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A lack of focus

Japanese martial arts are usually taught in a very methodical, thorough way.
There is a clear syllabus, steps of progress, grades and some degree of ongoing continuity.

Chinese internal martial arts are seldom taught like this.
Often there can seem to be no discernible syllabus, no continuity and a generally vague approach to teaching the material.
A syllabus seldom exists.


Many taijiquan people train with a variety of teachers or gain material from different sources.

This can lead to a mish-mashing of potentially incongruent, conflicting or incompatible ideas.
Although common, this learning approach is inefficient and seldom leads to a high level of skill.

There is an Indian folk tale about six blind men inspecting an elephant:

The first man encounters the side of the animal
and believes it to be a wall.
The second man imagines the tusk to be a spear.
The third man thinks that the trunk is a snake.
The fourth man considers the leg to be a tree.
The fifth man feels an ear and believes it to be a fan.
The sixth man finds the tail and is certain it is a rope.

(Zen story)


Structured learning

Taijiquan cannot be approached in a haphazard, piecemeal fashion.
There needs to be a framework for learning.
This would be true of any subject: Spanish, cooking, carpentry, music, ballet, massage, accountancy, engineering, botany, computing, rugby...
Beginners start with basic skills and gradually build to a richer, more complex grasp of the subject.

By adhering to a professional approach to learning, taijiquan students can make the most of the class, achieve tangible results and get the best value for their money.


A good taijiquan school will have a tried and tested syllabus in place.
By systematically learning one skill at a time, the student gradually accrues information, gains physical awareness and increases the range and scope of their understanding.
But this does not happen overnight.
There is a considerable amount of information to learn. It must be revised, refined, honed and practiced thoroughly.

Kung fu styles like taijiquan have become widespread and popular. It is important for all practitioners to understand a major weaknesses in the transmission of all Chinese arts; a lack of basic training. In fact, step-by-step training program, standardized terminology, clear explanations and correct interpretations are either entirely missing or woefully scarce.

(Adam Hsu)

Scheme of work

Our classes follow a carefully designed 'scheme of work' that takes the student step-by-step through every skill.
Everything is taught in easy, simple, bite-sized pieces.

At each stage of the curriculum the student possesses clearly defined skills that can be proven in practice.
Material is organised in a structured manner and taught systematically. This way, each student is free to progress at their own pace.

Access for all

The aim with 'differentiation' is for all students to access the curriculum relative to each individual's ability.
This means that those who struggle are assisted, those who do fine are developed and those who do well are challenged further.

Learning a martial art

When learning a martial art there are essentially 3 stages:

  1. Physical fitness

  2. Technical skill

  3. Combat

Most students want to do 3 but flounder on 1.
The beginner's syllabus and intermediate are about physical fitness.
The experienced syllabus is about technical skill.

Revision & refinement

As a student becomes more skilled, they look back at existing material and re-examine it from a higher level of understanding.
This is vital, as the student uncovers new insights and gains a deeper comprehension.

I've done some martial arts before including taijiquan but Sifu Waller's syllabus is so beyond anything I've seen it's ridiculous! Practically all my previous training has not helped me at all and I'm just grateful I found Sifu Waller when I did. Having trained (on and off) for over 14 years in taijiquan I know that Sifu Waller is one of a kind in his commitment to his students, and really respect his approach.

What I really like about the class is its friendly atmosphere with excellent teaching and a clear syllabus that means everyone makes progress. Itís challenging but accessible. Everything is explained to the level you want and obviously Sifu Waller really demonstrates what is possible in the Art.

As a school teacher I am continually impressed with Sifu Waller's teaching system, resources and the time he takes with classes. I often feel like emailing him to thank him for another outstanding lesson but a) this could happen most weeks and b) I do actually feel guilty for not being a good enough student.

What I find most amazing about the syllabus is how everything is interlocking and interconnected.

(Tim Middleton, maths teacher)

taijiquan (supreme ultimate fist) syllabus

Page created 2 August 1995
Last updated 12 February 2017