Our Staff

Bill Helm – Director

Bill Helm is the Director of the Taoist Sanctuary of San Diego. An ordained Taoist Priest, Bill has been studying Chinese martial and healing arts since 1965. He specializes in Taijiquan, Tuina Chinese Bodywork, Qi Gong and Herbal Medicine. Bill is a 20th generation Indoor Disciple of Grandmaster Chen Xiaowang, and holds a 6th Duan Wei from the Chinese Wushu Association. Bill has also studied with Taijiquan Master Chen Xiaoxing, Master Chen Zhiquang, Master Ren Guangyi and Master Chen Bing. Bill travels periodically to Chen Village for focused practice of Chen Style Taijiquan. He studied Traditional Chinese Medicine in China at the Shanghai College of Medicine and the Beijing Olympic Training Center, and in the United States with Taoist Master Share K. Lew and Dr. Yu Da Fang. Bill is the Director of the Taoist Sanctuary of San Diego, and is a long time instructor in the Massage and Bodywork Program at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine. Bill is the lead instructor for all classes at the Taoist Sanctuary.


Allison Helm – Senior Instructor

Allison began studying Chinese martial and healing arts in 1991, and focuses her current studies on Chen style Taijiquan as taught by the Chen family. She is the Senior Instructor at the Taoist Sanctuary of San Diego, a California branch school of the Chenjiagou Taijiquan Xuexiao. Allison teaches the Chen family curriculum and classes in anatomy and physiology, specific to the practice of Taijiquan. She is a 20th generation indoor disciple of Grandmaster Chen Xiaowang, holds a 6th Duan Wei ranking from the Chinese Wushu Association, and was awarded the honorific of Tao Shih, one who is learned in the Tao, upon completion of an intensive program in Taoist Studies. Allison travels regularly to China to study in Chenjiagou with members of the Chen family, and along with Bill Helm, leads frequent study groups to Chenjiagou for taijiquan immersion experiences. Allison is retired from UC San Diego Health, the only academic medical center and Level 1 trauma and burn center in San Diego, where she was Director of Rehabilitation Services for 6 years.

Janie Kidd

Janie has been studying at the Taoist Sanctuary since 1992. She teaches all levels of Taijiquan. Janie completed the Taoist Studies program in 1994 and the Teacher Training certification program in 2011. She is a retired special education teacher.

George McCandless

George started studying at the Taoist Sanctuary in 1976. His training encompassed martial arts, Qi Gong, healing arts, and Taoist Philosophy. He was ordained as a Taoist Priest In 1983. His long history of martial arts experience includes Kung Fu and Taijquan. He is currently studying Chen Style Taijiquan and teaching the daytime beginning Taijiquan classes, and assists with the intermediate and advanced classes. His has also taught Qi Gong at Taoist Sanctuary, the International Professional School of Bodywork (IPSB) and as an assistant at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine.

George traveled to Chenjiagou, China (Chen Village) in 2011 to study with Grandmaster Chen Xiaowang. During this trip he took the Wushu Dan Wei Examination and was awarded a 4th Duan Wei (level). In the summer of 2011, he was certified in the Taoist Sanctuary Teacher Training certification program.

Mike Gillingham

Mike started his studies of martial arts early with Shotokan Karate in Japan in the early 60’s.  Following, he studied Okinawan Shorin-Ryu Karate with Bill Helm in the early 70’s.  Mike started practicing Yang style Taijiquan at the Sanctuary in the mid 80’s, and now focuses his studies on Chen style Taijiquan.  Mike teaches the daytime Beginning level classes, and also assists with the intermediate classes.

Peter Houser

Peter Houser has practiced Taijiquan at the Taoist Sanctuary since 2004. In 2011, Peter completed the Taoist Sanctuary’s Teacher Training certification program, and was also awarded a 4th Duan Wei by the Chinese Wushu Association in Chenjiagou, birthplace of Taijiquan.
Peter assists with beginning level classes at the Taoist Sanctuary, and has also taught Taijiquan at the Chalice Unitarian Congregation since 2011. Peter likes to focus on posture, balance, and “filling the corners” during his classes.