Teaching assistants
Qigong & tai chi

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Teaching assistants work with Rachel to teach the
tai chi for health, tai chi for fitness and tai chi for self defence curriculum. They are all enthusiastic, friendly and enjoy training tai chi.
Despite being conscientious and keen, nobody takes themselves too seriously.

Who are they?

Teaching assistants - Chris Young, Peter Hobson and Julia Pattison
Volunteer coordinator: Chris Young
Social secretary: Maria Valassia Peppa


possesses terrific people skills and is a 'natural' when it comes to teaching students. He is an versatile mentor; offering a zero-pressure approach to the cultivation of the desired skills
With an extensive background in martial arts (including karate black belts) Chris brings a lot of insight and martial experience to his taijiquan.
Chris endeavours to attend additional training opportunities. Hardy and robust, Chris has no fear and is always eager to try new things. His adventurous, experimental attitude makes Chris open-minded and receptive. 
As Volunteer Coordinator, Chris ensures that all teaching assistants have an equal opportunity to engage with students and deliver the material in an appropriate way.


Peter is a 'nuts and bolts' guy; keen to know how things work, why they work and how to improve their functionality. He has a keen interest in biomechanics, movement, tai chi and qigong.
Thoughtful, insightful and astute, Peter is a keen observer of human behaviour. He enjoys a wide variety of past-times and hobbies, and is an extremely patience, measured individual.
His training has been enhanced by considerable reflection, insight and methodical exploration. Peter loves to examine how things work and has developed good skills as a consequence.
He is an exceptionally curious, thoughtful gentleman with a great sense of what tai chi is about and is always a delight to talk with.


Julia is very involved with the running of the school and became an 'indoor student of taijiquan' in 2020. She is a highly disciplined student with a comprehensive daily training routine.
Her progress through the syllabus has been strong and her fighting spirit is formidable. Julia had an impressive professional career and observed a sensible work/home life balance.
By gently, patiently, moderately working on her taijiquan at home, Julia has succeeded in developing a considerable amount of strength. Typically the first person to volunteer (for anything), Julia is an extremely nice lady to work with and shows her enthusiasm at all times.
In addition to attending evening classes, Julia takes every opportunity for additional practice.


Maria is our social secretary. She is a very keen, athletic lady with a highly sociable, friendly personality. Maria is extremely approachable and enjoys interacting with other people.


Assistants all possess qualities necessary for tai chi instruction:

  1. Friendly and personable

  2. Interested in other people

  3. Caring

  4. Reliable

  5. Earnest

  6. Committed

  7. Trustworthy

  8. Genuine

  9. Punctual

  10. Motivated

Expressing the teaching

Being an assistant is a challenge; it requires the student to articulate skills and ideas in a way that makes sense to other people.
This requires considerable effort. Expressing the teaching to somebody else is not easy.


In order to explain, you must dismantle things, give examples, illustrate and demonstrate. You need to answer questions and to re-consider your own perceptions.

Kung fu

Kung fu instructor Sifu Waller has never had a teaching assistant. Rachel has teaching assistants. Not Sifu Waller.

Mark is an extremely successful high school mathematics teacher. When we asked him when he really learned calculus, he said, "When I first taught it. There is no better way to learn anything than to actually teach it. When I teach something, I have to confront many fundamental questions: What is the motivation to learn this topic? What are the basic examples? On what aspects of this material should I focus? What are the underlying themes? What ties the ideas together? What is the global structure? What are the important details? These questions force me to discover the heart of the matter, and see exactly what I truly understand and what I still need to work on."

(Edward B Burger & Michael Starbird)

contact details     rachel waller     Sifu Waller     assistants

Page created 2 March 1995
Last updated 29 September 2021