The physical
Taijiquan eligibility

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Tai chi for health

Faced with a major health crisis in the 1950's, the People's Republic of China turned to Yang style taijiquan for a solution.
They wanted a form of exercise that could be performed by students of all ages. The simplest way to achieve this was to remove the more demanding fitness component and the combat.
Most modern taijiquan classes are teaching an art that an old person could cope with... By definition this cannot conceivably be a martial art.

Conventional martial arts

In a typical martial arts class students spend a good hour going through a military-style warm-up routine before the combat practice starts. This usually takes half the night.


Taijiquan has a far more sophisticated syllabus than mainstream martial arts and we don't want to waste the lesson warming-up.
The preferred alternative to a military-style warm-up routine is for the student to address their own fitness at home each day... Most people don't do this.

Martial attitude

Attending class and training that night is fine if you are a tai chi for health student. It can be a pleasant evening
of gentle exercise, relaxation and de-stressing.
But this is not a 'martial' attitude.

Fit for combat

Train at home or train in class; you get to
choose. You do it or we will. Students who neglect to take responsibility for their own
fitness level make it our responsibility.
You may not take it seriously, but we do.

Compromise to please others is not as good as integrity that annoys others.

(Huanchu Daoren)


The Ministry of Transport require all motorists to submit their vehicle to an annual roadworthiness test. We implement a similar policy when it comes to fitness.
Every time a student completes the training for a grade, they must undertake a physical. Failing the physical could mean 'rehab' work with the tai chi for health group rather than a new grade

The physical

The physical was designed by Rachel in order to test a variety of different requirements:

  1. Baoding balls

  2. Standing post

  3. Leg stretches (set 1)

  4. Leg stretches (set 2)

  5. Full circle qigong standing challenge (30 mins)

  6. Taoist Yoga (1 set)

  7. Cardio work (sets 1 & 2)

Mainly OK

If a
beginner can pass their physical with mainly OK marks, then they can start learning taijiquan.
Should their fitness be generally 'Poor', tai chi for fitness training is necessary until their fitness improves significantly.

OK standard

An existing taijiquan student undertakes the physical at the completion of the beginners grade or if Rachel or Sifu Waller is concerned that their fitness is lacking.

They are required to pass each category at a Good standard. A Poor rating means re-hab with tai chi for fitness until the problem is resolved.

Feeling good

Once you commit to weekly lessons and start practicing daily at home, you really notice a difference. Instead of feeling lethargic and bored, you feel energised and vibrant.
Your mind is calm and your emotions composed, but you feel alive.


At the start of the taijiquan syllabus there is a martial physical. This will enable Sifu Waller to gauge just exactly how close you are to attaining the mandatory martial arts fitness standard

We want to scale the steepest cliffs to lofty heights.
But forget about ambition;
get on with the work of climbing,
this is what the sages tell us.
Vinegar has its own sweetness.

(Loy Ching-Yuen)

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Page created 27 June 1996
Last updated 29 April 2021