Social events

Social events are important to show that there is more to the class than training once or twice a week. 
They give students the opportunity to meet each other outside of the normal class environment. 
When we’re in the class, we all dress the same and are all focussed on Tai Chi. 

Outside the class each person has a rich and wonderful story to tell. 
By socialising we come to understand the depth that there is to each person in the class. 
Our respect for them grows (if we listen and are open). 

It is also a celebration of what we are studying and achieving together. 

Written by Andy Urwin


Without formal training, the larger and stronger naturally defeat the smaller and weaker. Therefore, a basic premise of training must be that the methods employed should make it possible for the smaller and weaker to defeat the larger and stronger.
(Tim Cartmell)



The uniform puts you in the mood for training, whereas casual clothes will not have the same effect. 
Dressing like a kung fu student encourages you to act like one. 
It ensures a form of discipline and shows that you are taking your training seriously

In practical terms, the uniform was made for tai chi.  It gives the freedom to move as the art requires. 
Written by Andy Urwin



Training in our school is fun, friendly and gently challenging.
Many of the skills seem counter-intuitive.
We will invite you to consider new options, possibilities and choices. To drop long-held


Attitude and etiquette

The presence of attitude and etiquette in the school facilitates safety and efficient teaching. 
They give clarity about how to behave and what is expected in the school. 

This clarity allows people to focus on that is being taught and practiced, rather than how to behave. 

If people were not respectful and not paying attention, then the ability to be taught would be compromised. 
If people are not paying attention, then accidents can occur. 
Insensitive behaviour between students can result in someone feeling the need to “get even” or “teach someone a lesson”. 

Without a framework of attitude and etiquette, our safety and ability to be taught would be diminished. 

Written by Andy Urwin



Self defence training begins with the fundamentals of effective body use and slowly moves through different levels of threat.
Escaping from holds, evading and
counter-attacking are preliminary concerns.
Eventually you must learn how to handle armed assailants and multiple opponents.



Many martial arts classes separate men and women. They even impose weight categories.
In real life you cannot choose who will
attack you.
In order to cope with a male attacker, women's
self defence must address attacks from both men and women.



I came across a style of tai chi today called 'shibashi' which I'd never heard of. On deeper reading it was apparent that this is not a style of tai chi at all but rather a form of qigong that people are calling tai chi. Confused? So was I.

Apparently many of the teachers gain their experience via DVDs and on-line training courses. Great.


Manners are a framework of norms that have been developed by a social group. 
They are meant to smooth interactions and reduce misunderstandings between people. 
Different social groups have developed their own framework of manners, based on their situation and their needs. 
This can be a problem when two groups interact, as what is normal for one social group may be insulting to another. 
For example:
-          Sitting with your legs crossed is normal for a westerner. 
It would upset someone from the east, as you are pointing the sole of your foot (very dirty) towards them. 
-          In the UK grief is expressed by the colour black; in China, white. 
-          In the east, flicking the hand backwards and forwards with the fingers pointing downwards means “come here”. 
In the west it means “go away”. 
-          In Japan, “Yes” may mean
                “Yes, I agree with you”,
                “Yes, I have heard what you say, but do not agree with you” or
                “Yes, I will have to go and talk to my boss about this” (and many more possibilities). 
This can be very confusing for westerners. 
Even within a single social group, manners may depend on the situation. 
-          What is acceptable behaviour at a social gathering may not be acceptable in a place of worship. 
-          It may be acceptable to talk while watching a film on the TV at home, but not in a cinema. 
-          Your attitude towards your boss at work may be different to that at your office Christmas party.
Humans interpret their environment based on the “filters” they have built up during their development.
Our manners become “normalised” and even unconscious behaviour. 
We see things as we are. 
Because of this, problems can arise in two ways:
o    Acting in a way that is normal (for us), but is improper or offensive for those from a different background.  
Others can see us as being “rude”. 
o    Misinterpretation or misunderstanding of another groups behaviours, as we do not understand what is going on. 
We can see them as being “rude”.
Initially, some tolerance towards the behaviours of another person or group is beneficial. 
Any slight or transgression of the social norms are probably due to ignorance. 
Over time, however, a person in an alien environment would be expected to learn the social norms of the host group. 
In situations where you are aware that your socialised manners may be at odds with the situation that you are in or the people you are with, it is often best to be careful with your words and gestures, and observe how other people behave.  Ask questions if you are not sure, as people are often happy to answer your questions, as it show that you are taking an interest in them and their culture. 

Written by Andy Urwin



The side effects of unpleasant situations are fear and panic. These immobilise the body and prevent clear thinking.
Self defence training encourages composure and mental
Instead of feeling vulnerable and exposed, you become integrated and focussed.



The ability to defend yourself is important in modern society.
There are many ugly situations in which conflict may arise.
Having the confidence and the skills to handle aggression, bullying and violence is invaluable


Size and strength do not necessarily determine a person's ability to defend themselves - small women have been known to successfully fight off a bigger and stronger attacker. Many women are fitter, brighter and quicker than their male counterparts.
(Barry Davies, SAS)



When you see a bully for what they really are, you will come to find them embarrassing.
A bully is a weak, insecure person, desperate to feel strong about themselves.
Instead of looking for strength within, they lash out at others and rely upon fear for power.

When you give them humour and pity rather than fear, the bully has no
If a bully were genuinely
strong, they would have nothing to prove. They need you to validate them.



We do not permit bullies in our classes.
Students are chastened for clumsy/careless/forceful application of the
kung fu.
Any outright bullying will result in an appropriate response and potential banishment from the school.

Bullies are weak people and we only want students of good character.


Lineage disciple

Master Waller actively dissuades any student from seeking to become a lineage disciple.
The obligation is not for the half-hearted.

If the student is neglectful with their training and commitments, they will no longer be an indoor student.



Harassment is a common form of bullying. It can involve:
  1. Any unwanted persistent sexual advances (physical or verbal)
  2. Racist, sexist, homophobic, insulting remarks, jokes, malicious gossip, banter, innuendo, swearing, name calling
  3. Being excluded from activities
  4. Abuse of power or position
  5. Manipulative questioning: damned if you do/damned if you don't


The effect of bullying

Bullying makes the recipient feel threatened, humiliated and vulnerable.
It may cause them to be de-motivated, suffer
stress-related illness and even resign from work.

The victim feels
disempowered, frustrated, ashamed, embarrassed and helpless.
Often they do not know who to turn to.


Passive bullying

A passive bully is a very sneaky kind of bully.
They manipulate the recipient by non-confrontational means: feigned vulnerability, emotional displays and mood swings.
Sex can be used as a tool by such people.
Casual flirtation and pretending to be your friend are common methods of passive bullying.

Passive bullies are especially insidious because they project an image of weakness and frailty.
They appear to be the victim but are actually the instigator.

A passive bully will make you feel as though you are letting them down or even letting yourself down.
They are experts at looking harassed, upset and victimised.



Families are notoriously guilty of bullying.
They employ a wide variety of devices intended to manipulate the recipient and often involve other family members in the endeavour.

In a marriage/intimate relationship it is very common for the bullying to be an ingrained part of the relationship.
The bullying is so pervasive that the participants no longer see it as such.
They live in a situation of ongoing low-key domestic abuse.


Adult bullying

Adult bullying can take many forms:
  1. Verbal, written or physical threat and intimidation
  2. Persistent, negative and unjustified comments
  3. Offensive or abusive personal remarks
  4. Abuse and humiliation in the presence of other colleagues or in private
  5. Removing areas of responsibility without justification and undervaluing work done
  6. Setting the individual unachievable targets and/or changing instructions without consultation in order to cause the individual to fail
  7. Reducing a colleagues effectiveness by withholding important information
  8. Monitoring work unnecessarily and intrusively
  9. Continually refusing reasonable requests without any justification
  10. Unfair allocation of work


We walk, and our religion is shown (even to the dullest and most insensitive person) in how we walk. Or to put it more accurately, living in this world means choosing, choosing to walk, and the way we choose to walk is infallibly and perfectly expressed in the walk itself. Nothing can disguise it. The walk of an ordinary man and of an enlightened man are as different as that of a snake and a giraffe.
(R.H. Blyth)


Why do tai chi?

Karen has done something that answers this question.
When she first started class, Karen's arms were suffering from repetitive strain injury. This was the result of her job.
The joints were stiff, immobile and insensitive.

By working closely with Master Waller, being mindful at work and doing tai chi exercises at home, Karen has managed to totally free up her joints, release tension and ease the discomfort.
The positive effects will persist as long as she continues the ongoing treatment.

Karen and Master Waller are now working to release tension in the sacroiliac, lower back and buttocks. Given the success of Karen's work on her arms, they are very optimistic.

Why do tai chi?
To improve the quality of your life.


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

More than combat

Tai chi chuan is not simply a highly sophisticated, intelligent martial art.
It offers so much more:

• A way to use millennia old Chinese 
wisdom in everyday life   
• An unusual form of 
strength that requires only moderate practice to maintain
• Emotional composure in the face of confrontation and crisis 
• The 
release of deeply-held muscular tension    
Philosophical study involving some of the most influential books ever written  
• A NHS endorsed physical therapy suitable for many medical conditions
• Boost 
• Improve balance
 Ease neck, knee, elbow and back problems


What exactly is bullying?

Bullying happens when one person takes it upon themselves to victimise another.
Typically bullying involves persistent, threatening, abusive, malicious, intimidating and insulting behaviour.
It is intended to undermine the confidence and self-esteem of the recipient.

Particularly serious cases can arise when the bully is perceived to be in a position of power in relation to the person being bullied.
People at birth
are soft and supple;
At death,
they are hard and stiff.

When plants are alive,
they are green and bending;
When they are dead,
they are dry and brittle.

Soft and bending is the way of the living;
Hard and brittle is the way of the dying.
(Lao Tzu)


Childhood's end?

Many children are the victims of bullying whilst at school.
As adults we assume that the bullying is over as soon as we leave school and commence work.
Sadly, this is not the case at all.

Bullying occurs in many forms and in many situations.


 When asked how he overcame his opponents,
Hadrat Ali explained,
"I never met any man who did not help me against himself."

(Hadrat Ali)



A student mentioned to Sifu that he wasn't to confident with his shuai jiao & chin na applications.
He knew the drill but couldn't pull it off effectively or consistently.

I have experienced this myself and can tell you that the only solution is 'practice'.
Nothing replaces practice.
Once you've done the same drill hundreds of times it becomes second nature and your skill increases significantly.
You learn better timing, positioning and leverage.

For example: At home Sifu drills the shuai jiao & chin na applications solo in order to improve memory and spatial awareness.
10 per day for 7 days.
He also partners them weekly with me.
This combines 2 effective methods for gaining familiarity: solo & partnered.

Be patient with yourself - the skills will come.
You just need to put in the practice.


Confusion about yielding

If taoism is the art of adjusting to life, then tai chi chuan is the art of adjusting to the opponent.
This process of adjustment is what yielding is about.
Balancing, sensitivity, change.

Yielding is concerned with not opposing force, making space... and then counter-attacking.

Having made space, you must incapacitate your attacker. Yielding is only half of the requirement.
Unless you neutralise the attacker, they will continue to assault you.
Step-in decisively and finish-off the attacker.


Internal way

The internal way of using strength has some basic considerations:
  1. Never employ force against force; always yield to strength
  2. No more than 4 ounces of pressure should be exerted upon your body or expressed by you
  3. Each movement should be a whole-body movement
  4. Unite internally using neigong yet remain soft, pliable and yielding
  5. You can transmit strength via groundpath
  6. Intention can unite mind and body into one focussed unit
People read these points and feel dissatisfied, as though some crucial part was missing.
You must remain calm and composed, relaxed and easy.


Internal skill

Internal skill is subtle.
It takes decades of time, understanding and training to cultivate: this is why so many people go astray.

The visible outward signs are small. Most of the work takes place within the body. The movements are smaller, less obvious.

As the student's skill improves, the physicality of the tai chi chuan diminishes.
The frame serves to supplement the mind.
A more subtle physical expression is now possible.

Partner drills and form application teach the student how to minimalise their movements.
Balance, timing, structure, softness and mind combine to create the desired outcome: a twitch instead of an arc.

Partner work