Thomas Duterme began his training in the martial arts as a child, initially studying Shotokan Karate for a brief period before moving on to several years of Tae Kwon Do.
In high school, Thomas switched arts and began training in Wing Chun Kung Fu. At age 19, while finishing his undergraduate degree in Physics at Macalester College, Thomas founded a Wing Chun training gym, providing self-defense education for college staff and fellow students. He taught at Macalester for over two years.
After studying Mandarin, Thomas moved to Beijing at age 21, and spent the next seven years living in Beijing. During this time, he studied various Chinese martial arts including Tai-Chi (Sun, Li, and Yang styles), Xingyi, Ba Gua, BaJi and Shaolin forms (Wuzhen sect). Notably, in this period Thomas apprenticed for six years under Master Sun Shurong and undertook an in-depth study of the Sun family art, spending weekends training at Master Sun’s home. Thomas was the first non-Chinese practitioner to be accepted by Master Sun as an "inner door" student and formerly accepted into the family lineage. Thomas has been visiting China for the past 20 years to further refine his practice; he teaches privately.