Dress code & the ego
Written by Rachel

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Sifu Waller and Rachel chose our uniform for very specific, well considered reasons. They are not entertaining suggestions for customisation, personalisation or variations.
Everyone wears the same uniform.


This is what uniform means (Google definition):
- "remaining the same in all cases and at all times; unchanging in form or character"
- "the distinctive clothing worn by members of the same organization or body"


The uniform puts you in the mood. You feel like getting on with the training. Down to business. Ready for action.
A pair of jeans or jogging bottoms would not produce the same effect. Pilates trousers are too figure hugging and require a certain physique. Cropped tops are immodest.
Also, martial arts outfits have generous groin space. If you wore jeans to train form, kicks and throwing, you may rupture yourself or be restricted in terms of movement.

Dress code purpose

Our aim is not to stifle people or impose some weird fashion. Uniform encourages the individual to focus on the training not upon themselves. And that leads to progress.

Get your head in the game

By wearing the same outfit as everyone else, there's no need to think about style/looking good/personal expression/vanity etc. We all look the same. That is what 'uniform' means...

The prayer of the monk is not perfect
until he no longer recognizes himself
or the fact that he is praying.

(St Anthony)

Loss of 'self'

Uniforms are worn in martial arts classes for safety reasons, but also to quash 'egotism'. This is a Zen concern.
Tai chi requires the individual to lose their urge to show off, to be special, to be noticed, to seek attention. None of those traits/habits will help you to learn the art. They must be shed.

Following instructions

People are often reluctant to follow instructions. They get smart with the instructor or seek to debate the issue. Martial arts classes are not democratic. This is not politics.
Stop second-guessing and over-thinking things. Martial arts aren't about self-gratification.

Get it right

Correct adherence to the formal dress code from the onset of training is the first step in learning the kind of self-discipline required of a martial artist.
If you can't get a simple uniform right, how on earth are you going to make strong progress through the syllabus?


A martial artist doesn't over-think things. They don't deviate from the teachings/guidelines laid out by the instructor. Instead, they do their level best to do everything well.
The uniform is an easy way to achieve this.

The student has nothing to offer but an absolute willingness to follow the teacher's instructions and direction without question or comments or personal improvisation.

(Dave Lowry)


State of mind

A clean, smart, correct uniform reflects a clear, sharp mind.
By contrast, deviations from the uniform code reflects a student who is doing things their own way. If this is your attitude, why join a class in the first place?
Learning necessitates the subjugation of the ego. Vanity, pride, arrogance - these may be concealed by lame excuses for not doing what everyone else is doing - but is this really the truth?

Clean uniform

Your training attire needs to be clean. Sweat will make your tai chi clothing smell. Wash them regularly please.
In Asia it is considered the height of bad manners to smell bad when partaking in
partner work.
Please put your uniform in the wash after a class. Code of conduct item 1 states: "Students are required to be clean and tidy".

Clean body

We caution students not to cover up body odour with strong perfumes or deodorant. Over-powering scents may trigger irritation/allergic reaction/asthma in other students...

Tidy appearance

If you are shabby, scruffy and unkempt, you will also most likely be poorly disciplined in your tai chi practice. Sloppiness and slovenliness are not desirable qualities in a martial arts class.
Remember: you represent the class. How you look reflects upon Sifu Waller. If you are clean and tidy, you will perform better and look more earnest.

On your way to and from class

Do not wear your tai chi clothing in the street. Drawing attention to yourself is not a good idea. It may not be the right sort of attention.


If you have an opinion concerning the dress code, keep it in mind for when you open your own tai chi class... Don't embarrass yourself by sharing it with Sifu Waller or Rachel.


Deliberately not following the dress code is extremely arrogant and rude. Sifu Waller and Rachel are doing all they can to teach students about qigong, tai chi and the associated cultural concerns.
A lot of experience, research and thought has gone into the syllabus and the manner in which we run the class. No student is capable of conceiving Sifu Waller's motives and understanding of the art.
If a student chooses to ignore their teacher(s) - and just do their own thing in order to satisfy their ego/vanity - this is ugly behaviour and will be treated as such.

When you come to the dojo, it is a recognition that the teacher there has something you want. He will give it to you in his own way. You must accept that. If you do not, you are free to leave. The dojo, however, is never run by consensus.

(Dave Lowry)

Getting your own way
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Page created 26 November 2007
Last updated 13 January 2020