Student of the Month

"Free your spirit, still your mind, open your heart and hear the music inside of you..."

Ricki Bunkin

posted Oct 19, 2015, 6:08 AM by Reverend Edward Niam, DD,

Tai Chi Institute USA is pleased to present our October 2015 ~Student of the Month~ Ricki Bunkin

Ricki's accomplishments go far beyond Tai Chi as she is an excellent athlete in multiple disciplines. Ricki always attends class with a positive attitude and is an inspiration to anyone looking to live a long, happy and healthy life. We are fortunate to have her as a member of the Tai Chi Institute USA family.

I am honored to be included in the society of  student of the month for the Tai Chi  institute. I have been practicing with Sifu Edward Niam for three years , during which time I have acquired a great appreciation of breath ,strength, and focus.

I am not a stranger to mind body work, in fact, I am a certified Pilates teacher. I work at a massotherapy studio and teach theraputic Pilates. While working with one of older clients,who felt unstable, that I discovered Tai chi for seniors at the Federated Church in Chagrin Falls. My plan was to bring my client to class for her benefit, and to discover what was the magic of Tai Chi. My client never made it, but I was intrigued.  Why were my legs and hips tired? My shoulders felt great. After all,I was exercising all the time. Tai chi was different, I felt stronger but  more graceful.
The practice of Tai Chi, my weekly yoga,and daily Pilates will enable me to continue riding my horses,skiing, and walking my two dogs. I will be celebrating my 71st birthday in two months and I want to continue with all the activities I love.

Paul Corty

posted Aug 20, 2015, 8:30 AM by Reverend Edward Niam, DD,   [ updated Aug 20, 2015, 11:58 AM ]

Tai Chi Institute USA is pleased to present our August 2015 ~Student of the Month~ Paul Corty

Paul started in a group class and has continued to deepen and expand his skills through private instruction in our Shaolin Warrior Combat Training program. Paul is a superb athlete, a quick study with the added advantage of laser focus and determination. It is a pleasure working with Paul who is also an accomplished musician. 

I currently live in Beachwood, OH, and I am going to be a senior this year at Beachwood High School.  My lessons with Sifu Edward Niam have given me confidence in my ability to defend myself if the need arises, and have helped my sense of balance to grow.  I like to dabble in the field of Yoga, to help center myself and balance my energy, and my lessons in self defense can be beneficial to the energy and determination that Yoga can require.

Paul Corty

**Shaolin Warrior Combat Training is conducted at King's Gym in Bedford Heights.

Anvia Sheldon

posted Nov 5, 2014, 11:31 AM by Reverend Edward Niam, DD,

Tai Chi Institute USA is pleased to present our November 2014 ~Student of the Month~ Anvia Sheldon.

Anvia is an excellent practitioner who has been studying since August 2013. She teaches yoga at Namaste Yoga Studio and is currently training for her 500 hour certification. Anvia also assists in teaching the Saturday afternoon Tai Chi class at Namaste Yoga Studio.

A year ago, Anvia lost her brother to cancer. This took a toll on her father, Gary and his health began to fail. Parkinson symptoms that were minor before were now much more pronounced. Determined to try to help her father, Anvia turned to Tai Chi. Research shows that Tai Chi greatly reduced Parkinson symptoms and brings relief to tense muscles. Once Anvia started practicing Tai Chi she quickly realized how much it enhanced her yoga teaching and practice and enjoys incorporating Tai Chi components into her practice.  Anvia has this to say about her experience:

I was going to write that Tai Chi has made me better, faster, stronger, smarter and better looking - haha. What I can say is Tai Chi helps my knees hurt less, it has improved my yoga practice and it's an exercise I can do with my dad who suffers from Parkinson's. We laugh and have fun simply doing our best for that moment.  When I attend class twice a week I am better - mentally and physically and continually surprise myself at how much better my Tai Chi form improves each week. Maybe that is being better, faster, stronger, smarter and better looking. Thanks Sifu Ed for bringing this practice to so many."

Anvia Sheldon

Mark Cash

posted Oct 11, 2014, 4:56 AM by Reverend Edward Niam, DD,

Tai Chi Institute USA is pleased to announce our October 2014 Student of the Month, Mark Cash

Mark attends class religiously, practices regularly and has devoted himself to the training. He is an excellent student and appreciates the benefits derived from consistent repetition of the movements and exercises.

I live in Northfield Center and am employed  by a manufacturing plant performing maintenance. I utilize my training as an HVAC Technician doing electrical, plumbing and mechanical repairs. I've always been active and enjoy many sports. I began Tai Chi in March 2014 because I've always had an interest in martial arts. The benefits I've experienced are greater flexibility, balance and calmness. The instructor, Sifu Edward Niam, shows great skill and patience along with a good sense of humor. I am an eleven year cancer survivor and was dedicated to not only surviving but thriving after the diagnosis. I continue to work out with free weights and practice all the new moves we learn in class as often as possible.

Mary Bell

posted Aug 21, 2014, 5:53 AM by Reverend Edward Niam, DD,   [ updated Aug 21, 2014, 5:58 AM ]

Tai Chi Institute USA is pleased to announce our August 2014 Student of the Month, Mary Bell

Mary possesses talents in many areas, is very athletic and an excellent practitioner of The Movement of Life/Tai Chi. We are fortunate to have her as a member of the Tai Chi Institute USA family.

Mary has a long standing fascination with exploring how things connect, 
especially the human body and mind. This exploration led her to become a Licensed 
Massage Therapist seven years ago, the last three of which she’s been specializing in 
Thai Massage. The practice of yoga has also been an inspiration and driving force to 
her for sixteen years. Two years ago she began teaching that as well. Experience 
taught Mary that the powerful impact and benefits of mindful movement and breathing 
combined could not be over estimated!

Tai Chi was something that Mary had always been drawn to. She thought the 
movements were beautiful but they mystified her. It was not a type of movement that 
came naturally to her. When the Wednesday morning class in Warrensville Heights 
presented itself a year ago she seized the opportunity. This new challenge has brought 
so much wonderful energy into her life in the forms of greater confidence, coordination 
and, not least of all, her fabulous classmates and teacher! 

“I love my Tai Chi class! We have a great little chemistry. Ed Niam is so 
knowledgeable and patient. We mix it up on Wednesdays, learning not just the Tai Chi 
form but a Kung Fu form as well. I walked in last summer not knowing the first thing 
about any of this. I was a little intimidated because I thought I’d make a complete fool of 
myself. Well, sometimes I do, but it’s a lot of fun and all part of the journey! The form 
has shown me a whole new way to breathe and move my body, a new type of grace 
and given me another tool to help find calm in times of chaos. I’ve also met some pretty 
amazing individuals. Finding those connections in life are what’s important, after all, 
both within ourselves and with others!”
- Mary Bell

Kristine Lewandowska

posted Jul 10, 2014, 3:03 PM by Reverend Edward Niam, DD,

Tai Chi Institute USA is pleased to announce our July 2014 Student of the Month, Kristine Lewandowska

Kristine is a long time student of the Institute, an excellent practitioner and regularly assists in teaching classes at Hillcrest Academy.

Kristine is retired from scientific research in cell biology. She has become interested in martial arts in the late 80s, when she joined Tea Kwon Do classes along with her daughter. She took part in Tea Kwon Do competitions and much to her surprise found out the power of her fist in couple of those. She believes that martial arts are extremely valuable for overall development of young people in preparation for complex life challenges.


In September 2010 Kristine started Tai Chi with Sifu Edward Niam along with her husband looking for exercise promoting physical health and became hooked right away. She found Tai Chi quite different from Tea Kwon Do and needed a few adjustments to slow down the punches. Tai Chi exercises are quite challenging physically and mentally, because they are different from everyday moves and come in a sequence that needs to be remembered. Seemingly easy slow motion movements in Tai Chi build muscles, balance and endurance. Ed makes it all interesting by introducing Kung Fu and other martial arts exercises. They are beneficial to people of all ages and all physical abilities.

Dr. Duncan E. McVean

posted May 25, 2014, 8:55 AM by Reverend Edward Niam, DD,   [ updated May 25, 2014, 10:10 AM ]

Tai Chi Institute is pleased to announce our May 2014 Student of the Month, Dr. Duncan E. McVean

Dr. McVean is responsible for bringing Tai Chi to the Elderlife at Federated Church in Chagrin Falls, OH. Duncan is a tireless promoter of Tai Chi and other activities that benefit the health and wellness of everyone.

Dr. Duncan E. McVean is a retired pharmaceutical company executive and a pharmacist. He has been a practitioner of Yang-style Tai Chi for three years. In the Air Force, he played Judo. Also, he has been trained in the use of the fan as well as in the use of the stave.

Dr. McVean is the author of the Health and Wellness Initiative column of the Federated Church Elderlife newsletter. He has always been interested in promoting healthy living. Through his initiative, the Elderlife Program at Federated Church added training in Tai Chi under Sifu Edward Niam. Tai Chi is an excellent exercise program for elders, because it provides low-impact exercise of the muscles and joints, promotes mental acuity, and helps elders to be less susceptible to falls since their sense of balance has been honed. Yang Long Style Tai Chi is truly “meditation in motion”.

Tai Chi Institute USA is pleased to announce it's April 2014 student of the month - Renee Aten.

posted Apr 10, 2014, 12:08 PM by Reverend Edward Niam, DD,   [ updated Apr 16, 2014, 5:36 AM ]

Renee Aten

**Renee is an excellent practitioner, teacher as well as a leader and positive influence in class.

Renee Aten works as a nonprofit consultant.  She studied Iyengar Yoga for a few years and learned Tai Chi Chih, a Chi Kung form, before a friend encouraged her to try Ed Niam's Tai Chi class at Hillcrest Academy in August of 2010.  She has been a student ever since and continues to learn and grow both physically and spiritually from Ed's classes.

Renee takes great joy in sharing what she has learned by volunteering to teach a seated Tai Chi class to older adults at a senior center in Cleveland's inner city, and she is very grateful to Ed for his continued advice and encouragement.

Richard Scott Messner

posted Mar 9, 2014, 1:31 PM by Reverend Edward Niam, DD,   [ updated Apr 10, 2014, 12:44 PM ]

Tai Chi Institute USA is pleased to announce it's March 2014 student of the month - Richard Scott Messner.

Scott is an excellent practitioner who also assists in teaching students at all levels.

Employed by the Seal Master Corporation as the Assistant Director of Sales, I live in Hartville and enjoy anything and everything that involves being outside. I have an advanced license in Scuba Diving And am as confident on the back of a Harley as I am on a Horse. I started studying Martial Arts when in collage & have practiced Kendo, Iaido, Ken jutsu, Iai jutsu & Tanto jutsu. Meeting Edward in 2007 I began the study of Tai Chi and have used it continuously to improve balance & flexibility I consider this highly important when competing in any contact martial art or live activity. I credit Tai Chi in keeping myself injury free during my study of Kendo & peaceful as possible in a high stress work environment.     

Mark Fiala

posted Oct 13, 2013, 1:26 PM by Reverend Edward Niam, DD,   [ updated Oct 13, 2013, 1:43 PM ]

"Mark Fiala is the President of Organizational Architecture, Inc. [], a full-service human resources consulting firm in Cleveland, Ohio.  Mark lives in Cleveland Heights with his girlfriend, a dog and four motorcycles.  He has a son who is a student at the University of Akron.

"Mark has been a student since 2010, originally seeking a way to help with chronic back pain.  In the three years he has been a student of Sifu Niam, his back pain is completely gone and has enjoyed the benefits of greater strength, balance and health since starting tai chi.  Mark believes that his weekly tai chi classes are an effective way to help stay fit because tai chi requires one to use both the mind and the body during the classes."

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