Dr. Mitch Hall has been a wellness counselor for disadvantaged, traumatized, inner-city youth and for adult patients with complex medical and psychological needs; a Peace Corps volunteer teacher in Togo, West Africa; a peace and environmental movement organizer in Europe with the Fellowship of Reconciliation; a professor, adviser to international students, academic program director, and academic dean in higher education; a French-English interpreter for African refugees; a writer, translator, and storyteller; and more. Hall is fluent in French and proficient in Spanish. Mitch studied religion at Columbia University. He wanted to discover what the spiritual traditions could contribute toward reducing violence and building peace on earth. His graduate studies were in sociology at the University of Chicago (M.A.) and psychology at Saybrook University and were motivated by the same abiding interest in healing and peace building. In February, 2013, the Indian Board of Alternative Medicines, located in Kolkata, awarded Mitch a Ph.D. (h.c.) in Alternative Medicines in recognition of his lifetime achievements in this field, including his scholarly work, publications, yoga teaching, practice of holistic healing modalities, clinical counseling work, and teaching in higher education. Mitch has taken professional development training in holistic trauma treatment with, among others, Bruce D. Perry, MD and Bessel A. van der Kolk, MD. For over 50 years, in an ecumenical and humanistic spirit of dialogue, Mitch has read widely about spiritual paths and practiced for extended periods with teachers from Yogic, Jain, Taoist, and Buddhist traditions. Mitch currently practices and teaches yoga, the Peace Games, qigong, mindful breathing, movement and meditation. Mitch was trained in energy healing modalities, such as Polarity Therapy, during intensive residencies at Siddhachalam, an ashram established in the United States by the Jain monk and ahimsa activist, Acharya Sushil Kumar, and at the Sivananda Yoga Ranch, established by Swami Vishnudevananda, a leading disciple of Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh. Mitch has twice been an invited speaker at the professional summit conferences, “National Leaders in Nonviolence and the Child,” three times as a speaker in peace psychology symposia at annual meetings of the American Psychological Association, and at the 12th International Conference on Violence, Abuse, and Trauma. For four years, Mitch was an invited speaker in the San Francisco State University Season of Nonviolence Series. Mitch has served with the Fellowship of Reconciliation and the Peace Corps, which gave him intercultural, peace building experience in Europe and Africa respectively. For ten years, Mitch was academic director of a service learning program at a university. The program combined local community service projects with courses to prepare students for collaborative service projects in culturally diverse contexts.
Alex Bechtold first started training at the age of 6 under his father, Bill Bechtold, while he was under Grand Master Marilyn Cooper at Little River Kung Fu School. Fifteen years later, training under her directly, Alex became the first Pushing for Peace Ambassador. Alex has taught the Peace Games to all ages. Since graduating from college, Alex has both assisted and held his own Peace Games presentations in universities, local martial arts facilities and internationally at several locations in rural Kenya. Alex regularly practices and teaches WuDang Kung Fu and Tai Chi at Little Creek Kung Fu on Kent Island, MD, which he runs with his father and brother. Alex continues to study with Master Zhong XueChao, Master Zhong Yun Long and Master Zhao Guo Hong in China. To see a video presentation of the Peace Games in Ahero, Kenya: https://youtu.be/f_xgUx-COkw
Sosha Lee Young grew up playing the Peace Games. She learned them in the elementary school where Grandmaster Cooper (her mother) taught for three years. She also grew up going to Little River Kung Fu School, within the School of Visual and Performing Arts. At Little River, Sosha learned the Kung Fu source material that gave rise to the Peace Games, as well as learned modern dance, drama, music, drawing and painting. Sosha graduated from SF State with a degree in history in 2013, after which Sosha went to Maui, HI. and taught the Peace Games to children in a summer camp. In 2014, Sosha created the first Harvest Benefit to raise money for the Pushing for Peace project. She created the menu online AND recruited and directed the kitchen staff. In 2016, Sosha created the digital illustrations and the text for the Peace Games training manual. Sosha works in San Francisco as a professional copy-writer, creating concepts, writing, editing, and designing print and digital assets for clients.
Zochi Young has black belts in both Aikido and Kenpo, and practices, studies and teaches Yang style taijiquan. He uses his arts as a transformative practice for social change. Zochi has an ongoing focus on the welfare and well-being of young people who have been cast aside by our current social paradigm. As a Pushing for Peace Ambassador, he has brought the Peace Games to two countries in Africa and teaches them in ongoing after-school programs to youth in Oakland, California. Alonzo (his given name) Young began his somatic training early as a youth in dance (later becoming a professional dancer with the Clifford Fears Dance Company) and as a martial artist in Kenpo and White Crane Styles. While living in Detroit, MI., Alonzo became a member of the Golden Fist (an international martial arts association) where he studied with various martial artists, learning styles under the umbrella of brotherhood and friendship. Zochi began Yang Taiji with T.Y. Pang in Honolulu, HI in 1978 and continues to study under him to this day. He has also studied with Master Share Lew (San Diego) and Master Chiang (Hong Kong). Alonzo Young has studied, practiced and taught the martial arts for over 35 years throughout Asia and the United States. He has received various accolades and recognitions. Mr. Young has Black Belts and instructor certifications in Aikido, Tai Chi, Kenpo and White Lotus Gung Fu. In addition to his martial arts training, he is a certified IMPACT Bay Area (personal self defense) instructor, leadership/management development trainer, as well as, a Non-Violent Communication (NVC) and Conscious Embodiment Leadership coach.
David Wei became the 2nd Pushing for Peace Ambassador. David Wei (魏 资 容, Wei Zi Rong, “Wayfarer of Vast Capacity”), is a 16th generation lineage holder of Wudang Zhang San Feng Pai, and a global instructor of Wudang Daoist wellness arts and traditional Chinese acupressure massage. Under the direct guidance of Daoist priest, Master Yuan Xiu Gang, David completed over 11,000 hours of formal training at the Wudang Mountain Traditional Taoist Martial Arts Academy, China, in 2007, at which time he was accepted as a senior disciple. During those five years, David practiced internal martial arts, medical Qi Gong and meditation. While in Wudang, he also trained under Master Du Yi Jun, a highly-esteemed blind master of Tui Na medical massage. David then became a certified Wat Po therapist from Wat Po Temple in Bangkok, Thailand, building on his previous training in Tui Na, Zen Shiatsu, Acu-oil, and Lomi Lomi at the Acupressure Institute. Prior to Wudang, he trained in traditional Shaolin Gong Fu and classical Chinese brush painting with renowned Master Y.C. Chiang at Wen Wu School. David has since travelled globally, conducting workshop intensives in China, Thailand, Bali, Czech Republic, Sweden, England, Germany, Canada, Mexico, Hawaii, and across the U.S. In 2012, David founded the Wudang West Cultural Heritage Center, a 501(c)3 non-profit wellness ministry, based in Oakland, California, committed to the practice and preservation of classical Chinese healing arts.
Sheldon’s study of the Shaolin martial arts began over 20 years ago. Sheldon was trained directly from Shaolin Monks and Martial Masters in both northern and southern styles of Kung Fu, Qi Gong, Tai Chi as well as gymnastics. Sheldon was Named Exec. Dir. of the Shaolin Lohan Institute for his forward looking vision, understanding of the art and culture and many years of hard work and dedication. Sheldon now runs the Deep Root Spiritual Center, a non-profit dedicated to promoting the internal arts of meditation, Qigong and kung fu, of which The Shaolin Lohan Institute and Shaolin Lifeis a part. Sheldon has been a Pushing for Peace Ambassador since 2013.
Jonath Padilla has a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Brain & Cognitive Sciences from MIT. Jonath has been a martial arts teacher since 1994, and a professional bodyworker since 1995. He’s the founder of “BodyFlow” or “Moving Bodywork" (http://movingbodywork.org) style of bodywork based in martial arts. Jonath has been the bodywork teacher at Spa Luna Massage School on Maui since 2004. He has functioned as the Executive Director of Pushing for Peace and was the energy behind the Maui Qi Fest for 2014 and 2015. Jonath runs the Maui Push Hands group at the Wisdom Center.
Shannon Tetteh has extensive training in massage and Asian bodywork. In 2009, Tetteh began his formal training at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine. He received his Massage and Asian Bodywork Certificate in 2010. Tetteh continued his training at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine to specialize in Tui Na, a style that utilizes acupressure along with stretches that engage myofascial tissue and joint manipulation. In September, 2011, Tetteh received a certificate in this style. Tetteh also is trained in the following modalities while attending the afore mentioned school; Swedish massage, Deep Tissue, Tui Na, Thai Massage, Shiatsu, Trigger Point Therapy, Reflexology, Cranial Sacral. In 2012 , Tetteh moved to Oakland California to enrich his understanding in Traditional Chinese Medicine and the Chinese culture at Academy of Chinese Health and Sciences to further his understand of Traditional Chinese Medicine. There he became a student of David Wei, founder of Wudang West Cultural Heritage Center and Pushing for Peace Ambassador. Under David, Tetteh studied Wudang martial arts and healing QiGong, and the concepts behind the Taoist arts. Tetteh worked teaching Qigong at health clubs and retirement centers. David Wei has deemed Tetteh an Ordained Taoist Priest through Wudang West after 3 years of devoted training. He has also received training from Marilyn Cooper in 5 element Hsing I boxing along with the Peace Games. Tetteh currently resides in Chicago where he will receive his certification in acupuncture in 2018. Tetteh is engaged in creating a local community based in wellness via the healing arts of Wudang QiGong.
John Ford studied law at the University of Cape Town before moving to Namibia, where he practiced from 1988 to 1995. Initially, he focused on representing survivors of human-rights abuses. After Namibian independence in 1990, his focus shifted to labor and employment law. John moved to California in 1996 and trained as a mediator. He has since successfully mediated hundreds of workplace disputes, and has worked with numerous teams to help them deal successfully with conflict. John has provided training to thousands of employees at all levels in the workplace, across a wide range of industries. His workshops focus on the development of soft skills, such as communication, negotiation, facilitation, conflict resolution, emotional intelligence, customer service and mediation. John teaches negotiation at UC Berkeley School of Law, mediation to graduate Business and Psychology students at Golden Gate University, and organizational collaboration online through Creighton University. He is a past president of the Association for Dispute Resolution of Northern California (ADRNC), and was the managing editor of www.mediate.com from 2000 to 2011. Currently, he is a member of the Association for Conflict Resolution and the ADRNC. John is the current trainer of a two-day Mastering Workplace Mediation seminar for members of the Northern California Human Resources Association (NCHRA). He also teaches a longer version of this class through UC Berkeley Extension. It is this training and his passion to make the world a more peaceful place that inspired him to write Peace at Work: The HR Manager’s Guide to Workplace Mediation, and to found the HR Mediation Academy. John has taught the Peace Games at a conference for mediators and in his native home of South Africa.
Javier was born and raised in San Antonio Texas within a no-nonsense, hardworking household. He pursued a passion for the arts from an early age and now resides in Northern California as a live-in disciple under known author Dr. Yang Jwing-Ming. Javier is enjoys helping others discover the innermost applications of martial arts for the holistic betterment of self. He encourages us to look past the flash, put down our dukes and resolve the conflict within.
SpringHeart is Pushing for Peace in Nepal, teaching the Peace Games to those at risk of abuse, exploitation, Human Trafficking and enslavement. SpringHeart directly teaches Self-Defense courses, free of charge, in Kathmandu, Nepal. Six days a week SpringHeart conducts four, one-hour classes; two at a government (public) school, one at the RUWON Star Children’s Home and one at the RUWON after school program. An average total of 60 students attend each day.
SpringHeart’s Mission: Work together with communities of martial artists to teach self-defense to those at risk of being exploited, abused, trafficked or enslaved. Empower with mental, emotional, social, verbal and physical strategies to prevent abuse of any type.
Mentally, by raising awareness of dangerous situations and people, and identifying mental manipulation.
Emotionally, by inspiring confidence and positive attitudes, and identifying emotional manipulation.
Physically, by teaching martial arts.
Verbally, by emphasizing how words can protect.
Socially, by strengthening ties in the community to help prevent physical or emotional isolation.
The head instructor for SpringHeart in Nepal wishes to remain unnamed. He has been formally involved in the Martial arts for over 30 years, beginning with wrestling. He has a 6th degree black belt in Kenpo and lived in Korea for one year studying Hapkido. He has also studied other Chinese Martial arts, including a two-year stretch where he studied full-time with Great Chinese Martial Arts Teachers in both China and the U.S. He is deeply grateful and indebted to all his Teachers and Training Partners. They have enriched his life beyond measure. His Kenpo Teacher, whom he has been studying with for 30 years now, continues to be a profound influence. His life is dedicated to the Mission of SpringHeart.
GM Marilyn Cooper
Marilyn Cooper has been training and teaching the art of traditional Chinese kung fu for over 50 years. She opened her first professional kung fu school in NYC in 1980. She has won several titles in national and international competitions - Grand-champion in Northern Shaolin and Gold medal in Tai Chi Ch'uan. She has published numerous article on the subject of kung fu and lectured at colleges and universities. In 1999, after the gun violence at Columbine High School, Cooper decided to find a way to bring the peacefulness of tai chi training to youth to help prevent bullying and acts of violence. The 3 years spent teaching K though 5th graders resulted in the early versions of what became the 9 Tai Chi Peace Games, which are actually also based on Qigong, shaolin and bagua. Today these Peace Games are spreading all over the world.
Danni Verona is a fourth degree black belt in Shorin Ryu Karate, she is the director of the Children’s Program at the Family Martial Arts Academy in Beaverton Oregon. Danni incorporates her Guang Ping Tai Chi knowledge from her instructors Henry Look, and Marilyn Cooper into her Women and Children’s Self Defense programs. Danni has over thirty years experience as a Pediatric Occupational Therapist who specializes in sensory and body regulation, and she enjoys implementing the Peace Games into all aspects of her work with children and adults.