Short Bios (click on link below each short bio for full bio)
Andy James
Andy James Founder / Chief Instructor
The Founder and Chief Instructor of the Tai Chi and Meditation Centre is Shifu Andy James (Wu Andao), who in 1984 gave up a career as a chartered accountant to teach fulltime. Shifu James was trained as a teacher of Insight Meditation (Vipassana) by the renowned Thai meditation master and author, Dhiravamsa. His first and main teacher in the Internal Martial Arts of Taijiquan, Baguazhang and Xingyiquan was Miss Rose Li ( see Lineage) Shifu James has studied medical and martial under Professor Jerry Alan Johnson and is a qualified Medical Qigong Therapist. He is also a Zen Shiatsu therapist. He is a member of the Forge Guild, an international association of trans-traditional spiritual leaders and teachers.
Donna Oliver
Master Instructor, M.Q.T
Shifu Donna Oliver, M.Q.T. has trained in Chinese Internal Martial Arts, Meditation and Qigong since 1988 with Master Shifu Andy James, and attends seminars with many well know Master instructors, as well as studied in China with Professor Liu Yuzeng. She has consistently won "Gold" in Canadian and U.S. competitions and teaches for alternative therapy schools, corporations, universities, community centres and retirement homes. She is a also a Medical Qigong Therapist and the President of the Taoist and Buddhist Meditation Centre. Her main teaching objective is to facilitate self directed change so that many may realize their potential for inner growth, spiritual strength and optimum health.
Sheila Furness
Lineage Instructor
Sheila Furness is a certified instructor at the Tai Chi and Meditation Centre in Toronto, where she has trained with Sifu Andy James for 17 years. In 1999, she studied the beautiful Wudang Qigong form with Professor Yuzeng Liu in China. Sheila teaches the ancient arts of qigong, tai chi, and vipassana (mindfulness or insight) meditation at the Tai Chi and Meditation Centre, and has also taught at a variety of corporations and institutions including Sears, Canada, Bell Canada, the Meighen Manor, and the Isabel and Arthur Meighen Long Term Care Facility. Sheila and fellow instructor Donna Oliver also offer retreats at Harmony Dawn, integrating qigong and meditation in a warm and supportive environment.
Suzanne Taka
Lineage Instructor
Suzanne has been a member of the Tai Chi and Meditation Centre since February 1991. Her studies include Tai Chi Chuan and related Chinese internal martial arts and theory. She regularly holds classes for beginners at the Centre. Suzanne also enjoys teaching the art of Tai Chi to several other outside organizations on an ongoing weekly basis. Suzanne is a spiritual healer and a member of The Ontario Healers Network.
Jeff Willis
Lineage Instructor
Jeff Willis has studied at the Tai Chi and Meditation Centre since 1990, principally under Chief Instructor Andy James, with supplementary instruction from affiliated visiting mentors Chung-Jen Chang and Jerry Alan Johnson. He credits intensive training in Tai Chi, push hands, and Insight Meditation with bringing the clarity and balance required for a busy and productive life as a language instructor, musician and parent. An experienced Tai Chi instructor, competitor and practitioner,
Michael Herring
Full Instructor
Michael Herring, is a Full Instructor with the Tai Chi and Meditation Centre. Since 1998 he has studied Chinese Martial and Energetic Arts with Master Instructors Shifu Andy James, Shifu Donna Oliver and other prominent Masters. He is a JUNO-nominated professional musician and applied these arts to successfully overcome tendinitis. He enjoys passing on the transformative effects of Tai Chi Chuan, Qigong, and Vipassana Meditation.
Carrie Bernard
Full Instructor
Carrie Bernard MD, Full Instructor specializing in Insight Meditation, Ageless Wisdom philosophy and the Enneagram of Personality. Carrie has been a student of Andy James since her first tai chi class at the University of Toronto in 1987. She has been a dedicated student of Insight Meditation (Vipassana), Buddhist philosophy, and the Enneagram. She is particularly interested in mindfulness as a practice in every day encounters and activities.
Dondrub Wangchuk
Full Instructor
Dondrub Wangchuk, has been practicing Chinese martial arts for the past 29 years and teaching Tai chi for the past 22 years. His martial arts studies began with 7 years of studying and teaching Shaolin Kung Fu. During the beginning of his training he was also introduced to Taiji Chuan and soon after shifted his focus. To deepen his practice in the Chinese Internal Arts, Dondrub was accepted to the Teachers Training program at the Tai Chi and Meditation Centre where he achieved the rank of Full Instructor.
Frank Carone
Assistant Instructor
Frank Carone has been a member of Toronto Tai Chi and Meditation Center (TCMC) since 1997 and received a white sash (Assistant Instructor) in 2008. He first began studying Baguazhang with Shifu James and quickly realized the depth of the training offered at TCMC, learning as much as possible from the programs offered at TCMC, including the Medical Qigong program.
Carolyn Johnson
Assistant Instructor
Carolyn Johnson has trained in Chinese internal arts, specializing in Tai Chi, since 1993 principally with Shifu Andy James and Shifu Donna Oliver, with supplementary instruction from prominent teachers, Chung-Jen Chang and Jerry Alan Johnson. A retired science and medical librarian, Carolyn has used her training to reduce stress and practice mindfulness in her daily life and especially in her current role as caregiver to her mother.
Roseanne Lapin
Assistant Instructor
Roseanne Lappin joined the Tai Chi and Meditation Centre in 2000, first studying Wudang and various Qigong forms with Senior Instructor Sheila Furness and Medical Qigong with Shifu Andy James and Shifu Donna Oliver. Roseanne went on to study various forms of Tai Chi Chuan, Baguazhang, Meditation and other internal martial arts taught at the Centre and received silver and bronze medals in competition for her Tai Chi and Sword forms.
Daniel Pikelin
Assistant Instructor
I became deeply interested in the structural integrity of Tai Chi in 1986, when I learned my first set, and also the year my son was born. I spent many years in the daily practice of alignment within stillness and stillness within movement. I owe my health and mental sanity to those years of practice during stressful life situations. But it was in 2006, during my second year at the Zen Shiatsu diploma program at Kokoro Dojo in Toronto, that I discovered the Toronto and Tai Chi Center and met my teachers Andy James and Donna Oliver
Jamie Magnusson
Assistant Instructor
Jamie Magnusson began studying with Shifu Donna Oliver and Shifu Andy James in 2014, having arrived at the Tai Chi & Meditation Centre with serious hip arthritis after years of hard, “external” martial arts practice. Regular Tai Chi/Qigong practice and Vipassana meditation have greatly increased her physical mobility and improved her general well being.
Sergio Strisch
Sergio first started training at the TCMC in 2000. He studied Tai Chi with Shifu Andy James and later with Shifu Donna Oliver.He recently joined the ranks as an "instructor-in-training". He credits his training with giving him a source of calmness and a deeper awareness of Life. Sergio is a “global citizen” who travels widely and speaks many languages.