The following Shaolin/Taiji students graduated in June 2018.

Attended 2008 - 2018

Hometown: Andover, MA, USA

Age: 30

Jonathan began his practice of Chinese Martial Arts at the age of five at Yang's Martial Arts in Andover, MA.  Since beginning his teaching career in 2000, he has aided and instructed at numerous seminars and training camps in the United States, Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, England, France, Iceland, Ireland, Germany, Italy, Poland, Portugal, South Africa, and Taiwan. Jonathan has also competed in various tournaments around the nation.

At the Retreat Center, Jonathan also began the study of media production under Prof. Rii Kanzaki, and continues to collaborate with her on various projects. Through Prof. Kanzaki's instruction, he began to develop an interest and passion for photography and videography.

Frank Verhülsdonk

Attended 2010 - 2018

Hometown: Scharans, Switzerland

Age: 42

I had been practicing Yang-Style Taijiquan and Qigong for about 3 months before arriving at the Retreat Center. I am here to gain a deeper insight of the ancient ways of training. Having the right attitude, I hope to achieve a good foundation to expand my knowledge of traditional Chinese martial arts. I really appreciate having the opportunity to learn in this singular environment.

Attended 2009 - 2018

Hometown: San Antonio, TX, USA

Age: 36

I started studying martial arts around the age of 10. Over the course of about 7 years I studied Tang Soo Do and Shuri Ryu. I also earned a black belt in Shito Ryu.


For 7 years, I lived in Florida and studied various forms of martial arts while there, including some Filipino Arts. I am also certified to teach Yoga and have also practiced Taijiquan. Before arriving at the Retreat Center, I had started to learn Qigong and meditation for about 4 years under the YMAA system. I have never been as passionate as I am now about traditional Chinese arts.

Quentin Lopes

Attended 2012 - 2018

Quentin will train at the Retreat Center until 2021

Hometown: Mashpee, MA, USA

Age: 20

I trained martial arts before I even went to kindergarten. My dad put me in a Kung Fu school when I was about 3, and I trained there until I was 12. Later, I began training at YMAA Boston.


Since the first day I visited, I have felt that the Retreat Center was the place for me. My purpose in training at the Retreat Center is to better myself and deepen my understanding of martial arts. I hope to improve my teaching skills and pass on what I learn at my dad's martial arts school back home.


After finishing my training at the center, I want to attend college for acupuncture.

Attended 2013 - 2018

Hometown: Andover, MA, USA

Age: 35

Practicing martial arts as a way of life has helped Michelle overcome many struggles and she believes it can help others. Her goal is to become a knowledgeable and encouraging teacher while making the arts accessible to anyone who wishes to learn.


Michelle is deeply appreciative of the opportunity to learn and grow at the YMAA Retreat Center. The lessons are endless and range from physical training to self cultivation and conflict resolution.


Prior to 2013, Michelle trained Shaolin Kung Fu at YMAA Andover for 8 years. She was involved in teaching, coordinating demos, and other projects as the assistant director of the Kung Fu Program.


Michelle graduated from Tufts University with a B.A. in International Relations.


Enrico Tomei

Attended 2013 - 2018

Hometown: Conversano, Italy

Age: 34

Enrico has been involved in Traditional Chinese Martial Arts since he was 15 years old. He spent his first seven years of training studying Hung Gar, Wing Chun, Taijiquan and Qigong in his hometown in Italy. In 2005, Enrico met Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming at one of his Taijiquan seminars in Naples. Enrico soon became fascinated by Dr. Yang’s knowledge and understanding of the arts and since then, he has devoted his training to the YMAA Taijiquan, Shaolin and Qigong curriculum.



Enrico’s love for Chinese Martial Arts comes from watching many Gong Fu and other martial arts movies as a child. At first, he started training in hopes of learning the stunning abilities portrayed by the action stars. Eventually, Enrico discovered that traditional Gong Fu has a more profound and deeper purpose than just serving as entertainment. With the will to better understand the true meaning of this ancient art, Enrico joined the 5 year program at the YMAA Retreat Center. He hopes that by studying the arts, he can better understand himself, his life’s purpose, and the meaning of life as a whole.


Enrico’s ultimate goal is to become a proficient Chinese Martial Arts practitioner and teacher to help people improve their own lives.

Piper Chan

Attended 2013 - 2018

Home country: Canada

Age: 22

Attended 2016-2019

Hometown: Harlem, NY, USA

Age: 67

Dr. Robert J. Woodbine is a recently retired naturopathic doctor and acupuncturist having served the Harlem, New York community for sixteen years. He began his research and training in Qigong and Tai Chi with Master Mantak Chia thirty-one years ago and has since studied with a variety of other respected teachers in these arts. He began taking workshops with Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming at the Open Center in New York in 2000 and, thereafter, making the bi-annual weekend treks to Massachusetts with his students to study.

He is humbly honored and feels privileged to have been selected to participate in Dr. Yang’s residential 3-Year Training Program in Qigong and Taijiquan at the YMAA Retreat Center in California. It’s a dream come true and consistent with his goals to teach people to be self-reliant, independent thinkers, and optimally healthy and well physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.  


Dr. Woodbine has two wonderful sons and daughter-in-laws whom have blessed him with four beautiful and special grandchildren.

Nona Ikeda

Attended 2016-2019

Home state: California, USA

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