Ang pow
Written by Rachel

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Different culture

Tai chi is not English. It was not invented in the UK. It is Chinese. Consequently, there are Chinese words used in tai chi, a dress code and also a number of Chinese customs such as bowing.
Most people are keen to explore different cultures, and accept the cultural differences as being part of the learning experience.
A few people don't like Chinese traditions (and are probably studying the wrong art...)

What is ang pow?

In Asian culture people offer a gift on certain occasions.
This is called 'ang pow'.
Traditionally the gift is offered in a red envelope/paper and the nature of the gift is relative to the event and its significance.

If you don't do martial arts, it may be hard for you to understand the importance we place in the people that teach us. They are not like schoolteachers or lecturers, where the tuition is compulsory. In the martial arts the teaching and the learning is voluntary. It's a shared passion. The rewards of your instructor's lessons go deep.

(Goran Powell)

In Asia

In Borneo there was Teacher's Day in which the whole school acknowledged the worth of the teacher. Students celebrated with good food and every student bought their teacher a gift.
Everyone chose the gift with great care and truly enjoyed letting their teacher know that they valued the teacher's knowledge and expertise.

In Western terms

There isn't really a Western equivalent of ang pow, but if it helps... think of it as buying your teacher a birthday, Christmas or 'thank you' gift.


In a Chinese martial arts class, a
ng pow is about acknowledging the worth of the teacher. It says that the instructor means something to the students. And is not being taken for granted.
Peter Southwood said that an ang pow gift was a civilised and gracious way to show respect and appreciation.


We often get e-mails from school members saying how much they like our classes. The classes are the outcome of the teacher(s). Ang pow provides a means of expressing gratitude.

As a teacher I am continually impressed with Sifu Waller's teaching system, resources and the time he takes with classes. I often feel like emailing him to thank him for another outstanding lesson but a) this could happen most weeks and b) I do actually feel guilty for not being a good enough student.


Dear Sifu Waller,

I feel very lucky to have found your class and have had the opportunity to be your student.
I really do enjoy all the lessons and learning about the art. I know what I have learnt from you will always stay with me.
Thank you Sifu Waller for your generosity and the passion you put into teaching.
Warmest wishes for the coming months and the future.


I very much enjoy your sessions - without any false flattery, you have been the best instructor I have
encountered for any martial art. Your commitment, patience and dedication to the art and your students is something that I believe many instructors should aspire to.

To your credit
Sifu Waller, you have shown me something that has I did not expect to find in taijiquan... a comprehensive fighting system in itself. I wish the rest of the MA community would wake up and see what you see.


What I really like about the class is itís friendly atmosphere with excellent teaching and a clear syllabus that means everyone makes progress. Itís challenging but accessible. Everything is explained to the level you want and obviously Sifu Waller really demonstrates what is possible in the art.

(Tim M)

I consider it to be a pleasure and a privilege to be part of Sifu Wallerís class.


Ang pow is normal

In case you think that ang pow is some scam: Please note that the people posting on the Facebook entry are all non-Chinese.

Teacher tax?

Some people may think that ang pow is a con. The traditional answer is to encourage the student to seek tuition elsewhere.
By trying out the other classes in the region, the student gains a sense of perspective.

Groundhog Day

Often tai chi classes teach pretty much the same formula/same material every single week. There is very little learning taking place. Every lesson is the same. We are not like this.

Higher learning

Our school is different to many others; students are challenged to take an active part in the learning process.
There is a massive syllabus, differentiated learning and
regular consultation with the instructor.

Karen collects ang pow

In our school, Karen collects ang pow. The traditional amount was at least the value of one lesson. If you have any questions, please speak with Karen in class during the breaks or afterwards...


Karen wanted to point out that students of our class receive far more than they have paid for:

  1. Sifu Waller offers an encyclopaedic level of knowledge, skill and opportunity for all school members to benefit from

  2. You learn something new every week

  3. Sifu Waller and Rachel respond (in-depth) to student questions

  4. Every lesson is stimulating, interesting and informative

  5. Sessions frequently start early and last longer than they are meant to

  6. Sifu Waller developed the comprehensive syllabus

  7. Sifu Waller has never been paid for the web pages he took so many years to write

  8. Workshops, private lessons and regular classes provide a level of information and tuition second to none in the North East

  9. The hospitality at workshops and boot camp is first rate

  10. Sifu Waller and Rachel train at least 2 hours every day (and study too) in order to offer you the best quality tuition possible

How about letting Sifu Waller know that you're grateful? That you don't just take him for granted?

Our students

Karen asks that our students give a small gift to their instructor twice a year:

  1. Start of the Training Year

  2. Chinese New Year

Traditionally, students also gave ang pow on the teacher's birthday but we don't usually ask for this.


Please don't give
random gifts; it's a waste. Speak to Karen about ang pow.

A personal gift?

Some people ask if they can give a personal gift to Sifu Waller or Rachel, separate to the Start of the Training Year and Chinese New Year. A sign of respect and gratitude. This is a very kind thing to do.
Please refer to the wishlists:


Traditional gift?

One traditional ang pow personal gift was a gift of green tea. This was also a good option when applying to undertake indoor tuition or lineage. Premium grade matcha was always a great choice.
Sifu likes cacao kefir...
but doesn't drink alcohol or eat sweets.

Ang pow for meals

Traditionally, school members are asked to chip in £1.50 to pay for the instructor's meal and Rachel's. This is separate from Karen's ang pow and is collected by the Social Secretary.

A student should earn the right to have a teacher, and to keep one.

(Robert W Smith)


school database

Page created 28 September 2007
Last updated 3 June 20