Direct transmission

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Nervous system

The sense of touch is actually quite complex. Within the sense category of 'touch' we may include: pressure, pain, temperature, shape, softness, texture and vibration.
Tai chi aims to improve our brain's capacity to interpret and respond to the data it receives.


Touch is a form of communication. When a person is afraid or ill, physical contact can help to reassure them.
If you are emotionally calm and open to other people, this will be transmitted through touch. We can share our compassion without the need of words.


Touch transcends the physical. Softening internally will help you realise that you are part of the world.
If you want to interact with the world in a healthy manner, be willing to relax your barriers and get in touch with other people. This does not mean watching the news...


There is a modern phobia of physical contact. People quite often do not like to be touched. Yet, touch is one of our senses and if we ignore it, our world becomes far lonelier.
In tai chi we consider touch to be very important; by working with somebody else we can help them to feel how their own body operates and help ourselves as well.
We encourage people to become accustomed to physical proximity from the start of their training, to relax, soften and be receptive to other people.


A person cannot very well learn combat if they are uncomfortable touching other people. Even if you are learning tai chi for health, it is necessary to work with other people through partnered exercise.
Working alone offers no feedback. Only through working with another person can you really begin to feel what is happening.
Without a partner you will never know if your connection is complete or your jing apparent.

The balance

The yin/yang symbol expresses partnership; the harmonious joining and intermingling of two apparent opposites. This principle lies at the root of all tai chi practice.

Learning through touch

For tai chi students, nothing is better than working with the
instructor directly. You feel how they move, how softly they make contact and how little effort takes place.
This is an invaluable experience. Your instructor offers you a physical illustration of what is to come. They embody the very characteristics and qualities you are currently working towards.
Without working 'hands on', this understanding is not possible.


A book, video or workshop cannot offer direct transmission. You need to train with the instructor, in addition to your own practice. Tai chi study must be tactile.
Training with the instructor changes how you use the tai chi. You become soft, sensitive and fluid in a completely new way.
But if you cease this relationship prematurely, old habits encroach and the body forgets.

Tai chi fighting method

We seek to perpetuate the art of tai chi. We want to pass it on, and every lesson is designed with this in mind. As with any artist, the instructor is very particular.
We want to make sure that every aspect has been thoroughly understood and retained. The standard is very high.

Steal my art

The instructor is offering you their art every time you make physical contact with them. Are you alert enough to learn from the experience?  That is the question.

Direct transmission

For 20 years Sifu Waller was the lineage student of the renowned teacher Peter Southwood; undertaking his bai shi and tea ceremony in 1990.
He had more than 500 private lessons with Peter and taught in Peter's class for a number of years. Every private lesson featured pushing hands, applications, martial sets and combat.


The best source of direct transmission is the 'inner school'. It offers serious depth and is not for the half-hearted student.
Indoor tuition is aimed at people who want fast-track progress through the tai chi syllabus.
Indoor students are people who train very closely with the instructor. They have a chance to really feel the art.

While the teachings of a martial tradition may be recorded in scrolls or expressed verbally, those outside the tradition who gain access to this information have little chance of learning much of practical value. Such instructions invariably consist of vague references or riddle-like aphorisms. These cryptic axioms suffice for the conveying of deep secrets because the martial artist who receives them properly has spent an enormous amount of time apprenticing under his master. They have in common, teacher and student, the specialized vocabulary of their tradition, as well as similar experience in the physical actions demanded in learning it. The teachings, however, opaque they may appear to the outsider, have meaning to the initiate and his master because the two have endured the long process of training together.

(Dave Lowry)

school database

Page created 25 November 1996
Last updated 16 June 2023