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Rachel Waller in a nutshell

Rachel's idea of a perfect life would be to hang out with her husband all day, grow her own vegetables, make her own clothing/furniture/tools and live off the grid without any modernity whatsoever.
A semi-feral pack of children might just top things off nicely. Whenever possible, Rachel avoids driving the car. She keeps her phone switched off when not at work and has a blanket over the TV.


Growing up in Kuching was a far cry from an equivalent childhood in the UK. Borneo in the 1970's, 80's and 90's was a strange mix of tribal culture and modern Asian lifestyle.
Rachel's first home was an enormous manor house located in the outskirts of the jungle, occupied by almost every branch of one huge extended Chinese family.
There were animals kept out back, a swamp and a dirt road that led to the nearest town. This was Rachel's mum's side of the family: Chin.


On her dad's side of the family, things were even more distinctly tribal; a people who hunted, killed and kept themselves isolated in the deepest mountain regions of the jungle.
Rachel's dad did at one point work in a bank... Henry Kajan Anyie is locally known for constructing and playing an indigenous musical instrument called the 'sape'.


Rachel is eager to please, amiable, friendly and curious. As a child she picked things up quickly, studied hard and made rapid progress in school. Her education included:

  1. All UK academic subjects

  2. How to identify fresh food at market (fruit, veg, meat)

  3. Basic electrical work

  4. Basic plumbing

  5. Basic car maintenance

  6. Basic DIY

  7. Malay language

  8. Hokkien language

  9. Hakka language

  10. English language


Between the ages of 13-17 Rachel studied taekwondo, gained a black belt and became the President of the club at her school.
At the age of 17 Rachel won the prestigious Shell Scholarship which enabled her to move from Borneo to West Malaysia in order to study at Koleg Tuanku Ja'afar: the top international school.
Rachel became Head Girl. She passed her exams with excellent grades and moved to Durham to study Geology at the University.

The King and I

Rachel met the King once whilst at school. She was required to dress in full traditional Kayan costume. The King asked Rachel which country she was from. Rachel said, "Yours."


After University Rachel managed to persuade Shell that she was not cut out for the oil industry.
Rachel moved to Keswick to work at an Outdoor Retreat Centre where she took school children on long walks in the hills as a Youth Leader.
She then moved to Liverpool to work as a School Chaplain, then to Newcastle in 2005 in a similar role; gaining a Permanent Residency Visa along the way. Once in Newcastle, Rachel met her husband...


Realising that taekwondo was no longer something she wanted to do, Rachel looked for another martial arts outlet and tried Newcastle Tai Chi in 2007. 

 As part of the Mc generation I am as guilty as anyone of wanting everything now, and being very demanding in terms of my own needs, of looking straight to the highest teaching and grasping after it. It’s interesting to reflect after the introduction that this is clearly the opposite approach that is required by a martial art like bagua, and then it follows that an introduction to bagua at this time may simply be utterly beyond our capabilities. As Adam Hsu says in his book, The Sword Polishers Record, ‘kung fu literally means time and hard work, there are no shortcuts.’

Certainly bagua cannot be seen, as perhaps it could be argued some other aspects of martial arts are, as simply another medal to pin on the chest of ego.



Rachel got married to Sifu Waller in 2010. Their wedding was low key and inclusive.
Eschewing the typical paraphernalia commonly associated with a wedding, Rachel designed the service and arranged for her friend to be the organist.
There was no best man, no maid of honour, no bridesmaids, no special roles, no official photographer, no gifts, no meal, no disco, no speeches, no dance, no exotic honeymoon...
Even the rings were modest: titanium - for impact durability.

Focus on the real
Sifu Waller and Rachel were only really interested in being married, not the wedding day. The wedding ceremony was for them.
Guests were encouraged to please themselves. There was an optional pub meal afterwards for people that wanted to chat and celebrate. Ironically, the guest feedback was very positive...
Many guests felt that the wedding was genuine, welcoming, earnest and real; they felt privileged to part of the event and had a really good time.

Married life

Rachel loves being married.
Since her job involves helping others all day everyday... the weekends and evenings are private opportunities to enjoy one another's company without the need to assist/educate/support other people.
Sifu Waller and Rachel relish having fun together and make the best use of each day.


Rachel works a 37.5 hour week for a charity. It often involves extracurricular commitments. By being organised and discerning, Rachel manages her time skilfully.
She gets to fulfil her work responsibilities, train qigong, taijiquan, yoga, pursue her hobbies/interests and still have quality time to spend with her husband.  

Home training

The home routine followed by Rachel takes around 2-3 hours to complete. On a weekend she complements this with lengthy walks in the countryside with her husband.
Whenever possible Rachel undertakes partner training with Sifu Waller in order to receive corrections, partner practice and learn new skills.


On a daily basis, Rachel reads from a pile of 5 taijiquan/spiritual/pop psychology/martial principles books. She also reads recipe books, gardening books, art books and anything else that takes her fancy.
The internet is used mainly for research and study.


Throughout the day Rachel enjoys intellectually stimulating conversations with Sifu Waller concerning things he is reading/considering/exploring along with matters that arise from her own research and training.

Martial artist

Although Rachel really enjoys teaching tai chi for health/fitness, her main interest is the martial training.
Taijiquan is Rachel's primary concern; she seeks to gain high-level skill. Rachel has already learned the pattern for all of the forms in the syllabus.

Tai chi for health/fitness teacher

Rachel went from being a tai chi student to a tai chi for health/fitness teacher; working steadily through the qigong exercises, partner drills, principles and forms.
The Tai Chi Union for Great Britain endorsed her qualification and listed Rachel on their website as a teacher.

Hobbies and interests

Rachel has many hobbies and interests. She is particularly fascinated with photography and nature; combining the two whenever she can.
TV and technology would prevent Rachel from enjoying her interests, so she only watches a limited amount of pre-recorded DVDs per week...


Although Rachel doesn't watch broadcast TV she does enjoy watch a movie. Sitting and watching a film is the ideal opportunity for a cuddle and (if lucky) a sly snooze.
There are over 900 DVDs in Rachel's library. Studio Ghibli films are amongst her favourites; particularly My Neighbour Totoro. She really likes musicals and comedies but loathes corny or vulgar humour.
Marilyn Monroe is potentially Rachel's favourite actress; but only the comedy roles.


Rachel dreams of owning a Japanese soaking tub; a deep barrel-shaped bathtub designed for relaxing in rather than getting clean. The bather showers and cleans themselves before entering the ofuro.
How to Take a Japanese Bath by Leonard Koren details the steps involved in Japanese bathing.

Japanese culture

Asian culture interests Rachel a great deal; particularly the pursuits of modern Japanese women.

Healthy living

Rachel avoids additives, preservatives, chemicals and shop bought products whenever she can. She prefers to make everything from scratch: food, skin care products, hair products...

Keep it light

Rachel is really not interested in funky conversations about medical problems, gossip or politics. Intellectually stimulating topics are fine.
Silence is preferable to boasting/bragging/competing.
When faced with a bore, Rachel is apt to withdraw her attention without causing offence.

Sense of humour

Rachel likes to have fun and is very playful. She is not terribly interested in being serious; recognising that everyday life brings with it so many bona fide concerns already.
Adding unnecessary mental clutter would be unwise and unwelcome.


Babylon 5, the short stories of Philip K Dick, Ballard, Gibson, Star Wars, films of the 1950's - now... you name it.
A big fan of Star Trek, Rachel particularly likes William Shatner as Kirk, Leonard Nimoy as Spock and Patrick Stewart as Picard.
She admires Gene Roddenberry's commitment to female and racial representation. Gul Dukat, Garak and Quark are amongst her favourite Star Trek characters.
Rachel doesn't like the intellectually deficient shows and movies produced by J J Abrams.
Her enjoyment of other sci-fi shows is determined their content; and Rachel is quick to switch off any program that fails to engage.


Rachel has a modest collection of World War 2 German fighter pilot watches. She owns a range of EDC gear; multitools, gadgets, axes, camping equipment, hiking goods and knives.
Her collection of Japanese bishoujo statues (Rachel: Bishoujo statues capture the flirty vivaciousness of youth with their dynamic poses, strong female poise and naughty expressions) is quite impressive.
Unusual cooking equipment, Chinese, Japanese and Polish traditional crockery have been collected over a number or years.


Rachel has no interest whatsoever in UK fashions or trends. She buys clothing that takes her fancy.
Her main influences are Swedish explorer styles, Japanese niche fashions (e.g. mori), recycled technology and Korean feminine clothing.

On feminism

Rachel: Feminism is not about gender, race or gay/straight. It is about equal rights, pay & opportunity. Sexes = male or female. Equal = same. Men & women are not the same. We have biological differences: chromosomes, reproductive organs etc. Gender = masculine or feminine. Gender accentuates & strengthens our sex (male/female) i.e. femininity celebrates & values 'womanhood'. A woman who dresses & acts in a masculine way may look like a man but her genes are still female. Emulating men betrays her sex.

On womanhood

Rachel: I read a post by a woman that said how women must learn to think like men. Huh? How demeaning! What next? Grow a penis? Terms such as 'gender spectrum' are bandied around these days... How absurd! Emulating men doesn't make us strong. We are already strong. We are free to express our own sexual agenda. Our femininity. This is where our power resides: in being a feminine woman.

On femininity

Rachel:  Be feminine. Copying men devalues and betrays your own sex. Integrity comes from being true to yourself. Men who dress like women are called 'transvestites' and laughed at by women. What should you call a woman who dresses, moves and behaves like a man? Revel in femaleness; accentuate it, embrace it, enjoy it! Female self-assurance and confidence are good. Femininity is an art and we cannot just assume that we possess it. Study, research, insight and practice make us stronger as women and quite distinctly female. Women can be strong, intelligent, resourceful and impressive. In a female way.

On gender

Rachel: Gender = masculine/feminine; behavioural traits designed to harmonize with, accentuate and enhance the difference in sex. To be a stronger woman, be a feminine woman. Use your femininity to shape/manipulate attention and consciousness. Dressing like a man is akin to saying that men are better than women. In what way is this true?

On representation

Rachel: Female stereotypes, ideas, values, perceptions and conventions regarding women and their various roles in society were created and sustained by men. Women are not damsels in distress. We are not in need of saving. We dress and behave as we do to enhance our beauty, our stature, our power. Nothing is done to impress or titillate men. Those days are over.

On Japanese style

Rachel: I like Japanese Mori (forest) Girl & Natural Kei fashions... loose dresses, long skirts, mid-length skirts, smock blouses, A-line dresses, ponchos, boleros, cardigans, oversized sweaters, lace, linen, crochet, knit, brown leather boots and accessories...


Rachel is very Taoist in her attitudes and behaviour.



  1. Was born in 1978

  2. Is very brave

  3. Obsessed with pu erh tea

  4. Slept so much as a baby that her parents thought she was ill

  5. Is XS size in UK but more akin to Medium in Borneo

  6. Is five feet tall

  7. Hates to run and would rather amble

  8. Is very patient; even to a point where any 'normal' person would probably give up

  9. Cooks really tasty food

  10. Favourite movie: Moana

  11. Once fractured a bully's ribcage without even trying to or realising it

  12. Is a bit crazy

  13. Has a lovely singing voice

  14. Can perform a very sexy tribal dance featuring large feathers

  15. Can play a number of musical instruments

  16. Stops what she is doing when listening to people

  17. Quite happy to make all meals from scratch

  18. Her hairdresser loves the fact that Rachel uses all natural products

  19. Is sincere

  20. Normally makes the best use of her opportunities

  21. Was once in a marching band

  22. Thinks deeply about things

  23. Is very playful

  24. Likes comedies

  25. Lives very much in the immediate moment

  26. Spends forever in the shower

  27. Spends even longer in the bath

  28. Can't stand slugs

  29. Has an unbelievably massive stock of tights and stockings

  30. Isn't easy to annoy

  31. Likes to walk outdoors

  32. Doesn't like wandering around the shops

  33. Loves growing vegetables

  34. Has no interest whatsoever in sport of any kind

  35. Loves to see examples of shen

  36. Gets excited by high emotion scenes in movies/TV shows where the hero uses his power or does something 'cool'

  37. Likes discovering wild mushrooms

  38. Very good at crochet

  39. Loves music

  40. Is willing to endure hardship without complaint

  41. Doesn't resent people

  42. Is grateful

  43. Abhors politics, news, current affairs

  44. Doesn't really care for alcohol

  45. Refuses to dye/colour her hair

  46. Has never tried cigarettes or drugs

  47. Cultivates insight

  48. Likes to dance

  49. Interested in spiritual matters rather than religion

  50. Very adaptive

  51. Can sew with uncanny accuracy and neatness

  52. Prefers savoury food to desserts

  53. Likes musicals

  54. Is never mean spirited

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

  56. Likes old movies

  57. Is passionate

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

  59. Supportive

  60. Never mentions taijiquan to people she meets outside of class

  61. Feels no real compulsion to argue or debate

  62. Loves to have fun

  63. Prefers not to cause conflict or hassle for people

  64. Likes craft projects

  65. Doesn't talk unless she really wants to

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

  67. Undertakes as many professional training courses as she can fit in

  68. Good at improvising

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

  70. Politely declines as much as she can

  71. Is very eco

  72. Will never patronise or demean someone

  73. Enjoys trying food from other cultures

  74. Thinks that technology is deforming the human body

  75. Doesn't follow fashions, trends etc

  76. Loves heat

  77. Loves matcha tea

  78. Never inflicts her problems on other people

  79. Finds it easy to get along with people

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

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

  82. Doesn't compete

  83. Never complains about being tired

  84. Is fastidiously anonymous

  85. Would rather let a person think what they like than necessarily correct them

  86. Likes woodland animals

  87. Is a very competent, resourceful driver but hates driving

  88. Loves to be cuddled

  89. Has only been married once

  90. Rachel's on-line presence only exists for the purpose of the class

  91. Values the little things in life

  92. Can occupy herself indefinitely

  93. Likes to figure things out

  94. Adventurous

  95. Has a modest but impressive collection of Kayan cultural artifacts

  96. Thinks that technology is making people stupid

school database

Page created 18 April 1995
Last updated 02 January 2021