our team


In our approach to teaching,
we emphasise care, kindness, patience and results.

In any school, and in particular in martial arts schools, nothing makes more difference than the quality, experience and character of the teachers. They are the people who make the school great. We know that a great teacher not only needs to know their Kung Fu, they also have to know how to pass it on to others. They also need a genuine desire to get the best out of their students. We run ongoing teacher training 5 days a week to keep our teachers sharp and motivated because we know that if they are not constantly improving, they are not good enough for our school.

All of our teachers are long term members of Nam Yang and all teach the same arts – no confusion,
no contradictions.

Master Iain Armstrong, our head teacher, has 38 years experience, is a two-time world champion and is head of Nam Yang’s international branches. He is one of that rare breed, the real kung fu Master. Master Iain’s teaching is highly sought after around the world but he now spends the vast majority of his time here at the Kung Fu Retreat

All our teachers speak absolutely fluent English. We do not use translators. Nam Yang is an international organisation and our teachers are used to dealing with people from the full range of cultures and backgrounds. This is somewhere that you will be understood!




    Master level Instructors are genuine Kung Fu Masters with over 30 years of experience. They are a rare breed indeed. There are not so many around. We are very lucky to have some outstanding international Masters who speak fluent English.

  • Senior Instructors

    Experienced Kung Fu teachers who form the backbone of our teaching team.

  • Instructors

    Not as experienced as seniors, but highly dedicated and competent teachers.

  • Assistant instructors

    Less experienced but still very competent.

  • Trainee instructors


master level


Master Iain is the driving force behind the Kung Fu Retreat. He and his wife founded the Retreat in 2007 and he lives and teaches here. He is a Kung Fu philosopher and author with 36 years of living Kung Fu. Trained personally by Grand Master Tan Soh Tin in Singapore, he’s a two-time world champion and veteran of real street battles.

Famous for his high-quality Kung Fu teaching, his instructional films and magazine articles, and for his demonstrations of Iron Shirt Chi Kung, Master Iain is a mine of information but retains a very practical, down to earth, and realistic approach. Most people who meet him are struck by his air of calm, patience, and wisdom.



Craig is a very easy going, popular teacher who can make complex movements seem easy. He is naturally very athletic and keeps up a high level of physical fitness. He has a flair for weapons training and teaches our weapons classes twice a week. He is also interested in San Da (Chinese boxing) and teaches this as well. Craig has had a varied and interesting life and worked in roles as diverse as skipper of a pleasure yacht and diver! He thrives on meeting different people and enjoys exploring the art of Chinese kung fu with all its varied techniques. He has a deep wish to focus properly on learning and understanding our arts and likes living in the mountains and forests of Northern Thailand with its mix of cultures and ethnicities.

Craig is usually present from September to April.



  • Alex

Alex discovered his passion for Martial Arts in 2008. During his studies in sport science and English, he began practicing Shaolin Wing Chun. After graduation (M.A 2013), he sought after a new system with a focus on softness and the Internal art (of energy). For him, Nam Yang offers a harmonious balance of softness and hardness to develop body, mind, and spirit. He believes that teaching and learning is about sharing knowledge and experience, cultivating energy and growing through that. In this training, he focuses on relaxation, speed and flow. 

Alex speaks German, English and Polish. 

  • Christian

Christian has been practicing Kung Fu and Chi kung since 2009 and has completed a 4-year teaching degree. After various experiences with other Kung Fu groups, Christian has found Nam Yang to be the best and the most appropriate for his future progression. As well as Kung Fu, he is very interested in Chi Kung and its health benefits. Christian is now the head instructor of Nam Yang’s branch in Berlin, Germany. He is a certified Qigong Instructor with both Nam Yang and the German Chi Kung Association.

Aside from English, Christian speaks German, Spanish, and Thai.

  • Thomas

Thomas has over a decade of experience in Martial Arts. He has a very patient and calm character and is good at paying attention to details. He is keen to deepen his understanding and practice of Kung Fu. Upon his arrival to Nam Yang, he found the best route to reach this goal was through joining the Instructor Team.

Thomas is head Instructor of Nam Yang Greece. He also speaks French and English.


  • Ophir

Ophir found Nam Yang looking for personal recovery, injury management and healing. He found our training and stretching routines aided him in this direction and found more than what he was looking for regarding personal development. Eager to make his life better and aid those around him, he joined our instructor team seeing that it would do just this!

Ophir is usually present at Nam Yang 4-6 months a year. He also assists with the Children’s Classes.





  • Akshi

Akshi always wanted to learn about Kung Fu and Chi. She came here for 2 months as a student and decided to continue with the instructorship. Since then, she has enjoyed discovering herself the most. She fell in love with the place and community. Akshi is very approachable and likes to keep things simple. 

Akshi speaks Hindi and English.


  • Viola

Viola practiced karate and some jiu jitsu before she joined Nam Yang. In Kung Fu at the Nam Yang Retreat she has found a well rounded program which not only emphasises physical aspects and fighting applications, but also incorporates mental aspects like meditation, mindfulness and philosophy. 

Viola speaks Dutch and English


  • Joey

Joey’s experience and love for European weapons and falconry has led him to Nam Yang. After 14 years of working in Canada he decided that it is finally time to develop a balance of martial skill, control, and a capacity to channel healing energies. He hopes to further foster the theme of “Kung Fu Family” and develop, together, in the wholesome environment of Nam Yang

Rated the #1 thing to do in Pai

What People are Saying

The instructors are very patient and you gain something new from each one.



Master Iain and his entire staff of instructors are patients, friendly, thorough, respectful, and unbelievably knowledgeable.



The patience of the instructors had an effect I never dreamt of. I thoroughly enjoyed my stay, especially because of the joyous and respectful atmosphere.




Support team

Our support team is easily overlooked but without them the place would be falling into ruin and we wouldn’t be eating!

‘Miss Pu’ (pronounced Boo) is the unsung hero of the Kung Fu Retreat. She manages all of the administration and finance, runs the workforce, manages the water, electricity, internet and gas, makes sure that we have food to eat and fixes all of the niggling little problems which constantly arise. She also manages all of the building work and managed the building of the whole Retreat from its beginnings as a soya bean field without so much as a road or a water supply!

She achieves all of this whilst coping with two hyperactive children and being married to Master Iain.

Miss Pu comes from the very South East of Thailand and has a Master’s degree in Anaesthesia Nursing. If she can’t fix it for you – give up!

Emily will answer your emails, assist you with travel arrangements, enable your payment and organise your arrival.  She will be your go-to person from the time that you first contact us to the time that you arrive in Thailand.  

Emily joined Nam Yang Kung Fu Retreat in 2016 because of the history and integrity of its arts which were all supported by the practice of several styles of Kung Fu, Qigong, and the study of Chinese Philosophy, strategy and Culture. As a teacher, she looks forward to supporting students towards their goals and desires.  When not at the Retreat or aiding future students prepare for their life-changing journeys, she teaches at the Nam Yang Epsom branch in the United Kingdom and is Master Iain’s virtual assistant.

Michael handles our calls. He is available to speak with you on most calling platforms. We can easily help you set up for a call where you can speak with him. He will answer all of your questions and guide you through the process of booking a stay with us.  

Michael loved what he found so much at the retreat when he first arrived that he decided to make a big life change and join the instructor team. He is very interested in the history of Kung Fu and Nam Yang Pugilistic Association and is very proud to be a part of such a distinguished tradition. Michael strives to live Kung Fu and incorporate it into all aspects of his life. He ran his own Kung Fu school in Guatemala and may open another in the future. In the meantime he is helping us run the original retreat in Thailand.

From the time that you arrive in Thailand, Apple will take over from Emily as your point of contact.  She will help you with travel from the airport to the Retreat, including taxi booking then meet you when you arrive and show you around.  Apple will deal with any small problems you encounter, such as a leak in your bathroom, book taxis for you, arrange massages or motorcycle hire and generally look after you.  She also runs the Kung Fu Retreat shop.  Apple is based at reception.  

Apple is ethnic Karen but also speaks Thai and English.

Pim is our head housekeeper and a wizard in the kitchen.  She is ethnic Shan but speaks fluent Thai.  Pim is naturally very quiet but is very helpful with everything that we do.  

Pen is our part time housekeeper and an awesome cook who used to run a restaurant.  She knows how to prepare all sorts of things for cooking including banana tree stems and jackfruit seeds!  Pen is also Shan but speak Thai and Lisu as well.  She is very popular at the Retreat.

Chang means ‘craftsman’.  Chang is so quiet that it took us months to find out what his real name is but he is great at building, fixing things and gardening.  He is a fully trained electrician, a competent welder and can turn his hand to almost anything: massively useful should anything need fixing.  Chang comes from southern Thailand but married a local lady and moved to Pai.

Sae is our part-time helper who we call on when we need an extra pair of hands.  She is very versatile and can work on housekeeping, cooking gardening or looking after our home farm.  Sae is Ethic Karen.

Iris has been working for the Nam Yang Kung Fu Retreat remotely as an administrative assistant since 2014. She has been working in the customer service industry for more than nine years. With her extensive experience in this field, strong work ethics, and dedication to Nam Yang’s ethos and core values, she is always happy and ready to give a helping hand to the students. She works with Master Iain and the rest of the kung fu instructors in tasks such as answering the students’ enquiries, booking the students in, and helping the students plan for their marvelous time and life-changing journey at the Nam Yang Kung Fu Retreat.

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