developing self-esteem, confidence and independence, they support and encourage the homeless to improve their situation.



In our society of disfunctional relationships, separation and divorce it may be prudent for people to be less rash with love... Are you in love? Are you compatible? Have you thought things through?

Yes, love is not logical, measured and straightforward. But a relationship is more than just lust, hormones, affection and familiarity. On what basis are you building your realtionship? Is it vanity? Is it sex? Or easy availability? Are you soul mates or simply intimate friends?

How many marriages end in divorce these days? How many people have affairs? How many people choose not to marry?

It may sound boring, but taking a moment to think things through is important. To contemplate. To reflect.


Learning the material

A judo student will attend 2-3 times a week, train hard and make progress.
Are you prepared to train this much?
The internal arts are harder to learn than judo.
In order to learn the material you must commit to lessons, study and home practice.


Neijiaquan website feedback

Dear Master Waller,

I came across your website after searching for 'neijiaquan' as I have recently begun Hsing I classes in Manchester.
Your website is an invaluable resource for me to read around the inner aspects of this amazing way.
I'm inspired by the all-encompassing way the martial arts affect the way you lead your life.
Although I have only read a few articles, I plan to read as much as I can, so please keep updating it!
Many thanks and stay blessed.
Best regards,


Training attitude

External arts require the student to push themselves hard, and regularly.

The internal arts are more difficult to learn than the external ones.
Patience and time are necessary.
However, the student is not required to push.
Instead, they must take things gently and mindfully; paying attention to how things are being performed.

Training little and often is advocated.
A commitment to daily practice is encouraged.

Entry methods


I love you...

Are you truly in love, or are those three special words being employed cheaply?

Society is filled with insincerity. How earnest are you? Are you burning with passion? Are you comfortable, contented, in bliss?

Or are you simply following a convention?


Returning to training

It is quite common for young people to attend martial arts classes.
At some point they quit and do other things with their lives.
Later, they reconsider learning a martial art.

It is important to remember that starting a martial art in your 30's, 40's or 50's is altogether different to learning it when younger.
Your body and your mind are quite different.
You also have commitments and responsibilities that you did not have in the past.