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.