The Emperor's New Clothes

Unfortunately, whole-body strength is a little bit like The Emperor's New Clothes, in that the student cannot feel their own strength. If you feel anything, you are feeling your tension, not your strength.

In order to accept the presence of whole-body strength, it must be pressure-tested. You determine the presence of whole-body strength by its effect. We call this jing.

No time?

A common excuse that tai chi students make is that they don't have time to train at home between classes. This notion is based on a false understanding of yin/yang.

In order to get something, you have to give something. Our entire society is based on this, isn't it?

If you want a loaf of bread, you give up money. You want to watch a movie, you set aside the time. If you want to get good at tai chi, you will need time to practice at home.

Therefore, if you want to practice tai chi at home, you will need to give something up. Make space. This may mean less TV. Less internet. It's your choice...


'Innate' means the essential character/nature of something. It is a quality that exists at all times. It is not added. You do not need to 'do' anything. Activity is not required.

Neigong/whole-body strength is innate. It is there all the time. 


Morpheus: There's a difference between knowing the path, and walking the path.
(The Matrix)


The single most important fighting skill in internal martial arts is waiting. You wait until your opponent gives you an opening as a gift. Look at joint locks, which are hard to do in full-speed fighting, particularly if you go for them aggressively. Some martial arts like jujitsu and aikido make joint locks look deceptively easy and make them out to be a perfectly reasonable fighting strategy applicable to a majority of situations. In their training practices one partner willingly lets the other grab his arm, usually with a decent grip., deliberately making himself vulnerable. This is a foolish and potentially suicidal strategy in real-life confrontation with a well-trained opponent.

Internal martial artists don't go there. 
They develop training methods like silk arms where they can twist and bend their joints like a piece of silk, making their movements highly fast, reactive, unpredictable and mobile, which makes it hard to grab or lock their joints.

(Bruce Frantzis)


Have you seen the first Matrix movie?

Neo begins with doubt, uncertainty and cynicism. He doesn't believe that he is the One. He asks Morpheus incredulously if he'll be able to dodge bullets.

Morpheus tells him that he won't have to.

Your journey is like this. Right now, your skills are weak and you possess no power. To be the One you must have faith. You must believe in order for it to be.



For an application to work, you must concern yourself with the underlying principles rather than technique. Once you understand how the principles work, you can use them spontaneously in accord with the requirement of a given situation. This is more realistic.
Adaptation is essential; you change what you are doing relative to what is happening.
If your application is countered by your opponent, you move into a different one or adopt a different strategy entirely.



The danger with learning specific applications is that you may come to see them as techniques. This is not the approach advocated by Sifu Waller.
Techniques have their place as a learning tool but are not a good approach to use in actual self defence. 
A technique involves a series of steps employed against a particular attack. Should your opponent deviate from the anticipated course of action, a technique could easily fail.


"Aslan is a lion - the Lion, the great Lion."

 said Susan. "I'd thought he was a man. Is he quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion..."

said Mr Beaver, "Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good."

(C S Lewis)



Most people's idea of exercise is somewhat 'abusive'. They treat their body like some sort of adversary and dehumanise it. No pain, no gain etc. Why? There are sensible ways to exercise.

You are not at war with your own body. Listen to your body. Exercise in a manner that has a positive effect on your entire life. Not just in the gym. Set aside your pride and vanity.

  Research how the skeleton works, the muscles. Balance. Coordination. Mobility. Consider how much energy is being used. Do you feel energised from exercise or wiped out? Happy or miserable?

Being comfortable

The by-product of the tai chi environment is a reprieve from the game playing commonly found in various situations that occur in our lives. Rather than step cautiously through the minefield of self-promotion and competitive conduct, we can relax.

No one gets rewarded for being an arse. There is no merit in playing games. It is easier and more satisfying for everyone to relax and get along


Taking turns?

A set pattern of movement in self defence creates a 'my turn, your turn' mentality which is totally at odds with what is happening. Your aim is to evade and incapacitate. Not fight.
This is best accomplished by being spontaneous and unorthodox. Do not offer patterns. Do not conform to the expected. Be fresh and instantaneous.
Opinion is not truth; we must put aside opinions to find truth. There are innumerable opinions, but truth is not of this or of that group. For the understanding of truth, all ideas, conclusions, opinions, must drop away as the withered leaves fall from a tree. Truth is not to be found in books, in knowledge, inexperience. If you are seeking opinions, you will find none here.

When your teacher demonstrates something for you, you are obligated to practice it,  or else you may invoke the following consequences of your own free will:
  1. Your teacher may not correct you because your actions have shown that you did not really want to learn the skill.
  2. You will not achieve the skill.
  3. If you learn the next stage of the skill, it will be weak because it has no foundation.
  4. Your skill will not rise to a high level until your attitude changes.

  (Bruce Frantzis) 


Broken rhythm

In self defence, your aim is to avoid falling into a predictable pattern. If you are accustomed to moving at an even pace, with a clear breathing/movement rhythm, you will be defeated.
Patterns are often very easy to discern.


My aim is only to move forward.
(Afro Samurai)


The ability to flow from one chin na to another has distinct advantages:

• It enables you to persist with your intention of inflicting injury
• You remain sticky
• You maintain in control
• You demonstrate your skill
• You can inflict a wider variety of damage without risk of an effective counter

All of this hinges on two things:

• The ability to apply a range of chin na in the first place
• The skill of being sticky

Stickiness enables you to remain in contact throughout your encounter, and not give the advantage to your opponent.


If you consider your breathing, it happens all by itself. You do not breath. You are breathed. The breath emerges spontaneously. You do not need to think about it, control it, force it or change it. The process is involuntary and unconscious. When you practice taijiquan, it is very important not to interfere with the natural working of the body. Your breath should be allowed to do as it likes.


Although the sensei/sifu wants to teach it is the student who must prove themselves to them and put in the work, the teacher owes the student nothing. It is the responsibility of the student to learn customs and the way to behave. Without showing a good example of trying to learn the basics and getting stuck in there is no reason why the teacher would want continue to waste time with the student.(Paul B)