SUSSEX / Zhong Ding

Welcome to

  • Zhong Ding Sussex

Who are we?

The Zhong Ding Association is a worldwide organisation that was established in 1987 by its Chief Instructor, Nigel Sutton at the request of his teacher Tan Ching Ngee of Singapore. The two main bases for the organisation are Europe and the Far East, but there are also instructors available in India and the USA.

The purpose of the association is to promote and research Tai Chi Chuan and other traditional martial arts. As such, the association runs classes and seminars throughout the year at a wide range of locations. These include special seminars conducted by visiting instructors who are renowned experts in their field.

Zhong Ding International is the mother organisation and is based in Malaysia where the association was born. This is led by Tan Mew Hong, who is also a committee member for the Penang Wushu Association and Vice Chairman of the Traditional Wushu Section. She teaches and promotes martial arts throughout Penang with a strong focus on this development within local Schools.

Malaysia is also the location for the Zhong Ding Training Academy which is the headquarters of the Zhong Ding International and the Zhong Ding organisation as a whole. The training academy offers short or long term residential training opportunities for Zhong Ding students to further their art.

The organisation hosts two residential training camps a year and an annual competition in the UK to further promote the arts. In addition to this, the organisation has a national squad to develop the next generation of martial artists. The squad competes and trains together regularly building a strong base for the organisations future.

As well as promoting through teaching, the association encourages its members to write for periodicals and related publications. Nigel himself has had articles published in a number of magazines and is the author of several books on Tai Chi Chuan.

There are many different stories concerning its origins and creation. The most popular legend, which has few hard facts to back it up, is that of Zhang San Feng, a Taoist who had already mastered Shaolin Boxing, who caught sight of a crane fighting a snake. Intrigued by the yielding, smooth evasion and darting counter attacks of both creatures, he was inspired to develop a form of boxing which would embody the natural philosophy of the Tao.

What is Malaysian Zhengzi Tai ji Quan?

Taijiquan is known throughout the world as a Chinese movement art, whose gentle, slow movements are beneficial to health and wellness of both body and mind. What is less well-known is that the art is a truly effective fighting system, as well as a repository of many aspects of Chinese culture.

The taijiquan of Master Zheng Manqing (Cheng Man Ching) first came to what is now Malaysia in 1958. Zhengzi taijiquan is an offshoot of the popular Yang style, which, thanks to the genius of Grandmaster Zheng, was developed and reformed to make the art the very embodiment of ancient Chinese philosophy.

Zhengzi taijiquan consists of a solo form of 37 postures, two-person sensitivity exercises, known as pushing hands, and the practice of a 54 movement sword form together with accompanying sensitivity and sparring exercises.

At the same time that the above forms and practices are being learnt, the student learns to organize their body so as to make the most efficient use of its energy and power. Such structural training is then combined with visualization and breathwork . This work is known as neigong (internal work) or qigong (energy work), and enables the exponent to unify and make the most efficient possible use of body, mind and spirit.

The first teachers of Zheng’s taijiquan in Malaysia, including Grandmaster Zheng himself, proved the efficacy of their art as a fighting system, in challenge matches with practitioners of other Chinese martial arts systems. With this proven, the gentle and effective movements of the art were transmitted as an effective system of health promotion.

This art, based as it is on a consistent theoretical foundation, is straightforward to learn, and its numerous benefits may be attained with a small amount of regular practice. With a firm grasp of its essential principles, the taijiquan practitioner can take positive, daily steps to improve wellness of body, mind and emotions. This art is truly a great cultural treasure and one that is now available to the world.

Tai Chi Chuan promotes natural correct posture. Throughout the exercise the cardiovascular system is gently exercised. Because of the positions the student adopts throughout the movements, strength is gradually increased, especially in the legs. Because students are taught slowly there is not the same risk of injury as would be the case with more aerobic activity.

By holding the spine in correct alignment and turning and moving the waist, the student stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system which results in a decrease in heart rate and dilation of the blood vessels resulting in improvement in the circulation. This is the body's restraint on the flight or fight syndrome and is of vital importance in lessening the effects of negative stress.

The practise of Tai Chi Chuan not only benefits the body, but also the mind. The form that is learnt consists of many different movements. The mind is so absorbed by this that day-to-day worries are left aside. This results in a perceptible increase in mental sharpness and self confidence as the student becomes more proficient.


Zhong Ding run classes in the United Kingdom, Ireland, mainland Europe, Malaysia and the USA. Zhong Ding Sussex are based in and around Worthing, West Sussex in the UK. For details of class times and locations in other areas, please check out our other club pages within the 'links' section.

Tuesday Class

Northbrook Barn Community Centre

Squadron Drive, Worthing, BN13 3SL


This is the main class for Zhong Ding Sussex. The first hour will be a

warm up with some Qi Gong and the Cheng Man Ching form. The

second part of the lesson will be a bit more diverse and could include

more form, Pushing hands, applying the art, weapons or two person


Sunday Class

The Vintners Parrot Function Room

Warwick Street, Worthing, BN11 3DL


This class is normally form and function so will naturally be more

martial orientated.

Would you like to find out more information about a class or how to attend?

Contact Us

We practice a wide range of Traditional Chinese martial arts, but our main interest is the Cheng Man Ching style of Tai Chi Chuan, which is thought to be the most widely practised Tai Chi form in the West.

You will first learn the 37 posture 'form', which is a series of postures practiced with slow relaxed movements that perpetuate relaxation, stress relief, physical well-being, balance (physical and mental), fitness, strength and flexibility. This gently exercises the whole body, and is sometimes compared to 'swimming in air'. You may also do some Chi Kung exercises. Such as the five animals or other exercises for health, posture and breathing.

If you are already familiar with the Tai Chi Form, then you can advance by learning two person forms, partner work, pushing hands, broadsword (Dao), straight Sword (Jian), Staff, Master Liangs Long Form, Xiny Yi Broadsword form, Xing Yi 8 Fist form, Xing Yi 5 Element form, self defence, 64 Straight Line Ba Gua Form and San Shou A


Nigel Sutton

Chief Instructor, Zhong Ding


Nigel has studied Martial Arts since he was thirteen years old and has trained extensively and intensively with a number of different teachers. He is a lineaged disciple of:

  • Tan Swoh Theng (Wuzu quan and Taiji quan)

  • Tan Ching Ngee (Zhengzi Taiji quan)

  • Lee Bei Lei (Zhengzi Taiji quan)

  • Lau Kim Hong (Zhengzi Taiji quan)

  • Ho Ah San (Zhengzi Taiji quan)

  • Gao Ji Wu (Bagua zhang, Xing yi quan, Yi quan)

He is also:

  • Senior student of Liang He Qing (traditional Wushu, Taiji quan)

  • Student of Fu Chang Hui (Chen style Taiji quan)

  • Khatami under Md. Hasyim (Silat Lian Padukan)

  • Student of Azlan Ghanie (Silat Melayu Kris Lok Sembilan)

  • Initiated student of Zainal Abidin (Silat Tua, Krabi Krabong)

  • Student of Eric Olavides (Eskrima DECampo JDC-IO)

Nigel has studied, researched and taught in Europe, China and Southeast Asia and is the author of a number of books. He has also written articles for most of the major international martial arts magazines.

He currently, lives in Malaysia, where he practices a wide range of traditional martial arts and makes a living as a writer. This is also the location for the Zhong Ding Training Academy in Penang, where Nigel delivers residential training courses, in a range of disciplines, throughout the year.

Nigel also visits the UK regularly to train with his students, delivering seminars and overseeing competitions.

(Image by Scot Baston -

Mark Ellett

Senior Instructor, Zhong Ding Sussex


Mark first started learning karate in the 1980s, achieving first Kyu in Shotokan Karate. He then went on to study Keishin Kan Karate, achieving First Dan in 1985.

Over the following years, he spent time studying Karate, Ju Jutsu, Lau Gar and some Tai Chi Chuan.

Shortly after receiving his first Dan in Goju Ryu In 2001, he was introduced to Nigel Sutton (Chief instructor of Zhong Ding) and his student Glen Pelham Mather. They had both attended Marks usual Karate class to explain and demonstrate what Tai Chi Chuan was about. The class had a lasting impact on Mark, and over the next 2 years he gradually moved to study Tai Chi Chuan.

When asked about what inspired the change, Mark replied "I found the sessions gave me all the benefits of the hard Martial training, whilst encouraging health benefits from the calm forms."

As well as the knowledge of a range of Martial Arts, Mark has a firm grounding in Chinese medicine following the completion of a three year qualification in Shiatsu with the Brighton Shiatsu College. Shiatsu is the art of Japanese massage, working on meridians and utilising acupuncture to improve health and rebalancing the body and mind.

Glen Pelham-Mather

Master Instructor, Zhong Ding


Glen teaches authentic Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan Slow Form, Push Hands, San Sou, Kwai Taiji (Fast Tai Chi), Chinese Broadsword, Straight Sword , Martial applications and Chinese Full Contact Boxing. He believes the practice of an internal martial art and understanding the use of soft energy is essential should you wish to participate in competitive contact sparring and that this actually compliments these more high impact and cardiovascular pursuits. Glen also states that the health benefits of practising Tai Chi Chuan far outway the martial prowness that develops naturally over time studying this profound art.

This art has been passed down from Prof. Cheng Man-Ching to Tan Ching Ngee to Sifu Nigel Sutton (Glens teacher) meaning Glen is a third generation Yang Style Disciple and qualified Master Instructor of Tai Chi Chuan through the Zhong Ding Traditional Chinese Martial Arts Association based in Malaysia and Europe.

Glen continues teaching courses across Europe and India, sharing his invaluable expertise in the Martial aspects of Tai Chi, coupled with awareness of the art for health, relaxation, stress reduction and well-being. Tailor-made fitness programs for the complete beginner to the athlete and/or film star, improving and developing ways to train the mind, body and soul to achieve the serenity and peace of mind with the physical look that you’ve always wanted.

Now rewarded with the title of Master Instructor, Glen continues to explore ways of making Martial Arts more accessible for all. Combining and applying his extensive knowledge in Martial Arts and Chinese medicine on all levels (physical, emotional, mental, spiritual) not only for himself, but for all he teaches and comes into contact with. Glen is the perfect example of the extraordinary benefits and balance in all aspects of life that Tai Chi has to offer.

Glen continues his film and stunt work. Acting as a consultant to gyms and individuals he has created a NEW style of cardiovascular and specific muscular fitness training which gives fast and effective results. Plus a NEW Tai Chi form easily adapted for the workplace which has led to his great demand within the corporate market for team building exercises and his on-site massage skills. He has devised a complete program through fitness, diet, acupuncture and massage to combat stress in the workplace.

Glen states that his passion and love in life is firstly Tai Chi Chuan but his hobby and favourite past time is learning traditional Chinese Martial Arts and to promote the fantastic benefits to all that decide to take that path. Glen continues his lifelong study of Martial Arts and Chinese Medicine, combining them and taking them to new levels of expertise and development.

We aim to provide an informal and welcoming atmosphere with plenty of encouragement. Feel free to contact any of our instructors to answer any questions you may have.

Contact Us

Tai Chi is not an instant health cure, nor a ten week self-defence course. It is an art and, like all arts, it takes time and diligent practice to perfect. For those willing to persevere the benefits are amazing and are not diminished by the constraints of old age; in fact there are many practitioners around the world in their eighties and still teaching.


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    Find Us

    • Tuesday class (7-9pm)
      Northbrook Barn Community Centre,
      Squadron Drive, Worthing, BN13 3SL
    • Sunday class (10-12 noon)
      The Vintners Parrot Function Room,
      10-12 Warwick Street, Worthing, BN11 3DL

    Class times

    • Tuesday : 7pm - 9pm
    • Sunday : 10am - 12pm

    "The most important reason is that when you finally reach the place where you understand what life is about, you'll have the health to enjoy it."
    Chen Man Ch'ing