Sedentary lifestyle

Many young people begin to lose their flexibility in their 20's and 30's and seldom regain it.
The main problem is laziness.

Sitting for lengthy periods of time is bad for the body.
It causes muscles to tighten, circulation to suffer, the eyes to become fixed and the mind to dull.
The legs, lower back and shoulders typically become weak, tight and often quite painful.
Tao yin stretching slowly reverses the problem. 



To be martial requires discipline, courage, and perseverance. It has nothing to do with killing. People fail to look beyond this one narrow aspect of being a warrior and so overlook all the other excellent qualities that can be gained from training. A warrior is not a cruel murderer. A warrior is a protector of ideals, principle and honour. A warrior is noble and heroic.

A warrior will have many opponents in a lifetime, but the ultimate opponent is the warrior's own self. Within a fighter's personality are a wide array of demons to be conquered: fear, laziness, ignorance, selfishness, egotism, and so many more. To talk of overpowering other people is inconsequential. To actually overcome one's own defects is the true nature of victory. That is why so many religions depict warriors in their iconography. These images are not symbols for dominating others. Rather, they are symbols of the ferocity and determination that we need to overcome the demons within ourselves.

(Deng Meng-Dao)



Self-consciousness ruins your taijiquan.
Ridding yourself of this crippling habit rests at the heart of all spiritual training.
The solution is to play.

Freedom of expression is vital.
Your body and mind must be agile, nimble and mobile.
To be skilled with neigong, you must have a lightness of spirit.

The way of the monkey is a good way to understand what this means in terms of neijiaquan practice.


Natural movement

A common error is to exaggerate body use.
To seek to make neigong happen.
This forcing, this willing... it is a mistake.

If you have trained enough, then you have some measure of whole-body strength.
It is not necessary to do anything.
Just use your body in a relaxed, appropriate way relative to the incoming attack.


70/30 stance

When a student has reached a degree of suppleness, flexibility and awareness that facilitates good body use, they must consider a more martial framework.
The 70/30 stance is used throughout our curriculum.
It enables the student to use a deeper, longer, more powerful framework that a new starter could not physically manage.

The advantage of this stance is that it protects the centre with ease, maintains structural alignment at all times and enables rapid movement.
It is impossible to over-commit or over-extend.

Business address

Newcastle Tai Chi
St Andrew's Church
Station Road
NE12 8AW
0750 3604568



At the heart of your difficulties in class lies this immense question of whole-body strength.
What is it?
How is it used?
A sense of wonder, curiosity and the burning need to know should fuel your endeavour.

If you ask questions based upon your own ego, life experience and perception, then you will obtain only answers to the questions you have asked.
Did you ask the right questions?
Are you any wiser now?
Were you expecting a verbal solution?

Questions frame answers. They shape and limit them.
You must learn how to seek without preconception. Without asking.



Supreme ultimate fist is a martial art based entirely on the yin/yang diagram.
If you do not understand the requirements of mutual arising, hard/soft, etc... you will be doomed to train externally and continue to use force.

Neijiaquan must be understood.
You cannot simply practice the internal arts and hope for a positive outcome.
Treat these arts appropriately: they offer arcane knowledge and mystery. Seek out their secrets for yourself.


Opening & closing

In order to employ whole-body movement correctly, it must be used effectively in relationship to other people.
Appropriate use of strength is vital.

Power comes from your own body, through into somebody else and affects them.
This journey is mirrored by the movements of your own body.



Fantasy movies have long depicted warrior/sages of the Wudang Mountains and wizards wielding uncanny powers.
Masters perform unlikely feats of physical prowess and people fly through the air.
But is there any truth to be found behind the legends, folklore and myth?

The exaggerated feats shown in the movies stem from both awe and ignorance.
Internal martial arts do offer amazing, uncommon skills, but they are not magical.
Consider the Wang treatise:
The spectacle of an old person defeating a group of young people, how can it be due to swiftness?

(Wang Tsung-yueh)

Neigong leads to jing (internal power).
Internal power has been sought after in China for millennia.



Lacking confidence in themselves and in whole-body movement, a student who has neglected their training makes major faults:
  1. They force
  2. They use tension
  3. They lead with their elbows
Laziness and/or a failure to comprehend the nature of neigong lie at the heart of any problems you encounter.
To remedy laziness, practice.
To use neigong, read this website, practice. Gain understanding through experience.



At some stage the penny must drop...

If you have trained whole-body movement with your qigong exercises every day over a sustained period of time, then your body will have incorporated this habit.
It is part of how you use your body.
Therefore, in partner work and combat practice, that habit exists already.
You do not need to be thinking about it or exaggerating its use.

If it is not there, look to the basics once more.



The next step is always contingent upon the previous one.
For example: If you are good at qigong, then form is strong.
When training form, you can focus on form alone.
You should not be even thinking about basic movement and structure principles (qigong skills).

If your form is good, then you can spend your partner work practice addressing how your skills affect the opponent.
You should not be thinking about coordination and physical harmony when doing partner work.

Each stage of practice has its own unique set of considerations. Understanding this enables you to build strong martial skills.


Combat drills

More rigorous than mere partner work, martial sets challenge the student to incorporate the previous skills.
Once more, if you lack skill with qigong, form and partner work, then combat drills will cause you to stumble and fall.
The answer is always the same.


Poor basics

Lacking the whole-body skills acquired from qigong and form practice, the student flounders during the early stages of practice.
They resort to tension and force.
Their minds are awash with extraneous thoughts.

Study, stand and train the basics. Daily, thoroughly and exhaustively.


Problems with partnered drills?

If you are thinking about qigong, form or basic structural parameters during partner work, you will make many mistakes.
These factors should be part of how you move, how you use your body.
If they are not, then you have sorely neglected the most basic areas of training and should remedy the fault.


Faith lies at the heart of mastery.
You must have absolute faith in your master and in their ability to pass on the art to you.

If you don't believe in tai chi completely and entrust yourself to its
ways, then little progress can be made.
You are essentially standing in your own way.

Professor told us that he once had a student who "got it" it less than a year. What was the secret of this special person who attained mastery in a fraction of the time it takes the rest of us?

"It was because he had faith," said Professor.

(Wolf Lowenthal)


Partnered drills

By partnering, the student receives biofeedback and some measure of their own competence.
The themes are always the same:

  1. Peng
  2. Softness
  3. 4 ounces
  4. Stickiness
  5. Sensitivity
  6. Being in the body, not in the mind
  7. Never resisting the incoming force
  8. Listening & feeling, rather than anticipating
The diligent student immediately recognises their own clumsiness, and addresses the key concerns featured on the list.
With sustained, mindful practice the body can be trained and the mind becomes settled and calm.

Mastery in the martial arts

The term 'master' in the martial arts usually refers to a practitioner who has dedicated at least 25 years of hard training to their chosen art, amassed tens of thousands of hours practice and is very good at their stuff.
Mastering tai chi requires the following:

• A lifelong commitment to the furtherance of the art
• Spontaneous demonstration of every and any aspect of the art
• The ability to train other people to become tai chi instructors
• An embodiment of the principles outlined in the Tai Chi Classics
• Highly accurate rendition of every
• Extensive knowledge of every facet of every subject in the syllabus i.e. 'jing'
• An in-depth understanding of every facet of the
• How the
exercise/form/drill/application links to other aspects of the curriculum
• The ability to dismantle and explain how and why the different components operate
• Grace, ease, subtlety, sensitivity, nimbleness, appropriateness, simplicity are all a given 
• The willingness to train disciples to acquire every aspect of the teaching and perpetuate the art themselves
Unselfconscious, skilled and utterly effective application of the art in combat employing chin na, jing and shuai jiao
• The ability to develop, improve and deliver a thorough, fully differentiated syllabus suitable for all ability levels and all ages
• The ability to dismantle and explain how and why every form posture operates and how it can be applied in at least 7 different ways 
• Comprehensive theoretical knowledge and the ability to discuss and explain how taoism, martial theory and actual practice all tie together
• The ability to apply the tai chi principles (yielding, stickiness, peng, jing, composure, connection, 4 ounces etc) in every situation with absolute ease and certainty 



The form refines the basic movements and extends their scope and complexity.
Considered in a martial context, whole-body movement is no longer abstract and generalised, but focussed.
The student learns how to shape their body towards a combat outcome.

Stepping, angles, strategy and coordination lead to an expansion of consciousness and a fluidity of action.
The coarse simplicity of the qigong exercises ultimately gives way to the nimble grace of form.



A student of any martial art should expect to be attending 2-3 classes a week.
This is normal.
An internal martial artist needs to supplement lessons with daily home training.

It is possible to progress with lesser commitment, but the journey will be long and the progress slow. 


Master Waller has practiced martial arts for most of his life and is a professionally qualified teacher.

• 40 years martial arts experience
• 20 years Master/disciple relationship with Tai Chi Master Peter Southwood
• 50,000 hours of tai chi training behind him
(10 years being full-time study)• Teaching tai chi since 1995
• 2 lineage disciples



The fundamental exercises teach simple whole-body habits.
Students should train the basic qigong - both standing and moving - thoroughly enough for the habit to take hold.

Train more; and the habit will come sooner.
Train less; and more patience is necessary.
This is why home training is important for supreme ultimate fist and 8 trigrams palm.

Tai chi chuan instructors

A tai chi chuan instructor needs at least 10 years of experience and a serious commitment to home practice.
Martial instructors must show clear evidence of ability in all
8 areas of skill.

An expert has 20 years study and 10,000 hours of practice.

A master should have 30-40 years martial arts experience, with at least 30,000 hours of tai chi practice.
They are capable of teaching other instructors.

A grandmaster must have taught an extensive number of high-level instructors.
They would be in a position of significant responsibility within a school and have influence within the wider tai chi/martial arts community.


Peter Southwood's tips #21Thoughtful

Make any gift relativistic; the size is determined by intention/purpose.
A gift demonstrates sincerity more significantly than words do.
Be thoughtful.

Internal martial arts

The inner school of martial arts practice is called 'neijiaquan'.

To learn the internal arts, a student must stop using force, stop blocking, struggling and tensing-up.
They must cultivate balance, rhythm, timing, sensitivity and stickiness.
And remain calm.

Instead of force, the internal arts employ whole-body strength and a different kind of striking power (jing).
These systems are more difficult to learn than the external arts, but are far kinder to the body.
Physical, emotional and mental health are as important as combat skill.
There is no competition, aggression or macho behaviour.

Indications of internal skill

Internal skills:
  1. Ease
  2. Grace
  3. Acuity
  4. Playful
  5. Circular
  6. Subtlety
  7. Softness
  8. Sensitivity
  9. Nimbleness
  10. Appropriateness
  11. Whole-body movement
  12. Less effort to greater effect
  13. Significant degree of composure in combat
  14. Spontaneous combat skills against unrehearsed attacks
  15. Clear competence with chin na (7 skills), jing and shuai jiao
  16. The ability to apply all aspects of the art (forms, drills & skills) in a thorough & convincing manner
These qualities indicate an internal approach.


Historically speaking

In the movie El Dorado, James Caan cannot shoot a gun with any skill.
John Wayne solves the problem by giving him was is essentially a sawn-off shotgun.
He matched the weapon to the user.

In Chinese martial arts, students have always used weapons that suited their art, their temperament, their strength and their abilities.
I once read Yang Jwing-Ming's book on ancient Chinese weapons, and there are literally dozens of variations of every conceivable weapon.

Something for everyone?



External martial arts

Most martial arts are 'external':

• Rely upon the use of strength, speed and muscular tension
• Using the arms independently of the body
• Favours the younger student
• Competition or self defence
• Physically demanding
• Force against force
• Uses aggression

External arts are considered to be the outer school of martial arts study.



Our modern Western society applauds arrogance.
Humility and patience are no longer seen as being necessary or virtuous.  
Everybody wants to have their say.
This is naive.

In Asia it is considered highly inappropriate to question the teacher at all.
The student patiently listens and then they practice diligently.
After a number of years (with a few black belts to their name) they may be invited to discuss certain approaches and skills with the instructor.
But there is still humility.
There is always respect.



Why do certain beginners come to class with an ego?It is inexplicable.
They know nothing. They can do nothing. They are stupid enough to think that their opinion matters.
These naive beginners want recognition
For what?If the individual were skilled enough to comment on the approach being taught, they would have their own class and not be seeking tuition.



Partner work, combat drills, form application and self defence work all offer opportunities to become adept at finding the most advantageous relationship.
A student must be capable of demonstrating their competence in a thorough and convincing way against any attack.

The capacity to adapt, change and improvise requires a degree of awareness, presence and spontaneity that will only arise through many years of tuition, experience and practice.