While the teachings of a martial tradition may be recorded in scrolls or expressed verbally, those outside the tradition who gain access to this information have little chance of learning much of practical value. Such instructions invariably consist of vague references or riddle-like aphorisms. These cryptic axioms suffice for the conveying of deep secrets because the martial artist who receives them properly has spent an enormous amount of time apprenticing under his master. They have in common, teacher and student, the specialized vocabulary of their tradition, as well as similar experience in the physical actions demanded in learning it. The teachings, however, opaque they may appear to the outsider, have meaning to the initiate and his master because the two have endured the long process of training together.

(Dave Lowry)


It seems to be the way things are going, people don’t want to commit to anything long term. Above all they don’t want to do the work.

 I’m judging a scriptwriting competition at the moment. People openly say they’ve applied because they think if they win they won't have to do much work and it’ll be an easy life. They haven’t got a clue how hard you have to work or how much hardship is involved. All they’re asked to do is submit 10 pages of their writing. Some of them can’t even be bothered to do that. All of these people are in for a major disappointment, not just in this competition, but in the industry generally. It’ll eat them up and spit them out. Their dreams will be shattered and they’ll blame everyone but themselves. One or two will re-work their scripts and strengthen them, but most won’t.

 It’s the age of entitlement. It’s really stupid and lazy but it’s everywhere. I don’t really get it either. It must be very puzzling for Sifu who is offering gold, when people (myself included) can only grasp tin.



Of all the people who begin the discipline of taijiquan, only a handful will continue past a year or so. Humility, compassion, lack of ambition, non-aggression, spontaneity and silence are not qualities that our societies value. There is no more difficult journey than the journey to the self.
(John Lash)


Talk is cheap

If you like to talk politics and watch the news, you probably shouldn't consider kung fu. It is not for you.

Kung fu is all about tangible, concrete action. Putting your money where you mouth is: training hard, integrity, resolve, commitment, sacrifice, dedication, focus, earnestness, clarity, proof, results.

There's no room for talkers. You cannot defeat a punch with hot air...Talk truly is worthless.

What exactly did learning at school involve?

  1. Lessons in class/explanations
  2. Reading text books
  3. Practice in class
  4. Heavy repetition of basic elements e.g. times tables, alphabet, spelling tests
  5. Homework
  6. Revision
  7. Exams
  8. Levels of proficiency
  9. Regular feedback 

Somehow as adults we expect to pick things up easily and skilfully without undertaking the process of learning necessary as a child. Why is this?


Many people are so uncomfortable in the absence of noise that they will leave the television on even when no one is watching.

 I have passed people on lonely mountain paths carrying radios that were blasting out rock music. They like the scenery but fear the silence.

 We are overwhelmed by noise pollution which keeps us from being able to relax and which wreaks havoc on our nervous system.

(John Lash)

Beyond the beginning

Many people join a tai chi school with lofty ambitions only to reach a rudimentary level of skill and simply remain there. 
Remaining a beginner forever is pointless. No matter how much you learn it is still at the first level of skill. Years of practice don't mean anything if you're still a beginnerThere's been no progress.
If you are sincere about trying to slow down the aging process, you're going to have to keep going. Don't stop at the beginning. Climb.


The root of ignorance itself is our mind’s habitual tendency to distraction.

(Sogyal Rinpoche)


Switch off

Try switching the TV off.
Suddenly the day is yours to do with as you see fit.
Switch off the PC.
The phone.
Go around the house and unplug every electronic device you are not using.
Wow; no more background hum.
Your electric meter is no longer spinning fast.


Junk is the ultimate merchandise. The junk merchant does not sell his product to the consumer, he sells the consumer to the product.

 He does not improve and simplify his merchandise, he degrades and simplifies the client.

(William S. Burroughs)


Anyone considering taking up Tai Chi for health, fitness, or martial need to attend this class if they are serious about learning the art. Sifu Waller has a wealth of experience which he imparts with humility and humour. His wife Rachel is equally passionate about helping you through the early stages with checking and constructive pointers. In addition to the training they have a comprehensive website which is a wealth of information covering every aspect and that alone is worth the fee. I am 9 months in (a mere beginner ) but I have learnt so much with the prospect of extending my learning indefinitely. The members are all like minded people who make you extremely welcome, one of the best decisions I have made regarding training my mind and my body. 


I've found the baguazhang teaching to be fascinating, and very challenging. I find Sifu Waller's teaching very clearly demonstrates how studying the art demands a pre-existing naturalness in body use and a very high level of control. The exercises we have done have been reasonably simple, but very difficult to do! I am very much enjoying it, and what little martial application we have experienced is brutally effective. I can see shared principles with taijiquan but it looks and feels very different.
(Dr Ben Beattie)


  If you start off working out too hard, causing exhaustion, injury and pain you are more likely to give up.

(Amelia Freer)


There are many definitions of both sympathy and empathy. And presumably people have constructed careers out of the debates. I think sympathy can be shown to people but empathy cannot - it can be felt, and your response to what you feel manifest in compassion for instance.

Some people are more empathic than others, that is they are more sensitive to their own emotional changes when they encounter someone in distress for instance. You may feel sad when a friend is sad, and so there is alignment in this. However, you may feel anxious when they are sad but it is still an empathic response. So yes, you don’t feel their pain but rather your own, if you are open to it. It applies to joy as well and that is a key point.

Sympathy is almost invariably with respect to negative states and loss, but empathy applies to any emotional state.

(David Cousins)


Joan Kay and I had decided that we both needed to look at a form of exercise for the over 60's - however as we are moderately fit this taxed our minds for a number of months - until Joan came across this school in Newcastle run by Sifu and Rachel Waller.

The first 3 weeks are run as a taster session and to give an insight into the ways of QiQong - pronounced Chi Gung. How could I sum this exercise up, well after a 2-hour session your body is aware you have had a thorough work out.

Its now been 2 months and as we slowly begin to understand the moves, its all beginning to click and feel natural.

Having been involved with sport all my life - I only wish we'd found this 30 years ago. Its all about being calm and at one with yourself whilst exercising.

There's a group of 40 students who are the most friendly group of people I've come across in recent years. We have been made to feel very welcome and special - so if you think you are too old !!!! think again. If however your in your 20's / 30's jump at the chance to meet these great teachers. They get my 5* + rating and thats been rarely given out in the past.

(Martin Kay)