Who We Are

Great Bay Tai Chi is a group of Tai Chi instructors teaching the Newburyport and Hamilton, MA and Woodstock, VT areas.  We share common teachings and styles, but offer our own classes and schedules. Internal Arts New England / Great Bay Tai Chi MA and Great Bay Tai Chi North are independently owned and operated.  We have trained together under Master Paul Mahoney, founder of Great Bay Tai Chi.  We continue to learn from him and each other, and we support each other in our efforts to share our knowledge and continue to offer quality instruction in the art of Tai Chi.  You can see our instructor profiles below.


Paul Mahoney (Head Instructor) Paul is the founder of Great Bay Tai Chi, a group of affiliated instructors teaching in the Newburyport and Hamilton, Massachusetts and Woodstock, VT areas. Paul is a Tai Chi and Qigong (Chi Kung) master as well as an expert in martial Tai Chi, which includes Pushing Hands and Chin Na. Great Bay Tai Chi offers instruction in Tai Chi for health as well Yang style Taijiquan (Tai Chi as a martial art).
Paul spent a decade studying hard style martial arts, including Korean Tae Kwon do and Okinawan Uechi Ryu, before discovering the internal martial arts. He has been fascinated with the internal styles ever since, and now has been a practitioner of the internal martial arts for more than thirty years, including over twenty years studying Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan (Taijiquan). He was an assistant instructor of Dr. Yang Jwing Ming (founder of Yang’s Martial Arts Association) for Tai Chi and Shaolin Chin Na for many years. He is a former winner of the USA push hands competition for the 170 lb division  at the 2000 “A taste of China” tournament in Winchester Virginia. Paul has had the good fortune to have trained with some top internal martial arts masters in this country. He incorporates these experiences into his teaching style. Paul has studied Qigong and Tai Chi with several masters (including Da Peng, Ermei Style Qigong, and Push Hands with Master Liang Shou Yu), and has taken courses with master Wei Lun Huang and others. He continues to study healing Qigong with Master Ramel Rones and has Master Rones visit Great Bay to offer seminars. Paul studied Xingyiquan with Tai Ngo and studied Wudang Natural-Style Martial Arts under the late 25th generation master Shan Gui Wen, which includes Wudang tai chi that combines tai chi, Xing Yi and Bagua. These days Paul is semi-retired from teaching. He serves as a mentor and teacher to the Great Bay Tai Chi MA instructors and students.  He teaches a limited number of students in Woodstock, VT and Lebanon, NH under the name Great Bay Tai Chi North.

Chris Himmel (Lead Instructor) Chris began his study of martial arts in the early 1990s. It was not until he discovered Taijiquan that he truly found what he was searching for. Currently, Chris studies the Yang Style Short, Long, Ball, Saber, and Sword forms along with Push Hands and the Taiji Fighting Set.  In 2010 Chris added the study of Wudang San Feng Natural Style Arts under Paul Mahoney and LuAnne Pigeon, which includes the arts of Xingyiquan, Baguazhang, and Taijiquan.  Chris has also taken seminars Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming and his disciples, as well as with Master Shan Guiwen, and Sifu Gary LaChapelle.  Chris’s passion for Tai Chi is evident in his classes as he likes nothing better than sharing his knowledge with others.  Chris has experience teaching Qigong to patients recovering from addiction as well as in assisted living facilities.  Chris received gold and silver medals for form performances and a gold medal for push hands competition at the 2019 International Chinese Martial Arts Championship tournament in Marlboro, MA. 

Austin Murray Austin found martial arts in his early teens. Traveling 50 miles to find the nearest Kung Fu school, he began his practice in Boston right before the start of High School.

There he studied Long Fist, Praying Mantis and Staff weapon styles. Six years later he discovered Tai Chi under the instruction of Paul Mahoney where he focuses his studies on Chin Na and Tai Chi Applications.


Petra Horgan Petra began her study of Yang Style Tai Chi Chaun Short Form at the School of Tai Chi Chuan in New York City. She has also studied with Wolfe Lowenthal at Long River Tai Chi Circle in Manhattan, New York. Currently, she studies and teaches at Great Bay Tai Chi with Paul Mahoney, adding Traditional Yang Style Long Form, Qi Gong and Pushing Hands to her interests.

David Swiniarski After studying Tae Kwon Do for two years, David started independently practicing Tai Chi while his kids were growing up.  As he grew in his practice he found Great Bay Tai Chi and started his study of Classical Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan (Taijiquan) with Great Bay instructor David Bodoh.  It has been 13 years since David began the journey as a life-long student.  During this time David has studied the Classical Yang Style Long Form with Paul Mahoney, David Bodoh, Marna Badavas, Austin Murray and others.  His practice has included Push Hands, Taijiquan martial applications, Yang Style Matching Set, Qigong, and, more recently, he has added Yang Short Form.  He began helping Marna teach the Saturday class in 2019 and really enjoys working with new people.  David lives in Byfield, MA with his wife, Amy, and their two kids in college.


Suzanne Sweeney After years of canoe racing, hiking, and CrossFit, ending in neck injury, Suzanne sought more effective ways to be in-tune with and move her body.  She began her study of martial arts with Master Anthony Pasquale with whom she trained in various styles of Kung Fu (including Tae Gook Chung and Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly), weapons, and Chen Style Tai Chi.  While studying with Master Pasquale, Suzanne also began studying Chungliang "Al" Huang's Five Moving Forces and Circle forms along with Yang Style Short Form with family friend and student of Paul Mahoney, Betty Pijut.  In 2016, Betty moved on and asked Suzanne to teach her class.  Seeking to learn more about Yang Style Short Form, Suzanne began studying with Paul Mahoney at Great Bay Tai Chi.  Since joining Great Bay, Suzanne has fallen in love with Short Form, Long Form, Matching Set, and especially diving deeper into the principles and applications of Tai Chi and a better understanding of her body.  Suzanne loves teaching, learning, and being a part of Great Bay Tai Chi.  Suzanne is also a shamanic pracitioner, Reiki Okuden (Master level), and holisitic lifestyle coach (HLC). Part of her HLC traning with Paul Chek included Qigong, which has become a staple in her daily practice.  Suzanne attends Qigong classes and seminars with instructors of The Universal Tao including Grandmaster Mantak Chia, and she has studied extensively with Master Lee Holden.


Kate Heckman Kate trained for several years in the martial art of Muay Thai kick boxing. Kate now enjoys studying and practicing Tai Chi at Great Bay Tai Chi. She enjoys all aspects of this fascinating martial art from practicing qigong and meditation to learning the martial applications of the forms. She currently teaches classes for Great Bay Tai Chi at the the Community House of Hamilton/Wenham.

Pam Jacobson Pam has been studying Tai Chi and Qigong with Great Bay Tai Chi since 2019. She began her practice with Short Form and has added Long Form, Tai Chi Ball, Push Hands and Matching Set. Her other interests include Hatha Yoga and Vipassana Meditation, but it is Tai Chi that brings the most wellness and joy into her life. She enjoys learning and teaching with the GBTC Community, and is grateful for the collaborative and supportive instructors, particularly the teaching and mentoring of Lead Instructor Chris Himmel. Pam approaches the art as a lifelong pursuit that continually challenges each student, meeting them exactly where they are in any given moment. 

Marna Badavas (Lead Instructor)  Marna's long-held interest in Chinese culture and Traditional Chinese Medicine led her to pursue the health benefits of Tai Chi practice. After having practiced Tai Chi for several years at other schools, Marna began her Tai Chi training with Paul Mahoney of Great Bay Tai Chi in 2003. She continues her ongoing training with Paul in Yang Style Short Form, Classical Yang Style Long Form, Tai Chi Ball, Tai Chi Qigong, Taiji Fighting Set, and Chinese Fan Boxing. Marna is a firm believer that one’s Tai Chi training never ends. In 2005, Marna became an instructor at Great Bay Tai Chi.  She teaches Yang Style Short Form and Yang Style Long Form. Marna has also taught several special classes for Great Bay Tai Chi including the Flowing Water Fan Form, Tai Chi Ball, and Introductory Push Hands.

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