Taoism teaches us that a singer who sings well should take no credit for their abilities.
It is simply what they are able to do.

A skilled tai chi person should not be impressed with their own ability.
It is simply within their capacity.

Being good at something is one thing. Letting it go to your head is something else entirely.




People pay more money to train with a tai chi master.
They buy
videos, books and attend workshops on the strength of the prefix 'master'.

An instructor should not use the idea of 'mastery' to market themselves.

Rachel Waller


Higher-level Instructor

Most tai chi instructors are Tai Chi Exercise Teachers.
Very few can teach tai chi chuan; the martial art.

Instructors with greater skill are less common in the UK:
  1. Tai Chi Expert
    - 20 years tai chi chuan study
    - 10 years teaching experience
    - 10,000 hours of practice
    - extensive, versatile combat skills
    - form (stage 2): Yang Cheng Fu, sabre, cane, staff, walking stick, jian, pao chui (or equivalents)
    - form (stage 3): Yang Cheng Fu
  2. Tai Chi Master
    - 30-40 years martial arts experience
    - 20 years teaching experience
    30,000 hours of tai chi practice
    - all forms (stage 5)
    capable of teaching other Instructors
  3. Tai Chi Grandmaster
    - must have taught an extensive number of Instructors
    - be in a position of significant responsibility within a school
    - have influence within the wider tai chi/martial arts community

Rachel Waller



Maestros and so-called geniuses are people who have given themselves over to their art.
They have set aside their arrogance and their ego.
By embracing the teachings of their art, they have transcended mediocrity and truly gained skill.
Instead of forcing a result, or willing a conclusion, the person has sublimated their sense of 'self'.
The individual has become one with the art.

You cannot gain real skill by trying to control the art.
Instead, you must surrender to it.
You must let go.

In a very real sense, you do not master the art. It masters you.


Bagua palm changes


Calming the mind

There are various meditation practices in tai chi.
They are all designed to bring your mind back to the immediate moment rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about potential future events.

As the mind becomes increasingly calm, you become more focussed, more deliberate.
You pay attention to what you are doing.
Fewer mistakes occur. 

Take downs



The zen scholar Ikkyu was once given a certificate by his teacher Kaso.
The document confirmed his enlightenment and would enable him to make a profit through his teachings.

Ikkyu tore up the document, claiming that it was meaningless.
He was contemptuous of the profiteering and corruption common in zen monasteries at the time.

Tai chi outdoor practice



Corrections are not criticism.
The master 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.

Jesmond Dene