Current Students

Enrico Tomei

Enrico Tomei Hometown: Conversano, Italy
Age: 30
Blog Link: The Corner of Courage
Joined: 2013

I have been involved in Traditional Chinese Martial Arts since I was 15 years old. I spent my first years of training studying Hung Gar, Wing Chun, Taijiquan and Qigong in my hometown. In 2005, I had the chance to meet Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming during one of his seminar in Naples. I was fascinated by him and decided to devote my training to the YMAA program. I began training Taijiquan, Qigong, and Shaolin through YMAA.

My love for these disciplines comes from watching many martial arts movies as a child. I began training in hopes of learning the stunning abilities I saw in them. In time, I discovered that traditional Chinese Kung Fu has a more profound and deeper meaning, so I became interested in going beyond the surface. I want to understand the true value of this ancient art, and that is the reason that brought me to the Retreat Center.


Frank Verhülsdonk

Frank Verhülsdonk Hometown: Scharans, Switzerland
Age: 38
Joined: 2009

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.


Javier Chadud

Javier Chadud Hometown: Santiago, Chile
Age: 31
Joined: 2013

I began by learning only Qigong and Taijiquan when I first attended YMAA Chile in November 2010. Before that day, I did not know much about these disciplines. I had previously practiced boxing and Taekwondo when I was a child, always admiring martial arts because my father was a black belt in Karate. After training for a few months, I began to feel consumed by these ancient arts. Thanks to many seminars, I could see the depth and knowledge one could gain from practicing Taijiquan and Qigong. After a one-month trip to the Retreat Center, I gained an even deeper appreciation for the practice.


Javier Rodriguez

Javier Rodriguez Hometown: San Antonio, TX, USA
Age: 32
Blog Link: Kung Fu Diary
Joined: 2009

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.


Jonathan Chang

Jonathan Chang Hometown: Andover, MA, USA
Age: 27
Blog Link: A Rabbit And A Dog
Joined: 2008

I have been practicing martial arts at YMAA since I was 5 years old. I started learning at YMAA's Andover Branch under Mr. Christopher Fazzio and have since continued to study there until my recent move to the Retreat Center. I studied and taught Long Fist and White Crane Kung Fu for 15 years before joining the YMAA Retreat Center. In 2007 I began training in internal martial arts, Yang-Style Taijiquan, under Andover's Mr. Paul Blake, and now I learn directly from Dr. Yang.

I hope to greatly expand my knowledge of Chinese martial arts and to become proficient in what I learn. By doing this, I hope to effectively teach the future generations of martial artists by sharing my knowledge and positively influencing their training habits. I enjoy practicing and teaching martial arts very much and wish to pursue these passions throughout my lifetime.


Kyle Olsen

Kyle Olsen Hometown: Phippsburg, CO, USA
Age: 27
Blog Link: Burn The Wall
Joined: 2013

The beginning of my martial arts training began with karate. I also have experience in Ki Aikido under Sensei Russ Smith. The training from these two martial arts has influenced me in ways that very few other things have.

The more time I spend training, the more I realize how much depth there is in studying martial arts. The values and skills practitioners develop though earnest training are valuable to themselves and their communities. By joining Dr. Yang and the other students at the YMAA Retreat Center, with hard work and dedication, I will be able to deepen my understanding and abilities of traditional Chinese martial arts. I am very thankful for the opportunity to train here at the Retreat Center.

My goal is to make martial arts the cornerstone of my life and support the goals of the center. I plan to training and teach what I learn. By doing so, I can aid in the preservation of the arts and the substance they hold.


Michelle Lin

Michelle Lin Hometown: Andover, MA, USA
Age: 32
Blog Link: A Rabbit And A Dog
Joined: 2013

I trained Kung Fu at YMAA Andover for 8 years. There, I was involved in teaching, coordinating demos, and working on projects as the assistant director of the Kung Fu Program. Independently, I developed a traning program at Chinese School Andover, where the number of Kung Fu students doubled within one semester.

In line with the Retreat Center's goals, I aim to preserve and pass on traditional martial arts at the highest level possible. Practicing martial arts has helped me overcome many struggles, and I believe it can do the same for many others. My goal is to become a knowledgeable and inspiring teacher while making the arts accessible to anyone who wishes to learn.


Quentin Lopes

Quentin Lopes Hometown: Mashpee, MA, USA
Age: 16
Joined: 2013

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 the 5-year program at the center, I want to attend college for acupuncture.

"Quentin is a promising young individual who has shown much enthusiasm, passion, and talent in pursuing martial arts as a career and lifestyle. Despite not fulfilling the minimum age requirement of the 5-year program, he nevertheless applied and came to the center as a full-time visitor to prove his sincerity and resolve. He worked very hard to gain the support of his parents and Dr. Yang, and to find a method for graduating high school on time. At such a young age, Quentin has the potential of a very great and remarkable martial artist. I am looking forward to seeing what he will be capable of accomplishing in this program, and in his life." -Nicholas C. Yang