Peter Southwood's tips #17 Endurance

It is a folly to think that you can use tai chi and baguazhang martially without being strong.
Hard qigong, and the incorporation of neigong qualities is a must.

Incomplete tai chi

Read what Paul Gale has to say about other tai chi classes:

My teacher Sifu Woo said to me once, "If there's a million people doing tai chi in Tiananmen Square, nine hundred ninety nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety nine aren't doing a damned thing". It's no different there than here.

Most people are on a path with a dead end. They train ten years and they end up with nothing.

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.


Working with others in class

If you cannot maintain emotional balance when working with other people, you become a liability.
In martial arts training, you may be roughed-up, struck or thrown to the floor.
These events can cause alarm.
Even so, the student must retain composure.

Losing your temper when practicing vigorous partner work with other people means that you no longer have your partner's welfare in mind.
You are thinking only about yourself.
This makes you clumsy, careless and potentially reckless.

Form applications: 3 expressions

Sifu sees form applications as being examples of chin na, jing or shuai jiao - sometimes all three skills combined. It doesn't matter whether its bagua or tai chi, he just sees applications within the form.

In Sifu's mind, a student who cannot apply the form readily and thoroughly remains a novice.




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

Your initial grasp of the situation is usually limited.
It is only with time and consideration that a deeper purpose emerges.

Thorough & convincing

I personally find the bagua applications the hardest to fathom. Peter Southwood quotes Wang Shu Jin to Sifu regarding bagua; explaining how the student must find the applications for themselves. Accordingly, Peter expected Sifu to produce at least 7 applications for every form posture (tai chi & bagua), and then he assessed them for viability.

This emphasis upon martial credibility was at the heart of Peter's teachings and is the centre of Sifu's as well.


Willing to share...

Master Waller paid a massive amount of money for the skills he now possesses.He also committed a significant part of his life to the art.

Having learned what he knows, he now shares the skills in class and on his website(s).

Not many teachers of Master Waller's calibre share their hard-earned secrets so readily. Many refuse to pass on what they know, and their art dies with them.
Master Waller lets the syllabus discriminate.
If you have the tenacity, the skill and the right attitude, he will teach you all he knows.



In martial arts practice, it is necessary for a student to remain composed at all times.
The maxim is simple: master self before attempting to master others.

Self defence practice trains the individual to cope with stress and danger. To keep a cool head.

Form application

Sifu's skills stem mainly from his ability to apply the bagua and tai chi in self defence.

He applies all 3 unarmed forms effortlessly; often spontaneously developing new applications whilst teaching existing ones.

We once tried to catalogue all of the Yang Cheng Fu form applications he could think of but it just got silly. There were hundreds from just the first half dozen postures.


Lazy culture

Modern culture is perhaps the laziest in recorded human history.
Technology, conveniences and fast food have created a society of obese, lethargic people.
The so-called 'third world' countries scrabble to maintain a baseline living standard whilst the West wallows in luxury.

It is the responsibility of the instructor to be firm on lazy students.


Some tai chi principles can be applied in baguazhang but the latter involves more movement, stepping and walking. In bagua you primarily have to remember to move or step when attacked but in tai chi you only step when necessary. Sometimes it's hard to switch between the two. Master Waller often shows examples of equivalent tai chi postures and this really helps to differentiate the two approaches.

 (Rachel Waller)



If you have lost your temper, what is it you have lost?

Emotions are the biochemical reactions experienced by your body in response to stimuli.
In order to re-gain your temper, you need to let these bodily chemicals settle.

The main thing to do is to stop. Do not perpetuate your loss of temper.
Negative emotions have a harmful effect upon the body and can lead to long-term physiological and psychological damage.


Calm down

If you need to be by yourself for a little while, and cool down, then go somewhere quiet.
But avoid brooding.
Instead of festering and stewing, blaming and raging... be more constructive.

Why are you acting like this?
What is it that annoyed you so much?
Are you possibly over-reacting?
Could you be the one who is at fault?
Is it worth fighting about?


Being useful is a central value of taoist philosophy - how something is useful, why it is useful, and for what. The context could be anything you could possible conceive of, regardless of perceived value, including health, wealth, social interaction, morality and ethics, spirituality, or a tai chi movement.

Practicality is the mantra.

Instead of asking if you ought to be conventionally moral or if it doesn't matter, taoists would ask "is it useful to be moral?" The answer would be yes. Rather than focussing on your narrow self-interest or the wrath of God, taoists genuinely consider what the natural consequences are to yourself, human relations, the entire society, and spirituality if you are not moral.

(Bruce Frantzis)


Traditional female attire

Refinement of character

In traditional Chinese culture, tai chi chuan was seen as a means for refining character.
It enabled the individual to balance all aspects of their being.

The challenge of learning tai chi removes conflict, macho urges and aggression.
A student learns how to move in a graceful, balanced, harmonious way and maintain composure at all times.


Corrections are not criticism.

A teacher corrects the student because they care about the student's progress.
Suggestions, possibilities and alternatives all serve to broaden your horizons and open the mind to new possibilities.
A reminder encourages the student to remember the basics, to focus upon the underlying

The student should be grateful when corrected, because the correction offers an opportunity for change, for improvement.



Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

(John 15:13)


Free 1200 page website

Annual membership covers hosting costs and broadband fees.
Class fees pay for tuition.
Grading fees are for resources, feedback and your on-line progress page.
None of these payments remotely cover the cost of writing the Neijiaquan website.

Master Waller has generously written this site without being paid for a single word.

It was not necessary for 
Master Waller to share his insights. Let alone for free.
Do not squander this learning opportunity.


Fasting is a traditional method of eliminating toxins and gaining spiritual clarity.
 But it must be approached with caution.

 How you begin a fast, how you break a fast and what you do during (or don't do) during a fast are all considerations.
 Fasting affects your body in quite significant ways.
 If you are interested in fasting, then do some research beforehand; find out if it is the right approach for you.

 During your fast, drink filtered water, avoid driving and try to rest.



Seeking to win and one-up another person can set you down a path that leads only to destruction.
Usually it is wiser to seek common ground.
Give and take is healthy and adult.

Cooperation is far healthier than conflict.
Aim to work together.
Work with the other person, not against them.



We aim to treat all students fairly.

Sometimes our actions may not make sense to you.
You may see things differently and want to do it your way.
If we can accommodate you, we will. 
Master Waller always has the final word. Only he understands the syllabus through and through.

We act in your best interests.
Even if you do not like what we are saying.
Martial arts discipline is encouraging you to be a better person.

Personal trainer?

Your teacher is not a personal trainer.
They are not obligated to please you or give you what you ask for.

Tai chi cannot be taught piecemeal.
You cannot pick and choose how and what to study.

If a martial arts teacher had to choose between bowing to the demands of the consumer marketplace or closing their school to the public, many would close their school.
Teaching hand-picked students is better than diluting the art.



Long term tai chi training has been proven to radically affect many ailments/illnesses and conditions.
It is a serious investment in terms of health.

Students of tai chi learn how to relax and rest.
They become more capable of managing stress and conflict in a constructive manner.

The supplementary reading promotes change and flexibility, freedom and receptiveness. The mind is opened and the consciousness expanded.
The quality of life is enhanced.


Do not brood

Brooding is very unhealthy.
It perpetuates your loss of temper and can lead to an unpleasant outburst at a later time.
You will over-react to a minor irritation.
You may be snappy or curt, off-hand or abrupt.

The thing to remember about brooding is that other people can see that you are brooding.
The surliness is not a secret.

It is far healthier to talk about whatever is troubling you.
Attempt to broach the subject gently and tactfully, without sounding opinionated or judgemental.


Changes are necessary.
Periodically we may change the way in which we do things, we may offer or withdraw certain opportunities.
This is always done with two things in mind:
  1. To assist with the implementation of the syllabus
  2. To keep the school open
Students are noticed by e-mail of all changes, and the website is updated immediately.



Martial arts instructors are sometimes seen as being stern and aloof. Even unfriendly.
It is important to recognise that their role is not to make you happy.
This is not the service industry.

The instructor is obliged to teach the art to the highest standard they can manage.
A good tutor will not allow compromise.
Quality comes first.



A disagreement can be a good thing.
It can lead to the airing of an issue. 

Hearing both sides - different perspectives - can be healthy and beneficial.
It can lead to a greater understanding and perhaps a resolution.

Be open-minded.
Putting yourself in the other person's shoes may help you to recognise that your own actions may not have been ideal.


The experienced student attends lessons three times a week and trains every day at home.
They aim to avail themselves of every training opportunity.

A student of this level of skill recognises the scope of the syllabus and has a growing sense of perspective.
They begin to see how the curriculum works and why it must be taught in a particular manner.



A good teacher will do their best to integrate arrogant students into their class, to demonstrate humility, to offer an alternative way of behaving.
They aim to temper the student's ego. To cultivate a change of attitude.

One is taught in accordance to one’s fitness to learn.

(The Silent Flute)
But one or two hours a week simply does not add up to much.
Ultimately, the influence of the teacher is mild. The responsibility for change rests with the student.

If the student does not want to change - or becomes argumentative and defensive - the teacher may eventually ask the student to leave the class.



Master Waller values pragmatism and simplicity above all else, so the response to assault is very sudden and efficient.
Invariably the attacker is surprised to find themselves on the floor, or struck.
They have no idea how we countered them.

Taking the initiative is paramount in self defence.
If the attacker abruptly experiences a 'reversal' - going from attacker to victim - this is a difficult adjustment to cope with.
It gives them pause for thought.


Training at home

Learning tai chi chuan can often be quite challenging. It takes time to retrain the body to move in the correct way, learn new skills and be able to apply these in combat.

Make good use of your time between lessons and train at home. This is where you explore what you have learned in class.

If you find that you do not have much time because of other commitments then training little and often is better than not training at all.

How long would it take to gain significant skill if the only time you trained was in class?

Pull no punches

Our students must never punch thin air or make touch-contact when playing attacker or defender.
We insist upon physical contact with all strikes.
Unless you actually hit your partner in training, how can you possibly determine how much power to use?

Being hit is not a brutal, macho endeavour.
Students are good-natured about it and only deliver enough power to indicate the potency of the strike.
When practicing with each other, they never strike to cause injury or harm

Over time, everyone gets used to being hit. It is simply part of the training.


You do not have to agree with everyone else all the time. Why should you?
But allow that you may not be 'in the right'.
It may be you that is at fault.

In fact, your loss of temper may be due to your embarrassment at being exposed.
Instead of conceding your error, you become defensive and hostile.
That is called 'pride', with a touch of arrogance.



It is important to only do what is appropriate.
Self defence is concerned with expedience, with necessity, not brutality.
Prolonged combat is inadvisable. Always do the least amount of harm and end the situation quickly.

If you can drop someone to the floor, wind them or scare them off, do it.

Breaking bones, concussing people or hitting 'death points' is not so smart.
Nor is applying a hold or lock.

Self defence

Self defence simply will not work unless the concerns of qigong/neigong, form and the tai chi principles are background concerns.

They need to be present all the time, but not in your mind. 
In your body.


Render incapable

If you can deter an attacker without harming them, this is preferable.
It is legally and morally appropriate.

Self defence meets the needs of the situation, rendering the attacker incapable of further assault.
This can be accomplished in a number of ways:
  1. Shuai jiao
    - take the attacker to the floor using grappling skills
  2. Chin na
    - there are 4 areas of skill that enable you to compromise the attacker
  3. Fa jing
    - a spontaneous release of energy
  4. Floorwork (control)
    - taking someone to the floor expediently and smoothly, maintaining stickiness
  5. Gravity strike
    - a heavy, soft strike that can be delivered easily and comfortably using almost any body part
  6. Projections
    - taking someone to the floor by expressing energy
Ideally, your response should be effortless to perform, but have a significant and meaningful effect.


Calm body and mind

A calm mind and composed emotions enable you to respond to an attack in a fluid manner.
Instead of 'freezing up' you remain mobile and functional.

Ease of movement at all times is fundamental to tai chi and baguazhang.
Unless your body feels comfortable and natural, you cannot respond instantaneously.

Girl's Night traditional attire

Soft qigong

Qigong is performed without the overt neigong component during the experienced syllabus.
It is assumed that neigong is now operating without the need for conscious incorporation. 

The student is required to become softer and softer; with reduced pressure and greater sensitivity.


Master Waller shows that the use of bagua in self defence is very effective and formidable. It is unpredictable for the attacker and extremely disorientating due to the movements and stepping of the defender. It is sneaky in its use of angles and finding openings. It offers many possibilities for the defender to counter attack. Bagua encourages lightness and mobility. It gets you out of the way fast and helps you deal with the potential chaos of multiple attackers. Good for people with smaller stature.

 (Rachel Waller)


I exchanged emails with Master Waller before his first Newcastle class and was there for the first night. I had done tai chi before with some very impressive teachers who all seemed to have very mediocre students (including me). I was sick of sifus that showed off, couldn't or didn't want to teach and who weren't into self defence. Like it or not, practically all aspects of tai chi can be faked by someone who has read a few books and practiced some choreography, except self defence.

Master Waller was very friendly at the start but I have noticed he has become a little more serious as the required skills have increased. As a teacher I am continually impressed with his teaching system, resources and the time he takes with classes. I often feel like emailing him to thank him for another outstanding lesson but a) this could happen most weeks and b) I do actually feel guilty for not being a good enough student.

(Tim Middleton)


Self defence

The self defence approach taught by Master Waller aims to incapacitate the attacker.
We are not interested in 'beating' anyone up or winning contests.
Self defence is all about escaping injury, not causing it.

If you can escape without inflicting pain, that is good. You have nothing to prove to anyone.
Self defence is not about payback or vengeance.

Small san sau

Students frequently reach orange belt and then falter with small san sau.
Why?They do not train at home between classes.
The student is not very good at the basic exercises, and by extension: form and partner work.

You cannot hope to gain skill with small san sau if the fundamentals are not present in your practice.

Start of the training year

Preparing for the start of training year celebration