Know your instructor
Written by Rachel

classes     taijiquan     self defence     qigong     tai chi for health     about us     reviews     a-z

Sifu Waller in a nutshell

Sifu Waller lives a quiet, simple, unpretentious, anonymous life. He avoids drawing attention to himself. And values his privacy.

A-Z of Newcastle Tai Chi

To know a little about Sifu Waller's knowledge, intelligence and insights, read this website: A-Z. There are at least 900 pages. He authored pretty much all of them over a period of a decade or so.

Martial arts

Sifu Waller is not obsessed with taijiquan. He only trains what he needs to. He never watches YouTube, martial arts DVDs nor reads magazines.
He no longer has any ties with the wider martial arts community.

What's sad in a way is that the people that are the most giving, hardworking, and capable of making this world better, usually don't have the ego and ambition to be a leader.

They enjoy the goal but not the process. But the reality of it is that the true work of improving things is in the little achievements of the day.

(Before Sunset)


Much of Sifu Waller's training might be deemed 'spiritual': the loss of oneself into the art...
For a better understanding of what this means, you might consider reading Zen in the Art of Archery, Sword & Brush or Moving Toward Stillness.


Sifu Waller's training is driven by a commitment to functionality/application and the need to teach with integrity. He has no interest in ornament/performance art/flamboyance/flowery tai chi.  


On a daily basis, Sifu Waller reads a lot. He explores what he has read, breaks it down and seeks to utilise the information/learn from it.
Sifu Waller hasn't read fiction for over a decade; preferring books about Taoism, Zen, taijiquan, martial principles, spirituality, Asian arts and culture, business management, pop psychology, metacognition...

Hobbies and interests

Sifu Waller has several hobbies and interests.
He tends to pursue things to their natural conclusion, reach the ceiling and then maintain the interest relative to time, budget, availability of opportunity/resources. At no point is he ever bored. 

Logic & reason

If you wonder why Sifu Waller pursues the hobbies/interests he enjoys, ask yourself what he finds so fascinating. There is always a very good reason. He is not prone to time wasting or indulging in follies.


Although Sifu Waller doesn't watch broadcast TV he does enjoy movies. But he is very choosy indeed. If anything lacks imagination or is predictable, he just switches it off immediately.
Sifu Waller can quote dialogue, scenes, examples from movies dating back to the 1930's even though he may only have seen the film once.


Sifu Waller likes sci-fi but only if it is imaginative. e.g. he found JJ Abrams Star Trek and Star Wars movies to be embarrassingly childish and filled with plot holes.
He deeply admires Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek and is impressed by the cultural impact made by the Original series.


If Sifu Waller shares an anecdote or story, please bear in mind that it is not gossip or nostalgia. He is not sentimental. When he is working, he is working throughout class - including your break times.
Apparent jokes and stories always contain a deeper component - an insight relevant to class/taijiquan/Taoism/life lesson


There is a danger in thinking that Sifu Waller is sharing in-depth insights with you. How could he?
Everything he says is pitched relative to your ability. If you're a beginner, then he's sharing beginners insights. Nothing more.
Many students look at the syllabus/read the website and somehow come away imagining that Sifu Waller is sharing information pertinent to his own level. This is terrifically naive.


Often Sifu Waller delivers lessons that operate at more than one level. His conversations are the same.
Humour, metaphor, allusions, wit, different meanings and cultural/literary references are all blended to form a complex, layered, often challenging communication.
This isn't some ploy or attempt at being clever. It is just how he speaks.

I have eaten more salt than you have rice.

(Chinese homily)

General knowledge

If Sifu Waller doesn't know something, he will never speculate. Opinions are worthless to him. He is quite happy to admit that he doesn't know.
Should he feel that it is important to know, he will find the answer no matter how long it takes.

Time management

Sifu Waller has uncanny time management skills. He can often guess the time without even looking at his watch. I am not joking.


Sifu Waller likes to read Krishnamurti and finds many of the conversations amusing.

Shooting the breeze

People sometimes want to shoot the breeze with Sifu Waller. This is fine; he enjoys a good conversation. Just don't play 'games'...

Say what you mean

A lot of people like to brag in the guise of a complaint e.g. I'm so busy... I'm so tired... Sifu Waller will take you at face value:
Tired = unwillingness to invest time resting/sleeping
Busy = statement of fact
No time = poor organisational skills
Can't remember = don't train at home/lazy/weak minded
Think for me = can't be bothered reading your website

Sense of humour

People who lack a sense of humour don't like Sifu Waller one bit. He won't play any of their 'games' and will not accord them the validation they are seeking.

Showing off?

Sifu Waller loves to share his enthusiasms. But he is not trying to impress you or show off. His aim is to stimulate and educate you. To maybe expand your consciousness...
He is genuinely keen to share useful knowledge and information but doesn't mind if you're not personally interested.


Thomas Cleary's description pretty much says it all:

The range of awareness and efficiency of the Taoist adept is unnoticeable, imperceptible to others,
because their critical moments take place before ordinary intelligence has mapped out a description of the situation.

By seeing opportunities before they are visible to others and being quick to act,
the uncanny warrior can take situations by the throat before matters get out of hand.

Conserving one's own energy while inducing others to dissipate theirs is another function of the inscrutability so highly prized by the Taoist warrior.

He stresses change and surprise, employing endless variations of tactics,
using opponent's psychological conditions to manoeuvre them into vulnerable positions.

One of the purposes of Taoist literature is to help to develop this special sensitivity and responsiveness to handle living situations.

The art of not-doing which includes the unobtrusiveness, unknowability, and ungraspability at the core of esoteric Asian martial arts
- belongs to the branch of Taoism known as The Science of the Essence.


Sifu Waller:

  1. Was born in 1969

  2. Sifu Waller's hometown is the UK's equivalent of Gotham City

  3. Sifu Waller was named after his ancestor Nicholas de Valer. Waller is the Anglicised version of the Norse name "de Valer".

  4. Actually pays attention

  5. Really listens

  6. Is kind

  7. Is generous

  8. Is sincere

  9. Is thoughtful

  10. Is considerate

  11. Is very playful

  12. Likes comedies

  13. Likes to cook

  14. Usually sees straight through bullshit

  15. Isn't easy to annoy

  16. Finds cleaning to be therapeutic

  17. Likes the simplicity and clarity of Zen

  18. Likes to provide a practical real-life example of what he means i.e. proof

  19. Doesn't take things very seriously (unless he's actually working)

  20. Doesn't take himself very seriously

  21. Doesn't take his small wife very seriously at all

  22. Loves to play with the meaning, nuances, implications of language and words

  23. Distinguishes between sarcasm and wit; he finds sarcasm to be sadly lacking in intelligence

  24. Is committed to the 'awakening of consciousness'

  25. Only uses a computer if it's for work

  26. Unimpressed by technology

  27. Has made up more friendly nicknames for his wife than you could possibly imagine

  28. Likes to walk

  29. Has no interest whatsoever in sport of any kind

  30. Loves to see examples of shen

  31. Abhors politics, news, current affairs

  32. Has unusually warm skin temperature (refer to Wang Shujin)

  33. Doesn't drink alcohol

  34. Has never tried cigarettes or drugs

  35. Interested in spiritual matters rather than religion

  36. Applies the 90% rule in most situations

  37. Likes 'musical' movies

  38. Is never mean spirited

  39. Expects more of himself than he does of you

  40. Has no interest in prestige/status/fame/popularity

  41. Likes old movies

  42. When he was 8 years old it rained ladybirds on him for 2 hours

  43. Is passionate

  44. Dogs like Sifu Waller; I think he smells friendly

  45. His patron is one of my Chinese Uncles; Andrew Yeo of Kuala Lumpur

  46. Doesn't typically like martial arts movies or violent films

  47. Never mentions taijiquan to people he meets outside of class

  48. Hasn't driven the car in 15 years

  49. Is never lazy

  50. Prefers not to give answers and would rather the person figure things out for themselves

  51. Never watches broadcast TV and doesn't even have an aerial

  52. Likes to buy goods with a view to them lasting indefinitely

  53. Is very eco

  54. He likes cows, chickens and other farmyard animals

  55. Has mellowed with age (slightly)

  56. Will never patronise or demean someone

  57. Thinks that technology is deforming the human body

  58. Is interested in things

  59. Doesn't follow fashions, trends etc

  60. Likes being outdoors, away from people, pollution, cars and houses

  61. Treats ancient Taoist treatise like science/instruction manuals

  62. Usually finds and corrects his own mistakes

  63. Never gets involved in other people's business/personal lives

  64. As a young man he delivered mail in what was publicised on Channel 4 as being the roughest estate in the UK (he got attacked several times)

  65. Thinks that only boring people get bored

  66. Loathes 'fashion technology': smart phones, kindle, video games etc and would never buy one

  67. It can be hard to tell whether he is joking or not

  68. Doesn't compete

  69. Avoids jargon and acronyms whenever possible

  70. More patient than he realises

  71. He likes woodland animals

  72. Has only been married once and had a very low-key, unpretentious wedding, focussing purely upon the vows  

  73. Sifu Waller's on-line presence only exists for the purpose of the class (most Facebook postings are c/o Rachel)

  74. Values the little things in life

  75. Curious but not nosy

  76. He values mind more than materiality

  77. Thinks well of people

  78. Used to own about 4 bookcases of taijiquan-related books

  79. Doesn't believe in one-upmanship

  80. Applies Taoism to all aspects of life

  81. Likes digging to the heart of the matter

  82. Good at problem solving

  83. Isn't remotely macho

  84. Sees mastery as a process not a destination

  85. Thinks that technology is making people stupid

  86. Zones out when people play 'Baby Boomer' social games e.g. faux complaining, bragging, comparing, competing etc

  87. Considers boasting to be boring

  88. Tends to see the faults in his practice rather than be impressed by it

  89. Saw a wild white stag in Scotland in 2015

  90. Always seeking improvements

  91. Word and deed are the same thing

school database

Page created 18 April 1995
Last updated 02 January 2021