In order to beat lockdown some of our instructors have clubbed together (with the Technical Director’s permission) to provide Zoom courses for TAO students.  Join us for a 2 hour session where we will learn and practice a Tao Yin exercise both together as a group and then in small instructor-led breakout rooms.  This course will run on Saturday 30 January from 10am until 12 noon and then again on Saturday 6 February from 2pm until 4pm.

Places are limited so if you would like to attend please contact Janet for more info and to book your place

Booking deadlines :

For the course being held on Saturday 30 Jan –  booking deadline 23 Jan

For the course being held on Saturday 6 Feb – booking deadline 30 Jan

I hope you all had as best a Christmas as you could given our current situation.

As seems traditional at this time of year I thought I’d look back at what we have achieved before mentioning the year just gone and the year to come.

I am proud of what we have achieved so far.  As a Chinese Martial Arts organisation we are unique – I cannot overstate this enough, these are just some of the reasons why :

  • Historically martial arts have always been a male dominated environment with few highly experienced or graded women – we are different : 40% of our instructors are women.  Because of our success a lot of other organisations are following suit and have a better balance between men and women.


  • Most martial arts organisations produce one or two successful competitors. Usually they are male and generally the organisations only compete in one or two disciplines  we are different :  we have numerous very successful competitors, both male and female, from England, France & Germany in all of the following disciplines –

Forms : empty hand and weapons in both T’ai Chi and Kung Fu

Push Hands

Chinese Wrestling

Semi-contact sparring

Full-contact sparring

Our younger junior competitors have been just as successful as our adult competitors.  This shows the high level of instruction in all three countries.


  • Most organisations entering competition practice solely for competition success – we are different:  competition practice itself is ONLY a very small part of what we learn and practice.  Learning the principles of movement as we do within the arts gives us a high level of adaptability which enables us to enter competition with little specific competition training.


  • The saying ‘Jack of all trades – master of none’ certainly does not refer to us because we cover such a wide range of disciplines. From day one most of our competitors entered into all available disciplines and proved very successful in each.


  • In every Europa (European T’ai Chi) competition we have entered we have competed against some of the best in Europe and won medals in Forms and Push Hands and have won more medals than any other competing organisation. This shows our strength in depth and not just relying on one or two competitors.  Our competitors have always been complemented on their technical ability in both the Forms and Push Hands and we have had competitors at world competitions in Forms winning gold medals for Open Hand and Sword Form, and in the full contact fighting winning bronze and silver medals.  The quality of teaching from our senior instructors shows that their depth of knowledge in coaching which allows these competitors to do so well.


  • Competitions aren’t something that everybody has to do but we should celebrate the fact that those who do compete raise the TAO’s profile for all.


  • All our instructors are qualified to at least BCCMA Level 2 Coaching qualification and some at Level 3 and above. They are either qualified or undertaking training for first aid, safeguarding, DBS and are fully insured.


  • Tui-na (Chinese bodywork system) : Our in-house Tui-na training programme gained recognition and provides a professional qualification for members who wish to go into practice.


So, what IS the secret? 

There is no secret – our success is proof of the sheer hard work our members put in to understanding ‘the basics’ and principles of our system and to practicing & teach those principles.  In the same way as our personal gradings record our progress through the system our combined success is evidenced by the uniqueness of our organisation.  You are all part of this success.

The TAO was set up with a committee to manage its’ day to day running in order for it to  carry on into the future – by working together we can achieve this goal.  Unlike other organisations that fall apart or splinter if the head decides to withdraw or retire, we need to recognise that the TAO is run by its members for its members and not just by a few higher graded people.  We should all feel that we can have a say and an input into its running and direction for the future.

Although we keep to our authentic roots in the way we pass the system down to newer members, we recognize the need to keep up to date with current legislation & requirements in order to take the organisation into the future.


So what now for 2021 ?

After the initial shock of the epidemic and the first lockdown the Committee have been busy updating, improving and providing additional features on both the TAO database and website.   I hope the below website features are proving helpful :

  • Exercise videos
  • Question & Answer sessions
  • Members Resources (for our newer members)

There is a new feature coming soon which will allow prospective members to apply for membership directly through the TAO website.  Membership details and information will automatically be emailed to the new member, together with their instructor, once their application has been accepted.

Once again, I am proud of our members, and how you have coped with the current situation.  Some instructors continue to learn (not only with their personal training) but via. the steep learning curve provided courtesy of teaching via Zoom.  With some instructors starting new classes by Zoom.

I have been very pleased to hear that some instructors have joined together and are running Zoom ‘courses’.   We have always been known as a ‘family system’ and this is proof that our instructors are willing to work together, as a family, to provide an outlet for those members who may feel that the COVID situation has left them out on a limb.   Our combined knowledge will always make us stronger, whether as individuals or as an organisation, and it is heartening to see that we support each other when needed.

We are looking forward to uploading more content onto the website for our members in order to help everyone work through the restraints of the epidemic.  

I urge everyone to keep working together to improve their knowledge, understanding and practice of the arts.  Along with everyone in the organisation I look forward to the time we are able to get together again to continue achieving our goals.

Happy New Year to ALL our members

Tony Swanson

Li Family demonstrations by some of our Competitors can be seen on You tube and linked below.



In this 8th session with Tony we cover two topics

Q1 is from from Elizabeth Marsh, She said ‘could Tony speak about the microcosmic orbit in one of his talks, and its significance in an exercise like the five lotus blossoms’

Q2 Sally  asks, ‘Can you explain the aims and goals of the TAO & how can these be met whilst in the current COVID situation?


These are the Technical Directors reflections and understandings they should be taken as his experience and personal opinion only.






Unfortunately due to the current situation with COVID-19 we have reluctantly had to cancel all remaining courses for 2020.  We wish all our members well and let’s hope the situation improves soon.

Below is an importat email from the TAO Secretary.  Please take the time to read it.


Dear Instructors/Tengchi grades,

I am sending this email to remind and urge all instructors and black jackets who are running classes or intend to run a class in the future that they need to adhere to, and conform to, the rules that are currently in place by our governing body the BCCMA.
Specifically the requirements are Coaching qualification, DBS clearance, 1st Aid and Safeguarding and you need to have these in place to be fully covered by insurance. The coaching qualification include Level 2 or Level 3 which are run on a regular basis and I recently sent out an email regarding the latest Level 3 course. For the DBS you can do this via the BCCMA website and you need to make sure that your 1st Aid certificate is up to date. The BCCMA runs 1st Aid courses specifically tailored for martial arts.

This brings me to the main point which is that you are expected to complete the SCiMA (Safeguarding Children in Martial Arts) course which comprises of three online modules and a webinar. You will need to register with SCiMA which is £16 per annum or £61 for professionals. The website explains what is required and the steps you need to take. You will be expected to upload proof of identity, BCCMA number, DBS certificate, 1st Aid certificate and complete the modules/webinar. The cost of the webinar is £22 and is a one off payment.

The TAO has always tried to be ahead of the curve when it comes to proposed legislation and procedures regarding the teaching of martial arts. Currently there are plans by the Sports Council, who have recently received government funding, to produce the requirements for a professional Chinese Martial Arts qualification. This will mean that at some point in the near future if you do not have this qualification then you will not be able to teach classes. This will eventually cover all venues whether they are held in health centres, private clubs or church halls.

As an organisation we are trying to get our people fully certified so that when new legislation comes in we will be in an advantageous position and will be able to continue teaching. It will also potentially open up further avenues to run classes with bodies such as the NHS and other professional institutions. So please go ahead, register and put aside some time to complete the online training.

Take care,

Checklist for BCCMA coaching qualifications:-
1. Safeguarding and child protection learning and certification

2. Enhanced DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) clearance
3. BCCMA National Governing Body Level 2 and 3 coaching qualifications

4.Martial Arts First Aid Training (most should have had this from earlier this year)

Qualification of instructors:-
The instructor must be 18 years or older and must have:

1.     Minimum 1st Tengchi grade in the art they are teaching 

2.     Safeguarding and child protection learning and certification

3.     Enhanced DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) clearance

4.     Martial Arts First Aid Training

5.     Minimum BCCMA National Governing Body level 2 coaching qualification

6.     The express approval of the Technical Director for running a children’s class or class with vulnerable adults


Safeguarding and child protection certification, enhanced DBS clearance, martial arts first aid training, and BCCMA National Governing Body level 2 coaching (or above) are all required for SCiMA registration.

All TAO Instructors are required to complete all four components for coaching registration with SCiMA for National instructor accreditation and must keep their training up to date.

It is expected that TAO instructors will have undertaken the appropriate training to coach: children; children and adults with disabilities; and adults, where applicable. 

Sorry folks due to current COVID restrictions our next Twyford course (23 & 24 October, 2020) has had to be cancelled.  Let’s hope things will be better soon.

In this session we cover three topics from 3 different members in the TAO.

Q1.     What is Chi and what’s the best way to cultivate it?

Q2.    Regarding the movement of the body, we are generally advised to only use a percentage of our full range of movement during tai chi practice.  However, there are also exercises designed to improve our maximum available range, opening and relaxing our areas of limitation.

Could you discuss the relationship between K’ai Men and Tao Yin exercises in increasing ranges of movement to the maximum/optimum percentage of our available ranges please?

Q3.     I’ve just watched Q&A 6 and I have a handy question that you may want to use. I was thinking that it would be good to combine ideas from three different Q&As together to illuminate them: Acceptance, the 3 Nos and Honour/ Respect.

“If the new guy in town walks in to the local pub for the first time, spills your pint and then spits in your face as a first introduction, acceptance and finding peace with the situation might be helpful internally as a starting point, but without addressing honour this response could be taken as an invitation to further dominance-establishing actions. Also, blanket acceptance would mean a lowering of self-respect, which in turn compromises the 3 Nos. How can we allow these three principles to be mutually supportive instead?”

These are the Technical Directors reflections and understandings they should be taken as his experience and personal opinion only.





Q 3.


In this session two more questions are explored;

The first developed on from the last session, Last time you talked to us about the intricate matrix of what makes Tai Chi, Tai Chi.  You also spoke of the 3no’s in Tai Chi, no pain, no stress, no fear. The Aim being we transfer all of these into our everyday lives.  Please could you tell us more about how we can live the Tai Chi more, for no stress and no fear?”

And the second questions is “ In the system we refer to principles a lot, but we also have concepts – can you explain the difference please?”


These are the Technical Directors reflections and understandings they should be taken as his experience and personal opinion only.


Question 1



Question 2


In this 5th session with Tony the questions are, how does the Li system cover so much of the various Internal martial art theories, and what makes the practice of Tai Chi ‘Tai Chi’ rather than being a well structured movement and exercise program?


These are the Technical Directors reflections and understandings they should be taken as his experience and personal opinion only.


How does the Li system cover so much of the various Internal martial art theories?





What makes the practice of Tai Chi ‘Tai Chi’ rather than being a well structured movement and exercise program?



In this fourth session with Tony we cover two more topics, ‘the difference between Knowledge and Understanding’ and ‘the contrast between training for the ego and training for the benefit of the TAO’?


These are the Technical Directors reflections and understandings they should be taken as his experience and personal opinion only.

The difference between Knowledge and Understanding



Contrast between training for the ego and training for the benefit of the TAO?


For those instructors holding outdoor training sessions we now have an Outdoor Risk Assessment form which should be completed for these sessions. Please note that reference to Instructor Code on the form is your membership no (i.e. the Instructor’s membership number).

This form can also be found in the Tengchi’s area (Instructors Resources section) of the website together with other TAO forms.

Happy training !

We now have the latest guidance from the BCCMA with regard to returning to classes :

BCCMA COVID safe policy

BCCMA insurance update COVID-19

In this third session with Tony we cover two main topics, one. is in relation to Honour and Self Respect and the other is in relation to our Kai Men and Tai Yin.

These are the Technical Directors reflections and understandings they should be taken as his experience and personal opinion only.

Honour and Self Respect


Concepts for Kai Men and Tao Yin


As you may have read in our news letter our Chairman Johns Ainsley contracted Covid-19, and in his words if it hadn’t of been for the Tao Yin and Kai Men he would have been on a ventilator.  If you were wondering what exercises John used to help him with his breathing they are in the video here being demonstrated by John.


In this second session of questions with Tony, the concepts of the 5 elements are expanded on in greater details.  The use of weapons is discussed and the weapons are used as an analogy to explain the different elements in this context.

These are the Technical Directors reflections and understandings they should be taken as his experience and personal opinion only.



Our June Newsletter is now available for download here. Within this issue you will find mention of the French Tribute Newsletter.

As always it is feature rich and with a great new look this edition contains  :


TAO News

Enjoy !


During this lock down and whilst courses and classes have been suspended Tony has agreed to answer some questions from a small group.

These are The Technical Directors reflections and understandings they should be taken as his experience only

If this is successful then we will get some questions from different areas and make this a regular event or until training can begin again.

This Kai Men exercise here is part of our members release during Covid -19 Outbreak

The Link below takes you through the exercise step by step.

Kai Men

This should be used in conjunction with the videos of Tony explaining the details.

As before the first video is  performing the exercise, then the overview of the details, and then the uses in our form.

Again please remember this is for training purposes and should not replace your instructions when classes resume. Hopefully soon.

Sound Quality is poor in some places due to other training in the hall at that time.




If you have a class listing on the website you also have the ability to change certain details of your listing.  Anybody wishing to add information such as the fact that their class is cancelled / postponed at this time or that their class is currently running online are able to do so themselves.  If you need any help or guidance with this please contact Sally or Gareth.

Keep well

Dates for your diary – next year’s International, Residential and Instructor course dates are now listed on our Course List page together with TAO Tuina qualified practitioner course dates.

Local course dates for 2020 will be added soon

New : Instructor BCCMA registration policy which includes a factsheet on DBS online registration and update service (Oct 19)

Our August Newsletter is now available and as always contains a whole lot of information including :

Technical Director & members articles – our community support project – the possibility of a new Tuina course – competition news and a list of next year’s Twyford course dates

Download the August Newsletter here