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Tai chi fighting method

Learning the tai chi syllabus is not easy. We are not going to mislead you here. It takes a lot of time and a lot of work. However, you are welcome to work through the material at your own pace...

How long will it take to become skilled?

That entirely depends upon you. Everyone is different. There are so many variables.

Concentrated practice in the early stages of an endeavour dramatically improves the value of future practice.

(Michael Gelb)


People who are new to martial arts training begin with an enthusiastic attitude. They dream of attaining a high-level skill. Then the reality sets in.
Hard work, their own level of commitment, patience, the volume of material to learn, the time it takes to become skilled... these are all key factors.
Only the keenest student gets through even 1% of the overall syllabus.

A sense of perspective

Novices read the syllabus and think that it sounds like a lot to learn. The lower grades introduce:

  1. Qigong 

  2. Form (section 1)

  3. Partner work

  4. Pushing hands

  5. Principles

And that's it. Note the word 'introduces'. The student does not have an in-depth grasp of the material. Their understanding is superficial, cursory, a crude outline in need of considerable refinement.
All in all, about 1% of the entire curriculum. If that..

How can it be 1%?

Oh, that's easy to answer. Consider Rachel... By 2012 Rachel had learned the following skills:

  1. Qigong - to Sifu Waller & insurer's teaching standards

  2. Tai chi for health - to Sifu Waller & insurer's teaching standards


  1. Long Yang form (regular & mirrored)

  2. Sabre form (regular & mirrored)

  3. Walking stick form (regular & mirrored)

  4. Jian form (regular & mirrored)

  5. Bagua palm changes (regular & mirrored)

  6. Reeling silk exercises

  7. Partner work

  8. Martial concepts

  9. Pushing hands

  10. Principles (studying recommended reading daily)

  11. Knife drills

  12. Stick drills (20)

  13. San sau (regular & mirrored)

  14. 2-person cane drill (regular & mirrored)

  15. 2-person form (partnered) (regular & mirrored)

  16. Small stick drills (3 out of 5)

  17. Self defence

  18. Self-massage routine (100+ exercises)

  19. Leg stretches (sets 1 & 2)

  20. Psoas work

  21. Floor work (intro)

  22. Pushing peng exercise

  23. Double pushing hands (regular & mirrored)

  24. Da lu (regular & mirrored)

  25. Wallbag drills (4 sets)

  26. Neigong (studying The Book of Neigong daily)

  27. Breath meditation, meditation on emotions, meditation on body sensations

  28. 6 direction changes

  29. 8 mother palms

  30. 9 palaces

  31. Body overturning drill

  32. Circle walking

  33. Crane stepping

  34. The crouch

  35. Figure of 8

  36. The gaze

  37. Lion stepping

  38. Partnered circle walking

  39. 8 directions stepping

  40. 16 elbows

  41. Chin na applications (sets 1,2 & 3)

  42. Drilling (spiralling forward)

  43. Kicking exercise

  44. Mud stepping

  45. Pressing (splitting)

  46. Rolling (circular coiling)

  47. Plate exercise (bagua version)

  48. Toe in, toe out

  49. Wrapping (embrace)

  50. Teaching methodology

How much does Rachel's training add up to?

Less than 10% of the overall syllabus offered by our school. Maybe only 5%...
Compare it to the lower grades and it is quite easy to see why students are only studying 1% of what is on offer.

What is missing from Rachel's tai chi?

Mainly the martial skill component:

Chin na (misplacing the bones, dividing the muscles, sealing the breath, cavity press, applications, flowing, freeform), shuai jiao (applications & skills), form application (every movement of every form), san da (freeform combat), striking skills, projections, jing (whole-body power), evading a knife, freeform grappling, kicking, shen, conviction, composure, neigong (whole-body strength), reeling silk, fa jing, throws,
how to deal with multiple opponents/gangs, mutual arising, yin/yang, te, 6 balanced pairs, folding, mushin (surrender/immersion), opening & closing, wu nien (not preparing), wu wei (not forcing), zanshin (continuing mind), conservation of energy, minimal movement, accuracy, balance, rhythm and timing, 5 animals, 8 powers, 5 centres, blending, central equilibrium, close-range combat, freeform triangle, groundpath, moving from the centre, practical applications of yielding, small circle movement, strategy & tactics, uniting upper & lower, using the mind instead of force, whole-body movement, breathing methods... and so on.

Rachel lacks a deeper understanding of how Taoism, Zen, martial principles, martial skill, meditation and The Tai Chi Classics all fit together in practice and in everyday life.

What your body remembers is what is important for you at this particular stage of development.
What your mind forgets, your body is telling you it couldn't use anyhow at this time.



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Page created 7 November 2012
Last updated 10 November 2023