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...



Martial arts lessons typically involve a range of expenses. Some are obvious, some are not.
Usually you should expect to pay for some (or all) of these items:

  1. Monthly tuition fees
  2. Annual membership
  3. Quarterly grading
  4. Affiliation with a third party organisation/federation
  5. Insurance
  6. Licence
  7. Competitions
  8. Uniform
  9. Patches/badges
  10. Equipment/weaponry
  11. Instructional DVDs
  12. Books/training manuals

Many classes expect new students to buy a uniform within a month of starting a class. The new starter is often asked to pay annual membership, insurance and commit to a monthly standing order.


Fa jing

14 times his body weight. Really think about that...
Let's assume he weighs at least 10 stones.

10 stones x 14 = 140 stones.


Lineage disciple

It is very common for tai chi students to imagine that private lessons and long-term practice with an instructor guarantees receipt of the inner teachings. This is naive.
Traditionally, the secret workings of an art were passed on to family members first. After family members, lineage disciples were the next consideration.
Everyone else was taught relative to their degree of commitment, and this seldom entailed the secret material.

A disciple of tai chi chuan is not an ordinary student. By definition, a 'disciple' follows and disseminates a teaching. In this case;
tai chi chuan.
The keenest students will be asked if they are willing to make the commitment to learn everything the master has to offer. A lineage disciple is responsible for keeping the art alive.

Not many students will get to be a lineage disciple. It is not a matter of playing favourites. It is a question of priorities and commitment. Ultimately, the choice lies with the student.
Anyone can become a lineage disciple. We do not discriminate.
Our evaluation is based on ability, attendance, attitude, progress and a willingness to pass on the teaching to others.



At some stage, the serious student begins a lengthy teacher training program.It begins with helping out with the class: preparing the hall, registering new students, leading the qigong group, assisting junior students.
Next, they become involved with promoting the school and social networking.

If the student shows aptitude and a genuine interest in other people, they begin to learn how to break the syllabus down into digestible pieces.

The process of passing-on knowledge requires the student to re-think their own tai chi and examine how to explain things in a manner that makes sense to somebody else.
This takes time and necessitates the watchful guidance of a skilled master.

Eventually, syllabus design, lesson planning, class management and the dynamics of running a small business are considered.
In order to teach any subject, an instructor needs to fulfil certain requirements:

  1. Subject knowledge- the information the instructor plans to impart
  2. Experience
    - a good instructor should have at least 10,000 hours of practice behind them- at least 100 private lessons with the master
    - the instructor should be practicing (by themselves) more than 2 hours a day

  3. Teaching skills
    - the ability to explain things logically and thoroughly
    - reasoning
    - articulate
    - engaging
    - awareness
    - compassion
    - humour
    - patience
    - differentiation
    - time management

  4. A goal
    - aim, objective
    - purpose of the lesson

  5. A syllabus
    - defining the components that will enable a student to achieve the objective
    - a path leading to the knowledge
    - a scheme of work
    - how the student will proceed
  6. Topics
    - breakdown of the syllabus into modules of information
    - logical building blocks
    - small steps along the path
    - teach according to the students ability to learn
  7. Discrete lessons
    - a lesson is an opportunity to explore a given skill
    - examples must be provided
    - thought-provoking
    - stimulating
    - encourage enthusiasm and participation
    - engage the student
    - allow for different ability levels
  8. Proof
    - examinations, tests, grading
    - pressure-testing
    - an increasing scale of hardship