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.

Dismantle the set

The experienced-level student applies the small san sau against a knife attacker.
They also dismantle t
his drill to see how it works.

The student uncovers power generation methods, hidden strikes and chin na throughout the set.

Freeform bagua


Training for the first time

The main consideration is this: go slow and easy.
Do not push anything.
Do not force anything.

Allow things to happen nice and slowly.
Developing coordination, balance, martial insights and sensitivity will take time.

Your choice

Every student is given the same opportunity to attend classes, grade and progress.
Some people make the best of that opportunity.
Others do not.
It is up to the individual.

The determining factor is commitment.

Freeform bagua



Students often wonder how much they should train at home.
Ultimately, it is up to you.
The aim is to combine work, rest and exercise in a way that feels harmonious.


Prove yourself

Master Waller is unlikely to ever be as popular as other teachers.
We do not cater for the modern mentality.
Students are not pandered to or pampered. We will not cave-in to pressure or go easy on you.

Everyone who attends our classes is expected to embrace the art and work hard.

That is why the 40 minute qigong exercises and the other challenges exist.
They weed out the half-hearted people.
And - more importantly - they lay a powerful, necessary foundation for what comes next.

Every student has the opportunity to penetrate the art; it is up to the individual.

Freeform bagua

Darkness & shadows

  A traditional Japanese tea house balanced darkness and light to produce an atmosphere of ease and calm.
 Shadows and dimness serve to settle the mind.

 In modern houses it is possible to modulate the amount of light allowed into a room.
 Voiles and curtains can be adjusted to adjust the mood.

 Bright lighting and flickering screens are not relaxing.
 Avoid the hypnotic dance of light.
 Embrace darkness and shadow.



Leaving gracefully

Do not leave rashly. Do not lose your temper.
Do it well.

Write your instructor a brief, courteous e-mail or letter explaining why you are leaving.
Aim to avoid blame, criticism or recriminations.
Avoid being off-hand, making assumptions or being rude in any way.

If you feel that you may want to re-join the class again at some later stage, ask if this is possible.
Be careful not to spoil your chances with disrespectful words or conduct.

Even the most difficult of students sometimes show a surprising degree of good grace when leaving.
By leaving well, you will be remembered well.

Advanced power

Advanced power is versatile and complex - demonstrating a broad degree of insight.
It is also remarkably understated.

The advanced practitioner wields the art effortlessly: with no self-consciousness or division between art and individual.


Myths & legends

Chang San-feng is credited with having devised tai chi.
He is widely believed to have been a fictional/mythical character.

Did Sherlock Holmes or Gandalf invent football? This sounds like an absurd question, but is perhaps equal in nature to the notion of
Chang San-feng creating tai chi.

Bagua escapes




I enjoy learning bagua. It is much more spatially challenging than tai chi. I think learning it concurrently with the tai chi is helpful because it encourages you to see things more martially.

 (Rachel Waller)

Modern Japan

Zen inspired countless disciplines and arts in ancient Japan. Modern Japan is responsible for Manga, karaoke, floppy disks etc.

Will you find authentic, traditional arts nowadays?
Is everything kitsch?
Are even the so-called 'authentic arts' simply soulless replicas?



In a martial arts school, the teacher insists upon good manners.
Why is this?
Because the teacher is educating you in the appropriate form of conduct.

Real manners stem from sensitivity and consideration. They are not something you can learn by rote

Being polite takes very little effort.
It is not about remembering to behave
a certain way.
It is about listening. It is about respect. It is about being patient.

Bagua evasion play


The past is gone

In 1933, Junichiro Tanizaki wrote his book In Praise Of Shadows.
He mourned the loss of many cultural practices that were rapidly fading in Japan's race to embrace Western values and interests.
In his own lifetime he realised that the past was gone.

It is possible to see the same situation occurring in China: the birthplace of tai chi.
The 20th Century was a turbulent time for China; and much that existed is now lost forever.



Rise early

Monks around the world get up in the early hours of the day and gain clarity from the stillness of the unawakened world.
We share this habit and have risen early for decades now.
Our preference is 4 AM but we typically rise at 5 because it offers a more practical bed time.

When you walk alongside a river or beneath trees at the start of the day, there is a magic in the air.
Such quiet.

Yes, there are birds and the occasional person or car, but the mood is one of tranquillity.
The streets are empty of commerce; the shops shuttered and closed.
There are no consumers, no hustle and bustle, no showmanship and competition.

It is like being backstage. Before the day begins.



The syllabus we offer differentiates the students.

People who work hard, attend regularly and practice at home make good progress through the material.
They methodically move up through the grades, hampered occasionally by difficult new topics.
Nothing stops them from accessing the teachings.
All they need to do is continue practicing.

By contrast, students who attend badly and fail to practice between lessons make slow progress.
This is their own doing.
Unless they learn the skills and can perform them competently, the next grade would be incomprehensible.


The actual

Tai chi is far too subtle to be copied well.
Its sensibilities and skills take a significant amount of time to acquire.
Only the most earnest and patient student will persevere.

The nuances and intricacies of the art elude the insensitive eye.
Most people lack the discrimination to tell the real from the fake.


Looking for the past

Many tai chi students travel to China seeking the mystery of tai chi.
Perhaps they find it.
Perhaps they do not.

The philosophical roots of tai chi are thousands of years old and modern China does not embrace taoism.
What taoist insights are to be found there?
In 1956 the first modern tai chi form was developed by the Chinese Sports Commission: the 24 step.
To what degree are traditional forms being taught in China today?
Are they an esoteric taoist art?
Or are they simplified sport/competition forms?

Disconnected bagua application

I sometimes see examples of disconnected bagua application on-line. It's all just in the arms. In our school, Sifu insists upon everyone moving and turning the body, with the arms following the centre. Clearly, this is much harder to accomplish, but it enables somebody of my stature to be successful in application.



Instead of using conversation as a means of self-promotion, try listening and observing.
Watch your own tendencies carefully.
Why are you speaking?
What prompts the need?
Are you talking for the sake of it?
Do you have anything to say?

Are you softly spoken and polite, or are you loud and attention-seeking?


I enjoyed the depth and knowledge of tai chi on your website and appreciate the study and hard work it represents. While many of your observations regarding tai chi instructors, classes and practitioners may be perceived as somewhat negative or harsh, I believe that those seeking tai chi will be spurred on to seek the deeper art instead of just emptily waving their arms.

I especially appreciated your comments regarding tai chi Competitions. I detest the shoving matches that pass for push hands, and the flowery forms and displays of gymnastic flexibility that seem to impress the judges. I generally suggest that my students go to a competition to compare and contrast what they see there, between various competitors and in class. They usually note the lack of the yielding principle and the ostentation, and egos, and are somewhat shocked.

I have found that most authors who have a negative view on most of what is being taught in tai chi classes are only interested in pushing down others to point out their supremacy. Definitely not so with your site. Instead of insisting that people travel great distances to learn from you alone, you post a helpful guideline for students to be aware of when evaluating an instructor or class. That’s great! Like you, my teacher, George Ling Hu, often said that the particular style did not matter. Rather the focus should be on the tai chi principles and they should be evident in your practice, not just a list you recite. In my 21 years of practice I have seen the truth of this and applaud you pointing this out.

I will add a link to your site on my local website so that my students and others in the Houston, Texas area can access your impressive store of knowledge.

Thank you. Sincerely,

(Greg Illich)


Definitions of temper

Temper is more than just anger. It has other definitions:
  1. Improve the hardness and elasticity of steel by reheating and then cooling it
  2. Serve as a neutralizing or counterbalancing force
  3. Tune a piano so as to adjust the note intervals correctly
Consider what these words indicate.

The science of the essence

My husband says that everything in life can be whittled down to the essence, the point, the truth. In taoism this is called the science of the essence. Non-Buddhist zen adopted the same approach.

Most religions seek the truth of our everyday life. How odd that most people seem compelled to obscure it.