Tai Chi private lessons in Swanage UK

Hi, welcome to my website. I’m a Tai Chi teacher based in Swanage, Dorset, offering private lessons to individuals and small groups from my home, within 10 mins drive of Swanage town centre. I teach a range of Kung Fu systems including Tai Chi – the most graceful yet powerful style of them all.

What kind of Tai Chi do I teach and why?

People learn & practise Tai Chi for different reasons, and there are many different styles to choose from. But all systems of Tai Chi have a few things in common. What I mainly teach, is a deep understanding of that common ground, which you can apply to any move from any style of martial art to make it good.

When I teach Wing Chun Kung Fu, I teach it mainly to help people with Self Defence. But when I teach Tai Chi, it’s more about becoming a master of your own body. Understanding your body’s mechanics and energetics so you can control it better. Naturally, you’ll become more confident in manipulating other bodies too. This has obvious Self Defence benefits, but Tai Chi is first & foremost a system of personal kinesthetic development and a gateway into deeper spiritual development.

Core principles

The key principles that govern how I do & teach Tai Chi include:

  • Be ready for any kind of attack from any direction at any time. This means, no over-leaning or over-reaching or over-stretching or over-collapsing or over-relaxing or over-tensing to the point that you can’t instantly contract or expand or move as required to respond appropriately to any incoming attack.
  • Always feel. Stay sensitive & responsive. Always adapt, always adjust to what’s happening. Never rely on brute strength or clashing force. Always aim to effortlessly trump what the opponent is doing by changing your energy & structure accordingly. If it feels hard, find a better way. Feel free to use all possible angles & adjustments. But energy conservation is also important, so aim for simplicity & efficiency, but this does not trump the requirement for maintaining balance and achieving overall success – this is the ultimate priority.

Training methods

Push Hands and Sticky Hands

Tui Shou (Push Hands) is the most efficient & effective training method in Tai Chi for the purpose of optimising certain types of bodily coordination, be it for Self Defence or for general proprioception through daily life. If you’re quite clumsy and often bumping into things, Push Hands could change your life in a big way (like it did for me).

Push Hands includes a series of fixed patterns to be practised in pairs, as well as a freestyle version which equates to ultra-light technical sparring.

Tai Chi Push Hands is very much like an old (pre Ip Man era) version of Wing Chun Chi Sau (Sticky Hands), which was inherited from the Shaolin White Crane system. But unlike Sticky Hands, Push Hands is usually practised without any striking (only pushing & pulling). Still, Sticky Hands does not involve hard hitting – its strikes are placed safely without hurtful impact, therefore this is a natural safe progression for the Tai Chi practitioner to supplement their Push Hands training with, for very much increased practical value from their training (for Self Defence, for Speed, for Timing, and for pressure-tested Confidence in Technique & Structure).

Solo Form Routines

We can practise any solo form you like, from any style of Tai Chi, and make it good, by focusing on the universal principles of Tai Chi as discussed throughout this page. But I have no major personal preference towards one solo form above all others, because I’m not a big fan of long solo forms generally. I appreciate some segments of some of them more than others, but I much prefer pairwork when possible. Granted, solo forms are one way for someone who’s never done Tai Chi before to slowly get familiar with the kinds of structures involved, and when you’re mainly training alone, you may be short of better options. But solo formwork is a far slower and less effective training aid than pairwork routines which provide a high level of stimulating feedback so you can feel your mistakes and correct them fast. Unlike pairwork routines & exercises, solo forms have much less self-correctional capability – you’re relying on trying to feel how balanced you are, but unless you’re training atop a mountain on a very windy day, nobody’s applying pressure from the sides to emphasise where you may be off balance, so solo forms are an extremely slow and mistake-prone way to learn.


For Tai Chi theory we often refer to the Classics which speak quite well on the subject.

The Tai Ji Quan Jing provides solid guidance about what we’re aiming for in Tai Chi (aka Tài Jí Quán) – it explains how true Tai Chi power in its full assertion comes directly from Wú Jí, the state of absolute emptiness.

Even Laozi makes explicit reference to Wu Ji in his Dao De Jing (page 28) while also regularly referring to the principles of Wu Ji and Tai Ji by different names (they are akin to Dao and De respectively).

The Tai Ji Quan Jing also refers to the value of leverage (4 oz moves 1000 lbs) and to the goal of unifying the body’s energy (a feather can’t be added, nor can a fly take off, without the whole body adjusting).

The Tai Ji Quan Jing also refers to the Ba Gua of the Yi Jing, describing how they’re reflected in the 8 core energies & directions of hand techniques. It also refers to the five elements, the five phases, the Wu Xing, and how they’re reflected in the five key directions of stepping.

Ba Gua

Mathematically, the idea is, Wu Ji (emptiness, the zero-dimensional) spawns Tai Ji (oneness, wholeness) which then splits into Yin & Ying (duality), which then splits further into the 4 Classical Elements (Fire, Water, Earth, and Air/Heaven), which then splits again into the 8 Directions (Ba Gua) which then squarely multiply (8 by 8) into the 64 Circumstances which then squarely multiply again into the 4096 Changes of the ancient Book of Changes (I Ching, aka Yi Jing).

The Ba Gua corresponds to the 8 Energies (Péng 掤, Lǚ 捋, Jǐ 挤, Àn 按, Cǎi 採, Liè 挒, Zhǒu 肘, Kào 靠) and the 8 Techniques typically used to represent them.

The 4 Primary Energies (Péng Jìn 掤勁, Lǚ Jìn 捋勁, Jǐ Jìn 挤勁, Àn Jìn 按勁) correspond (metaphorically!) to 4 Cardinal Directions of the Sagittal Plane (Up, Down, Backwards and Forwards respectively) and the 4 Classical Elements (Heaven/Air, Earth, Water and Fire respectively). These 4 Primary Energies can be added to Sōng 松 energy (inward directional, Void/Space element) to create a 5 element system known as the Go Dai 五大 (Great Five) in Japanese culture. This 5 element system (based on the 4 Classical Elements, plus the wildcard Void/Space element) can also be seen in the Chakras of Indian yoga & tantra and their derivative disciplines.

Wu Xing

Each of the Five Phases aka the Five Elements (not to be confused with the Go Dai) feed into each other in the Feeding cycle, and this can be seen in the natural flow of great martial arts combinations. These Five Elements can attack & defend from each other according to the dominant & passive counter-acting cycles – eg, Strong Water puts out Weak Fire, but Strong Fire can evaporate Weak Water; and Big Metal chops Small Wood, but Big Wood blunts Small Metal. These Five Elements also correspond to 10 Bodily Organs (with a Yin & Yang version of each element) according to Traditional Chinese Medicine.

  • Heart ≈ Yin FireSpreading
  • Small Intestine ≈ Yang FireSwarming ≈ Tongue
  • Spleen ≈ Yin EarthCatching
  • Stomach ≈ Yang EarthRolling ≈ Mouth
  • Lungs ≈ Yin MetalSplitting
  • Large Intestine ≈ Yang MetalChopping ≈ Nose
  • Kidney ≈ Yin WaterDrilling
  • Urinary Bladder ≈ Yang WaterLifting ≈ Ears
  • Liver ≈ Yin WoodSqueezing
  • Gall Bladder ≈ Yang WoodPiercing ≈ Eyes


Some of the chakras are especially important for practical Tai Chi, as follows.

  • The Third Eye Chakra (Ājñā आज्ञा) on the forehead, roughly corresponds to the Upper Dantian (Shàng Dāntián 上丹田) in Tai Chi. This is symbolic of your vision, imagination and direction. The Sanskrit word Ajna means Supervisor (a multi meaning word, referring to authoritarian watchfulness as well as high perception (as it’s literally the higher of the three eyes, and is symbolically a higher quality of sight). Some fighters like to clash foreheads to break the other’s posture or just intimidate them. This is similar to locking horns in the animal kingdom. It can be very psychological. Physiognomically, when a human has a forward-bulging frontal lobe, it signifies a high level of empathy – they tend to be very socially understanding, great communicators and empathisers. Dolphins have very enhanced frontal lobes, and this is reflected in their extra-ordinarily understanding, therapeutic & samaritarian behaviour.
  • The Heart Chakra (Anāhata अनाहत) is the Middle Dantian (Zhōng Dāntián 中丹田). This is a key power base of lofty, floating moves such as those with Air and Fire energy. Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. Or a swarm of bees. The Sanskrit word Anahata means Unbroken, and is symbolic of a calm & comfortable unbroken heart that is cleanly connected to the rest of the body; as well as the ability to ‘ride shots’ by blending with oncoming force to nullify the clash and avoid damage – something best done while floating.
  • The Sacral Chakra (Svādhiṣṭhāna स्वाधिष्ठान) is the Lower Dantian (Xià Dāntián 下丹田). This is a key power base for rooted, sunken moves such as those with Earth and Water energy. The Sanskrit word Svadhisthana means Your Home which symbolises your physical centre of mass, as well as the location of the womb in women, and the approximate location where you temporarily house solid and liquid waste too.
  • The Crown chakra (Sahasrāra सहस्रार in Sanskrit, Băi Huì 百會 in Mandarin) on the top of the head, and the Root chakra (Mūlādhāra मूलाधार in Sanskrit, Huì Yīn 會陰 in Mandarin) at the perineum (base of the torso) are both very special points in Tai Chi as they demarcate both ends of the centreline that we try to keep very straight for smooth transfer of power through the body. According to Chinese acupuncture, there are two primary energy meridians flowing between these points: Dū Mài 督脉 (Governor vessel) running up our back, and Rèn Mài 任脉 (Conception vessel) running down our front. In traditional Indian medicine & yoga there is a similar concept – energy channels running from Root to Crown chakras are called Nāḍī नाड़ी in Sanskrit – one is straight (Iḍā इडा) are the other two spiral around it (Suṣumnā सुषुम्ना and Piṅgala पिङ्गल).

Some people believe the male body has a positively charged Root & Lower Dantian and a negatively charged Crown & Upper Dantian, while the female body is the other way round. This would mean women are driven by their head and men are driven by what’s down there; while women are empty down there and men are empty in the head. Sounds about right?

Bruce Lee’s 3 Stages

It’s often useful to refer to Bruce Lee’s three stages of learning Kung Fu: Partiality, Fluidity, Emptiness.

  • Partiality corresponds to ‘external’ or ‘hard’ styles of martial art, which are full of gaps and lack cohesion, and is also representative of new students who tend to have pre-conceived ideas about how to fight, be it based on previous martial arts training or general life experience – just enough to have formed certain bad habits.
  • Fluidity corresponds to Tai Ji, or ‘soft’ styles, and is representative of achieving such a level of mastery where you’ve filled in the gaps so your transitions are now instantaneously smooth & cohesive.
  • Emptiness corresponds to Wu Ji, as well as ‘the way of fighting without fighting’ which is a form of Wu Wei. This represents being so confident as a fighter, that you can now focus more on finding ways to avoiding fighting altogether. It also represents having internalised your techniques enough to now be able to essentially forget everything you’ve learnt (or at least, remove it from your localised conscious mind, and let it dwell in the spontaneous subconscious) so you’re no longer bound by any rules or pre-conceived notions that may slow you down or make you predictable, so now you can react instantly without obstruction and be fully creative – this was considered the ultimate achievement in Bruce Lee’s JKD.

These 3 Stages also correspond to the core 3 of Laozi’s ‘4 great things in this world’: People are said to follow Earth (akin to Partiality), which follows Heaven (akin to Fluidity), which follows God (akin Emptiness), which follows itself, as per Page 25 (different translations use different words). The same pattern is expressed on Page 18: an open mind leads to Sympathy, which leads to Nobility (akin to partiality), which leads to Heavenliness (akin to fluidity) which leads to Holiness (akin to emptiness). The same pattern is expressed in reverse order on Page 38 and on Page 42.

The same sequence of Laozi’s four great things (plus one unholy thing), can also be seen in the Five Styles of Kung Fu that I teach:

  • Wu Wei (the zero-dimensional, empty, holy),
  • Tai Chi (the one-dimensional, fluid, whole, heavenly),
  • Wing Chun (the two-dimensional, partial, clashing, earthly),
  • JKD (the three-dimensional, the roaming & leaping, the human way),
  • Xing Yi (the insight of the unholy entity).