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2 approaches

These are listed in order of difficulty:

  1. Qigong & tai chi syllabus

  2. Tai chi chuan syllabus

Students may train at whatever level they are capable of doing. Our program is entirely self-differentiating.

Natural talent?

A lot of people still believe in the notion of 'natural talent'. According to scientific research detailed in a number of books published in the 21st Century, there's no such thing...

Ability begets ability

People who excel, do so because they put in more time and commit to greater practice than other people do.
They also receive regular feedback, learn from their mistakes and get better (continuously). Read Grit, Smarter Faster Better, 5 Elements of Effective Thinking and Peak...  Find out for yourself.

The work

Martial arts skills cannot be bought or gifted to you. You must do the work. After all, it is your body that performs the movements, your mind that sees the opportunities.
Even if we wanted to, we could not just give you the skills.


Students are taught relative to initiative. Passive people are left alone; they attend, they enjoy the night and there may be a minor improvement each week.
By contrast, active learners make the best use of their time and make the most of every training opportunity.

Most students are content to work on whatever is most appropriate for their ability level and competence; stretching beyond their comfort zone moderately but not trying to force a result.
A few students are the opposite; seeking to perform the most advanced skills they can find. They continually flounder; with neither body nor mind possessing the requisite foundation. They make no real progress but mistakenly believe that they do.


Active learning

You are attending a learning environment. You are shown new material. You receive tips & pointers, corrections and refinements.
What you do with the new information is what really matters...


Practice takes place between lessons.

As you like it

Students are encouraged to work at the pace that best suits their own interest, motivation and grade. We avoiding putting students under pressure.
If you want to train at home, then do so. If you do not, then that is OK too but you may need to adjust your ambitions accordingly.

You decide

If a person wants to move to the next stage of training, the opportunity is there. The criteria is clearly stated and the student knows what skills are necessary.
Whether or not the individual is prepared to do the required work is entirely up to the student


In order to do mathematics a person would need to be able to count to ten, understand how to add, subtract, multiply and divide. Without these basic skills, nothing more complex is possible.

Building blocks

Everything in life is like this. You learn the foundation and then you build the first level on top of those basics. The next level on top of the first, and so on...

Example #1 - qigong ticksheet

All students in our school study qigong and tai chi. If you want to learn
tai chi (dynamic balancing boxing) as well, you can apply to do so once you know all of the exercises on the qigong ticksheet.
Once you know the exercises, Rachel will determine whether or not you are fit enough to undertake the tai chi taster.

Example #2 - form sections

If you can demonstrate section 1 with a reasonable degree of competence then we can teach you section 2.
There would be no point in acquiring a vast number of sloppy movements that you cannot remember accurately.
By incrementally working through the skills, your brain has a chance to slowly gain knowledge and become familiar with the material.

Example #3 - mirror the form

Once you can perform a form movement one way, mirror it. Mirror every form, drill and exercise in the syllabus.

Example #4 - weapons

You learn set 1 of the stick drills, then you learn set 2 and finally set 3. When you know the L
ong Yang form and the 15 solo sword drills you can study the walking stick form.

Example #5 -
shuai jiao

Tai chi students may only undertake shuai jiao if they can prove themselves to be fit enough.
We cannot in good conscience (or in keeping with the insurance regulations) offer shuai jiao to students who are physically incapable of performing the required movements.
Although we will assist students in cultivating the necessary degree of fitness, there is no scope for latitude/concessions.
Shuai jiao is physically demanding. Both the attacker and defender must be supple, flexible, strong and relaxed.

Example #6 - combat

When you have a working knowledge of a reasonable number of applications and body skills, you can begin to apply tai chi in unrehearsed combat.
This is quite different to friendly partnered training. The level of unpredictability is high. You must draw upon all of the preceding skills and experience in order to cope.

Revision & refinement

A student is shown pushing hands (or any other skill). They manage to perform a crude sense of the pattern. This is a start. But that is all.
Progress is made by repeatedly refreshing the basic skills and slowly introducing new considerations and qualities. The process is continual and on-going.

I do not enlighten those who are not eager to learn, nor arouse those who are not quick to give an explanation themselves.
If I have presented one corner of the square and they cannot come back to me with the other three, I should not go over the points again.


Asking for more?

Prove that you can handle it. Our insurance company insists that students are taught relative to competence
If you want to learn more advanced material, you need to be capable of 'wielding the sword'. Otherwise you will just get hurt. Do not ask for more if you are not going to put in the work.


Not everything will make sense to you right now. That is fine. A surgeon did not start out in the operating theatre. They began in primary school (or nursery).
Long journeys take time, patience and effort. Failure to understand is not a sign of stupidity; it signifies that you need to learn more in order to understand.

Learning difficulties

If an instructor demonstrates a skill/insight and the student fails to pick it up, it may be because:

  1. The instructor did not explain it well

  2. The student was not paying attention

  3. The student is not physically or mentally capable of using that information yet

Students may be quick to argue point 1, but the truth is far more likely to be points 2 or 3. Just be patient with yourself.

Not ready

Being a
beginner is OK. A karate white belt is not taught material at a black belt level; they are taught at a white belt level. The same principle applies to tai chi.

Unless we enter into experiences by direct participation, we remain on the outside. This law allows no exceptions.

Eugen Herrigel)

school database

Page created 18 March 1997
Last updated 16 June 2023