Lineage student of taijiquan

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Inner teachings

Before asking about being a lineage student, you must become an indoor student of taijiquan first.
Should you be successful as an indoor student, your instructor will determine whether or not to offer you to opportunity to become a lineage student.


Taijiquan experts are always on the lookout for the unique student capable of being their successor. Yang Lu-chan only found a handful. Yang Cheng Fu even less. Peter Southwood only found 1.


Sifu Waller invites his keenest students to become a lineage student. He is looking for strong candidates eager to steal his art, to learn his every taijiquan secret.
For the serious martial artist, this is truly the opportunity of a lifetime... But, we warned: time wasting will not be tolerated.

Prove yourself sincere

The first task is to gain experience. Quite literally: put your money where your mouth is. If your ambition is not grounded in the fact of your training, you are merely a talker.

You want to be a lineage student?

The student must meet certain criteria:

  1. At least 5 years unbroken taijiquan training with our school

  2. An indoor student of taijiquan

  3. Weekly private lessons

  4. Twice-weekly attendance

  5. Commitment to daily home training

  6. Sense of humour

  7. Combat skills

  8. Passing grades quickly

  9. Family member or black belt standard

  10. High level of competence with qigong

  11. Burgeoning skill with neigong

  12. High level of competence with form

  13. Studying taijiquan

  14. No attitude problems/ego/arrogance

  15. Attend all classes, workshops and training opportunities

  16. Enthusiasm with shido-geiko (learning-by-helping) responsibilities

  17. School spirit

  18. Takes the initiative when it comes to promoting/supporting the class

  19. Undertake study, research and assignments with enthusiasm

Suitable candidates will be told what lineage student training entails.

Lineage student

A lineage student is not simply a student or an indoor student. By definition, a 'lineage student' follows and disseminates a teaching. An exceptional degree of skill is required.
The lineage student must be exemplary in every regard.

No lies. No excuses.

It is quite common for lineage students to mess the instructor about. They have good intentions that are not reflected in their level of commitment.
Lineage tuition requires sincerity, the most serious mind.

Taking responsibility

Being a lineage student is about making a commitment to learn everything that your instructor knows about the art. Their total syllabus.
Lineage is about making a major sacrifice in terms of time, effort and money. It requires a rapid growth in skill. There must be the long-term goal of teaching the art to others.

Year of hell

A lineage candidate will be given one year to prove themselves serious. They will be expected to train far harder than anyone else in the school. No latitude will be given.
The year will end with combat against all other taijiquan members in the school. Unsuccessful candidates may resume practice as a regular student once more.

Hard work

If accepted as a lineage student, the training will become harder still... The journey is long and the climb is very steep.
Should the student's resolve/commitment weaken at any point, the indoor tuition will be over.

Time scale

Lineage training usually involves an intense period of tuition lasting 10-20 years.
The lineage student will be expected to take hundreds of private lessons, attend weekly lessons throughout, workshops and lineage sessions. Demanding daily practice, study and research is a must.


A lineage student has to be formally acknowledged as such by the expert.
To become a lineage student, you must undertake the bai shi ceremony and be publicly accepted as a lineage student by the expert.
Their long-term lineage status is contingent upon their on-going conduct and progress.

My own thinking is that a sensei is very much like another kind of person who is responsible for important matters. A person who, like the sensei seems to be from another age, a person of rare and unique gifts. The sensei, it seems to me, is very much like a vintner.

A vintner is the person who produces wine. He is the one who is responsible for it, from the planting of the grape vines, all the way until the raw wine is poured into casks to age. The vintner is the talented individual who can look at a particular hillside or a handful of soil and can tell you which kinds of grapes will grow best there, what kind of yield you can expect. He knows when the grapes need to be pruned. He makes vital decisions throughout the growing season, to fertilize, to spray for bugs. He must decide when to pick them in the fall, to wait for a few more days to let them fully ripen or to pick now and beat out the rain that can adversely affect the whole harvest.

The vintner is responsible for the blend of grapes that go into fermentation tanks. He must add the sugars if they're needed, to begin the fermentation process. In short, he is the guy responsible for the wine from the time the grape vines are planted or bud out, until the moment the wine is on its own, so to speak, when it has been put in casks and must now age and develop according to the qualities inherent in it.

Doesn't this sound very much like the sensei's task? He is the person responsible for a student, from the time that student enters the training hall until the crucial period of the training process has been completed. The sensei is a person, then, in my estimation, who can take a person of raw and unknown potential and turn out a complete and worthwhile product. He can oversee the process from beginning to end.

(Dave Lowry)


An instructor should aim to train every lineage student up to their level and foster the skills necessary to go further. A lineage student is not defined/limited by their teacher.
They can exceed the instructor.
Consider people such as Einstein or Mozart. Clearly Einstein exceeded the sum of his teacher's expertise; he is considered to be one of the most powerful thinkers of all time...
What was his physics teacher called? Every good teacher wants the student to exceed their own limitations.

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Page created 2 March 1995
Last updated 21 November 2021