Chinese martial arts

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Martial art

Practiced since the dawn of human civilisation, Chinese martial arts have influenced martial arts development throughout the whole of Asia.
fighting skills have been developed and refined with each generation.

Folk arts

The Chinese have used martial arts for the last
4500 years. Their skills have remained relevant and functional throughout the ages.
speed and versatility of Chinese martial arts makes them ideal for armed combat, unarmed combat and self defence.


The modern off-shoot of Chinese martial arts is called 'wushu'. It combines martial arts-style movements, gymnastics, acrobatics and dance choreographed to look exciting.
Wushu is all about aesthetics, theatrical displays and entertainment. Traditional Chinese martial arts are not performance art, nor sport.

Internal & external

Most martial arts rely on strength, tensed muscles, speed, force against force, locked joints, aggression and using the arms independently of the body. This is thought of as being 'external'.
A handful of martial arts use the body in a very different manner, relying upon timing, balance, relaxed muscles, whole-body strength, whole-body movement and whole-body power.
These arts are called 'internal'.

Internal martial arts (neijiaquan)

Neijiaquan cultivates a very different attitude in the student. It necessitates an unfamiliar approach to body use, combat and living:

  1. Health and combat are equally important

  2. Age is less of an obstacle

  3. Significantly more refined, detailed and sophisticated than mainstream martial arts

  4. Strength is built using unconventional means

  5. Cross-training: massage, leg stretches, qigong, neigong, form, partnered work, martial sets & drills, combat and weapons

  6. Physically and mentally challenging; but in a very different way to mainstream martial arts

  7. Body must be trained to move in a manner that is unfamiliar

  8. Organic, natural, flowing

  9. Striking and grappling are trained together

  10. Hidden, restrained, subtle

  11. Uses 4 ounces of pressure, stickiness, sensitivity

  12. Incapacitation is the aim

  13. Composure is vital

  14. Allowing, leading, misdirecting, listening, sensitivity, adaptation

  15. Close-quarters

  16. Circular

  17. Reliance upon spontaneity and timing

  18. Being in the body and sensation-oriented

  19. Blending rather than blocking

  20. Feeling your vulnerability

  21. Loose, fluid and relaxed musculature

  22. A highly developed technical understanding is cultivated

  23. An understanding of the meaning and application of the martial classics

  24. It is a vehicle for exploring the many insights offered by 'Taoism'

  25. The training is done carefully, gently - in a controlled manner - without exertion or strain

Tai chi?

The most common internal martial art is tai chi. However, when modern people say 'tai chi' they usually mean tai chi for health: the peaceful slow motion exercise and that is not martial.

If all you learn is a lot of forms, you just become a good dancer.

(James Wing Woo)

Tai chi fighting method

Tai chi chuan (dynamic balancing boxing)
training is thought-provoking and insightful; with lessons about living, as well as about combat.
There is nothing macho, aggressive, confrontational or competitive about tai chi.
Health, wellbeing, character development and philosophical study are just as important as combat skills.

Stamina & endurance

Tai chi training is renowned for improving stamina and endurance. Students can concentrate longer and sustain prolonged physical activity without fatigue.
They gain the ability to withstand hardship and cope with difficulty.

Adapt, change & improvise

Modest and understated, tai chi is the perfect antidote to the pressures of modern life.
The training encourages people to consider how they live their lives and open-up to new choices, options and alternatives.


Tai chi is ultimately a journey of discovery; simultaneously uncovering the art and ourselves. The subjects and insights revealed in our training have ramifications beyond class.
We can take new skills, methods and attitudes into all aspects of life.

When to start?

The young are impatient and expect instant results. The old are lazy and just want to talk. The best age for learning an internal martial art is after the teenage years and before the onset of decline.

ur classes

Sifu Waller offers
chin na, shuai jiao and tai chi chuan (dynamic balancing boxing).

Page created 25 March 1994
Last updated 16 June 2023