The Nam Hoa Chi Kung/Tai Chi Tradition

We invite you to learn more about our Qigong/Tai Chi Master, Jim Scott-Behrends, Master Jude Forsyth, and Teacher Tom Wolf. Read below why they began to study Qigong and Tai Chi, and more importantly, why they still practice. 

Master Jim Scott-Behrends

Jim Scott-Behrends began his study of the Internal Arts in 1977. He had the good fortune to study with some of the most knowledgeable Masters in the field of the Internal Arts. In Yang style Tai Chi Chuan, Master Jim's main teacher was Master Kai-Ying Tung, a third generation Master who was instrumental in bringing Tai Chi to America. Master Tung's grandfather was the top disciple of Yang Chen-Fu, who was the grandson of the founder of Yang style. Yang Chen-Fu was the key to bringing Tai Chi to the general public in China. Master Jim also trained with Master Wen-Mei Yu who has been teaching Internal Chinese Martial Arts and Healing Arts for over thirty five years. She was recognized as the top instructor in Tai Chi in the Wushu Division of China in 1983. With Master Yu, Master Jim studied the complete Wu Tai Chi Chuan system and a variety of Qigong forms. 

In the rare Nam Hoa Temple style, Master Jim (then a Teacher) studied over fifteen years with Internal Arts Grandmaster Kinh Nguyen. Grandmaster Nguyen (pronounced Winn) studied throughout China and Vietnam including the famous Wudang and Shaolin Temples. The Nam Hoa tradition includes six “forms” and supplementary practices to include both Qigong and Tai Chi practices.  In time Mst Jim came to devote more and more practice to the Nam Hoa system as he found it to be so beneficial. 

In the early nineties, after years of teaching in a variety of settings, Master Jim developed an instructor training program in order to bring the benefits of the practice to a larger number of people. He certified Jude Forsyth in 1994 in an informal instructor program. Mst Jim formed the American Wellness Institute and developed a formal instructor program to train several more instructors in Long Beach, CA. Some instructors came together to form small Nam Hoa groups (Dancing Lotus Tai Chi in Long Beach, CA), while others chose to instruct in their own classes (Balanced Self Internal Arts in Oregon). He then moved his family to Northern California (Watsonville) in 1996.

In 1996 Jim Scott-Behrends was awarded the rank of Master and lineage holder in the Nam Hoa Temple system by Grand Master Nguyen. From 1996 to 2007 Master Jim taught classes, workshops and retreats, traveling around Southern and Northern California and visiting the Virginia Beach group in support of both the students and the instructor programs that were rapidly growing. In 2008 he opened an instructor training program in his local area. In 2009 Mst Jim certified three new instructors for the Monterey Bay area. Their group, Blooming Lotus, joins other students and instructors enjoying the benefits of the practice, and the privilege of studying with the Master. The groups come together at beautiful nature settings on the west and east coast for retreat.

In 2012 Master Jim became a Dharma teacher in the linage of Vietnamese Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh. With a focus on mindfulness, concentration, and insight, Master Jim finds this practice to be very complimentary to the Nam Hoa tradition. He also appreciates its emphasis on wisdom and compassion.

Master Jim currently lives and teaches in the Monterey Bay area of California but visits Nam Hoa groups around the country. Aside from “offering the teaching” to students and instructors, Mst Jim is engaged in many projects to support the student body such as training DVD's, transcribing decades of notes, creating meditation CDs, and supporting new instructor programs. Here Mst Jim speaks about his practice,

“In my course of study and practice, I have benefited from many insights concerning the nature of the mind and body. As a result of my experiences and the support of my family, friends, and students, I have been privileged to dedicate my life to sharing the great gifts of the Nam Hoa Internal Arts Practice.”


Master Jude Forsyth

Teacher Jude came to the Tai Chi practice when her life changed in the early 90s, having suffered a serious car accident. Leaving a real estate career behind, she became a full time Tai Chi instructor. She explains,

"It was an unexpected surprise when Qigong/Tai Chi Master Jim shared his art and gifted me the practice to enjoy a calm, quiet, centered feeling as well as improved health. I thought I enjoyed that fast-paced lifestyle, but I didn't realize what a toll I was paying in my mental and physical life. Qigong/Tai Chi changed my life in so many wonderful ways. I had a strong desire to study with my Teacher. That desire has remained with me now for more than two decades."

Teacher Jude became an instructor in 1994 and moved to Virginia Beach, Virginia that same year. From 1995 to 2002 Teacher Jude (then an instructor) continued to learn and share her practice with her students. She traveled back to California as often as she could to continue her training with Mst Jim. In 2002, she and instructor Phil Szpiech came together with their advanced students and made the commitment to open a Certified Instructor program. Under the watchful eye of Mst Jim, the instructor program grew over the years to graduate many instructors. In 2004, the group formed Bending Tree Tai Chi Kung and together they opened a beautiful center in Virginia Beach in October, 2006. The center supported the Nam Hoa program, the Tai Chi for Health Program (Dr. Paul Lam), two instructor training programs, advanced classes, clubs, events, and guest lecturers. To support and grow Tai Chi in the area, Jude founded the Tidewater World Qigong and Tai Chi Day in conjunction with the World Day organization founded by Bill Douglas. A Tai Chi community began to emerge in the area. 

Acceptance of change can be challenging. When Teacher Jude’s spouse was transferred to Florida in 2008, Jude founded a non-profit group with help from the Bending Tree instructor and student body. Now the Board of Directors at Tai Chi East-West Alliance, mentored by President Tom Wolf, owns and operates Bending Tree for the benefit of the group and the public. They have a broad and diverse mission and continue the legacy to grow the Tai Chi community in Tidewater, Virginia area. 

In 2015, one of the group's senior students, Tom Wolf, was awarded the Teacher credential and now guides the Virginia Beach area students. Jude remarks that "...seeing Tom come full circle from the first time he visited the classroom, to becoming an instructor and steadfast volunteer for the group, to then recieving his teacher credential has been so special for me. His quiet and humble support of me personally and of our group throughout the years, was a true blessing. His guidance of the group from 2008 sustained it through challenging times and made it possible for the Nam Hoa program to continue to grow. I feel he is an exceptional person and a great teacher." 

Jude travels as often as possible to California or Virginia to train with Mst Jim and the group. Settling first in the Fort Walton Beach area, Jude certified an instructor there and continues to see students from that area but now resides in the Mobile area of Alabama. Another branch of the Nam Hoa program grows again, this time on the Gulf Coast. She founded Blue Willow Tai Chi Kung and teaches classes in the Mobile, AL area. 


Continuing the Tradition

Master Jim, Master Jude, and Teacher Tom continue to teach beginning and advanced classes. They are also dedicated to the enrollment and support of students who have expressed a desire to be in the Instructor Training Program. As the program continued to grow over the last two decades, more Nam Hoa groups have been established in different areas of the country. Currently there are groups in six states: Alabama, California, Connecticut, Florida, Oregon and Virginia.

To find a class near you, visit the lcoation page on this website.