Tai chi as a supplement

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Blind to the obvious?

Martial artists are often reluctant to drop an existing system when they commence tai chi. They want to cross-train. Yet, if your existing art is 'complete', why are you taking tai chi lessons in the first place? Your very
presence in the class speaks the truth. Something is missing from your existing system.

The tai chi fighting method

Tai chi encourages freedom of movement. It also trains body habits. You are learning to use the body in a very particular way. If anything you train conflicts with your tai chi, it will prevent the art from working correctly.

When you do tai chi, you shouldn't sweat.
Sweating is a sign that energy is being dissipated.
It comes from tension and it's as if you are depleting your bank account.
Doing tai chi, you want to accumulate energy, not spend it.
So, if you sweat, you should stop and rest.

(Cheng Man Ching)

Superficial understanding

People who work out forcefully can only ever attain a superficial grasp of tai chi chuan (dynamic balancing boxing) because their body usage and habits of muscular tension hamper the tai chi immensely.
Tai chi can only be truly understood by someone who is willing to let go. Cross-training internal and external habits is a folly. If you want to gain the real skills of tai chi, you may need to drop your external training altogether.

Different styles

You may be learning more than one style/approach of tai chi, and find that these conflict. Students with conflictive training tend to find that one instructor asks them to practice an
exercise one way, whilst their second instructor asks for it to be done a different way. This can be confusing - physically and mentally - and can also potentially lead to injury. Which 'way' is going to become habit?
Which 'way' is going to emerge in combat?
Combat offers no time for confusion over style/approaches/methods.

Two instructors?

It can be frustrating for an instructor if you are also training with another instructor. Many instructors will not instruct a student unless the student is fully committed to one class and one class only. If your eyes are looking in different directions, you will miss what is right in front of you.


The instructor is focussed upon teaching you a very specific syllabus. Behaving like a dojo dilettante, you remain a tourist - on the outside - never privy to the real teaching. Your own arrogance prevents you from listening to the instructor. And if you are not prepared to listen, or you think you know best... why attend lessons in the first place?


No instructor will share his secrets with a tourist. It would be inappropriate and unwise. This is why visiting instructors seldom teach anything deep when they offer a workshop. Martial arts require commitment, dedication, practice and loyalty. Unless a student demonstrates the necessary calibre of character, they alienate themselves and remain in the shallow end of the syllabus.

No time for two arts

Tai chi is an
advanced martial arts method. To become truly skilled at tai chi you must commit to hours of daily practice between lessons. There is no time for another art. No time for contradictory approaches.

No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.


One step forward, one step back

Tai chi is seeking to teach a certain approach. It will work best when unimpeded. Practicing contradictory methods means that you will not necessarily make much progress. This is especially evident in students who are tense. Unwilling to drop their existing habits, they flounder from the onset.


With only so many hours in a given day, there is simply no point in training tai chi alongside anything else. The proper practice of tai chi requires a daily commitment. There simply is not enough time to fully engage with another discipline. You are merely short-changing yourself...

Emotional investment

A lot of martial arts instructors are emotionally invested in what they teach. They are adamant that their system is the best. Sifu Waller is not like this. He sees the tai chi as being the best thing for him. For Sifu Waller, the art is a vehicle for the exploration of tai chi and sophisticated body use.


Our syllabus is very versatile. It offers a wide range of skills, including: kicks, punches, grapples, floor work, weaponry, joint manipulation, energy projection... There is also a significant fitness component, and very little risk of injury despite vigorous tai chi work.

Effort-to-reward ratio

What makes the training appealing is the fact that the applications are simple, direct, subtle and effective. There is no struggling, sweating and straining. No forcing. If you are using obvious strength, you are doing something wrong. In fact, once you possess neigong, the less effort you use, the greater the effect.


Conventional martial arts favour the younger, stronger, fitter student. By contrast; the
internal arts encourage a mature mind. Instead of retiring from combat at the age of 40, a student can look forward to spending the rest of their life training the art. Tai chi is the gentlest of the internal arts, and works the body in a very safe manner.

Do not do anything useless.

(Miyamoto Musashi)

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Page created 23 September 1995
Last updated 16 June 2023