iain armstrong

Master Iain Armstrong, two time world kung fu champion, is the of Nam Yang Global Family as well as director at the world’s first Kung Fu Retreat based in Northern Thailand and now has a global following of dedicated kung fu enthusiasts.


Get to know Master Iain through his latest interviews and publications


Boxer, Rosehill A.B.C. England.

Joined Nam Yang Pugilistic Association, began training in Tiger – Crane combination art.

Represented Great Britain in competition and Demonstration in Singapore. First trained directly under Master Tan Soh Tin. Began to travel regularly to Singapore for training.

Gold medalist world championships Los Angeles U.S.A.

Appointed head of Nam Yang U.K.

Began training in Iron Shirt Chi Kung under master Tan Eng Hock, Singapore.

Became full time Kung Fu Teacher.

Opened full time martial arts training centre in Epsom, Surrey.

Chosen to perform for Queen Elizabeth II at her golden jubilee.

Gold medallist in World Kung Fu Championships Perugia, Italy.

Established the world’s first Kung Fu Retreat.

Started Nam Yang Global Family.

official roles

  • Executive Member – British Council For Chinese Martial Arts, (Official government body overseeing Chinese Martial Arts in the UK).
  • Judge – World Wushu Championships Hong Kong 1999, European Wushu Championships Athens 1998
  • Coach – British Full contact fighting team: Rotterdam 2000, Moscow 2004, Lignano, Italy, 2006.
  • Coach – Nam Yang International Kung Fu Team: Germany 1996, 2000, Perugia, Italy, 1998, 2003 – 2006.
  • Teacher and examiner – National Coaching Courses for UK Kung Fu Instructors 2009 – present.
  • Committee member – Nam Yang Pugilistic Association 1987 – 1994.
  • Chairman / Chief Instructor – Nam Yang Pugilistic Association UK 1994 – present
  • Chief Instructor – Nam Yang Kung Fu Retreat, Thailand.
  • Director – Nam Yang (Thailand) Ltd.


As a child I loved to fight.  I was not a very articulate child and did not have great social skills.  I lived in an aggressive environment.  The choice was stand up for yourself verbally, stand up for your self physically or live a miserable life being bullied every day.  There was only one viable option.  Initially I was skeptical about martial arts.  My brother did judo but I was contemptuous of it because it did not allow for punching people!  I asked to do Karate but my mother refused.  In the 1960s most people thought that it was all about delivering a ‘Karate chop’ which would result in instant death.  This combined with memories of Japanese treatment of prisoners in world war 2 ruled it out.  So I just fought other kids in the school playground or parks and really did quite well at it.  This changed when I was about 14 and for the first time lost a fight.  The guy who beat me was a boxer.  He broke my nose really badly.  It took 7 days and various medical treatments to stop the bleeding!  You can still see that my nose bends to one side of my face.  Before the nose was healed and before the doctors had given the go ahead I had joined our local boxing club.  

In the 1970s kung fu was not at all widespread in England – indeed not anywhere in the west.  I did not get the chance to try it until I went to university in 1981.  Aged 18.  The university was in central London and had many different martial arts clubs.  I chose to try kung fu and taekwondo.  Kung fu won because it had depth.  Culture, philosophy, tradition, ethos, history.  And it had a lot of methodology.  

When I finished my bachelor’s degree I did a post grad degree in education to become a high school teacher.  My parents were both teachers.  I liked the idea of teaching.  So I do have formal training as a teacher.  I do really like to teach and it interests me tremendously but the British education system is not a nice environment in which to work.  In the 1980s kung fu was growing in popularity in the west.  Master Tan and his colleagues in Nam Yang were looking for westerners to train as teachers.  I was an obvious candidate.  So they suggested to me that I work towards becoming a teacher.  One of the great keys to success in life is recognising an opportunity when it arises and seizing on it.  This was the first big chance I had been given to get out of the rut.  I knew it straight away.  It was 1985.  Since then I have worked not only to be a kung fu teacher but to be the best that I possibly can.  I have never had any desire to change or be anything else.  I have never become bored.  And if I won the lottery I would still get up at 4.45 the next day to be ready to teach.  I have absolutely no plans to retire.  Teaching kung fu is my passion.

-Master Iain Armstrong

student testimonials

“Master Iain Armstrong is the heartbeat of this place, a wonderful teacher who really knows his art of Kung Fu. He will make you welcome and take the time to understand you and work on what could benefit you most. I was constantly amazed by the contrast between his usual aura of relaxed calm and his skill and ferocity when demonstrating striking moves!”

“The Nam Yang Kung Fu retreat is a treasure for all who value these traditional arts, and for any thoughtful travelers through Northern Thailand whose path goes this way.”
– Chris

“Master Iain’s knowledge of Kung Fu is really impressive so make sure you ask any Kung Fu questions you have over the daily tea breaks as the conversations are always really interesting. If he asks for any volunteers for demonstrations, definitely volunteer yourself, there’s nothing quite like experiencing his kung fu skills first hand, even if he is going easy on you.”
– Emily

“Master Iain is amazing, and his calm and wise advice is always insightful for both your Kung Fu technique and general life.”
– Dagart

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