We invite you to learn more about our Certified Instructors, who they are, why they began to study Qigong and Tai Chi, and more importantly, why they still practice. To learn more about about our Nam Hoa Master, Jim-Scott Behrends or Teachers Jude Forsyth or Tom Wolf, visit the "About Our Master/Teacher" section..

Certified Instructors are listed alphabetically by their last name.

If you can't find your instructor here, check our "Alumni" section (they are not currently instructing a class) at the bottom of this page.   

 Additionally, some of our instuctors have changed energy (passed away) and you may read about them on the page with that same name.



Jeff Barnhart - Long Beach, CA


Let me begin with my history.  I have bone spurs, narrowed disk spaces and degenerative discs in my neck and back.  I have rotator cuff problems in both shoulders and I have carpal tunnel syndrome in both wrists.  I have learned to control these problems since I began practicing Taiji.  Keep in mind that Taiji is not a substitute for seeing your doctor, but don’t underestimate the therapeutic power of these simple movements.

One of the greatest things about Taiji is that anyone, any age can do it!   Movements can be adjusted for people who struggle with an injury or physical limitations.  Taiji has helped me to increase my strength and range of motion, which has contributed to improving my balance and mobility.  There’s so much more!!

Taiji is the most effective exercise program I have ever been involved in.  It has been very effective in controlling or eliminating pain.  In the last 12 years Taiji has opened the door for me to be able to study Jiu-jitsu and several other styles of Martial Arts.  I have been an instructor in Taiji since 1995, in Long Beach, California through the Parks and Recreation Dept.

If you are in the area please stop by.  I would be honored to meet you.


Barb Francisco - Virginia Beach, VA


The expression "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear" is true for me. Prior to finding tai chi, I tried a few other paths, none felt completely right. Then one day a friend called wanting me to come to a class to help out a friend of hers. The rest is as they say history. I found the right place for me, the right Teacher, and became a "tai chi junkie." Later I received an invitation to join the instructor-training program and I humbly accepted

A friend recently asked me "How long have you been on this path?" My reply was "You know in some respects I feel like all my life experiences have led met to this place in time. On the other hand it seems like just yesterday I discovered of the joy that is tai chi traveling along on my path." It is the way... the discovery... the journey that is important. It is this joy, the laughter, the discovery, the journey I look forward to sharing with each person that may share a class with me.








Mary Mulligan - Scotts Valley, CA

 My love for the practice of Tai Chi began in 2000 with my introduction to Jim Scott Behrends, Tai Chi Master for the Nam Hoa Temple of Internal Arts. My learning was concentrated and consistent giving me the honor to practice closely with Master Jim. The moving Qi Gong form called Longevity Tree provided a basis to learn other forms as well as the standing concentration practice of Zhan Zhuang.

I developed the intention to become an instructor so that I could give others the best of what I have learned. My experience of the beneficial effects of the practice inspired me to teach others. Tai Chi has given me a consistent sense of well being, calm and balance. There is strength and clarity in my body, mind and spirit that I directly attribute to the practice and teaching of these treasured and life affirming gifts.

See my website www.marymulligan.com for more information. My hobbies include hiking, cycling, and music.



Pam Paster - Hampton, VA

 I have always been an early morning leisure walker, relishing the daybreak hour, soaking in the flora and the fauna of rabbits, squirrels, birds, insects, and the predictable wandering cats in my neighborhood. Several years ago, I began looking for a supplement to my walking. I wanted to exercise more my joints, muscles, and lungs, deciding that I did not want to progress through the natural and inevitable aging process with moving and breathing difficulties like many others I had observed, including my own mother. I was not looking specifically for tai chi or Qigong but rather stumbled upon it. Or did I? I saw the BT website. Curious, I called the number. I tried a class, liked the class, joined the class, and completed the class. I became a tai chi junkie, volunteered in a class, tried and completed another class. I was privileged to be invited to participate in an instructor training program and became a certified Bending Tree instructor.

I recall the Chinese proverb: "If I keep a green bough in my heart, the singing bird will come." My spirit was open to receive this practice, and the "bird" continues to sing. Common words have taken on new meaning: "emptiness, stillness, yielding, rooting, allowing, releasing, breathing, centering, intent, mindfulness, following, leading..." Sharing is one of my desires now. Sharing new meanings of old words. Sharing this practice that has had such an impact on my life.

I began Qigong/tai chi thinking only of the physical, not realizing the inner/internal journey that would accompany. It feels right. I'm moving well, increasing my balance, and using breathing and mediation techniques to reduce stress and anxiety. It is a total practice on my path of continued wellness.

As an educator of over 20 years in early childhood special education, I look forward to branching out in my instruction and sharing Qigong/tai chi with you.



Lindy Patania - Watsonville, CA

I have studied Tai Chi with Master Jim Scott Behrends since 2005. Just one class is all it took for me to know Tai Chi as expressed through the Longevity Tree form was the moving meditation that met my needs. After 2 years studying I began a new phase of learning in the instructor training program receiving my instructor certificate in March 2008. This allows me to share my love of Longevity Tree with others. My favorite place to practice is on my towns bluff overlooking the pacific ocean.

I am certified as a CPR instructor working out of Dominican Hospital’s Education Center. My hobbies include rescuing reptiles, working in my garden and taiko drumming.



Grace Sanchez - Monterey Bay area, CA


I began studying Tai Chi with Master Jim Scott-Behrends in 2000 in my home town of Scotts Valley, Ca.  I fell in love with this style of Qigong/Tai Chi because it integrated movement and mindfulness into one practice. I directly experienced improved strength, balance and a sense of well being with this practice, most notably after being diagnosed and treated for positional vertigo. I became inspired to teach Tai Chi after assisting my friend Mary Mulligan at her Senior Tai Chi class. I started my Nam Hoa Qigong/Tai Chi instructor training in January of 2007.  I received my instructor certificate to teach the Longevity Tree Form in June of 2008. Teaching Tai Chi and Qi Gong has been a wonderful experience. I am currently studying to become certified to teach other Nam Hoa Forms. I am very grateful to live near and practice regularly with Master Jim-he imbues his teaching with kindness and generosity. He has helped me appreciate the presence of our teachers that came before him by living the embodiment of their teachings. I am part of Blooming Lotus Tai Chi in the Monterey Bay Area, for more information about our group please go to the Blooming Lotus Tai Chi website.

I live in Santa Cruz County, California.  I am grateful to my husband, Tom Bush and our two grown sons David and Matt for their enduring love and support. I have been an occupational therapist since 1977.  I worked in rehabilitation and acute care therapy for adults in my early career.  I now specialize in neonatal occupational therapy for infants and families at Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz, Ca. My hobbies are reading, bird watching, and photography. I am a member of the Santa Cruz Heart Sangha, a group of people who practice mindfulness in the tradition of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh.

I teach Tai Chi for Seniors at Mid-County Senior Center in Capitola, CA and privately in Scotts Valley, CA.



Kevin Smith - Big Sur, CA

I first encountered T'ai Chi at a public park in Washington, D.C. in the spring of 1998. I had seen a small notice in a weekly newspaper advertising weekly T'ai Chi, and though I had no previous experience or knowledge of T'ai Chi, meditation, or any Eastern movement tradition, something tugged at my mind, and the next Friday morning I found my way to a small group that practiced next to a statue of Jeanne d'Arc. I diligently attended several more times and struggled to learn the form, but after a couple months its complexity overwhelmed me and I did not persevere. Nonetheless, a seed was planted. 

Ten years later, I began studying with Master Jim in Monterey, California, and this time I was ready to benefit from the teaching.  In 2009 I began the Nam Hoa Instructorship Training Program.  T'ai Chi has helped to open me up to deep feelings of peace, balance and well-being. In my work as a freelance writer and in my other interests, such as classical piano, cooking, and learning foreign languages, I have discovered that the discipline and the benefits of "working with the Chi" are not limited to doing the forms. I live with my husband, Jeff Mallory, in Big Sur, California, and look forward to sharing my T'ai chi joy and experience with others.




Richard Harvey - Long Beach, CA

I began studying Longevity Tree Qigong in 1991 under Master Jim Scott-Behrends. In 1996 I moved to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, where I studied the Yang Short form under Xifu Mai Quan Tri intensively for 6 months. In 2005, after a life-threatening brain cancer diagnosis, I connected strongly with my Qigong practice as a self-healing modality. In 2007 I decided to become a certified instructor through the Nam Hoa Internal Arts Association. In 2008, after an intensive 40-hour training course with Master Jim and two of his certified instructors, I earned certification as Instructor of Internal Arts. This Certification qualifies me to teach breathing exercises, the energy workout, pressure point work, guided meditations and The Longevity Tree Form. In 2008 Master Jim certified me to teach Tiger Tai Chi, and in 2009 I earned certification in Yang Application Tai Chi. Since my original certification in 2008, I have completed 300 hours of training under Master Jim. I have studied medical research on using Tai Chi and Qigong for a variety of chronic medical conditions and I am building a private practice based on healing Internal Arts work. I credit this immune system strengthening practice as a major reason I have remained recurrence free for over 9 years. I have been a volunteer Tai Chi Instructor with Long Beach Parks and Recreation since 2008. In the past year I have added several Medical Clients including Kaiser Permanente and Palmcrest Grand Retirement Community in Los Angeles, CA, and numerous private clients. I also teach a regular class at WE Love Yoga in Long Beach, CA.

“Our task (and enjoyment) is to integrate the insights offered in the forms into our daily lives. This is the true practice, and the intention, of the Nam Hoa tradition. We are being invited to live in the present moment, with peace and clarity.”

Ruth Snider- Virginia Beach

From earliest years, I well recall the joy of being at the kitchen table with my parents and siblings, learning. In distinct ways, they led us quite naturally to wonder at the universe and celebrate discovery as only children can. My path was set. Education held a natural allure and I have always reveled in being a learner amongst learners. While I spent many years in a classroom setting, I broadened my life views with experiences in different fields, in different climes, and in different places. More recently, the opportunity to honor my parents in their senior years, and to learn anew, brought me to Virginia.

Here, I had the unique opportunity to work in the healthcare field, to gain fresh insights into aging and care, and to develop the skills so necessary to a caregiver. Life comes full circle for me. At some point, so did teaching: I had to learn self-care when overcome by the hot summer suns to which I was unaccustomed. Illness was a great teacher but the desire for health brought me to Bending Tree.

When I most needed "rescue" , a small announcement in the Botanical Garden brochure read: Wellness in the Garden. Instinct said, "This is the answer I need." From the first class, I recognized an outstanding Teacher, a holistic lesson, and positive energy and support. I was not disappointed.

Now, as one of the instructors, I am honored to be numbered amongst them. It is, in a sense, a continued journey, being an instructor: a learner amongst learners, to be sure.


Phillip Szpiech - Virginia Beach, VA

Phillip has had experience in several government and civilian industries. Including a 26 year Navy career; the owner of a regional training consulting firm based in Memphis, TN; a Division Vice President with the world's largest owner and operator of nursing homes and a partner in a real estate company with 40+ offices and 1500 agents. Phillip is a long-time student of Chinese language, history and culture. During his Naval career he lived in various Far Eastern countries, including Taiwan for several years. He began studying TaiChi/ChiGong for the health and longevity benefits and became interested in medical ChiGong and martial arts in general. In 1999 he began training with Bending Tree Tai Chi Kung in Virginia Beach,VA. He is certified as an instructor in several Bending Tree Tai Chi forms. Phil has also developed curriculum and teaches in Bending Tree's two year instructor training school. In the past 3 years he has been certified to teach in the Tai Chi for Arthritis,Tai Chi for Diabetes, and Tai Chi for Back Pain Programs and has become a student of a "Healing Touch" health and wellness program. Phil says, "It seems that the older I get the better my balance and flexibility. I continue to learn and want to share these benefits with like minded people."

In his "spare time" Phil continues to reestablish his Chinese language skills along with his newest musical interest in the bamboo flute.




 Tom Wolf - Teacher, Tidewater area, VA


"What brought me to Tai Chi? A part of me would say that I've always been on this path. My wife and I both had an interest in learning Tai Chi for many years. A few years ago after arthroscopic surgery to repair a lot of cartilage damage in my knee, and after six weeks of crutches with no weight bearing on the knee, we searched the Internet and found Bending Tree to help in my recovery program. What we found was something more than a health recovery program. We found a wellness program, and a wonderful group of friends."

"What keeps me practicing Tai Chi and Qigong is 'Discovery.' Discovering deeper and deeper levels of awareness to control and quiet my mind, body, breathing, and heart rate. Discovering new ways to move, and not move, to think, and not think. Allowing myself to be in the present moment, to truly enjoy the possibilities of each new moment and explore my connection to everything."

"We are all teachers, just as we are all students. I would like to share with you what this practice has given me, and how it has changed my life, in such a short time. Let's walk the path together for awhile, each of us a student and a teacher, so that we can share our experiences and learn from each other."

Tom is certified in the Nam Hoa system forms Longevity Tree, Nam Hoa Yang, Tiger, Dragon, Tai Chi Chuan, and Yin-Yang, and in the Sun Style Tai Chi for Arthritis form (Tai Chi for Health). He also teaches the animal styles.



 G. Jane Fleet - Scotts Valley, CA



Prompted by knee injuries which inhibited my ability to do impact sport and dance, I was looking for another form of exercise and discovered tai chi: a life saver. It enabled me to continue to move safely without pain and improved my flexibility, energy, balance and mindfulness. I am grateful to have discovered Tai Chi and qigong 20 years ago through a senior student of Master Chu King Hung who traces back through Master Yang Chengfu to the founder of Yang Style Tai Chi, Master Yang Lu-Ch’an.


When I moved to the USA from the UK, I discovered Mary Mulligan’s qigong class and enjoyed learning bamboo stick practice and Longevity tree form. I was inspired to train with Mary and Master Jim Scott-Behrends of Nam Hoa Temple of Internal Arts with a view to sharing the benefits of the practice with others.

In April 2016 I became an Instructor for the Nam Hoa Temple of Internal Arts. The training has shown me that I am only at the beginning of my learning! I am excited to have the opportunity to continue to learn from Master Jim and other inspirational instructors in the region.

I have been an educator for all my working life and teaching qigong and Tai Chi feels great; the students are always well behaved, curious to learn and teach me so much! I am also an instructor in Sun style tai chi for Arthritis. My other interests include learning Chinese, playing Taiko drums, photography, travel and volunteering at Wilder Ranch SP.

I will be moving back to the UK later this year and plan to offer classes in these practices.


 Vivian Skripek - Scotts Valley, CA

I began my QiGong studies with Certified Instructor, Mary Mulligan, in 2011. Having practiced yoga and meditation for over 30 years I was initially drawn to the practice of QiGong because it combines movement with meditation. I have continued with QiGong because of the many health benefits I have received. In 2015 I decided to deepen my understanding of QiGong by enrolling in the instructor training program. Working with both Mary and Master Jim Scott-Behrends I was accredited as a Nam Hoa Internal Arts instructor in May 2016. I continue to study QiGong bringing new insights and movements to my classes. In August of 2017 I was accredited by the Tai Chi for Health Institute as a Tai Chi for Arthritis and Tai Chi for Fall Prevention instructor.

I am available to teach classes, workshops, and individuals. I can be reached at vskripek@pacbell.net.

Nam Hoa Alumni Instructors Continued Here