Bending Tree Instructors

All our instructors are certified from Bendingtree. Some instructors have additional certifications by either Dr.Paul Lam in Tai Chi for Health forms or Nam Hoa Temple forms by Master Jim Scott Behrends or both.

Barb Francisco Longevity Tree
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.

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Phillip Szpiech, Senior Student Nam Hoa Temple Forms, 11 years teaching Dr Paul Lam Tai Chi for Health Program
Phil is a long-time student of Chinese language, history and culture. During his 26 year Naval career he lived in various Far Eastern countries, including Taiwan. He began studying TaiChi/QiGong for the health and longevity benefits and became interested in medical QiGong and martial arts in general. In 1999 he began training and teaching with Bending Tree Tai Chi. He specializes in teaching seniors and people with chronic health conditions.  Phil is also one of the founders and served on the Board of Directors of the Tai Chi East West Alliance. Since 2009 Phil has been studying Medical Qigong Therapy at the Qigong Institute of Rochester in New York.

Instructors at the Bending Tree Center.

Janice Wells Longevity Tree
Janice has been practicing and teaching the Nam Hoa Longivity Tree form since the mid 1990s.  She has many devoted students and is an essentail part of the Bending Tree students and staff.  She teaches the Friday morning class and is always welcoming new students,  enjoying the companing of  long time students and sharing her vast knowledge of relaxation techniques and Qigong.

Ruth Snider, Instructor, Longevity Tree

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.

Instructors at Emmanuel Episcopal Hampton

Jane Copeland, Instructor, Longevity Tree ,Nam Hoa Yang and  Nam Hoa Tiger

In the early 2000s, after one surgery for a ruptured disk and one painful event with a second ruptured disk, I was looking for something to supplement my limited daily exercise routine. I saw a sign advertising a free tai chi class and signed up. I have been practicing tai chi ever since. Before tai chi, I could not stand erect without severe pain, post tai chi, I can stand for hours pain free. Bending Tree’s motto is ‘Tai Chi for Every Body” and we truly cater to persons of all physical abilities. We focus on correct alignment and relaxation. I have certified in the Nom Hoa Temple system’s Longevity Tree and Yang forms.Jane Copeland

MJ Meyer Longevity Tree and Nam Hoa Tiger

I began my journey into the internal arts 8 years ago in order to improve my balance and strengthen my knee. I had been having knee pain and was told that I needed a knee replacement but instead I began tai chi. I became certified to teach Longevity Tree in the Nam Hoa system in April of 2013 after retiring as a high school teacher from the Virginia Beach Public Schools. I have studied other supplemental practices with various instructors such as: push hands, animal frolics, meditation, yang -24, tendon / muscle stretching, silk reeling and two person yang. Obviously I am a tai chi enthusiast as it has improved my balance and postponed knee surgery. It is an honor and a privilege to volunteer on the steering and program committees. Tai chi is definitely moving medication.

Tom Wolf, Teacher Nam Hoa Temple Forms
"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, and Dragon, Tai Chi Chuan and Yin Yang. He has also certified in the Dr.Paul Lam Sun Style Tai Chi for Arthritis form (Tai Chi for Health).

Bending Tree Tai Chi Kung

Tai Chi for Every BODY

George Deuell Longevity Tree
I started practicing tai chi in 2010 for stress management and relaxation, to help keep calm in a busy and hectic world. It has helped me a great deal to slow down, just breathe and enjoy the present moment. Tai chi has become one of the most enjoyable things in my life. I am currently certified to teach Longevity Tree and Tai Chi for Diabetes. I also practice mindfulness meditation, many types of qi gong, Sun style taiji quan and am a student of traditional Chinese medicine.

Jerri Hudson, Instructor, Dr Paul Lam's Tai Chi for Health

As a budget analyst, I worked at Navy Public Works Center and several other Departments of the Navy and retired with 26 years of service. Tai Chi became important to me when I started hoping my sister would do something for her health. We had seen a booth at the Pavilion and decided to try it out. She did not stay but I did and have been active since 2004. I began learning the Nam Hoa system and later transferred to the Tai Chi for Health. About 4 years ago I decided I wanted to teach and thus was certified in the Dr. Paul Lam’s Tai Chi for Health program so that I could help others. I believe it is what I am called to do at this time in my life. Not only does it make me feel better, it fulfills me.


Anne Chisman Longevity Tree and Nam Hoa Tiger and Dr Paul Lam's Tai

Chi for Health
I have been a biology teacher, GED instructor, resource for complementary health practices, and an instructor for the Institute of Heart Math: the De-Stress Seminar. When I was younger Tai Chi eluded me, but when I was in an emotional crisis it became unexpectedly available. I have now been practicing for over 25 years and have twice avoided recommended back surgery. I used to say, "In my next life I want to be a Tai Chi Master". Then I met Bending Tree and the "opportunity" to have the most fulfilling experience of continuing to learn and teach TAI CHI. I am a certified Instructor of Internal Arts in the Nam Hoa system under Master Jim Scott-Behrends (Longevity Tree) and a certified Instructor of Tai Chi for Health through Dr. Paul Lam(Tai Chi for Arthritis, Tai Chi for Diabetes, Tai Chi for Energy I, Tai Chi for Beginners). I am pleased to serve on the Steering Committee and Program Committee for Bending Tree. My studies include Yang 24, Yang 108, Combined 48, and Nam Hoa forms, as well as supplemental workshops in Qigong, Meditation, Push Hands (Herman Kauz), 24 Cane, Sun 73 and Combined 42. Over the years I have continuously researched my experiences and I no longer desire to become a master, I just wish to offer you the ultimate GIFT, the practice of TAI CHI.