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Sifu Waller's tai chi

All of
Sifu Waller's training shares the same characteristic style of moving, whether it is tai chi, weapons, combat or qigong. Even his applications follow a common theme:

- there is nothing superfluous, flowery or unnecessary
- no embellishments
- no flourishes
- nothing redundant or aesthetically-motivated
- shen is present in every movement
- he 'holds down the pillow' constantly


Art moves through 3 stages:

  1. New

  2. Classical

  3. Baroque

Many modern tai chi forms are baroque; separated from functionality and true purpose. Not in our class. There are no wasted movements. No crowd-pleasing displays.
The art is 'classical': simple, direct, focussed and effective in combat.

Each movement, each step, each small degree of advantage becomes too important.

(Wolfe Lowenthal)


The movements we use are motivated by neigong considerations and martial application. Students are not permitted to lean, reach or over-commit. Disconnection is unacceptable.
Tension is unnecessary.


The movements are natural, comfortable and useable. Nothing is exaggerated, stylised or awkward. Small circle movements are favoured over sweeping ones.
Students are required to use jing rather than li.


Many tai chi students have only encountered the 1st form and draw erroneous conclusions based on their limited understanding.
It is easy to see why they imagine that tai chi is large frame, lumbering and slow.
Few people ever experience the compact, sharp power of more advanced practice or the continual adjustments found in application.

If you have good timing, if you have a strong enough punch, you don't have to do fifty movements - you condense all the possibilities into one action. Make one cut, hurt him, Boom... it's over, down he goes. Enough already with all the screaming and excessive movements. Just do the job, get it over with, and go on to the next thing.

(Bruce Frantzis)


The weapons forms and partnered drills found in our syllabus encourage nimble footwork. Students become playful, agile and responsive.
Through sensitivity and listening skills they learn to adapt, change and improvise with ease.

3 methods

There are three methods we employ to affect the opponent:

  1. Chin na
    - cavity press
    - dividing the muscles
    - misplacing the bones
    - sealing the breath
    - seizing

  2. Jing
    - projections
    - striking

  3. Shuai jiao
    - escapes
    - floor work
    - take down
    - throwing

Our aim is not to advertise our intentions, so all movement must be immediate and spontaneous.


All movement is generated using the entire body. This removes any need for flamboyance.
Subtle curves, spirals and stickiness - combined with a skilful use of peng - provide the necessary in-roads to penetrate defences and incapacitate the attacker.
Every action involves every body part moving as a combined network of strength. This provides a pliable, yet powerful means of utilising the body in combat and everyday life.


To accomplish this, a great deal of whole-body strength must be cultivated. Patience, practice and long hours of dedicated work over many years is required.

If I concentrate while he divides, I can use my entire strength to attack a fraction of his.

(Sun Tzu)


Sifu Waller's tai chi looks very simple. Yet, to date, no student has come close to emulating it. The subtlety reflects a high degree of sophistication and whole-body strength.


Everything stems from a sparse functionality. Graceful, but direct. Realistic, but not coarse or vulgar. Energy efficiency and secrecy dictate that the internal arts should be practiced in a minimalist way.

Give nothing, take everything

The understated nature of Sifu Waller's tai chi denies the opponent any sense of what is taking place. This is not conventional martial arts practice. Nothing is advertised.
The power is not obvious from the body use. It only becomes apparent by the effect.


Yang Cheng Fu advocated using mind rather than force, and this sentiment lies at the heart of what we practice. Clarity, composure, inner stillness and calm enable the student to be present at all times.
The focus is upon the essence of things. To quote the Taoist maxim: "eat the fruit, not the flower."


A mind that is here and now is better capable of responding to the needs of the moment appropriately and effectively.
To complement the mind, the form taken must be natural and easy, fluid and restrained. The aim is to go from a neutral state, to action, to neutral again; without disturbing the inner harmony.

Good form is the most efficient manner to accomplish the purpose of a performance with a minimum of lost motion and wasted energy.

(Bruce Lee)

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Page created 18 April 1995
Last updated 16 June 2023