Wrong means = wrong end

The body, freed of tension, should reach a condition where the joints move freely.
Only then is the body loose enough for fa jing.
You must be sufficiently attuned to your own movements to feel when and how fa jing can be generated.

Some students are not patient enough and use force.
A common mistake is to use the pelvis and hips rather than the combined muscles of the entire body.
People become adept at rapid pelvic turns or abrupt shunts of force.
These are quite strong but they are not fa jing.
They tend to create a residual pattern of tension within the body.

Fa jing is like a wave, rippling up from the ground, through your hand and into the opponent.
Instead of using the hips and pelvis, you should use the spiralling of the legs, the opening and closing of the spine and the movement of the centre.
It is said that soon after his enlightenment the Buddha passed a man on the road who struck by the Buddha's extraordinary radiance and peaceful presence.
The man stopped and asked, "My friend, what are you? Are you a celestial being or a god?"
"No, " said the Buddha.
"Well, then, are you some kind of magician or wizard?"
Again the Buddha answered, "No."
"Are you a man".
"Well, my friend, then what are you?"
The Buddha replied, "I am awake."


WE HAD DRIVEN through heavy traffic, and presently we turned off the main road into a sheltered lane. Leaving the car, we followed a path that wove through palm groves and along a field of green ripening rice. How lovely was that long, curving rice field, bordered by the tall palms! It was a cool evening, and a breeze was stirring among the trees with their heavy foliage. Unexpectedly, round a bend, there was a lake. It was long, narrow and deep, and on both sides of it the palms stood so close together as to be almost impenetrable. The breeze was playing with the water, and there was murmuring along the shore. Some boys were bathing, naked, unashamed and free. Their bodies were glistening and beautiful, well formed, slender and supple. They would swim out into the middle of the lake, then come back and start again. The path led on past a village, and on the way back the full moon made deep shadows; the boys had gone, the moonlight was upon the waters, and the palms were like white columns in the shadowy dark.


12 weeks

Harvard Medical School reports that most tai chi medical trials last at least 12 weeks. They involve instruction once or twice a week supplemented with home practice.
By the end of the trial, most participants experienced an improvement in health.

This highlights a major consideration for new starters; it can take some weeks for the health benefits to occur.



If you regard your body as being a channel for the transmission of energy, you can start to understand what taijiquan striking involves. 
You do not punch or kick using local muscle groups.

The energy is transferred from the ground, passing through your frame and out into the opponent.
Your limb is simply the part that makes contact with the opponent.


Opening & closing

The fa jing release of energy is akin to a sneeze; the entire body opening and closing in an instant.

In self defence practice, we cannot use fa jing on one another with full power. The outcome is too unpredictable.
Gentle release is fine for demonstrations, but not too often.
Typically, we use soft target pads and sticks for fa jing practice.


When we attack with the internal energy,
we are not attacking with the left or right hand,
but with a line of energy that originates in the foot,
is channelled through the legs, waist and back,
and only emerges from the hand.

(Wolfe Lowenthal) 


Where does the power come from?

A practitioner learns how to generate an undulation wave.
This is passed throughout your entire structure, storing and releasing kinetic energy.
We develop this wave by learning whole-body movement. Every strike involves every body part moving as one.

skill cannot be attained by tensing the muscles or trying hard.
Only when the body has augmented itself with neigong will fa jing emerge without effort.
You need to be soft and relaxed.
You need to let go of your tension.


Long-term benefits

In order to sustain the healthy effects of tai chi practice a student should commit to on-going practice with a qualified instructor.


IT HAD STOPPED raining; the roads were clean, and the dust had been washed from the trees. The earth was refreshed, and the frogs were loud in the pond; they were big, and their throats were swollen with pleasure. The grass was sparkling with tiny drops of water, and there was peace in the land after the heavy downpour. The cattle were soaking wet, but during the rain they never took shelter, and now they were contentedly grazing. Some boys were playing in the little stream that the rain had made by the road side; they were naked, and it was good to see their shining bodies and their bright eyes. They were having the time of their life, and how happy they were! Nothing else mattered, and they smiled out of joy as one said something to them, though they didn't understand a word. The sun was coming out and the shadows were deep. How necessary it is for the mind to purge itself of all thought, to be constantly empty, not made empty, but simply empty; to die to all thought, to all of yesterday's memories, and to the coming hour! It is simple to die, and it is hard to continue; for continuity is effort to be or not to be. Effort is desire, and desire can die only when the mind ceases to acquire. How simple it is just to live! But it is not stagnation. There is great happiness in not wanting, in not being something, in not going somewhere. When the mind purges itself of all thought, only then is there the silence of creation. The mind is not tranquil as long as it is travelling in order to arrive. For the mind, to arrive is to succeed, and success is ever the same, whether at the beginning or at the end. There is no purgation of the mind if it is weaving the pattern of its own becoming.


Types of jing

It is necessary to differentiate clearly between the types of jing at your disposal.
Without such knowledge, how are you going to fa jing?
Energy release without focus is random and clumsy.
There is a distinct difference between each jing.

You must be conscious of the quality/nature/essence of the jing you intend to utilise.
Movement begins with intention.

Summary of prices

Qigong (1 hour) £5
Qigong & tai chi (1½ hours) £7.50
Qigong & tai chi (2 hours) £10
3 week induction course £20
Private lesson (1 hour) £40
Workshop (1½ hours) £10
DVD £20
Membership (optional) £40/month 



Performing applications in thin air is no good. It proves nothing. 
Striking target pads and bags are also unrepresentative.
Nothing compares to striking an actual person.

You may appear to have wonderful form and effecting-seeming self defence skills but it will all fall to pieces if your strikes are worthless.

You need to feel what happens when you physically strike somebody.
Do you feel a jarring, unpleasant jolt upon impact? Adverse feedback up your arm and into your neck?
Did the blow have the intended effect? Were you hurt yourself?

Hitting another person skilfully may not be as easy as you imagine.

Self defence

Most people aren't interested in learning to defend themselves anymore. Many think that attitude alone will do it. Has the world suddenly become tame and safe?


Soft power

Fa jing is not hard, it is soft. The effect is hard, not the means itself.

No more than 4 ounces of pressure is applied and the moment of delivery is a split-second.
You do not have time to tense the hand.
The hand (and body) must close by itself on impact, then instantly re-open again.
Conscious strength ruins any chance you have at using fa jing, so just relax.
Be patient.

When you deliver fa jing into a focus mitt or target pad it will pass through the body and into the ground. 
It may cause the floorboards to resonate.


Hocus pocus?

There is nothing mystical or unscientific about fa jing.
Despite the exotic Chinese name, it is simply a question of body mechanics, gravity, distance and timing.
It will not develop overnight but the seeds should emerge as the student becomes increasingly adept.

Qigong stages

A new starter usually commences class with muscular tension, poor bodily awareness and incorrect skeletal usage.
They cannot reasonably perform qigong well.
It is necessary to work through clear stages of development:
  1. Stage 1
    - this is what the student starts with
    - it reflects their initial capacity to perform each exercise
    - a crude sense of the qigong is gained
    - the aim is to acquire a sense of each exercise
  2. Stage 2
    - the onus is upon relaxation of the muscles in order to drop the shoulders, elbows & wrists, and free the hips, sacroiliac, scapula, knees, vertebrae, neck, chest & ankles
    - the hips, back and chest are opened and expanded
    - functional alignment is established between key joints in order to rely on postural muscles for strength
    - coordination of weight shift, waist turn and arm movement 
    - the student reaches to 50% of capacity
    - the health benefits are increased notably

  3. Stage 3
    - stretching takes place without straining the joints or provoking muscular tension
    - the muscles are encouraged to perform a more demanding, diverse range of actions
    - the body lengthens
    - the pelvis is stabilised
    - the tendons, ligaments and fascia are stretched
    - the feet are always shoulder-width apart from one another
    - the student reaches to 70% of capacity
    - all actions tie into the centre
    - the purpose of each qigong must be considered
    - strength, martial utility and health benefits are amplified considerably

  4. Stage 4
    - subtle neigong qualities are now incorporated into the qigong exercises
    - the exercises are dismantled in order to fully understand how and why they work
    - advanced biomechanical features are explored thoroughly
Each stage is significantly more demanding than the previous one and there are no shortcuts.
Seeking to force a result will lead to injury and incorrect practice.
The body needs time to re-grow and change, the nervous system must be attuned, and the mind settled.


One size fits all?

All things being equal, anyone should be physically capable of performing any tai chi movement from any style of tai chi.
In reality, things are not equal, and a twenty year old person with a supple body can usually manage postures that a
forty year old could not.
It is important to train tai chi relative to your own individual level of condition.


Where is the class?

Monday night.
Community Hall, St Andrew's Church, Station Road, Benton, NE12 8AW

6:30 PM start

Qigong (1 hour) £5
Qigong & tai chi (2 hours) £10

7:00 PM start

Qigong & tai chi (1½ hours) £7.50
3 week induction course £20

How old do you need to be?

The minimum age is 18.

What should you wear for class?

Wear loose, comfortable clothing and flat shoes.

Bring some water

There are 2 short breaks during the evening.
Please bring bottled water to drink.

Closed bank holidays

We do not open on Bank Holidays.


There is irrefutable evidence that exercise benefits most aspects of health.
Exercise is an essential part of therapeutic approach for arthritis.
Pain and stiffness of the joints tend to discourage patients from exercising.
However without exercise, joints can become even more stiff and painful.
This happens because exercise actually keeps bones, muscles and joints healthy.
It is important to keep muscles as strong as possible because the stronger the muscles and tissues around joints are, the better they will be able to support and protect those joints.
If people do not exercise, their muscles become weaker,
and their bones can become osteoporotic.
Exercise pumps blood and body fluid through to the muscles, tendons and the joints,
which will facilitate healing.

(Dr Paul Lam)


Fa jing

Fa jing is the main method of striking in taijiquan: fuelling punches, palms, elbows, kicks and chin na.
It is the medium by which kinetic energy is transmitted from one body to another.

However, fa jing is not the energy itself.
It is the means by which the energy is delivered: the body mechanics which produce this outcome.

In a 2008 Stanford University experiment taijiquan master Chen Xiang generated a force 14 times his body weight when striking.
0-60 mph in less than 3 seconds.


Scheme of work

Having a syllabus is one thing.
Working through it methodically is something else.

We follow a carefully designed 'scheme of work' that takes the student step-by-step through every skill.
The material is systematically and sequentially explored.
There is a city by the magnificent river; wide and long steps lead down to the water's edge, and the world seems to live on those steps. From early morning till well after dark, they are always crowded and noisy; almost level with the water are little projecting steps on which people sit and are lost in their hopes and longings, in their gods and chants. The temple bells are ringing, the muezzin is calling; someone is singing, and a huge crowd has gathered, listening in appreciative silence. Beyond all this, round the bend and higher up the river, there is a pile of buildings. With their avenues of trees and wide roads, they stretch several miles inland; and along the river, through a narrow and dirty lane, one enters into this scattered field of learning. So many students from all over the country are there, eager, active and noisy. The teachers are pompous, intriguing for better positions and salaries. No one seems to be greatly concerned with what happens to the students after they leave. The teachers impart certain knowledge and techniques which the clever ones quickly absorb; and when they graduate, that is that. The teachers have assured jobs, they have families and security; but when the students leave, they have to face the turmoil and the insecurity of life. There are such buildings, such teachers and students all over the land. Some students achieve fame and position in the world; others breed, struggle and die. The State wants competent technicians, administrators to guide and to rule; and there is always the army, the church, and business. All the world over, it is the same.


Those who lack wisdom are convinced that they are truly awake;
they think they understand what is happening;
they think that the king is really the king,
and the servants are really servants.

(Chuang Tzu)

Day-to-day health

Tai chi for health was designed to renew and refresh your body on a daily basis.
You unkink those unpleasant aches and pains, stiff muscles and sore joints. You gently, softly encourage your body to move freely and comfortably.

Instead of hammering and punishing your body, you treat it with respect and care. Your body must last you a lifetime.

The key to home practice is to do it little and often.



One theme that Master Waller has been talking about with female self defence students is the idea of being taught to 'betray ourselves'.

Consider school or work:
Our body says that it is uncomfortable. Our minds are bored.
Yet, we are told to remain motionless and endure.
We know we don't want to be there but we are are forced to remain.
Always at our own expense.
The damage to the body is small but incremental.

In many facets of life we are conditioned to suppress our genuine, natural, healthy responses in favour of somebody else's agenda.
This is one reason why the tai chi and self defence in our school puts such emphasis upon healthy, comfortable body use and easy, familiar-seeming martial arts responses rather than blocky, confrontational options.    


Beware of amateurs...

Tai chi for health is great providing it is taught with integrity.
It is a sad truth that most tai chi for health teachers are not professionals. They are often well-meaning amateurs potentially doing more harm than good.
Be cautious.

Find out more about the art for yourself. Gain some measure of understanding before attending a class.
Ask the teacher about the style being taught, the methodology behind their teaching.
Ask to see their syllabus.


THEY WERE CHANTING in the temple. It was a clean temple of carved stone, massive and indestructible. There were over thirty priests, naked to the waist; their pronunciation of the Sanskrit was precise and distinct, and they knew the meaning of the chant. The depth and sound of the words made those walls and pillars almost tremble, and instinctively the group that was there became silent. The creation, the beginning of the world was being chanted, and how man was brought forth. The people had closed their eyes, and the chant was producing a pleasant disturbance: nostalgic remembrances of their childhood, thoughts of the progress they had made since those youthful days, the strange effect of Sanskrit words, delight in hearing the chant again. Some were repeating the chant to themselves, and their lips were moving. The atmosphere was getting charged with strong emotions, but the priests went on with the chant and the gods remained silent.

Starting your day with tai chi

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

• Alert
• Relaxed
• Warm
• Composed

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

Remember: in order to get the benefits of taijiquan you need to practice the art...



Picture a room filled with TVs all tuned in to different channels, all turned up loud...
The noise is distracting and the images overwhelming.
Try having a conversation in that room.
Try learning something.
Try paying attention to your own body.
Not so easy.
Yet, this is what most people's minds are like...
To use room of TVs as an example, meditation is about switching them off.
Once the noise is quiet, the mind is no longer filled with pointless distractions and the brain operates more effectively.
Constructive rest, formal meditation - guided (via a CD) or solo, and suggested reading (see reading list) can calm the mind.
They will help to quieten the mind.
If you invest the time.
A quiet mind is more physically aware.
You think more clearly and decisively.
Physical awareness amplifies.
You talk more slowly.
Distractions are less intrusive.
This is a good time for you to learn a new skill.


Lineage opportunity

We are offering an opportunity and nothing more.

Does your taijiquan qualify as 'kung fu'?

This is a good question.
It really depends on how the art is practiced and how much time you commit to practice.

Although most taijiquan students train kung fu skills, they cannot honestly claim to be a kung fu student.
Kung fu literally means 'hard work'.
A kung fu student attends class 2-3 times a week and trains anywhere between 1-4 hours a day at home.
This may be regarded as a serious commitment to gaining and refining martial skill.

Most taijiquan students seek a milder degree of commitment; perhaps training once a week in class and maybe doing a little training at home.
They are likely to gain credible and effective self defence skills, but they are not demonstrating a kung fu approach to training.


Tai chi chuan training

Most people don't realise that tai chi started life as a martial art...
150 years ago tai chi chuan was the pinnacle of the Chinese martial arts.
Hard to believe?

Tai chi chuan is only taught to students who join the school:

• Kung fu (combat)
• Self defence
• Weapons
• Qigong (energy work)
• Neigong (whole-body strength)
• Forms
• Pushing hands
• Meditation
• Theory & philosophy
• Chin na (seizing)
• Shuai jiao (take downs)
• Jing
• Form applications
• Kicks, punches, palm strikes
• Finger strikes, elbows, knees
• Accuracy
• Evasive footwork
• Optimal use of alignment
• Minimal movement
• Conservation of energy
• Defence against a knife
• Multiple opponents/gangs
• Joint locks
• Trapping
• Focus
• Stickiness
• Physical sensitivity and awareness
• Balance, rhythm and timing
• Throws
• Escape from holds
• Close-range combat
• Grappling
• Defence whilst on the floor


Do not use tension

As soon as you use tension, you have failed.
Even if you eventually prevail, it has cost you an unnecessary amount of effort and is not taijiquan.

Correct use of alignment, timing, pressure and positioning will enable you to skilfully defend yourself.



In a tai chi class, a qualified master with decades of experience is overseeing your progress.
This means that faults in body use will be identified and gently corrected.

Bad physical habits can be slowly removed and replaced with healthy, intelligent alternatives.
Small errors will continually emerge and these too can be curtailed.
New, stimulating skills and insights ensure continued enthusiasm and curiosity.


Do not rush

When you lack composure, you are easily startled.
This leads to hurrying. And anxiety.

Instead of patiently waiting to see what unravels, you dither, hesitate and anticipate.

Rushing indicates a lack of competence.
It is obvious that the student has not put in the practice.

When you rush, you force.
Forcing causes your opponent's nervous system to inadvertently tense-up in reaction to your urgency.
This alerts them to your intention and makes them harder to manipulate.


Body building and weight lifting are fashionable activities today. The emphasis is upon developing external muscles which creates an armouring effect that can eventually distort the bony structure. It is the over developed musculature that actually torque's the bones and discourages them from bearing additional weight. The body attempts to compensate and problems arise.

Running does not necessarily in and of itself improve posture that is already poor and constricted. It often exaggerates problems due to the substitution of inappropriate muscles. The repetitive inappropriate development of the musculature (as in body building or weight lifting) often leads to diminished sensitivity. Stress occurs in the knees and lower back, encouraging injury.

Swimming is an activity that can either create structural problems or release them depending upon the way it is taught and practiced. Professional swimmers are known to develop shoulder tendonitis and kyphosis. Overriding head/neck righting reflexes (as occurs when the head is repeatedly turned but the body does not follow) eventually result in overdeveloping shoulder muscles, pinching nerves and distorting the rib cage.

Various sport activities emphasize 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.
(Liz Koch)


Tear & repair mentality

The drawback of sport and mainstream exercise is that the emphasis is not upon good body use, optimal alignment, emotional, physical and psychological wellbeing.
The onus is upon the outcome rather than the process involved.
There is the pressure to win, to succeed, to perform, to be the best. Or to look good; muscular, trim or sexy.
People push themselves and the body can suffer.

Seeking to repair the body afterwards is not as smart as avoiding injury in the first place.


A tonic

Taijiquan is not going to fix you up. It was never intended (or designed) to be something employed for repair. At best, it may be seen as a tonic.
A tonic is a medicine taken daily in order to maintain and invigorate the body.It may significantly improve your health.
However, you should take note of the small print, the conditions of use:

  1. It must be administered every day 
  2. When you stop taking it, the health benefits go away
This is something to really think about. Re-read the paragraph if you need to.


Stay calm

If you lack composure, you will not see what is right in front of you.
Being calm is utterly essential.
You need to remain detached, emotionally aware and at ease.

This is the real reason why beginners practice 'escapes'.


A young boy travelled across Japan to the school of a famous martial artist.
When he arrived at the dojo he was given an audience by the sensei.

"What do you wish from me?" the master asked.

"I wish to be your student and become the finest karateka in the land," the boy replied.
"How long must I study?"

"Ten years at least," the master answered.

"Ten years is a long time," said the boy.
"What if I studied twice as hard as all your other students?"

"Twenty years," replied the master.

"Twenty years! What if I practice day and night with all my effort?"

"Thirty years," was the master's reply.

"How is it that each time I say I will work harder, you tell me that it will take longer?" the boy asked.

"The answer is clear. When one eye is fixed upon your destination, there is only one eye left with which to find the way."

(Joe Hyams)


Partner work

There are three rules in partner work:
  1. Stay calm
  2. Do not rush
  3. Do not use tension
If you ignore these, your taijiquan simply will not work. Try as you might, nothing will be successful.
Internal taijiquan only works if you follow these basic guidelines without deviation.



Taijiquan encourages the student to exercise with intelligence, to 'listen' to what the body is telling you.

If something feels too heavy, too hard, too taxing... then it is a warning.
If a joint feels sore, then do not ignore it.
If the same injury occurs again and again, you risk long term damage that will eventually affect your
quality of life.

Pain is not something to be fought or ignored.
It is something you must listen to and learn from. It is something you want to avoid experiencing altogether.


Taijiquan skills

Combat sets require the student to apply kung fu skills effectively.
You cannot simply use force and expect success.

The sets are ruthless in their ability to expose faults in your practice.
Only by adhering to their lessons and requirements can the student apply kung fu correctly in combat.


Gaps and deficiencies

It can be quite a shock for a student to find out that their form is actually a mess.
The form may look aesthetically pleasing, yet under pressure it falls apart.

Taoism advocates eating the fruit, not the flower.
The form must be functional, effective and comfortable.
If your structure and movements fail in combat, what exactly are you training when you practice your form?



Sets are derived from the form.
They use movements from the form against an attacker.
Therefore, they also serve to test your skill with form. If your form is imprecise and sloppy, your application will not work.

A combat set provides an opportunity for a student to really tidy-up their form and gain insight into how the form can be used.
Errors that may seem unimportant in solo practice may prove disastrous in partner work.


Be here, right now

If you enter a busy gym, there is usually very loud music designed to 'numb-out' the mind whilst exercising.
This is not wise.

Whenever the body is being used, the mind must be present, aware and alert.
Spacing-out is dangerous.
It can result in poor alignment, exertion and injury.



The partnered exercises in the syllabus are about using the form.

Many of the skills acquired from pushing hands (and the associated exercises) are quite subtle and require significant ongoing practice.
Sensitivity, awareness, stickiness and peng are cultivated patiently.
Such drills are not directly martial.
You could not apply the drills in combat, but you would use the skills taught by the drills.


The 70% rule

The 100% capacity approach is the 'no pain, no gain' attitude to exercise.
It opens you up for strain and injury because you are fully committed (and often forcing) at all times.

Most people exceed their natural range of safe movement frequently throughout the day without realising it.
If you remain well within your limits at all times there is less risk of injury.


Hungry ghosts

The deeper into the lineage training the student progresses, the harder it is for them to return to lessons as a regular student.

Having reneged on promises and failed to live up to expectations (ours and their own), the student is typically tortured by their own demons.
Vanity, ego and pride lead to defensiveness and arrogance.
The student ultimately grows to resent Master Waller and eventually quits the school.

Apply with care...


Little & often

Instead of pushing your body hard and putting it under duress, just do a little exercise.
Keep it mild.
Encourage things to move, to stretch, to flex.

mindful exercise has been found to be more healthy than sustained bursts of hard activity.


Rachel gains 'advanced' instructor membership

Rachel has a black belt in taekwondo, a purple belt in kung fu and now an instructor rank in taijiquan.
Please join me in congratulating Rachel!
This morning Rachel received confirmation from the Tai Chi Union for Great Britain to say that they have awarded her an 'advanced' instructor membership.
Their decision is subject to final approval/ratification at the next general meeting.
Qualifying criteria:
- 5 years as assistant instructor
- taijiquan slow form (regular & mirrored)
- sabre form (regular & mirrored)
- 2-person stick form (regular & mirrored)
- staff form (regular & mirrored)
- walking stick form (regular & mirrored)
- jian form (regular & mirrored)
- qigong (various)
- pushing hands (various)
- meditation (various)
- theory & philosophy
- neigong (various)
- stick drills (20)
- broadsword drills (15)
- self defence
- small san sau, silk arms, penetrating defences
- shuai jiao applications
- chin na applications
- form applications
- baguazhang palm changes (form), circle walking, mother palms, 9 palaces etc
- women's self defence (including syllabus design)
- bag work
- floor work
- self-massage (100)
- tao yin
- psoas exercises
- blog
- creating webpages
- administrating class
- registering new starters
- inducting new starters
- preparing the hall for class
- organising social events
- hosting social events
Rachel is currently working to improve her form, neigong, martial skill (kung fu), along with theory & philosophy.
The TCUGB membership means that Rachel can acquire her own insurance if she wanted to teach students/classes independently.
It also means that our students now have the benefit of 2 qualified instructors in the one training hall.


A couple of days ago, sitting in the train, I read the part about Girl's Night self defence from the information you send me. I laughed out loud a couple of times, people around me wondering what was the matter....

Well, this: apart from the fact that I really like the pointy, dry, kind of merciless humour of the text (is that correct English?), I find the involvement of tights and a real man to work with/on - amazingly convincing. The right ingredients. Together, of course, with the Asian/martial and multi-layered approach. I haven't read or heard anything of this kind before. It inspires me.

It is simply not acceptable that women and girls suffer from men's bad behaviour, in whatever way. It is simply not acceptable that we are kept naive.

I had to Google what Haarlem and surrounding areas had on offer for women's self defence. Most courses are Krav Maga or of the 'tips & tricks'- style. And: nothing for girls!!

I am inspired and thinking... I might have to do something about this. I still have to learn a lot myself, but, who knows - a seed is planted. I let you know.



Medical proof

The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi is one of many reputable records detailing how taijiquan can improve the health of virtually anybody.
Extensive testing around the world suggests that taijiquan is the nearest thing we have to the 'perfect exercise'.

Although the benefits of taijiquan emerge gradually over time, they are significant and long-lasting.
Taijiquan can be practiced throughout most of your life.
I really enjoyed Girl's Night, it was a real eye opener - just seeing those techniques which don't involve much physical strength but are so effective was really empowering. I think you're right, learning how to do it almost 'instinctively' is the aim. A great class; the first time I've actually thought self defence was realistic and possible.

(Karen Laws)


The centre

Neigong movement is initiated by the centre (not by the hips) and entails moving every part of the body as one fluid unit.
This may sound straightforward but involves years of
re-training the muscles.

Ultimately, the joints will do far less work - reducing wear & tear - and the
soft tissue (muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia) do more.
The muscles remain relaxed (not tensed) at all times. 


Tai chi chuan training

Most people don't realise that tai chi started life as a martial art...
150 years ago tai chi chuan was the pinnacle of the Chinese martial arts.
Hard to believe?

Tai chi chuan is only taught to students who join the school:

• Kung fu (combat)
• Self defence
• Weapons
• Qigong (energy work)
• Neigong (whole-body strength)
• Forms
• Pushing hands
• Meditation
• Theory & philosophy
• Chin na (seizing)
• Shuai jiao (take downs)
• Jing
• Form applications
• Kicks, punches, palm strikes
• Finger strikes, elbows, knees
• Accuracy
• Evasive footwork
• Optimal use of alignment
• Minimal movement
• Conservation of energy
• Defence against a knife
• Multiple opponents/gangs
• Joint locks
• Trapping
• Focus
• Stickiness
• Physical sensitivity and awareness
• Balance, rhythm and timing
• Throws
• Escape from holds
• Close-range combat
• Grappling
• Defence whilst on the floor


What do school members get for their money?

• Attend once or twice a week 
• Train up to 2 hours a night

• Fully-differentiated syllabus 
Authentic skills 
• High quality tuition • Professional learning environment

• Extensive range of skills available  • Address individual health concerns & training requirements
• Extremely thorough exploration of the art(s)
• Study new material every week

• Work through the 
full curriculum
• Receive regular corrections, tips & pointers
• Request bespoke tuition

• Access to highly detailed school DVDs
• Discuss taijiquan theory and related philosophies with Master Waller
• Attend workshops, boot camp and class social events
• Advanced level of understanding
• Follows the teachings of the Tai Chi Classics
• Explore
1300 page on-line taijiquan database with guidance from Master Waller


Chinese way

Taijiquan and qigong offer an interesting way to exercise the body.
The work feels to be so mild that it is hard to believe that anything is really happening.

There is no sweating, straining or panting for breath.
There is gain without pain.



Pay-as-you-go students focus upon qigong, form and partner work exercises.
The benefits will affect your everyday life:

• Get fit
• Increase stamina and endurance
• Gain an unusual form of strength 
• Stress-relief 
• A calm mind and composed emotions
• Mobile joints, relaxed muscles and natural movement
• Boost energy
• Improved balance
• Use millennia old Chinese wisdom in everyday life   
• Meditation 
• Confidence and resourcefulness
• Improved skeletal alignment, poise and coordination

The exercises are low impact, do not strain the body and can be practiced by people of all ages.
The training starts simple but becomes more challenging as you progress.

One face for giving and one face for taking

This Chinese saying means that people often perform the right actions and say the right things when they want something.
They are pleasant and polite.

 Yet, when asked for something in return, they are aloof and distant.


Huge risk

Undertaking lineage is a huge risk for a student.
 They are being offered absolutely everything that the master knows and can teach.
 This is wonderful.

 But, if the student fails to uphold their end of the bargain, they are in a bad spot.
 Essentially, they are rejecting the totality of the syllabus.
 Should the student seek to remain with the school, this poses obvious problems.
 Having being offered everything and declined, what now is the student expecting from the master?

 Are they hoping to cherry pick from the syllabus?


What is exercise?

In order to exercise the body a person must work the muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones, nerves and cardiovascular system in a coordinated manner.
There are many different approaches.

The Western way is usually to push and punish the body.
The taoist method is to treat the body with care and respect; to work the body gently and carefully.


I really enjoyed Girl's Night, it was a real eye opener - just seeing those techniques which don't involve much physical strength but are so effective was really empowering. I think you're right, learning how to do it almost 'instinctively' is the aim. A great class; the first time I've actually thought self defence was realistic and possible.
(Karen Laws)


Girl's Night

Rachel has designed a women-specific self defence syllabus which offers realistic scenarios and a wide range of practical skills that work.
Students learn how to intuitively target vulnerable areas on a man's body.
Counter-intuitive but logical, the training methods explore effective ways to 'reverse' dangerous situations.

Learn how to become dominant, rather than the victim.


What is strength?

This is an interesting question.
In the
internal martial arts, the idea of 'strength' encompasses a wide range of physical and mental abilities.
Strength is the ability to
cope, to endure, to sustain, to see alternatives, to move skilfully, to deliver power, to see harmonious options instead of conflictive ones.

kung fu, having strength of character is as important as physical prowess.


Stamina & endurance

Kung fu training is renowned for improving stamina and endurance.
Students can concentrate longer and sustain prolonged physical activity without fatigue.

They gain the ability to withstand hardship and cope with difficulty.


Having looked around for tai chi lessons for mainly health but also martial applications, what I found immediately obvious with Master Waller was the practical "real" teaching. None of the flowery waving arms about, but real scientifically provable methods to aid health and engage martial capability.

In my life free time is in short supply; I want a class where I get value for money and concentrated pure teaching, Newcastle Tai Chi meets both these objectives.


Comparing schools

Martial arts schools may appear to be offering the same arts as one another: tai chi chuan, kung fu, self defence, baguazhang, shuai jiao, chin na, qigong...But are they offering exactly the same arts? Are they teaching the same skills? The same syllabus?No.
Every teacher is different. Every school is different. The chances are that you are not comparing like with like.
What is the school's speciality?
Do they have a detailed syllabus in place?
Is the art authentic?
Can you read
Are they interested in the
philosophical side of the art?
What is the
age group in the class?
Does the school seem to be welcoming and friendly?
Is the school macho?
What is the emphasis: sport/competition/MMA/self defence/traditional teaching?


Don't know something?

Don't know what something means? That is fine, and good. 
See it as an opportunity to grow and expand.

Simply saying that you don't know and then stopping signifies an unwillingness to change, to evolve as a person, surely?

We all encounter things every day that we don't understand or don't know about.
Be curious. 
Expand your horizons.
Dare to grow, to change.
Don't just talk.

Confucius said:

"I do not enlighten those who are not eager to learn, nor arouse those who are not quick to give an explanation themselves.

If I have presented one corner of the square and they cannot come back to me with the other three, I should not go over the points again."

See this as a friendly challenge. An invitation to broaden yourself?

In friendship,

Master Waller

Yoga & tai chi

People sometimes muddle-up tai chi and yoga.
It is common to see yoga postures labelled "tai chi" on Pinterest, Facebook etc.
Such confusion is only possible when a person has studied neither yoga nor tai chi chuan, for the arts are very different indeed.

Yoga is about stretching, balancing and physical unity. Tai chi chuan is a style of kung fu; a martial art.
The differences significantly outweigh any superficial similarities.


Is tai chi easy?

If tai chi feels to be easy, then you have not been training the authentic art.
No form of exercise is easy
If it isn't a challenge, then it isn't exercise. And it sure isn't tai chi.
Tai chi works your body at a greater intensity than your usual level of daily activity.You become fitter and stronger.
As you adapt to meet the demands of the training, the tai chi becomes more difficult; encouraging constant growth and development.  


Is tai chi chuan easy?

Tai chi chuan is a martial art, and martial arts are particularly demanding; requiring the student to significantly increase their strength, agility, endurance and speed.
The challenges are both physical and mental.


Tai chi for free...

A lot of people in the UK expect to learn tai chi for free. In fact, there are a number of teachers who offer free tuition.
It may be worth looking closely at what is on offer:
Are they offering tai chi chuan (martial art), tai chi for health, tai chi-style exercise or qigong?
Is it tai chi for the
over 50's?
When did the teacher start practicing tai chi?
How long has the teacher been offering lessons?
Who did they learn the art from?
Is the school teaching a recognised style of tai chi?
Do they offer the
8 areas of study?
Are you discovering the
essence of the art?

Free does not necessarily mean authentic.
When something has
value, people seldom want to give it away for free.

The perfect exercise

In modern life, time is in short supply and a person wants to get the best possible benefits from any new endeavour they undertake.
Harvard Medical School suggests that taijiquan may indeed be the perfect exercise.
It combines 8 crucial ingredients:

  1. Awareness (including mindfulness & focussed attention)
  2. Embodied spirituality (including philosophy)
These 8 taijiquan components offer a multi-layered approach to the cultivation of health, vitality and wellbeing.
The depth of study available within a bona fide system of taijiquan is incredible; a student can quite literally explore the art for their entire lifetime and still discover new mysteries, secrets and skills.

As a martial art, taijiquan is unparalleled in its sophisticated biomechanics, diversity of combat skills and variety of application.



Sport can be significantly more expensive than martial arts training. And sometimes cheaper too.

How much does the clothing cost?
How much are running/training shoes?
Gym membership?
Pilates lessons?
Personal trainer?
A season ticket?

As with all things, the cost of something is relative to what you think is appropriate and what you are prepared/willing to pay...