Tom has been a member of Nam Yang for 20 years and 13 of those years have been spent teaching at the Brighton branch. He is a disciple of Master Tan Soh Tin and a student of Dougal Simmons. He was present in the very first ever Nam Yang class held in Brighton. Tom has also studied and practices Meditation, various forms of Chi Gong and Tiu Kan (Nerve Release Therapy). Tom works at Sussex University in the Sussex Centre for Genome Damage and Stability. He teaches the Tai Chi and Kung Fu classes at Nam Yang for the adults, and is the senior instructor at the Brighton branch. Tom has an incredible knowledge of both the Tiger-Crane system and the Tai Chi as well as the anatomy of the human body. He’s a walking encycolpedia of knowledge!
Sam has been practicing Martial Arts for 20 years. He started in Ju Jitsu and Ninpo Taijitsu before finding Nam Yang. Sam is a student of Master Dougal Simmons, Tom Stiff, James Cheung and UK Chief Instructor Master Iain Armstrong. After 3 years of teaching full time at Nam Yang’s Headquarters in Epsom, Sam returned to his hometown of Brighton where he runs the Junior, Little Tigers and Teens classes, as well as the Kickboxing classes. Sam is head instructor for the competition team and still competes regulalry himself, coming 2nd at the GBSF Savate National Championships and 1st place at the MAASIF Open in San Da. Sam has recently retuned from 2 years of training in Toronto, Canada with some of the worlds best Combat Sport practitioners. Sam has competed numerous times in a variety of styles including Muay Thai, San Da, Savate and Grappling. Sam is a White Glove ranked Savate instructor under former French and European champion Gabriel Solignac. He is also a practitioner of Tiu Kan(Nerve Release Therapy) with a regualr patient clientele.
Stuart has been practicing and studying with Nam Yang Brighton for 15 years. Before that he was a member of Nam Yang Portsmouth. He is a student of Master Dougal Simmons and is an Instructor in Tiger Crane Kung Fu, Qi Gong and Shuang Yang Pei Ho. Back when he was training in Portsmouth Stuart was training and competing in Chinese Kickboxing (San Da). Stu is one of the Nam Yang UK’s oldest members and so is a very experienced martial artist and instructor.
Aaron has been training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for 10 years and holds a purple belt under Jack Mckee of MadHatters BJJ. He also trains regularly in Judo and Boxing and so brings a wealth of experience to Nam Yang. He is a keen competitor and competes regularly, medaling at every event he enters. Aaron currently teaches our Tuesday night Grappling class and runs all the MadHatters BJJ classes throughout the week.
Master Dougal Simmons:
Dougal Simmons began training in martial arts in 1986, and was luckily enough to be introduced to Mater Tan Soh Tin later in the same year, in London. He initially started training in the White Crane Soft Art, but soon developed a keen interest in the Tiger Crane Combination Kung Fu. After travelling to Singapore in 1987 to take part in Nam Yang’s 33rd anniversary, he left the U.K. to teach English in Taiwan. Determined to continue with this art, he practised alone. “I looked for Tiger Crane in Taiwan but was unlucky. I even contacted Master Tan in Singapore to ask if he knew of anybody teaching there,” he says.
Master Tan had not heard of anyone practicing our art in Taiwan, but encouraged him to practice what he knew. He was in a small town in the north of Taiwan, and having a light workload and few distractions he had the opportunity to train. However circumstances were to change. While on holiday from Taiwan, on a small island, off the south west coast of Thailand, walking along the beach one morning to get some breakfast, Dougal bumped in to Master Tan. “I really could not believe it! I passed him and then went back past three or four times, just to check it was him before saying hello! Mater Tan was beginning to wonder who this strange European guy was walking up and down past him so many times!” says Dougal. “I had been training alone in my room in Taiwan, and so of course had developed so many bad habits. Master Tan had to take me right back to basics. In a way I had to re-learn everything! I had SO many questions, and was very impressed with Master Tan’s ability to answer them all with such patience and understanding. He even encouraged me to ask as much as I liked about the art, something which other martial arts teachers had often frowned upon me doing in England. It was clear his depth, knowledge and ability to teach the art were amazing.” He was also struck by Master Tan’s humility; “People call me a Master,” he said, “But I am still learning too!”
Master Tan offered Dougal a place to stay at the clubhouse in Singapore if he visited the club. While staying there, during a stopover to train 6 moths later, Master Tan remarked that teaching jobs were easily available in Singapore. That week’s stopover lasted about 5 years. Living at the Club in Geylang was a great experience. Master Tan was always patient with Dougal’s incessant questioning. At the same time he was firm in his explanation of how to progress in the art. “90% of the learning has to be done by the student. A master cannot give you Kung Fu. He teaches the student to get it, but the student has to get it them self. The student has to put in the time and sweat! Only 10% of your training comes from me. But that 10% is the vital ingredient! Without it you get nowhere! I’ve shown you what to do! Now go and train!”
At that time martial arts were much more controlled in Singapore, and eventually, after about 5 years there, Master Tan decided to put Dougal up for the Martial Arts Control Unit (MACU) Instructors Exam, in Singapore, which he passed. This enabled him to play an active role in teaching in Singapore. But when he returned to Brighton, England, he was reluctant to teach. Master Tan literally forced him to start a class there, saying “You will never even begin to master the art, unless you teach it!”
Dougal Simmons founded the Brighton branch of the Nam Yang Pugilistic Association in 1999. It is now run by Thomas Stiff and Sam Byford-Winter. Returning to England gave Dougal the opportunity to train with Iain Armstrong, and so he travelled to Epsom whenever he could. “His knowledge of the art is very impressive and I was lucky to have a SiXiong (Elder training brother) who pays so much attention to detail, and whose devotion to the art is unsurpassed. Iain is able to fill and explain many of the gaps in my practice that I miss.” One needs to train together, since different people absorb the art in different ways. This is why the concept of a family is so important and beneficial to our training at Nam Yang.
Training in a group constructively sharing knowledge, aids the learning process considerably. Research in to people’s learning ability, specifically in the area of Language Learning, shows that learners, both high level and low level students, progress faster when ‘peer teaching’ is done. Through teaching, people examine their knowledge, and adapt to it to deal with each individual, just as in martial arts. Arriving back in the UK, Iain both encouraged and trained Dougal to compete. Dougal went on to win three gold medals and one silver at the British Open Martial Arts Tournament in Milton Keynes in 1998, for Long and Short weapons, Internal Forms and Traditional Forms categories. He also won gold medals at the British Council for Chinese Martial Arts National Championships in 1999, 2000, and 2001.
Dougal has now returned to Singapore where he continues to train and help teach. He also enjoys Traditional Southern Lion Dance and performs each year with the Nam Yang troupe at Chinese New Year in Singapore.
I was told early on in training by Master Tan that there was only two things I had to do in Nam Yang to improve my kung fu. The first is to start. The second is not to stop.”
Master Iain Armstrong
Master Armstrong has devoted over thirty years of his life to the study and practice of the Shaolin Martial Arts system. He is the 1st disciple of Master Tan Soh Tin, Chief Instructor of Nam Yang Pugilistic Association. He regularly travels to South East Asia for Tuition from Master Tan.
Master Armstrong administers the UK branch of Nam Yang Pugilistic Association and is the UK Chief Instructor. He regularly gives classes and seminars at the Nam Yang UK Headquarters in Epsom, Surrey.
He is a 2 times World Kung Fu Champion in both Weapon and Free hand categories. He writes regular columns for Combat Magazine and has coached numerous National and World champions both in Traditional Kung Fu and Light and Full Contact San Da (Chinese Kickboxing) categories.
He has recently opened the Tat Moh Mountain Training Centre, in the Hills in northern Thailand. From here he runs Instructor Training Courses and he also offers weekly and monthly training sessions for students and travellers. He has been teaching the local Police force self defence and disarm and control techniques.