Teaching assistants
Qigong & tai chi

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

Who are they?

Assistant teacher - Chris Young, Dr Ben Beattie and Karen Laws.
Helper - Marc Boivin 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. He became an 'indoor student of taijiquan' in 2019.
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.


Ben works directly with Sifu Waller and is making strong progress through the qigong and taijiquan material. In addition to attending evening classes, Ben takes every opportunity for additional practice.
He became an 'indoor student of taijiquan' in 2018. Ben likes to go to boot camp, workshops and private lessons. Ben shares Rachel's interest in Asian teas.
As a medical doctor, he is fascinated by the taijiquan use of the human body.


Karen has been with the school for over 7 years. Her main interests are taijiquan, women's self defence, qigong, Taoist Yoga, massage, core strength and psoas exercises.
When Karen first came to class she had very stiff elbows and really bad back/shoulder ache from her job as a screenwriter.
After working with Sifu Waller (and taking responsibility by practicing every day) Karen was able to release the tension from her elbows entirely and rid herself of the back/shoulder pain.
As a consequence of her enthusiasm, Karen has significantly increased her strength, suppleness, flexibility, balance, as well as improving her poise and mobility. Karen is our social secretary.


Marc has over 10 years practice behind him. He likes to attend boot camp, workshops and private lessons with Sifu Waller.
By gently, patiently, moderately working on his taijiquan over many years, Marc has succeeded in developing a considerable amount of whole-body strength.
In class, Marc likes to help beginners work through their form pattern and partner work. Easygoing and modest, Marc is very approachable and fun to work 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 has an impressive professional career and observes a sensible work/home life balance.
Typically the first person to volunteer (for anything), Julia is an extremely nice lady to work with and shows her enthusiasm at all times. 


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.
Her background in dance furnished Maria with an interest in physical movement, and she is fascinated by the biomechanics featured in the syllabus.
Well grounded in science, Maria likes to know how things work. Her enthusiasm for combat becomes evident during self defence opportunities; when Maria proves herself to be extremely strong, resolute and formidable. 


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.

Taijiquan assistant?

Sifu Waller has never had a teaching assistant. Only 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)

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Page created 2 March 1995
Last updated 20 December 2020