A tonic

Taijiquan is not going to fix you up. It was never intended (or designed) to be something employed for repair. At best, it may be seen as a tonic.
A tonic is a medicine taken daily in order to maintain and invigorate the body.It may significantly improve your health.
However, you should take note of the small print, the conditions of use:

  1. It must be administered every day 
  2. When you stop taking it, the health benefits go away
This is something to really think about. Re-read the paragraph if you need to.



Stay calm

If you lack composure, you will not see what is right in front of you.
Being calm is utterly essential.
You need to remain detached, emotionally aware and at ease.

This is the real reason why beginners practice 'escapes'.


A young boy travelled across Japan to the school of a famous martial artist.
When he arrived at the dojo he was given an audience by the sensei.

"What do you wish from me?" the master asked.

"I wish to be your student and become the finest karateka in the land," the boy replied.
"How long must I study?"

"Ten years at least," the master answered.

"Ten years is a long time," said the boy.
"What if I studied twice as hard as all your other students?"

"Twenty years," replied the master.

"Twenty years! What if I practice day and night with all my effort?"

"Thirty years," was the master's reply.

"How is it that each time I say I will work harder, you tell me that it will take longer?" the boy asked.

"The answer is clear. When one eye is fixed upon your destination, there is only one eye left with which to find the way."

(Joe Hyams)


Partner work

There are three rules in partner work:
  1. Stay calm
  2. Do not rush
  3. Do not use tension
If you ignore these, your taijiquan simply will not work. Try as you might, nothing will be successful.
Internal taijiquan only works if you follow these basic guidelines without deviation.



Taijiquan encourages the student to exercise with intelligence, to 'listen' to what the body is telling you.

If something feels too heavy, too hard, too taxing... then it is a warning.
If a joint feels sore, then do not ignore it.
If the same injury occurs again and again, you risk long term damage that will eventually affect your
quality of life.

Pain is not something to be fought or ignored.
It is something you must listen to and learn from. It is something you want to avoid experiencing altogether.


Taijiquan skills

Combat sets require the student to apply kung fu skills effectively.
You cannot simply use force and expect success.

The sets are ruthless in their ability to expose faults in your practice.
Only by adhering to their lessons and requirements can the student apply kung fu correctly in combat.


Gaps and deficiencies

It can be quite a shock for a student to find out that their form is actually a mess.
The form may look aesthetically pleasing, yet under pressure it falls apart.

Taoism advocates eating the fruit, not the flower.
The form must be functional, effective and comfortable.
If your structure and movements fail in combat, what exactly are you training when you practice your form?



Sets are derived from the form.
They use movements from the form against an attacker.
Therefore, they also serve to test your skill with form. If your form is imprecise and sloppy, your application will not work.

A combat set provides an opportunity for a student to really tidy-up their form and gain insight into how the form can be used.
Errors that may seem unimportant in solo practice may prove disastrous in partner work.


Be here, right now

If you enter a busy gym, there is usually very loud music designed to 'numb-out' the mind whilst exercising.
This is not wise.

Whenever the body is being used, the mind must be present, aware and alert.
Spacing-out is dangerous.
It can result in poor alignment, exertion and injury.



The partnered exercises in the syllabus are about using the form.

Many of the skills acquired from pushing hands (and the associated exercises) are quite subtle and require significant ongoing practice.
Sensitivity, awareness, stickiness and peng are cultivated patiently.
Such drills are not directly martial.
You could not apply the drills in combat, but you would use the skills taught by the drills.



The 70% rule

The 100% capacity approach is the 'no pain, no gain' attitude to exercise.
It opens you up for strain and injury because you are fully committed (and often forcing) at all times.

Most people exceed their natural range of safe movement frequently throughout the day without realising it.
If you remain well within your limits at all times there is less risk of injury.


Hungry ghosts

The deeper into the lineage training the student progresses, the harder it is for them to return to lessons as a regular student.

Having reneged on promises and failed to live up to expectations (ours and their own), the student is typically tortured by their own demons.
Vanity, ego and pride lead to defensiveness and arrogance.
The student ultimately grows to resent Master Waller and eventually quits the school.

Apply with care...