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.



We had been wanting to start a martial arts class for a while and finally found Newcastle Tai Chi and figured we'd give it a go. Our only grievance is that we didn't find it sooner!
Honestly one of the most informative, realistic and enjoyable classes I've ever been to. Most self-defence or martial-arts classes focus on patterns & sequences. In teaching Tai Chi, Sifu Waller understands and acknowledges that real life isn't like that - you don't patiently wait to get hit in the face before returning fire! Nor are fights purely about strength; with aspects of the syllabus requiring reading and completing (short) written assignments you get both a full body, and mind workout in one. The accompanying website is an absolute goldmine of information (both for the class and for general day-to-day living).
Very friendly and welcoming, can't recommend them enough.



There is a time in the study of all great systems and theories when the student understands the ideas, but experiences them as external to herself; and then there is a time when one internalises the ideas and principles.

 They become absorbed into the psyche, a part of one's everyday understanding. When this happens the system begins to grow and expand, as the student applies it to other areas of life.

(Glen Park)