Sherry Bullock Longevity Tree

My introduction to Tai Chi began while talking with friends who were already students at Bending Tree.  Learning I had martial arts training while living in Japan, they thought Tai Chi would be a great fit for me.  A new class was beginning for the Longevity Tree form - a moving mediation - and it was suggested I sign up.  Being intrigued and soon to be retired, I thought it would be helpful to challenge my memory with something new and reap the other benefits Tai Chi offered…  another arrow in my quiver! 

                After completing my training for Longevity Tree, I was asked if I was interested in an Instructor class.  Yikes!!!  While never aspiring to be an instructor, I decided to go outside my comfort zone (letting go of my ego aka fear) and found it challenging and exciting. Now, I am happy I can be a part in sharing this beautiful form with others.  

Tai Chi has opened my eyes and my heart in more ways than I could imagine.  I am learning, unlearning and applying.  And the real beauty is that no matter when you begin, you have a life time to study this gentle art.  

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

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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Master Tom Wolf, 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).

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.

Bending Tree Tai Chi Kung

Tai Chi for Every BODY

Instructors at Emmanuel Episcopal Hampton

Dave Christenson Longevity Tree

I started my journey with tai chi over 12 years ago. I was looking to maintain and increase balance and flexibility. Having heard about Bending Tree through a friend, both my wife and I started taking a class together. I initially found tai chi to be a challenge, remembering the various sequence of movements. Encouragement from the instructors at Bending Tree along with the group dynamic and the energy that started to develop with the other students kept my interest to continue. As I progressed with tai chi I found my balance was improving and that it also helped with body awareness, moving through various movements.

I decided to complete the Bending Tree instructor training program and become an instructor to increase my depth of knowledge of tai chi and share that with others. Tai Chi has become an integral part of my daily exercise routine and I have found being able to instruct students in the benefits of tai chi to be very rewarding. I have studied Tai Chi for Arthritis ( Dr. Paul Lamb), Longevity Tree, Yang, Tiger, Dragon, Tai Chi Chuan, and Yin Yang forms, and am certified to teach Longevity Tree.  

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.

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.

Shelley Christenson Longevity Tree

​I felt ‘brought’ to the study of Tai Chi at Bending Tree in 2007, starting with the Tai Chi for Arthritis class with my husband. We were both encouraged to continue and I noticed improved memory, balance, and flexibility, and calming of my ‘monkey mind’! Through the years of study we have connected with other students and enjoy the benefits of the group energy and deepening individual practice. After studying all the forms offered at Bending Tree, I entered and certified in the  instructor training program for Longevity Tree and am glad for the opportunity to share the form with others.

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.


Bill Larkin Longevity Tree  and Dr Paul Lam's Tai Chi for Health

After I retired from teaching middle school,, having chased kids all over creation, I took a job at a call center, but started to realize that I was getting too sedentary. I started taking Ruth's class and liked it a lot, not just for the exercise, but the symbolism, and how it related to health, was interesting. One class lead to another, and when I was offered the chance to train in Tom Wolf;s instructor class, I accepted the challenge. Every day since has been filled with possibilities. I'm in better health than I've been in for twenty years, and getting better all the time. I'm on track to go to China in the fall for a month to study at the Huang Hua Tai Chi Academy, and look forward to sharing what I learn with students and other Bending Tree members.

Thanks to all the people at Bending Tree for all the opportunities and fun..

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.

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, a local non-profit health and wellness company. 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 with Master Lisa O’Shea at the Qigong Institute of Rochester, New York. Phil also volunteers at the VA Medical Center, Hampton. He has a Qigong class at the Spinal Cord Injury Unit and a Tai Chi Class for VA patients and staff. 

Instructors at the Bending Tree Center.