Taijiquan training

Taijiquan training typically involves:

• stretching
self defence
• partner work
• seizing (chin na)
• philosophy
• internal power (jing)
• energy work (qigong)
• strength-building exercises
• whole-body strength (neigong)
• grappling (shuai jiao & pushing hands)


Taijiquan disciple

A disciple of taijiquan is not an ordinary student.
By definition, a 'disciple' follows and disseminates a teaching. In this case; taijiquan.

The keenest students will be asked if they are willing to make the commitment to learn everything the instructor has to offer.
Are they prepared to work harder than any other student?
Are they willing to be pushed harder than any other student?
This what it means to be a disciple.


How do you become a lineage disciple?

Master Waller offers every martial student the opportunity to become a lineage disciple.
The student must meet certain criteria:

  1. Unbroken training
  2. A good level of skill
  3. Attend all school social events
  4. A strong pattern of ongoing progress
  5. No attitude problems/ego/arrogance
  6. A commitment to daily home practice
  7. Attend all classes, workshops and training opportunities
  8. A nice relationship with both the instructor and other students
Suitable candidates will be told what lineage training entails.

5 tiers

The martial path has 5 tiers:
  1. Student
  2. Lineage disciple
  3. Expert
  4. Master


Most beginners experience difficulty with the internal use of strength.
They resist, look for shortcuts or simply continue to use brute force.
The answer lies with the mind.

You will be hampered by force as long as you perceive it to be of value to you.
Changing this belief will involve changing your mind.


Applying mind

In order to use mind rather than force, you need to stop using tension.
Having studied taoism, physics and human biomechanics at length, it is pretty obvious why brute force is not recommended.
If you have neglected your study, then your mind and body will be slow to change...

Training countless sensitivity drills in class will encourage you to stop relying on tension, but progress will be slow if your mind remains entrenched in old habits of body use.
Engaging your mind from the onset of training will speed things up considerably.
Read the classics, contemplate their teachings and then apply them in class.



Self defence requires you to be cunning.

Being brave is great but brave can also mean stupid and running headlong into danger is not smart at all.
Far better to keep a cool head and respond according to the requirements of the situation.
A cunning person is cautious and wary.
They do not make rash decisions or take unnecessary risks.

Being smart will keep you out of danger in the first place.



Appropriateness is about the when and the how.
Applying all your strength against a stable, rooted, prepared opponent is not smart.
Force against force is not

You must learn to be subtle. To be sensitive. To listen. To feel. To yield. To trick your opponent's nervous system.

The application of 13 postures depends upon your ability to apply your strength at the right moment.
If you get it right, 4 ounces of pressure will be all you require.


2 concerns

With Master Waller we have two concerns regarding strength:
  1. the cultivation of internal power
  2. the appropriate use of strength
Both of these concerns are equally important.
If you do not have strength, there is nothing to use. If you do not use it skilfully, your strength is worthless.

Skilfulness entails appropriateness and appropriateness stems from the ability accurately evaluate the situation.


Marc is studying taijiquan.

1. When did you start Newcastle Tai Chi?

 I started in 2009.

2. How old are you (approx)?

I'm about 30 years old.

3. Why Newcastle Tai Chi?

A friend introduced me to the class.

4. What is good about the school?

One of the good thing about the school is the atmosphere of respect and camaraderie. It is good to feel safe when practicing a martial art.

5. Has it affected your day-to-day life?

It has affected my day to day life in the fact that I'm more aware of how I use and misuse my body on a daily basis which is particularly relevant to me because I have a physical job. It has also helped me to remain calmer in certain stressful situations.

6. Do you study taijiquan with the school? (if yes, what do you think of it?)

I study taijiquan with the school and never cease to be amazed at the simplicity and efficiency of the material. The syllabus is extremely vast and challenging, and it is made accessible according to your level of skills which allows you to make steady progress.


Mind, body, spirit

Are you familiar with the term: "mind, body, spirit?"

Both mind and spirit require the individual to meditate, contemplate, study and understand.
Only afterwards can you apply...
You need mental clarity and emotional awareness.

You will not get this by simply doing the form.

New starters @ £7.50

We offer two beginners classes in Newcastle:
Doors open at 6:45 PM

If you want to try the class, there is no need to e-mail in advance.
Just come along.

We welcome adults of all ages.
Prior experience is not expected. New starters are treated as beginners.



Everything you do comes from the mind; observation, awareness, choices, decision, intention, movement, action.
Taoism trains the individual to find harmony by attuning to the events in which they are participating.
Instead of forcing and struggling, you blend and flow.

The ability to adapt, change and improvise is crucial.


Conventional fitness

The ability to lift heavy weights, run, swim or workout in the gym may well improve your overall fitness level.
But this kind of fitness is not what we want in tai chi training.

A student must learn how to use their body in a very different way. The body needs to become agile, flexible, adaptive, sensitive and strong.

Conventional training will not necessarily improve your tai chi.
Many exercises actually create muscle tension, and tension impedes the natural movement of the muscle itself.

Sustained attention

Our culture has saturated consciousness with redundant information.
People are in an almost permanent state of distraction.
Concentration is limited.

The mind is trained to become weak, limited and easily led (misled?).
Instead of possessing strong mental health, people are merely facile consumers; addicted to trivia, gossip, meaningless second-hand opinions and shopping.

Tai chi and baguazhang forms require the individual to stay focussed and present for a lengthy period of time.
The form is re-training your mind.
It would be true to say that every exercise, form and drill in the syllabus also requires sustained attention.

What do you want to study?

We offer two options in class:
  1. Tai chi exercise
    - qigong, neigong, strength-building, tai chi and partner work
  2. Taijiquan
    - qigong, neigong, strength-building, taijiquan, baguazhang, chin na, self defence, shuai jiao, weaponry and partner work
Let us know which path you wish to take.



People speak of expressing fa jing, but which jing do they have in mind?
Every action you take is directed by intention.

Tai chi and baguazhang form express a wide variety of chin na and shuai jiao applications, along with very specific jing.
You cannot train them whilst chattering away in your own head.
Your mind must be on what you are doing.

Do not have a fixed application in mind for each movement.
Instead, feel the flow, the principles and energy employed, and recognise how these can be used constructively and effectively.


Apply what you have learned

If you treat 'pushing hands' as simply a partnered exercise, then that is all it will ever be.
A receptive student must take the underlying principles of pushing hands and use them in self defence.
Unless you use what you are training, what is the point of studying it?

Pushing hands teaches you to move in relationship with outward circumstance; to change and adapt, to find weakness and respond without thinking.


Tense or flaccid

People fail to release a contracted muscle after it has moved the bone, or they over-use one muscle group at the expense of another.
'Tensing-up' is the habitual over-contraction of a muscle, such that it impedes joint movement and distorts the skeleton.
This causes imbalance, weakness and postural tension.

Flaccidity is almost as bad; failing to support the bones properly.


Awareness is about being conscious of what is happening right now.
Noticing the immediate moment.
This is harder to accomplish than you may imagine.

Feeling your body, being aware of your thoughts, emotions, what is taking place around you, sounds, sights, smells, sensations...

Most people 'space out' for much of their lives.
They are aided in this by TV, portable hi-fi devices, cellular phones, video games, computers, caffeine, alcohol and drugs.
It is no easy task to be truly present.

Minus 7 degrees

The school is closed at the moment on account of the weather but we're hoping to be teaching again next week.

It was minus 7 degrees when I left for work today.
Let's see what the weekend has in store for us...



Muscles turn energy into motion, enabling us to speak, move and perform our daily activities.
To move bones, one muscle releases (lengthens) and the other contracts (shortens) - this is healthy and normal.

The ideal measure of muscle tone is that you employ only as much contraction or release as is required to accomplish the required task.
This is usually far less than you think...


Your mind perceives reality and then determines how, when or if to act.
The clearer your perception, the more appropriate the course of action you take.

Clarity does not emerge spontaneously.
Few people think clearly.
Cultivating clarity takes time, contemplation, study, meditation and patience.



Correct alignment of the body will enable you to use your body with less effort and greater strength.
Counteracting the force of gravity is a key consideration.

The vertebrae and joints must be free to move in a fluid, smooth manner.

Physical tension and bad muscular habits impede the ability to move spontaneously and freely.
Tension is the enemy of movement.
The more tense you are, the less you can move.

Weak mind

A weak mind is no good in the internal arts.

Internal martial arts practice is not the same as being at work, hanging out with your mates or playing football.
There is a very real need to be here and now.

You must be quick-witted, alert, vibrant and nimble... not lazy, indolent and sluggish.
The skilled martial artist is sharp and keen, enthusiastic and mobile.

Starting your day with tai chi

It is beneficial to start your day with tai chi practice.
Instead of feeling stressed, rushed, tired and anxious... your day begins with clarity and ease.
You will feel:

• Warm
• Energised

This makes driving safer.
You will be capable of thinking more clearly and effectively throughout the day.



Sport is result-oriented, and the means is ignored - the body is made to perform, regardless of any adverse biofeedback.
This is not healthy at all.
Running the marathon is meaningless if it damages your knees or you have a heart attack.

When a person swims, how often do they pay attention to the quality of their movement?
Are they interested in swimming with awareness, of accomplishing a whole-body action?
Or are they counting lengths?

Liz Koch, author of The Psoas Book wrote:
Various sport activities emphasise strength, endurance and speed. Development of muscle control rather than skeletal balance takes precedence. Gaining speed at the expense of mounting tension, is too often the goal.

The mind

It is common for students to believe that the mind has a minor role to play in martial arts training.
This is absurd.
Everything we see, interpret, choose and do in life is led by the mind: the mind is the boss, the conductor, the leader.


Yin/yang is concerned with the realisation that all things in existence are in relationship:

this and that
self and other
up and down
left and right

Every apparent duality is part of one whole.
They are not opposites.
e.g. hot and cold are merely measurements of temperature, indeed hot defines cold and vice versa...

Recognising this harmony in all things and working with it lies at the heart of taoism and tai chi practice



Sport seems to be a healthy social outlet until you consider it a little deeper: rivalry, competition, taking sides and animosity are frequent factors in sport.
People exert themselves in order to accomplish a goal and frequently injure their bodies in the process.
Money, medals and fame motivate sports people to push harder and harder, in order to prove something.

Pain is the sensation our body uses to influence our judgement.
Pain tells us that something is not right - this is the most important aspect of pain.
Resisting pain, such as masking it with painkillers, can make things worse.

The earliest symptoms of pain should be heeded.

(Philip Maffetone)

People often punish their bodies on the road to fitness.
The slogan 'no pain, no gain' is often used in conjunction with sport. Being healthy sounds like an ordeal.

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.


First, gain a deeper understanding of your own motivations, conditioning, values, emotions, thoughts, feeling and opinions.
Then, consider how you interact with the world around you.

Finding balance within the shifting relationships in your life will require sensitivity, awareness, the ability to listen and an alert mind.

Everyday life

It is important only to move in a predatory manner whilst immediately engaged in taijiquan practice.
Out of class your body must remain free, nimble, spontaneous and agile.

Expressing your body in a permanently pugilistic way is pointless and unhealthy. There are few occasions in daily life that require combat.

In terms of strategy, it is unwise to advertise that you are a martial artist. Far wiser to appear unassuming and innocuous.
This gives you the element of surprise.


Be honest about dieting

For the person who recognises the nature of food and the importance of nutrition, there is no conflict, no resistance.
They do not want to eat cake.
They would rather be slim and healthy.

Dieting is only a chore if you have doubts, resistance, conflict. Confusion.

Think deeply about what you want.
Look at the pros and cons.
Decide what you want to do.
Determine if this is really what you want.

If you earnestly want to eat well, then changing your diet is a joyful experience, not an ordeal.

Newcastle Tai Chi is fair

Newcastle Tai Chi genuinely offers equal opportunity.

Every student is provided with the same opportunities as everyone else.
No one is favoured.
No one is discriminated against

Your rate of progress is determined by you; by how much effort you make, how often you attend and how capable you are.


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.


Tao/zen-inspired arts are concerned primarily with working upon the 'self'.
Instead of seeking opponents to battle, you must deal with the following problems:
  1. Self-importance
  2. Pettiness
  3. Conceit
  4. Vanity
  5. Pride
This is the focus of the practice and the meaning of the quote at the top of the page.

Learning a tai chi form is relatively easy.
Ridding yourself of the things that impede peace of mind and wholeness is a far harder challenge.

Students begin class with all manner of personal baggage, and shedding this may take a long time.
Some people have the patience and humility to make significant progress, whilst many others do not.


Tai chi form was designed to train the body to move in an unorthodox manner that loosely emulates the combat postures used by a variety of animals.
These natural shapes are intended to be intimidating.

By mimicking the predatory movements and body shapes of animals, the human martial artist learns to shape their body language into something threatening during combat.
Many martial artists like to pull faces and exhibit aggressive emotional traits, but these actually inhibit clarity and impede judgement.
Employing the body language of animals is one thing, acting like an animal is something else entirely.

As the tai chi student becomes more skilful and adept, their body language gains an increasingly intimidating aspect during combat.
This promotes fear in the aggressor.



'Choice' is commonly seen as being an expression of freedom.
In reality, choice indicates confusion.
e.g. a thirsty person is offered a choice of water or food. Which will they choose?
The answer is obvious.

Many apparent choices exist because we have contradictory, conflictive desires.

We want to eat cake but know we should be eating fruit instead.
There is conflict between health or self-indulgence, between immediate gratification or long-term benefits.
But this choice only exists if we are confused.
A clear mind sees the path ahead.

Weapons work in our curriculum

Master Waller is currently teaching:

· Knife drills
· Countering a knife
· Escapes/knife
· Chin na against a knife
· Improvised weaponry/knife
· Small stick drills
· Stick drills
· Broadsword drills
· 2 person cane form/drill
· Sabre form
· Staff form
· Walking stick form
· Straight sword form 

You can work your way through all of the weapons.

Joining the school

If a student is seeking to learn the art more thoroughly, they need to join the school.
Joining the school enables the student to:

• Work through the curriculum (
taijiquan or tai chi exercise)
Pass belts
• Use weapons
• Buy class DVDs
Wear a uniform
• Learn baguazhang 
• Learn self defence
• Request bespoke tuition
• Learn
tai chi exercise
• Learn tai chi as a martial art
• Learn neigong (internal strength)
• Have an on-line personal progress page
• Receive regular corrections, tips & pointers
• Seek training guidance and advice from
Master Waller
Attend workshops, boot camp and class social events
• Discuss tai chi theory and related philosophies with
Master Waller


There are different ways in which you can work with balance:
  1. Body posture
  2. Body usage
  3. Composure
  4. Energy
  5. Relationship
Tai chi was designed to balance all of these areas every time you practice.
Unfortunately, daily life unbalances us, so we need to re-balance at the start of each day.



A new class can be a confusing, intimidating experience.
You quickly realise that you know nothing about tai chi, or about the syllabus ahead of you.
Recognising this brings a sense of relief.
There is no need to 'get a handle on things'.

Relax and go with the flow.
Get used to being in class.
Pretty soon, the unfamiliar becomes familiar, the preliminary skills are comfortable and you are making steady progress through the syllabus.

Unbalanced is the norm

Do you sleep well?
Are you clumsy?
Is your life hurried and rushed?
Do you have time for yourself?
Is your back aching or stiff, especially around the base of the neck and the shoulders?
Are your moods erratic?
Do you get headaches a lot?

People come to accept the lack of balance in their lives and do not imagine that there can be another way.


Body language provides a whole host of clues concerning a person's attitude, thoughts and feelings.
For example:

The 'lifted chin' is widely observed indication of arrogance and self importance; stemming from status insecurities, and the need to project an air of superiority.
By over-compensating, the person quite literally is forced to 'look down upon' other people.

This same trait is discernable in the 4-by-4 car craze, which enables the emotionally insecure individual to hide within the armoured shell of enormous vehicle, elevated above other motorists.

There are countless examples of easily observed body language, and we are all pretty adept at unconsciously picking up on non-verbal clues.
Further research is advisable.


Why are you dieting?

People diet for many different reasons:
  1. Weight loss
  2. Vanity
  3. Health
  4. Illness
  5. Obesity
  6. Medical recommendation
  7. Lifestyle change
  8. Quality of life
Your motive will strongly affect how you approach the diet.
It will affect how you approach the process of dieting and perhaps determine what your expectations are.

If your motive is purely health, and not simply weight loss, then it is easier to be patient.
If you are expecting to lose weight fast, or to meet a certain defined target: wedding, holiday etc... then dieting is harder because you are under pressure.


Having watched movies, YouTube, the news or read things... new students often have certain notions concerning combat.
They want to know how to deal with multiple opponents, with knives, with this or that scenario.

This is to be expected.

In truth, most new starters have trouble standing or moving in a balanced manner.
Their bodily awareness is poor and their nervous system dysfunctional.
A lifetime of bad habits stand in the way of progress.

There are 3 beginners belts.
These focus on unlearning bad habits, using the body in a more healthy, effective way and becoming composed.
At this level of ability, combat is irrelevant.
There are more immediate matters to attend to.

Actual combat is reserved for intermediate-level students and beyond.

What is balance?

Balance is commonly seen as being a condition of stillness and rest.

Yet, people cannot reasonably find a fixed point of balance in their lives because life is not static.
The changing nature of existence means that we need to be re-adjusting constantly.

This process of continual re-adjustment is called 'dynamic balancing' and occurs in relation to the changing nature of what is happening.
We cannot expect to be 'balanced' because nothing in our lives will ever remain stable and fixed.


What is different about Newcastle Tai Chi?

• Professional
• Quality of tuition
• Depth of understanding
• Fully-differentiated syllabus
• Range of skills available for study
• Comprehensive martial application

Build your strength

For a long time tai chi has been promoted as being an effortless exercise.

Do not be misled by this: if it were truly effortless, there would not be any exercise.

The word 'effortless' should refer to the absence of resistance in your body and the surprising effect of your actions once conflict has been removed.
Taijiquan involves physical work, the strengthening of muscles and bones, the stretching of the elastic tissues.
This is not to be confused with gym work, sport or weight training.


No pressure

New starters are under no pressure to join the school. You may attend in whatever manner suits you best.


Sylvia is studying tai chi for health & fitness, neigong, philosophy, qigong and health-only weaponry.

1. When did you start Newcastle Tai Chi?


2. How old are you (approx)?

I am now in my seventies and feel very healthy and well.

3. Why Newcastle Tai Chi?

Ten years ago I gave up full time work to work part time. I felt the need for more time for myself and to improve my fitness and health. I was looking for a form of exercise which would fulfil these goals and thought tai chi would suit me.

I looked for a tai chi class locally and tried a few but found they were not what I wanted. Basically the classes were too large and there seemed to be no development of skills or structure in the teaching, merely waving your arms about.

Nine years ago I found a class run by Master Waller. This changed my whole outlook.

4. What is good about the school?

Newcastle Tai Chi is run on a very professional basis with plenty of opportunities for personal development. The staff are friendly as are all the students. The atmosphere is good and all students are willing to help each other. This is particularly true with new starters.

I follow the health-only syllabus which also includes the opportunity to learn stick and sword drills, so is quite varied.

The Newcastle Tai Chi
website is a huge resource for the students of the school, and is available at any time for our development, both physical and mental, if we choose to use it.

5. Has it affected your day-to-day life?

I am very surprised at how physically strong I am and put this down mainly to tai chi. I have learned to use my body in a more intelligent way and suffer fewer back and knee injuries.
I have my own allotment which I work with two friends, and am a (fair weather) cyclist.
Mentally, I have found spiritual benefits by becoming calmer and relaxed.


Wanting corrections, tips & pointers, self defence etc?

Students wanting to learn tai chi earnestly join the school.
As a school member they are taken through a highly structured syllabus that has clear learning goals.
Their progress is closely monitored by the instructor.

Something new is taught each and every lesson.
Regular assessments ensure that the student is constantly developing and refining their tai chi practice.

Newcastle Tai Chi

What is tai chi really about?
Is it
slow & boring?
Is tai chi really a
martial art?
Is there a
spiritual element?
How will tai chi affect my
daily life?

Read further...

New starters @ £7.50

We offer two beginners classes in Newcastle:
Doors open at 6:45 PM

If you want to try the class, there is no need to e-mail in advance.
Just come along.

We welcome adults of all ages.
Prior experience is not expected. New starters are treated as beginners.


Paul has passed his first blue belt

Well done, Paul!

Since joining the school in February 2012, Paul has passed five belts.

New students

New/drop-in/casual students receive a healthy, balanced workout every time they attend.
They explore a limited (but enjoyable) selection of material from our syllabus.

The emphasis is upon fun, stress relief and relaxation.


When the way comes to an end,
then change -
having changed, you pass through

(I Ching)



Men in their forties and fifties speak of their athletic prowess as teenagers.
They cling to the memory of some long-distant moment in time.
There are countless examples like this.

The past is gone.
You cannot change it or even re-enact or re-create it.
This is where you are; right here and right now.
But if you cannot find
Friend or master to go with you,
Travel on alone –
Like a king who has given away his kingdom,
Like an elephant in the forest.


Newcastle Tai Chi classes resume Monday 7th

Newcastle Tai Chi is the most in-depth tai chi school in the North East.
We offer a comprehensive syllabus suitable for adults of all ages.

This gentle form of exercise does not strain or exert the the body.
Emphasis is placed upon mobile joints, relaxed muscles and natural movement.
The training encourages a calm mind and composed emotions.
We also teach the traditional philosophy of tai chi.

Our taijiquan students study tai chi as a martial art, self defence, weaponry, chin na, neigong, qigong, shuai jiao and baguazhang.

If you have no interest in learning taijiquan, you are quite welcome to attend lessons as a tai chi for health & fitness student.



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.