Dan grade (2)

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Lineage student

In 1990 Sifu Waller became Peter Southwood's lineage student. This marked a sharp increase in training intensity and a higher expectation of practice and competence.
He received a nephrite jade amulet depicting the I Ching on the front and 3 Taoist symbols on the reverse: a gourd (longevity), a sword (truth/clarity), a fly whip (avoid distractions).

10,000 hours was long ago

Sifu Waller embodies the Chinese homily: "I have eaten more salt than you have rice." He trains over 3 hours a day of tai chi chuan, fitness exercises and qigong, 365 days a year and has done so for decades.
This figure excludes partner work, teaching commitments and personal study/reading. He has been practicing since 1975.


Peter Southwood began Sifu Waller's teacher training in 1994. Sifu Waller had no interest in teaching people but acknowledged that explaining things to junior students would deepen his own understanding.
He went on to teach martial students in Peter's class until 1999. The teacher training included designing a syllabus, a scheme of work and writing the material that would later become this website.

I like the classes because I know I'm entering a healthy zone.

I've done a lot of travelling, learning, and philosophizing in my life and what I like about your classes is their integrity. I like the total absence of bullshit. It encourages me to embody what I know, to enact the conclusions I've arrived at, and practice walking the walk, however bizarre the walk may appear at times!

By observing the way my body does or doesn't move each week, I'm able to see where the problems are in every other aspect of my life. For this I'm very grateful.



Teaching qualification

In order to further expand his understanding of the teaching progress and learn new methodology, Sifu Waller passed a postgraduate certificate of education at Leeds University.

His first student

Sifu Waller trained twice a day with his first student Shaun Ullah - 365 days a year - for 6 years. In addition to his solo practice and lessons.

Dynamic Balancing Boxing

Starting in 1999, Sifu Waller offered his own classes. He continued to train privately with Peter Southwood as a lineage student.
His Leeds classes were small, home-based workshops aimed at students who already had a foundation in martial arts training and were seeking something more advanced.

More training

2004 was the beginning of a full-time commitment.
Sifu Waller trained about 5-7 hours a day of tai chi, bagua, qigong, 365 days a year, plus walking and reading.
In hindsight, Sifu Waller realised that the 'traditional' approach actually meant that he was over-training.

Newcastle Tai Chi

Sifu Waller has offered many classes in the North East: Newcastle, Durham, Sunderland, Whitley Bay, Dance City, Gosforth, Wallsend and Fenham.
He had many private students and hosted residential boot camp twice a year in Northumberland. Most of the classes closed when we were forced to pare back after the 2008 'credit crunch'.

Good reputation

For 7 years Sifu Waller taught qigong & tai chi to the over 50's at Age Concern in Newcastle and Age Concern North Tyneside. The students were people of all ages who had a variety of health conditions.
He had referrals from Freeman Hospital, medical students visited the class regularly and the classes were featured in the local newspapers.

I don't know how many people supply you with feedback, but from my perspective I believe the Newcastle class is going from strength to strength.

The evening has an excellent atmosphere for learning with a real sense of camaraderie among attendees, be they regulars or first timers. It is something I really look forward to and have now adjusted some of my work commitments just so I can be there more regularly.




Peter Southwood awarded Sifu Waller his rank early 2010. Sifu Waller saw this grade as an indication of progress rather than a conclusion to the training.
He doesn't think that tai chi can be mastered; instead, the student is mastered by the art.

The amulet

The jade amulet worn by Sifu Waller is made from jadeite. It features a Chinese dragon (wisdom/strength/power/mastery) on the front and a Chinese phoenix (virtue/grace/longevity) on the reverse.
These mythological animals are not the same as their Western equivalents. Their depiction and characteristics are quite different. Some versions are considered to be a chimera (mixture of animals).
A Chinese dragon is a long snake-like creature known for it's fluidity and grace. It does not breathe fire. A Chinese phoenix is known as fenghuang (August rooster). Once again, it has nothing to do with fire.
The dragon and phoenix design is a yin/yang illustration symbolising harmony. These Taoist creatures have been carved/represented for at least 10,000 years.

Other disciplines

Sifu Waller studied Iyengar yoga weekly (with Lillian Biggs and Beryl Howarth) over a period of 25 years. He explored Taoist Yoga with Peter Southwood from 1985 onwards.
His Alexander Technique lessons (with Heather Gretton, Eileen Armstrong & Ann Massey-Lynch) took place every week between 1995 - 2010. He was asked to train as an instructor in York.
Pilates weekly private lessons (with Lynn Cavanagh) took place between 2004 - 2009. He was asked to train as an instructor in Newcastle.


Sifu Waller's reading skill came to the attention of his uncle when he was just 5 years old.
His uncle managed to secure him 16 library cards, access to both the children's and adult library at 2 separate libraries.
Every week, Sifu Waller would borrow books on every conceivable subject that took his fancy - ranging from sci-fi to dinosaurs to Jacques Cousteau to Romans and of course martial arts.
A relentless quest for knowledge was always present, and his self-directed home study far exceeded what took place in school.


I could not even begin to count how many books Sifu Waller has read. His tastes are wide ranging:

  1. Human anatomy

  2. Tai chi

  3. Chin na

  4. Shuai jiao

  5. Qigong

  6. Neigong

  7. Dim-mak

  8. Jing

  9. Form application

  10. The Tai Chi Classics

  11. Combat

  12. Taoism

  13. Zen

  14. Meditation

  15. Self defence

  16. Biomechanics

  17. Sports injuries

  18. Massage

  19. Physiotherapy

  20. Religion

  21. Spirituality

  22. Eastern philosophy

  23. Western philosophy

  24. Asian culture

  25. Language

  26. Japanese art & culture

  27. Chinese art & culture

  28. Design

  29. Metacognition

  30. Pop-psychology

  31. Self-help

  32. Poetry

  33. Other martial arts

  34. Martial principles

  35. Martial history

  36. Self-awareness

  37. Alexander Technique

  38. Asian weaponry

  39. Business culture & practices

  40. Emotional awareness

  41. Relationships

  42. Sex

  43. Knots

  44. Outdoor skills

  45. Survival skills

  46. Longevity

  47. Creativity

  48. Health & wellbeing

  49. Food

Sifu Waller doesn't really care for fiction.

Our bookshelves contain the books he has not given away. He regularly clears out books that no longer seem relevant in order to make space for new titles.
At one point we had 4 large book cases of training-related books.

Does Sifu Waller practice xingyiquan?

No. Sifu Waller could never determine whether or not Peter Southwood knew xingyiquan or not.
Peter shared some knowledge of dachengquan but it seemed to be more of an interest than a serious commitment to the art.
Sifu Waller found the training uninspiring compared to tai chi and did not continue to train dachengquan.

Does Sifu Waller practice baguazhang?

No. He trained the art for decades but dropped it from his daily practice in 2023. Nowadays, Sifu Waller focuses upon tai chi chuan, chin na and shuai jiao.

Is Sifu Waller a member of The Tai Chi Union for Great Britain?

Sifu Waller Is not affiliated to any organisation. He left The World Taiji Boxing Association in 2004 and withdrew from The Tai Chi Union for Great Britain in 2023.

At every turn he aimed to pare away everything that was not strictly necessary to leave only the more austere and sublimely refined.

(Andrew Juniper)


school database

Page created 18 November 2007
Last updated 26 October 2023