Meet Our Pushing for Peace Ambassadors

Mitch Hall
Mitch Hall

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 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. In  2013, the Indian Board of Alternative Medicines 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 currently practices and teaches yoga, the Peace Games, Qigong and meditation. Mitch has been a speaker at “National Leaders in Nonviolence and the Child,” and in peace psychology symposia at annual meetings of the American Psychological Association, the 12th International Conference on Violence, Abuse, and Trauma, the San Francisco State University Season of Nonviolence Series. Mitch served with the Fellowship of Reconciliation and the Peace Corps in Europe and Africa. Mitch was academic director of a service learning program at a university, combining local community service projects with courses to prepare students for collaborative service projects in culturally diverse contexts.

Alex Bechtold
Alex Bechtold

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 Peace Games Ambassador under Grandmaster Marilyn.  Alex has taught the Peace Games to students of all ages. Since graduating from college, Alex has both assisted and held his own Peace Games presentations in universities, local martial arts facilities and in rural Kenya, where he taught the Peace Games to 3,000 students. Alex regularly practices and teaches Wudang Kung Fu at Little Creek Kung Fu in Petersburg, Virginia, which he runs with his father Bill and brother Adam. Through their school they have raised thousands for charitable giving in their community in Petersburg. 

Sosha Lee Young grew up playing the Peace Games. She learned them in the elementary school

Sosha Young
Sosha Young

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 and painting to children in a week-long 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
Zochi Young

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 taught them in after-school programs to youth in Oakland, California via Destiny Arts. 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. Zochi lives in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where he teaches his art as well as the Peace Games, specializing in self-defense for women. Zochi is working on the creation of a wellness center complex called Tenesu in both Ghana and Ethiopia.

David Wei
David Wei

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. Wudang West’s classes are currently on Zoom.

Sheldon Callahan
Sheldon Callahan

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 Life is a part. Sheldon has been a Pushing for Peace Ambassador since 2013 and is Sifu Marilyn’s Kung Fu student.

Jonath Padilla
Jonath Padilla

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

Shannon Tetteh
Shannon Tetteh

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

John Ford
John Ford

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. John is also the creator of the Empathy Set for resolving inner conflict. He mediates workplace conflicts locally and nationally, and trains others to mediate at their workplaces.

Javier Rodriguez 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. He was a live-in disciple under Dr. Yang Jwing-Ming with his partner, Nona Ikeda.  Javier enjoys helping others discover the innermost applications of martial arts for the holistic betterment of self. Javi and Nona taught the Peace Games to kindergarten and first graders with Marilyn Cooper at Winters Elementary in 2019.  Javi encourages us all to put down our dukes, look past our differences and resolve the conflict within. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8QnqCIagSSI

Javier Rodriguez

 

 

SpringHeart represented 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 conducted 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 attended each day.

SpringHeart

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.

1. Mentally, by raising awareness of dangerous situations and people, and identifying mental manipulation.

2. Emotionally, by inspiring confidence and positive attitudes, and identifying emotional manipulation.

3. Physically, by teaching martial arts.

4. Verbally, by emphasizing how words can protect.

5. 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.

PictureGM 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 T’ai 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 continue to spread all over the world.

 

 

PictureDanni Verona

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.

 

 

PictureSophie Nichanian, LAc.

Sophie Nichanian, LAc.  started learning Taiji in 1990 – specifically the powerful 64 movement Guang Ping Yang Tai Chi Ch’uan form. She first met Marilyn while translating for her Taiji teacher at the Berkeley Buddhist Monastery in 2007. Sophie is a mother to a daughter and a son. While maintaining a busy teaching schedule, she’s also a professional translator, a licensed acupuncturist and practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine. Her rich life in a Paris suburb consists of lifelong friends, her family, Taijiquan classes, practice at a private clinic, push hands summer camp, and trips around the world. Even her parents attend her Taiji classes!

 

 
Picture

Webb Cooper Phillips, Ph.D.
Picture

 
Webb Phillips, Ph.D. Webb grew up in Little River Kung Fu School, learning Northern Shaolin from his mom since the age of four. By the time he left for Stanford University, he’d learned advanced Shaolin forms, Xing Yi and Tai Chi push hands. During college, Webb practiced Wushu, Seven Star Praying Mantis under Brendan Lai and competed in Judo. Webb specializes in computational approaches to psychological research and has a background in software engineering, psycholinguistics, and cognitive developmental psychology. He graduated with honors from Stanford University with a bachelor’s degree in Symbolic Systems, worked as a research assistant in MIT’s department of Brain & Cognitive Sciences, earned two master’s degrees and a Ph.D. in Cognitive Developmental Psychology from Yale University, and served as a visiting research fellow at Princeton’s department of Neuroscience and a postdoctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics. At the Max Planck Institute, Webb studied the effects of different languages on people’s perception and memory, and also the emotional meanings of the basic sound units of language (phonemes) across different languages.  https://youtu.be/EZXbb6gXoFU
Webb currently lives and works in Nijmegen, Netherlands with his partner, performing and visual arts teacher Eva-Marie Ruban.
 

 
Picture
IAN GODFREY has studied and practiced martial arts for over 50 years, receiving his First Dan Black Belt in Shotokan Karate from renowned traditional Karate Master Hirokazu Kanazawa in 1983. “Kanazawa Sensei believed that everyone who studied Karate should also learn and practice T’ai Chi Ch’uan to achieve balance between hard and soft action.” 
Ian taught Yang style T’ai Chi in Hertfordshire through the 90’s and in North Devon since 2000 where he later met Andrew Coles, Founder/Teacher at Earth and Ocean Martial Arts who introduced him to Cheng Bagua Zhang. Ian now supports one of EOMA’s Kick-boxing and Mixed Martial Arts clubs for Juniors and Seniors as a Black Belt Examiner. Taking every opportunity to train with other teachers, Ian is also grateful to Master Wang Zhi Xiang of the International Wang Academy and Dario Gerchi – Qigong (Hua Gong) for further extending his knowledge and skills. For many years, Ian has taught weekly T’ai Chi and Chi Kung classes for health and wellbeing to seniors (some into their 90’s) in North Devon, as a volunteer through a local Aging Well project. He has also run classes within a local hospital for physiotherapy staff and is regularly invited to give demonstrations and introductory talks and participate in events for local charities and groups. In 2018 Ian was fortunate to train with Grand Master Marilyn Cooper in Paris and support her in delivering the Peace Games to around 150 primary aged school children.Ian is a father, grandfather and long-standing Environmental and Human Rights Activist. A member of Greenpeace since its early days, he was Regional Organizer in Hertfordshire and once stood as a Green Party candidate in a local election in North Devon. Whilst a Retail Executive in London, Ian was involved with Health Aid UK, taking medical supplies and other aid to a hospital and orphanage in Romania for children with HIV and Aids. In the last of his three visits, Ian drove a minibus, part of a 25 vehicle convoy – at that time, the biggest peace-time International Aid convoy to travel through Europe since WW2. Since the 80’s Ian has studied Shamanism with many Native American Elders and the late Ken Meadows – completing a number of Vision Quests in the UK and New Mexico. Also having studied for many years with a Tibetan Bön Lama, Lama Khemsar, Ian brought him to North Devon where he gave teachings and met with local schoolchildren.In 1998, Ian met his partner Rosie on an Aid Trek for Tibetan Refugees living in Nepal. From 2000 – 2007 Ian ran Health and Harmony Festivals four times a year – with free workshops, music from local bands and talks from national environmental and human rights activists. As Entertainments Manager with Lightquest events, Ian and the team brought over 20,000 visitors to his local village and vital funds for local charities.
Workshops sharing Neo-traditional songs and chants from around the world, enable Ian and Rosie to continue supporting Tibetan refugees living in Nepal. In 2008, they were fortunate to meet with HH Dalai Lama courtesy of Tibetan friends, later that year moving to a smallholding; creating native woodland, a forest garden, allotment and sanctuary for two and four-leggeds. Ian has since set up a permaculture gardening project complete with small woodland within a local primary school –  sharing skills and respect for the planet with the children. Ian pursues his environmental activism as a volunteer and trained energy advisor for 361 Energy – a local community interest charity helping people living in energy poverty and promoting sustainable energy for community use. Through a local homelessness charityhe is project-managing the conversion of a double-decker bus to provide respite accommodation, food and support for rough sleepers alongside a sister project providing Survival Bags for those in need.
“The Peace Games are the perfect way to combine our care for each other with teaching the power of co-operation, not competition, as the way to creating a more peaceful world for all our children.”

 

 
Picture

Rosie Godfrey Mother-Grandmother; experienced Special Needs teacher; writer/author, poet and songwriter; Reiki Master Teacher, Laughter Yoga Teacher, Certified Hypnotherapist with Diploma in NLP; student of T’ai Chi Ch’uan and Chi Kung; speaker/workshop facilitator, life-long peace campaigner. Rosie lives on a smallholding in North Devon, UK with her partner Ian and a family of two and four-legged friends. Her mission in life, is to co-create a world fit for children…

Whilst an undergraduate, Rosie trained and volunteered as a counsellor and became active in the peace and social justice movement – writing letters, joining marches, demonstrations and vigils, both local and national. Having graduated as a mature student and mother of two in 1986, she spent her teaching years working with children with special needs in both mainstream (teaching and co-ordinating support) and residential special school (for boys with emotional and behavioral difficulties). Her expertise then found its niche within the multi-disciplinary team of a children’s hospice and subsequently, with Gypsy and Traveller children and their families. Latterly, she worked with vulnerable children and families offering therapeutic support, advocacy and school liaison through an Early Intervention project within a Youth Offending team. It was here she particularly drew on her training in Protective Behaviors and Narrative Therapy. It was also at this time Rosie wrote and delivered The Art Of Parenting course to groups of women, many of whom were survivors of domestic abuse. In 1998, Rosie participated in Aid Trek to Tibetan Refugee settlements in Nepal where she met her life-partner and T’ai Chi Ch’uan teacher – Ian.  A  21 day retreat with Tibetan Bön Po Lamas, Vision Quest in New Mexico and further study with Native American teachers ensued…

Rosie now works to keep mind, body and spirit in harmony – developing her writer/poet self, scriptwriting for community theatre; facilitating writing groups; working with individuals and communities to get their stories gathered, written and shared... Rosie is author of Whoa! Joe – a lyrical picture book with audio CD featuring Joe’s Song. She is also co-author/editor of Forget Me Not – The Life and Times of Maud Russell Smith. Aside from her continuing practice of T’ai Chi Ch’uan, Rosie also teaches Laughter Yoga (Hasya Yoga) and is a student of Hatha Yoga. Her ongoing community involvement extends to a number of charitable organizations – as a Local Organizer for ActionAid UK, campaigning to end violence against women and girls; as Trustee for a local homelessness project; through participation in the research and development of a Transform Aging Project; volunteering with Beaford Arts Oral History project; The Community Yoga Project…

“I was honored to receive my Peace Games training direct from Grand Master Marilyn Cooper, in Paris, 2018 – sharing them with around 150 children! Peace in the world is the responsibility of everyone. It begins with ourselves right here, right now!  As Arundhati Roy reminds us… ‘Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing…’” 


 

 
Picture
Guillermo Ortiz has over 40 years experience in the moving arts, to which he brings his healing work the importance of body awareness & creative expression. Guillermo is also a founding member of Xochipilli, a latino men’s ritual group, which has taught classes, performed dances & conducted ceremonies throughout the Bay Area since it’s inception in 1992. Guillermo is an initiated curandero who completed his apprenticeship under the tutelage of Elena Avila, RN, MSW curandera and international practitioner of integrative medicine. He began his work as a psychiatric corpsman in the Navy then continued in the field as a mental health worker for ten years at UCLA Neuro-Psychiatric Institute and Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. During that time he cultivated a strong interest in martial arts and eventually was certified as a t’ai chi ch’uan instructor. Guillermo was essential to Pushing for Peace’s first trip to Mexico.

Comments are closed.