No belts

For about 7 years our syllabus featured belts akin to any other martial arts class.
The more balanced individuals liked the idea of being able to chart their progress using a belt, and didn’t attach too much significant to the fabric.
Some students became competitive.
Others resented having to meet and maintain a standard.

Overall, the belts did more harm than good.

In a mainstream martial arts class belts are great.
However, tai chi attracts a different sort of student and very few people are prepared to make the kind of commitment you might find in a judo class.

Also, the nature of the skills are different.
Tai chi is far more introverted and demands a significant commitment to physical sensitivity and awareness.
Health and combat are intertwined.

Without belts, tai chi students feel no sense of rivalry or competition.
Each student proceeds at their own pace.
The experience is unique to the individual.

Although we offer a detailed syllabus, progress rests squarely in the hands of the student.

A couple of days ago, sitting in the train, I read the part about Girl’s Night self defence from the information you send me. I laughed out loud a couple of times, people around me wondering what was the matter….

Well, this: apart from the fact that I really like the pointy, dry, kind of merciless humour of the text (is that correct English?), I find the involvement of tights and a real man to work with/on – amazingly convincing. The right ingredients. Together, of course, with the Asian/martial and multi-layered approach. I haven’t read or heard anything of this kind before. It inspires me.

It is simply not acceptable that women and girls suffer from men’s bad behaviour, in whatever way. It is simply not acceptable that we are kept naive.

I had to Google what Haarlem and surrounding areas had on offer for women’s self defence. Most courses are Krav Maga or of the ‘tips & tricks’- style. And: nothing for girls!!

I am inspired and thinking… I might have to do something about this. I still have to learn a lot myself, but, who knows – a seed is planted. I let you know.


You don’t empty the mind just to lobotomise yourself; it’s not mindlessness.

You empty it so that it can be refilled by what you’re experiencing. It’s empty of the chatter, it’s empty of the neurotic anxiety, it’s empty of preconceived notions, it’s empty of opinions, it’s empty of politics, it’s empty of social conventions, and if you empty your mind of all that, it’s a cleansing process.

Then you can allow it to be filled by the true experience of what you’re doing.

(Paul Gale)

Classes resume Monday 20th October


The form itself teaches the body how to move in an internal way.
Ideally, this is how your body should move in combat.

Form literally means ‘shape'; and the aim is to re-shape your movements and structure into something martially viable.

The complexity of form means that a student has countless layers of skill to add to their form, and it will take decades to understand it deeply.
This learning process is what training an internal art is all about.


The fundamental qigong/neigong exercises were designed to build-up the strength and coordination required to practice form.
Instead of moving in a tense, sloppy, disconnected way, students learn how to move slowly and smoothly.
In time, the entire body moves as one unit.

When the form is practiced correctly, it is quite demanding.


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The way and its power

Tao Te Ching teaches us many important lessons.
In terms of combat we recognise that the ‘power’ can only be used if the student adheres strictly to the ‘way’ of the event.
Blocking the incoming force, struggling, resisting, postural instability… these bad habits prevent the student from having any power.

Instead, it is necessary to harmonise, accord, blend with the attack.
Neutralise, and counter-attack by borrowing power from the opponent and adding it to our own.

This is harder than it sounds, for the student must set aside their own pride and ego, and follow the parameters of the art exactly.

New starters

A new starter’s response to attack is random, sloppy and untrained.
The individual is usually poorly coordinated, with little sense of balance, rhythm and timing.

What you bring with you into a kung fu class is worthless: physical tension, bad postural habits, aggression, fear, clumsiness…
Even skills from other martial arts tend to be an impediment.
You must unlearn.

Our aim is help you to become responsive, spontaneous, adaptive. Capable of changing instantly in accordance with circumstance.


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