Tai chi for self defence syllabus

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No martial arts experience?

The tai chi for self defence syllabus was designed for people who have no prior martial arts experience and want to get a foothold on taijiquan self defence basics.


The uniform is a black T-shirt worn with black kung fu trousers.

areas of study

Tai chi for self defence practice in our class is broken down into 12 areas of study:

Qigong & reeling silk exercises

4 directions - forwards & backwards
4 directions - to the side
Ba duan jin (8 exercises)
Cloud hands
Full circle qigong (6 positions)
High circle qigong
Horse stance
Horse stance qigong
Moving qigong (8 exercises)
Opening & closing - to the side
Plate exercise
Pushing peng
Qigong development
Qigong on one leg

Standing post
Standing qigong/3 circle qigong


Balls & grips
Constructive rest
Core strength (3 sets)
Leg stretches (2 sets)
Psoas exercises (4)
Slam ball challenge
Standing post with arms
Stretches & joint work

Taoist Yoga (3 sets)

Form (regular & mirrored)

Long Yang form

Pushing hands

Double pushing hands
Monkey paws
Pushing legs
Single pushing hands


How to connect the limbs to the torso
How to yield
How to create space
How to be flexible
How to work without tensing-up
How to be composed
How to move your whole body
How to be loose and heavy
How to go with the flow
How to respond without thinking

Brain work (meditation, awareness, metacognition)

Breath meditation
Meditation on body sensations
Meditation on emotions

Recommended reading:

- There Are No Secrets
- The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi
The Way of Chuang Tzu

- Tao Te Ching (The Way and Its Power)
- The Little Zen Companion
- Chang San-feng treatise
- Wang Tsung-yueh treatise
- Wu Yu-hsiang treatise
- The Inner Way
- Zen in the Art of Archery
- The Essence of Tai Chi Chuan
- Sword & Brush
- Steal My Art
- Commentaries on Living volume 2
- How to Win Friends and Influence People

- The Complete Taiji Dao
- The Tai Chi Journey


Partner work

4 directions with a partner
4 directions with a partner (no contact)
Central equilibrium maintain the centre
Eyes-closed walking
Leading & following (eyes-closed)
Palm at 3 distances
Peripheral vision
Posture testing
Pushing peng exercise
- 90
- diamond stepping
- leading & following (eyes-closed)
- relative distance (tig)
- avoiding line of force (solo & melee)
- riding the attack
Yielding basic skills
Yielding exercise

Self defence

3-tier wallbag
The ball game
Being hit
Chair game
- 3 B's: blocking, blending & balance
- 4 stages
- fence
- X-shape

Fear of falling
Floor work
- basics
- back-to-back
- kicks
- tackling

Hitting a focus mitt

How to escape from a hold
How to punch
How to slip a hold
Kicking game
- evasive body focus
- sustained & varied kicking

Loose striking
Partner work mistakes
Penetrating defences (intro)
Playing the attacker
- commitment
- range & reach
Punching rehab


Knife drills
Stick drills (3 sets)
Sword drills

Women's self defence (optional)

Instructing (optional)

Teacher training course (free of charge)

More advanced material?

Students are taught material relative to competence.

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.



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Page created 2 August 1995
Last updated 02 September 2021