A new starter comes to class with the typical agitations of modern life:
- they do too much
- they over-extend/over-commit
- they anticipate
- they do not know how to stop
- they contest

Initially, the student has no understanding of what tranquillity means or what it entails.



Skeletal alignment facilitates peng.
Without peng your tai chi and baguazhang will simply not work and you will be essentially training externally.
The rounded, flexible shape of peng is present in every single movement.
It provides protection, enables stickiness and allows you to roll around a line of force instead of blocking it.

Alignment is pointless if you do not have peng.
It must be there in every single thing you do and is never lost or broken.
The possession of means that you never have to tense-up.
The skeleton acts as a structural conduit, and the tendons, ligaments, fascia and relaxed muscles provide the springiness.



Boredom often stems from a dull mind.
An unimaginative person is like a very young child who craves attention; they require ongoing fuss and stimulation.
Their consciousness has yet to mature.

An inquisitive person can occupy themselves quite easily and can usually find something interesting in any situation .
Curiosity, and the desire for research and investigation are hallmarks of intelligence.

Tai chi practice will improve your capacity for sustained attention, and encourage greater awareness and cognition.


Mobility/stability ratio

Exaggerating the size of the skeletal alignment will lead to postural instability.
There will be a considerable number of evident weaknesses.
No posture is impregnable, but an overly-extended framework is liable to promote tension when put under pressure.

The larger your frame, the less mobile the joints are.
Similarly, a frame that is too small will provide excellent mobility and the ability to move rapidly, but no skeletal balance or strength.



Using the body as it was designed to be used will always prove more efficient than using it in contradiction to its natural design.

(Tim Cartmell)

Central equilibrium

Central equilibrium must be maintained at all times.
If there is a risk of being compromised by an opponent, there are 3 options available:

  1. Turn the waist and shift the weight into the other leg
  2. Step
  3. Bend at the hip
These yielding skills will enable you to preserve your centre without losing peng.


Internal concerns

In order to perform any given activity correctly, you need to unite mind, body and emotions.

Are you moving in the internal way?
Gaining the ability to move correctly is very difficult, but attainable if you are patient and show tenacity.
Take the time to be present.
Make the best of every opportunity to learn.


Amateur instructors

The world is saturated with well-meaning, inexperienced tai chi instructors.
These instructors are teaching an imbalanced syllabus and fail to offer the complete art.
The art is slowly being ruined, watered down to a point where there is nothing internal left.


Qigong workshop

Locks and holds

The single most important fighting skill in internal martial arts is waiting. You wait until your opponent gives you an opening as a gift. Look at joint locks, which are hard to do in full-speed fighting, particularly if you go for them aggressively. Some martial arts like jujitsu and aikido make joint locks look deceptively easy and make them out to be a perfectly reasonable fighting strategy applicable to a majority of situations. In their training practices one partner willingly lets the other grab his arm, usually with a decent grip., deliberately making himself vulnerable. This is a foolish and potentially suicidal strategy in real-life confrontation with a well-trained opponent.

 Internal martial artists don't go there. They develop training methods like silk arms where they can twist and bend their joints like a piece of silk, making their movements highly fast, reactive, unpredictable and mobile, which makes it hard to grab or lock their joints.
 (Bruce Frantzis)


Conventional exercise

Weight lifting, gym work, jogging, sport, yoga and pilates are commonly practiced forms of exercise.
As you grow older, they become increasingly difficult to perform.

Tai chi training is not strenuous or stressful.
You undertake regular training and let the mild exercise build up layers of strength.
Instead of feeling tired, you feel energised and full of vitality.



Lineage candidates are given one year probation in which they must prove their sincerity.


Mainstream tai chi

Many tai chi classes are not teaching a martial art.
Consequently, the students are not encouraged to become fit.
They are more interested in coordinated movement, relaxation and feeling good.

Tai chi chuan requires more of the student.



Here are a few examples of 'disconnection':
  1. Localised arm and shoulder movement
  2. Tensed muscles
  3. Over-extended limbs
  4. Locking the joints
  5. Deep, long or wide stances
  6. Bending the knees too deeply
  7. Hunching-over
  8. Lifting/puffing the chest
  9. Bending from the rib cage or waist
  10. Leaning
  11. Fixed legs - disconnected upper & lower
  12. Over-emphasis of the waist
  13. Incorrect use of the pelvis and hips



Form is not easy

Tai chi chuan form is often portrayed as being easy to learn. This is a common misconception.

It is important not to think of tai chi chuan form in terms of external kata.
Kata and form are ultimately not the same thing.
Form teaches 'a way of moving'. A style of using your body. A habit.

A kata is considered 'correct' if it looks accurate and crisp.
This is not the case with a tai chi chuan form.
A form must be performed in a relaxed manner, with attention to how the power is being generated.
Every movement must contain peng, and would be completely useless without it.
A comprehensive understanding of how to apply every nuance of form is necessary for true understanding.


Practice & patience

Two things hamper students:
  1. Failure to practice
  2. Lack of patience
How much you practice is your concern.
Everyone is different.
Just be aware that class attendance, home training and taking advantage of all training opportunities will affect progress.

Patience is an underrated virtue in modern society.
However, you cannot suddenly become skilled at anything complex without long-term study and commitment.

The steady, patient student makes strong progress and feels the rewards of their practice.


Internal strength

An unfortunate by-product of 'internal strength' is that Sifu has only a vague idea of whether he's hurting someone or not. He always applies things cautiously and gently - seeking to avoid inflicting unnecessary discomfort.
Sensitivity aside, people are different. What is ok for one person is painful for another. Add to this the fact that students quite often pretend to be ok when in reality they're hurting... So Sifu thinks it isn't working and does it harder...



The danger with learning specific chin na applications is that you may come to see them as techniques.
This is not the approach advocated by
Master Waller.
Techniques have their place as a learning tool but are not a good approach to use in actual self defence.

A technique involves a series of steps employed against a particular attack.
Should your opponent deviate from the anticipated course of action, a technique could easily fail.


PE in school

Some school children enjoy sport and get a lot out of PE.
A lot of people do not enjoy sport
PE lessons in school are taught as though sport was the same thing as physical education. But this is ridiculous.

Physical education is about learning how to use your body. You do not need a PE kit to be taught biomechanics.
Understanding correct body use will improve your quality of life.


Who taught you how to use your body?

This is a reasonable question, and most people could not give a decent answer.
Did anyone teach you:
  1. Timing
  2. Balance
  3. Rhythm
  4. Footwork
  5. Biofeedback
  6. Coordination
  7. Biomechanics
  8. Proprioception
  9. Mind/body unity
  10. Optimal body use
  11. Kinaesthetic awareness
  12. How your muscles work
  13. Healthy skeletal alignment
  14. Ambidextrous use of the limbs
  15. How and why to relax your body
Your parents probably did not teach this to you.

School did not teach it either.
PE or physical education in school translates to mean 'sport' and sport is not teaching you how to use the body.



The human skeleton can easily be aligned in a manner that works constructively with gravity.
Gravity is useful.
Rather than fight against gravity or crumple, we want our bodies to feel light, mobile and strong.

We want to transfer body weight when we interact with a partner/opponent.
Relaxed muscles are heavier than tense ones.
Relaxed joints enable the body to sink and settle; thus creating more stability and an increased ability to transmit power through the entirety of the body.


More than you expect

It is a mistake to think that we are 'fighting' or merely engaged in combat training.
We are undertaking something far more significant and meaningful.

To understand our training you must gain a more profound understanding of existence.

Tai chi chuan and baguazhang students are required by their art to see a different world.
A major cognitive shift is necessary.
Everything changes.


A new you

When you build strength using internal exercises, there is none of the strain associated with other forms of exercise.

The workout gradually becomes more challenging as you progress.
Each stage increases your suppleness, flexibility, joint strength and awareness.

Students commonly remark that their body feels completely different after a few short months of practice.



Having obtained perhaps one or two belts, students quit.
They leave with the mistaken impression that they know far more than they do about the art they are studying.

In truth, even after several belts, knowledge remains superficial.

Most martial arts feature approximately 10 coloured belts.
These serve to lay the most simplistic foundation for the training to come.
They cover the basics, and nothing more than that.

To imagine that a beginner is anything more than a 'beginner' is incredibly naive.