|Know your instructor|
|Written by Rachel|
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Sifu Waller in a nutshell
Sifu Waller lives a quiet, simple, unpretentious, anonymous life. He avoids drawing attention to himself. And values his privacy.
A-Z of Newcastle Tai Chi
To know a little about Sifu Waller's knowledge, intelligence and insights, read this website: A-Z. There are at least 900 pages. He authored pretty much all of them over a period of a decade or so.
Sifu Waller is not obsessed with taijiquan. He only trains what he needs to. He never watches YouTube, martial arts DVDs nor reads magazines.
He no longer has any ties with the wider martial arts community.
What's sad in a way is that
the people that are the most giving, hardworking, and capable of making this
world better, usually don't have the ego and ambition to be a leader.
They enjoy the goal but not the process. But the reality of it is that the true work of improving things is in the little achievements of the day.
Much of Sifu Waller's training might be deemed 'spiritual': the loss of oneself into the art...
For a better understanding of what this means, you might consider reading Zen in the Art of Archery, Sword & Brush or Moving Toward Stillness.
Sifu Waller's training is driven by a commitment to functionality/application and the need to teach with integrity. He has no interest in ornament/performance art/flamboyance/flowery tai chi.
On a daily basis, Sifu Waller reads a lot. He explores what he has read, breaks it down and seeks to utilise the information/learn from it.
Sifu Waller hasn't read fiction for over a decade; preferring books about Taoism, Zen, taijiquan, martial principles, spirituality, Asian arts and culture, business management, pop psychology, metacognition...
Hobbies and interests
Sifu Waller has several hobbies and interests.
He tends to pursue things to their natural conclusion, reach the ceiling and then maintain the interest relative to time, budget, availability of opportunity/resources. At no point is he ever bored.
Logic & reason
If you wonder why Sifu Waller pursues the hobbies/interests he enjoys, ask yourself what he finds so fascinating. There is always a very good reason. He is not prone to time wasting or indulging in follies.
Although Sifu Waller doesn't watch broadcast TV he does enjoy movies. But he is very choosy indeed. If anything lacks imagination or is predictable, he just switches it off immediately.
Sifu Waller can quote dialogue, scenes, examples from movies dating back to the 1930's even though he may only have seen the film once.
Sifu Waller likes sci-fi but only if it is imaginative. e.g. he found JJ Abrams Star Trek and Star Wars movies to be embarrassingly childish and filled with plot holes.
He deeply admires Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek and is impressed by the cultural impact made by the Original series.
If Sifu Waller shares an anecdote or story, please bear in mind that it is not gossip or nostalgia. He is not sentimental. When he is working, he is working throughout class - including your break times.
Apparent jokes and stories always contain a deeper component - an insight relevant to class/taijiquan/Taoism/life lesson.
There is a danger in thinking that Sifu Waller is sharing in-depth insights with you. How could he?
Everything he says is pitched relative to your ability. If you're a beginner, then he's sharing beginners insights. Nothing more.
Many students look at the syllabus/read the website and somehow come away imagining that Sifu Waller is sharing information pertinent to his own level. This is terrifically naive.
Often Sifu Waller delivers lessons that operate at more than one level. His conversations are the same.
Humour, metaphor, allusions, wit, different meanings and cultural/literary references are all blended to form a complex, layered, often challenging communication.
This isn't some ploy or attempt at being clever. It is just how he speaks.
I have eaten more salt than you
If Sifu Waller doesn't know something, he will never speculate. Opinions are worthless to him. He is quite happy to admit that he doesn't know.
Should he feel that it is important to know, he will find the answer no matter how long it takes.
Sifu Waller has uncanny time management skills. He can often guess the time without even looking at his watch. I am not joking.
Sifu Waller likes to read Krishnamurti and finds many of the conversations amusing.
Shooting the breeze
People sometimes want to shoot the breeze with Sifu Waller. This is fine; he enjoys a good conversation. Just don't play 'games'...
Say what you mean
A lot of people like to brag in the guise of a complaint e.g. I'm so busy... I'm so tired... Sifu Waller will take you at face value:
Tired = unwillingness to invest time resting/sleeping
Busy = statement of fact
No time = poor organisational skills
Can't remember = don't train at home/lazy/weak minded
Think for me = can't be bothered reading your website
Sense of humour
People who lack a sense of humour don't like Sifu Waller one bit. He won't play any of their 'games' and will not accord them the validation they are seeking.
Sifu Waller loves to share his enthusiasms. But he is not trying to impress you or show off. His aim is to stimulate and educate you. To maybe expand your consciousness...
He is genuinely keen to share useful knowledge and information but doesn't mind if you're not personally interested.
Thomas Cleary's description pretty much says it all:
The range of awareness and efficiency of the Taoist adept is
unnoticeable, imperceptible to others,
because their critical moments take place before ordinary intelligence has mapped out a description of the situation.
By seeing opportunities before they are visible to others and being quick to act,
the uncanny warrior can take situations by the throat before matters get out of hand.
Conserving one's own energy while inducing others to dissipate theirs is another function of the inscrutability so highly prized by the Taoist warrior.
He stresses change and surprise, employing endless variations of tactics,
using opponent's psychological conditions to manoeuvre them into vulnerable positions.
One of the purposes of Taoist literature is to help to develop this special sensitivity and responsiveness to handle living situations.
The art of not-doing which includes the unobtrusiveness, unknowability, and ungraspability at the core of esoteric Asian martial arts
- belongs to the branch of Taoism known as The Science of the Essence.
Was born in 1969
Sifu Waller's hometown is the UK's equivalent of Gotham City
Sifu Waller was named after his ancestor Nicholas de Valer. Waller is the Anglicised version of the Norse name "de Valer".
Actually pays attention
Is very playful
Likes to cook
Usually sees straight through bullshit
Isn't easy to annoy
Finds cleaning to be therapeutic
Likes the simplicity and clarity of Zen
Likes to provide a practical real-life example of what he means i.e. proof
Doesn't take things very seriously (unless he's actually working)
Doesn't take himself very seriously
Doesn't take his small wife very seriously at all
Loves to play with the meaning, nuances, implications of language and words
Distinguishes between sarcasm and wit; he finds sarcasm to be sadly lacking in intelligence
Is committed to the 'awakening of consciousness'
Only uses a computer if it's for work
Unimpressed by technology
Has made up more friendly nicknames for his wife than you could possibly imagine
Likes to walk
Is a vegetarian
Has no interest whatsoever in sport of any kind
Loves to see examples of shen
Abhors politics, news, current affairs
Has unusually warm skin temperature (refer to Wang Shujin)
Doesn't drink alcohol
Has never tried cigarettes or drugs
Interested in spiritual matters rather than religion
Applies the 90% rule in most situations
Likes 'musical' movies
Is never mean spirited
Expects more of himself than he does of you
Has no interest in prestige/status/fame/popularity
Likes old movies
When he was 8 years old it rained ladybirds on him for 2 hours
Dogs like Sifu Waller; I think he smells friendly
His patron is one of my Chinese Uncles; Andrew Yeo of Kuala Lumpur
Doesn't typically like martial arts movies or violent films
Never mentions taijiquan to people he meets outside of class
Hasn't driven the car in 15 years
Is never lazy
Prefers not to give answers and would rather the person figure things out for themselves
Never watches broadcast TV and doesn't even have an aerial
Likes to buy goods with a view to them lasting indefinitely
Is very eco
He likes cows, chickens and other farmyard animals
Has mellowed with age (slightly)
Will never patronise or demean someone
Thinks that technology is deforming the human body
Is interested in things
Doesn't follow fashions, trends etc
Likes being outdoors, away from people, pollution, cars and houses
Treats ancient Taoist treatise like science/instruction manuals
Usually finds and corrects his own mistakes
Never gets involved in other people's business/personal lives
As a young man he delivered mail in what was publicised on Channel 4 as being the roughest estate in the UK (he got attacked several times)
Thinks that only boring people get bored
Loathes 'fashion technology': smart phones, kindle, video games etc and would never buy one
It can be hard to tell whether he is joking or not
Avoids jargon and acronyms whenever possible
More patient than he realises
He likes woodland animals
Has only been married once and had a very low-key, unpretentious wedding, focussing purely upon the vows
Sifu Waller's on-line presence only exists for the purpose of the class (most Facebook postings are c/o Rachel)
Values the little things in life
Curious but not nosy
He values mind more than materiality
Thinks well of people
Used to own about 4 bookcases of taijiquan-related books
Doesn't believe in one-upmanship
Applies Taoism to all aspects of life
Likes digging to the heart of the matter
Good at problem solving
Isn't remotely macho
Sees mastery as a process not a destination
Thinks that technology is making people stupid
Zones out when people play 'Baby Boomer' social games e.g. faux complaining, bragging, comparing, competing etc
Considers boasting to be boring
Tends to see the faults in his practice rather than be impressed by it
Saw a wild white stag in Scotland in 2015
Always seeking improvements
Word and deed are the same thing
18 April 1995
Last updated 10 March 2020