Conflictive training

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Students often want to do other forms of exercise in addition to their tai chi. This is fine.
The question is: does the other method conflict with tai chi? Balance? Relaxed muscles? Coordination?
If it does, the tai chi will not work and you will not get the desired fitness benefits or any martial skill

Saving you money

This page is intended to save you time, money and effort. We're not telling you what to do...


Sifu Waller has designed the syllabus such that everything works together. There is no discord between different facets of the curriculum:

  1. Tai chi chuan (dynamic balancing boxing)

  2. Qigong

  3. Form

  4. Pushing hands

  5. Principles

  6. Biomechanics

  7. Taoism

  8. Brain work (meditation, awareness, metacognition)

  9. Martial principles

  10. Neigong (whole-body strength)

  11. Jing (whole-body power)

  12. Self defence

  13. Martial skill

  14. Chin na (seizing)

  15. Shuai jiao (take downs)

  16. Weapons

  17. Zen

  18. Tai chi for health

Every exercise, drill and form works in conjunction with everything else. The entire syllabus follows the teachings of Taoism and The Tai Chi Classics. All areas of study are in harmony.

A spanner in the works

Most people exercise with extremely bad posture and poor habits of body use. Qigong and tai chi are trying to remedy these.
If you train another system frequently enough, the benefits of tai chi are nullified.


It is OK to train a wide range of exercise methods without ruining your tai chi. The key concern is moderation. Avoid over-doing it: over-stretching, straining or exerting.
Be mindful of posture, poise and tension.

Little & often

Tai chi advocates moderation; not taxing or tiring the body. Rather than train for a lengthy period of time, aim to practice little & often. 20-30 minute increments, with rest breaks in-between is ideal.
Instead of pushing your body hard and putting it under duress, just do a little exercise. Resting will keep your concentration sharp and offset fatigue.

Sabotaging the tai chi

Many forms of exercise can actively develop bad posture. They often cause serious fatigue and adverse wear and tear on the body. The tension in the body uses energy and tires you out.
Local limb action is typically favoured rather than whole-body movement.

Common exercise methods
Most exercise methods have pros and cons when it comes to sabotaging tai chi practice. A number of systems have no bearing on your internal development whilst others will ruin it.
Potential risks:

  1. Cycling with a drop handle/racing bike
    - neck tension
    - stooping
    - muscular tension throughout the entire body

  2. Running
    - elbows are stiff and locked (often raised)
    - the body is leaning forwards or stooping; either at the neck or collapsing at the bottom of the rib cage
    - shoulders are lifted; often one higher than the other
    - considerable tension in the upper body
    - frozen sacroiliac; immobile
    - knees twisted (the foot flicks out sideways)
    - weight is bearing heavily down into the knees
    - the skeleton is not moving freely, naturally or comfortably
    - exceeds 70% rule

  3. Gym machines
    - can you use them without muscle tension and bad habits of disconnection?
    - interferes with natural, healthy skeletal use

  4. Cardio
    - whilst good in principle, cardio work may unduly stress the joints
    - cardio that is not tailored for tai chi encourages habits of body use that have no bearing on tai chi or the syllabus
    - typically very poor form
    - usually exceeds 70% rule

  5. Circuit training
    - squat thrusts, jumping jacks etc add nothing to your tai chi and from our point of view are a waste of time and effort
    - akin to the Japanese martial arts warm-up
    - typically very poor form
    - exceeds 70% rule

  6. Weight training
    - doing weight training inevitably ruins your tai chi because it is not geared specifically towards the tai chi approach taught in our syllabus
    - we strongly advise against doing weights without consultation with Sifu Waller beforehand
    - usually exceeds 70% rule

  7. Body building
    - can you do it without muscle tension?
    - exceeds 70% rule

  8. Yoga
    - extended limbs
    - no play in the joints
    - physically awkward postures
    - exertive
    - exaggerated stances
    - usually exceeds 70% rule

  9. Pilates
    - neck tension
    - extended limbs
    - tight stomach muscles
    - no play in the joints
    - no spiritual component

  10. Other martial arts
    - if you train another martial art you will make no progress with tai chi

  11. Zumba
    - total lack of controlled, careful body use

  12. Fell walking
    - fine in moderation
    - a heavy rucksack can cause strain on the knee joints and neck tension


  13. Swimming
    - shoulder tension
    - exertive
    - neck problems

  14. Boot camp
    - military style warm ups and training methods are wildly incongruent with the internal

    - exceeds 70% rule


Martial arts training, meditation, spirituality and cognitive development all require a great deal of work. Over a lengthy period of time. Often the student is wanting a quick fix.
Lacking the tenacity to sustain on-going daily practice, the student is hoping for an easier route.

Vote of no confidence?

In Asia it is considered a serious insult to your instructor if you seek to learn the same skills/methods from somebody else.
For example: if your teacher offers qigong and you attend another teacher's qigong class this is not good etiquette.
By looking for tuition elsewhere, the student is showing their impatience and a lack of faith in the teacher.

What do you know?

Sifu Waller has been training since 1975. He has chosen the exercises in our syllabus very carefully and methodically.
Possessing no understanding of the curriculum or the art, by what criteria is the student second-guessing the instructor by incorporating exercises/methods from elsewhere?
How can you be sure you are not undermining/sabotaging your tai chi?

How much time do you have?

Sifu Waller has detailed a daily training program necessary for this martial art. If you're training elsewhere, the chances are that you're not doing our training fully and completely.

No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other.


Chasing 2 hares at once

You can't get good at our tai chi by doing other people's material. Inevitably, the student flounders in class over the long run and fails to invest sufficiently in our syllabus to truly reap the benefits.
How can you expect to steal your teacher's art if you're training with someone else?


Sifu Waller and Rachel gained tai chi skill by doing the forms, drills and exercises featured in our syllabus. They followed the required order of training.
If you practice material acquired from elsewhere, how can you conceivably hope to develop the same skills?
You can't.

Does this mean that you can't train elsewhere?

You can do what you like. We just don't want to hear about it. And if it sabotages your progress in our school, remember that's your problem, not ours.

Worth reading

A method
Understanding the training
Cross-training martial arts
Tai chi is not sport
Tai chi as a supplement

school database

Page created 18 July 1995
Last updated 26 August 1998