About Us

Dmitri Kotenkov, MSTCM, L.Ac., RH(AHG) began practicing martial arts in 1976, at the age of 16, in Moscow, in what was then the Soviet Union. He studied Shotokan Karate and Kiokushinkai Karate with various teachers. A search for a more internal and health-oriented discipline brought him to T’ai Chi Ch’uan in 1987.

Dmitri sees the practice of T’ai Chi as a perfect marriage of the healing aspect of Yoga with the challenges and excitement of rigorous martial training. After being certified by the Moscow Scientific Society of Physical Therapists and Recreation Workers as an Instructor of Oriental Physical-Fitness Arts, in 1989, Dmitri began teaching T’ai Chi as a full time instructor with the Center of Oriental Fighting Arts (a part of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR).

In 1990, the Inner Research Institute (IRI), located in San Francisco, California, extended an invitation to Dmitri Kotenkov and his wife Elena to study T’ai Chi at the IRI School of T’ai Chi Ch’uan. Dmitri served as an Intern Assistant at IRI from 1991 to 2004, learning advanced aspects of the art.

During the past 25 years, Dmitri has continued studying and training in Chinese martial and healing arts. He is a Certified Oriental Sports Trainer, a Certified Herbalist (Dmitri graduated from the Institute of Chinese Herbology, in Oakland, California, in 2003) and a Certified Instructor of T’ai Chi Ch’uan (Yang Style). Dmitri received certification to teach Short Form, Advanced Form Correction, Sword, Push-Hands, Ta Lu and San Shou from the Inner Research Institute School of T’ai Chi Ch’uan in 1996.

Dmitri graduated from the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine where he earned his Master's Degree in TCM. He is a Licenced Acupuncturist in the State of California, currently in private practice serving San Francisco, Bay Area and Moscow, Russia.

Dmitri’s teaching has been greatly influenced by years of traditional Rinzai Zen training, where the practice of martial and cultural arts are integrated with Buddhist practice. His classes emphasize both the martial vigor of authentic Yang Style T’ai Chi and the refinement and depth of Taoist philosophy.

On March 5, 2010 Dmitri took Precepts with the Empty Gate Zen Center (Berkeley, CA) and received Buddhist name Won Do "Complete Path".

Elena Kotenkova, MS, CCHH came to San Francisco with her husband in 1991 to deepen her understanding of T’ai Chi. She spent 14 years at IRI in concentrated internal training. She is certified by the IRI School of T’ai Chi Ch’uan to teach Yang Style Short Form, Advanced Form Correction, Sword, Push-Hands, Ta Lu and San Shou. In 2000 she completed the Comprehensive Herbalist Training Program with the Institute of Chinese Herbology in Oakland, California. After finishing the herbology program, she studied homoeopathy at the Institute of Classical Homoeopathy in San Francisco and graduated in 2004. Currently Elena has a private homeopathy practice. She conducts her T’ai Chi classes with humor and compassion, influenced by her practice of Tibetan Buddhism.