A sophisticated art

If you are seeking a more sophisticated martial art, then taijiquan and baguazhang are worth considering. But be warned; you need to read the small print:

The internal martial arts were designed to be practiced daily
They are very hard to learn
You must take responsibility for your own progress and development
Not every instructor possesses a meaningful syllabus


Our values?

Applying our own value system to unfamiliar situations has serious pitfalls. In the case of tai chi, the Art already has criteria. Seeing the Art through our own agenda merely serves to impede learning.
We see only what we want to see.

Instead of understanding tai chi in its own right, we filter our exposure to the Art through our own opinions and ideas of what tai chi is about. This prevents us from learning.
Validating our own viewpoint has taken precedence.

Comparison assumes that you are judging like with like. Yet this is seldom the case.


I really enjoyed Sifu’s class last night. I felt I learned so much in a couple of hours that I had to make a couple of pages of notes as soon as I got home to avoid forgetting anything. So much to learn...




We are educated to discriminate: this/that, mine/yours, here/there, good/bad, right/wrong, more/less, hot/cold... This capacity to pass judgement is cultivated from a very early age. Few people think to question its validity.

In Taoism the pretence of certainty is highlighted. We are invited to ask:

  1. By what criteria do we make the judgement?
  2. In what way are we fit to judge others?
  3. Are we without fault ourselves?
  4. How do we know that we are correct?


Short-changing your health

Cheapskating on health whilst enjoying a lavish lifestyle is essentially "penny-wise and pound-foolish" (idiom). Health should be your priority. Not an afterthought.


40 years old...

Rachel Waller is a very healthy example of what daily tai chi, a good diet and a balanced lifestyle can offer. She doesn't look 40, does she?

I've never felt a presence as strong as Sifu Waller. It's like 20 people in one!



The form as demonstrated by Sifu and yourself is so fluid and understated, yet the martial undercurrent is clear throughout. It’s quite inspiring to watch!


Lifestyle bias

People invest in expensive technology, a car that they have to buy on 'hire purchase', bottles of wine, trips to the coffee shop and expensive holidays.

Yet, they are not willing to spend money on their own fitness and wellbeing. A mobile phone will probably date in a couple of years... how long will your body be with you for?


Bargain hunting

When people consider which tai chi class to attend they often treat it like bargain hunting. They look for free taster sessions or the cheapest class.

  This may be fine if you are undertaking a supermarket 'price comparison'
. It is not so good for taijiquan.


Confirmation bias...

Imagine that you have a belief such as - 'people are generally good'. This belief causes you to notice information that confirms your belief and discount information that disputes it. See the problem?

A belief introduces a bias, a perspective, and it alters how you look at the world. You essentially see what you want to see. Having opinions, ideas and preconceptions can make you narrow-minded.

Once we determine what is important, we set out to find something that fits our criteria. But what if our values are askew? What happens when we encounter things that we don't really understand?


As a teacher I am continually impressed with Sifu Waller's teaching system, resources and the time he takes with classes. I often feel like emailing him to thank him for another outstanding lesson but a) this could happen most weeks and b) I do actually feel guilty for not being a good enough student.


5 mins = £100

Imagine if you were told that 5 minutes tai chi training would earn you £100... Would you do the exercises? Of course you would.

 Yet, people are told that daily home practice = good health, fitness and better quality of life... and they dismiss it. Curious?

This illustration shows how many people value an obvious monetary reward but are unwilling to appreciate the value of health, vitality and fitness.


The assistant teachers who help me to teach tai chi for health have asked about wearing a different T-shirt in order to better distinguish who to ask for help in class.

The grey colour is very nice and I like the message too!



Talk is easy...

Many people e-mail every week regarding tai chi classes, fitness and diet. Other people talk to me in person.

How many people actually commit to classes, getting fit or losing weight? Not many at all.

  For some people, talking about things seems to be enough. They expend a lot of energy explaining why they can't make commitments or lifestyle changes.


An amusing insight regarding 'corrections' is this: in real terms your teacher doesn't actually correct you...

They merely point out what you are doing incorrectly and provide an accurate example. It is the student themselves who does the correcting.

After all, the teacher cannot make you practice at home between classes, can they?

Once the teacher has highlighted a mistake, it is the student's own responsibility to implement and practice the correction.


Every year my charity has a Strategy Day. A professional Facilitator is usually hired for the event. Up to a dozen people put their heads together all day long and never produce very much.

By contrast, by the time I get downstairs in a morning, Sifu has already written a 'to do list' of new insights for me to consider. These cover a diverse range of topics (including but not limited to):
- class management
- teaching
- qigong, taijiquan, baguazhang, core strength, combat insights
- the syllabus
- meditation
- time management
- diet
- targetting muscle groups I feel are underworked

 How often does this happen? DAILY.



A tai chi class

Most tai chi classes in the UK are essentially drop-in sessions. Students attend as and when they feel like it. The teacher is often not qualified and there is no syllabus in place.

The attenders usually have a good time. T
hey follow along with the group and do more or less the same things every week. Very little progress takes place but people enjoy being there. 

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