Santa Claus

Santa Claus was not always a mythical Hollywood character.

St Nicholas was born in Patara on the southern coast of Turkey. He was raised as a Christian and used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering.

No reindeers. No North Pole. No elves. No present lists. No Christmas cards, tinsels, trees, cakes, holly, mistletoe or carol singing.

Deviate from the essence and all is lost.
Most of us experience a sense of being 'on edge' or jumpy. This is really a habitual over-reaction to our environment. One way of deepening your understanding of this is to experiment with habitual patterns of reacting to a familiar stimulus, such as a door-bell or a telephone ringing.

 (Michael Gelb)


 It would be terrifying to actually confront Sifu Waller - his power is remarkable and I've likely only had a glimpse. More remarkable is that he is willing to teach us his Art.


Final class of 2016


Re-discover Christmas

In the 1970's Peter McNally (the local Scout leader) used to take large gangs of children and adults around the village on Christmas morning.
He'd found out which old people were alone and had no family. He'd filled shoe boxes with presents and asked people to sign cards.

Then he took everyone to visit each and every lonely old person. We would all stand and sing outside their houses.
The expressions on the faces of the old people said it all.


If you think that's tacky, come and have a look around where we live...

One house has that Santa you described, plus Blackpool illuminations, plus new addition - 7 foot mock snow-globe with Santa scene.

That's just one house, I think they're aiming to be seen from space.

Up My Street)


Christmas - the media spectacle

Christmas is a marketing triumph.
The inane catchy jingles played constantly, the lights and the decorations, the kitsch, the sentimentality and nostalgia, the peer pressure, the overindulgence...

People willingly spend money they do not have on things they do not need.
They do this for no reason whatsoever.  


You can also understand Sifu Waller's insistence on a certain level of fitness for the martial side. Anyone that thinks Taiji is for old people has clearly no idea what the total art is about.



Sifu Waller frequently gets asked to write a book on Taoism, Zen, taijiquan and/or baguazhang... Why doesn't he?

Because the mainstream perceptions of these subjects is quite simplistic. Think of Google or Wikipedia? Which results are favoured? The popular ones.

People want to hear what they expect to hear.


Everyday Zen

Zen koan:

One day Banzan was walking through a market. He overheard a customer say to the butcher, "Give me the best piece of meat you have." 

"Everything in my shop is the best," replied the butcher. "You can not find any piece of meat that is not the best." 

At these words, Banzan was enlightened.


What does this mean? Sifu Waller will help you here. The butcher maintains that all the meat he sells is his best. This cannot be true because by definition, best requires worst as contrast; a duality. One defines the other.

It is akin to having 'priorities'. You cannot have multiple priorities since the word priority literally means that which comes first. Everything that comes next is therefore of secondary concern?

Similarly, the phrase 'multitasking' is an IT term adopted by mainstream companies to suggest that a person juggle several priorities simultaneously. As the koan indicates, this is impossible.

In IT, multitasking is the illusion of simultaneity, not the practice of it. Now, that is ZEN.



Physical Education at school should actually educate people on physical matters:

• How to use your body in a healthy manner
• Sport is relegated to an after school club for those who are 'sporty'
• Kids who have postural/gait/movement issues should be given specialist rehabilitation in order to restore healthy body use
• Personal hygiene and cleanliness should be taught
• Ergonomics - sitting, lifting, good usage
• Anatomical knowledge; leverage, balance, strength, stance, poise etc
• How to avoid strain, discomfort, injury
• Everyday body use


You often say, "I would give, but only to the deserving."

And who are you that men should rend their bosom and unveil their pride, that you should see their worth naked and their pride unabashed?

(Kahlil Gibran)
Greetings Sifu Waller: I like your Xmas views.

Margot & I decided no presents for each other this year.
Well that is not strictly correct. I give Margot $210, she gives me $210.
We then pool the $420 & send it to India where a Tibetan Buddhist Monk's father will have an operation and regain his sight.

I think I am starting to get that Christmas feeling again.



Not so Christian Christmas

If Christmas is intended to celebrate the birth of Christ, how come its a commercial holiday?

Jesus said, "Take everything you have and give it to the poor."

The modern Christmas is not very Christian.
4 oz is the result of internal strength. A cat touches lightly because it is already buoyant. An average person, trying to give 4 oz, collapses their frame. Without internal strength, 4oz is conceptual.

(James French)


Why is the student's point of view unimportant to the instructor?

The instructor has spent thousands of hours training.
They have considered all options and possibilities, and discounted everything that is not practical.
They are a master of the art.
A student’s point of view will bring nothing new to the situation.
If the instructor listens to your point of view, they are probably just being polite.

(Andy Urwin)


I have been attending the Newcastle Tai Chi school for almost 7 years now. The class is very welcoming and friendly. Master Waller has an in depth knowledge of the art and is willing to share it with his students. He really is a great teacher. I would strongly encourage anyone interested in martial arts to try this school! 

 (Marc B)


Optional challenges

The 1 year challenge, 2 year challenge and black belt challenge were designed to get people into a black belt within about 5 years of starting the school.

They don't require blood, sweat and tears but a steady commitment to daily practice.

It's all I do. I focussed first upon becoming a tai chi for health teacher. Now I'm working through the taijiquan syllabus.

It isn't hard if you keep walking. People who find it hard are the ones who decided to stand still.
People ask me if I train everyday and act surprised when I say yes. Even Christmas Day? Of course.

To me, the question is akin to asking if I brush my teeth every day.

It reveals the mentality of the questioner. They obviously don't train, see training as being a chore and really don't get it. But that's OK. I'm not asking them to train.



Male oriented?

In martial arts, men usually have a distinct advantage.
Most systems were designed with the male physique in mind and often rely upon innate strength and aggression.

Women may succeed with any martial art, but why train an art that doesn't favour the female body?
Why not train an art that prioritises use of the legs, buttocks and torso?
Where composure is encouraged rather than machismo?


The role of humility when learning a martial art

Some students who wish to learn Tai Chi have previously studied other martial arts.
They think that their ‘experience’ means that they can start with the intermediate syllabus.
Surely their five years of Karate training was not in vain?
This self-importance obstructs their understanding that they need to go back to the basics and start again.

Others come to class with pre-conceived ideas about Tai Chi, or about how quickly they can progress.
They want to learn specific aspects of the syllabus, but are not interested in others.
Or they rush through the teachings, eager to move on without understanding what they have been taught.
They lack the understanding of the holistic and structured nature of the syllabus.

Beginners are not in a position to understand the syllabus.
As you progress through the syllabus, you realise that an exercise that seems easy and pointless will build into something more intricate and sophisticated than could ever have been appreciated.
If you do not understand the basic exercise in the first place, how can you build on it?

A feeling that preliminary training is somehow ‘beneath you’ is therefore an impediment to your progress.
It’s like pouring fresh tea into a cup that is already full of ‘old’ tea.
The fresh tea is wasted.

Humility is to understand that we do not know everything, and to let go of what we think we know.
It is to let go of the need to be in control of our learning.
It is to present ourselves as a blank sheet to the instructor.
It is to trust that what we are taught, and what we practice, are given to us by someone with a better understanding of our needs.

Once we have this attitude, then we can start to progress.
However, this does not mean that we can leave humility behind.
There is always more to learn.
There is always more to train.

(Andy Urwin)



The secret to getting a grip of the basics is to continue climbing. Progress enables you to see things from a different perspective.

Continually doing the same skills again and again over weeks and months will ingrain habit patterns in the body, and new knowledge and insights help you to see existing material with greater clarity.
Interacting with Sifu Waller can be an uncomfortable experience simply because we rarely meet someone who doesn't have any agenda or desire for validation. My first dealings with him left me frustrated as he seemed unwilling to acknowledge my questions or validate me. I was fortunate enough to have the realisation that it was me that was at fault. Sifu Waller has mastered yielding in more than one way it would seem. He does not engage with this level of interaction, it is after all petty and pointless, and instead reflected back my own motivations and desires for approval etc this was uncomfortable, it made me more acutely aware of the motivations behind my thoughts and actions. It made me choose my words and thoughts more carefully. For those unable to see what is happening they may perceive Sifu Waller as rude, cold etc. Actually what he offers is of the utmost value, I have never encountered anyone since who cuts through the crap and helps me to refine myself in this way. It was clear that Sifu Waller was considerate and compassionate when faced with authentic desire for learning and a lack of pretentiousness.

 (Rob Veater)


I think Sifu Waller knows more about functional biomechanics that all the orthopaedic surgeons I have met put together. I rarely have clicking joints now since Sifu instructed me to work within the limits of the ‘click’ and then build up over time to a wider range.

(Dr David Cousins)
I have been a member of Newcastle Tai Chi for almost a year now. Studying Tai Chi for health with Sifu and Rachel, has proved so beneficial and their knowledge and demonstrable skills are phenomenal! The clear syllabus helps provide steady progress with personal support to quickly correct errors, in form etc. The resources on the, members only, part of the web site is excellent and together with instructional DVDs makes membership real value for money. As with other members, I only wished I had found Newcastle Tai Chi so much sooner.




It is important not to get too hung up on taijiquan styles. The Tai Chi Classics were written by Chang San-feng, Wang Tsung-yueh and Wu Yu-hsiang. Wu created Hao style, but there are no known styles attributed to Chang or Wang. How come?


I had been thinking about taking up another martial art for the past few years. I'd been thinking of Tai Chi for some time. I'd been looking on the net for a decent class without success. I finally found Newcastle Tai Chi this year which is brilliant. I wish I had of found the class years ago.

 Everything about Newcastle Tai Chi is spot on. The teaching is brilliant. Sifu Waller not only shows and teaches the form and different techniques but shows and tells why they are done in a certain way.
 Sifu Waller teaches in a way that is clear and is explained so all understand. I would highly recommend Newcastle Tai Chi to everyone. I finish one class and can't wait for the next one. One more thing I would say to anyone thinking of starting is try out the classes. Find out for yourselves. You won't be disappointed.