NewswireToday - /newswire/ -
Sussex, NJ, United States, 2007/03/05 - James and Loretta Donnelly, of the American Society of Internal Arts, were inducted into the USA Martial Arts Hall of Fame for their years of dedication in promoting the art of tai chi chuan.
The USA Martial Arts Hall of Fame held its annual awards banquet at the New York LaGuardia Marriott Hotel March 3,2007. Several hundred martial artists and their guests attended. Among them were the only two people to be awarded for their dedication in promoting the Chinese art of tai chi chuan – James and Loretta Donnelly.
As directors of the American Society of Internal Arts, the Donnellys are active in promoting the art of tai chi chuan (also spelled, “taijiquan”) through events, teaching, consulting, web presence and the media. Each year they host the Zhang San Feng Festival & Dao of Health Expo – America’s oldest tai chi festival, and one of the few that focuses on cooperation and celebration instead of competitive tournaments.
Loretta Donnelly has been involved in tai chi chuan for 17 years, 8 of which were under formal apprenticeship with her teacher, the late Master Jou Tsung Hwa. While finishing graduate school, she still found time to: manage his 103-acre non-profit retreat center, “Tai Chi Farm,” direct the event that he founded – the Zhang San Feng Festival, serve as an editor on the last edition of his best-selling book, The Dao of Taijiquan, and assist him in teaching tai chi chuan. After her teacher’s death in 1998, she continued to manage his center and teach his classes for free until his family sold the property.
James Donnelly began his path in tai chi as a private student of Loretta in 1999. The two were married a year later. Donnelly gave up his career as an IT professional to join his wife in the full-time teaching and promotion of tai chi chuan. The two risked their house and life savings to revive the Zhang San Feng Festival and add the Dao of Health Expo component, where the event is now held at East Stroudsburg University in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania.
The Zhang San Feng Festival (taichifest.com) promotes the exchange of information about tai chi and its related arts among students, teachers and the merely curious. While tai chi chuan (also spelled “taijiquan”) is most commonly practiced as a Chinese mind-body exercise that facilitates increased health and vitality, it is less known for its original role as an effective martial art. The Donnellys present both of these aspects of tai chi to the public and encourage people to decide for themselves on which aspect they’d like to focus. Thus, the event is known to welcome everyone with open arms – from seasoned martial artists to those who are only interested in tai chi for health. Tai chi teachers benefit greatly from the interest that the event produces, by bringing them new students and exposing more of the public to the art.
“Although tai chi is gaining popularity, it is still not as popular as other mind-body practices such as yoga or karate” quotes Mr. Donnelly. “We work the entire year to develop the Festival, write ad copy for presenting teachers’ bios and workshops, provide them with free vending space or ads, consult with tai chi teachers to support their livelihood, serve as consultants for the media, consult with non-profits to teach tai chi as complementary healthcare, and work to preserve Chinese martial etiquette and culture, which has become deficient in tai chi chuan."
While the Donnellys assert that the work they do is its own reward, they comment that it’s nice to receive recognition by their peers, such as the USA Martial Arts Hall of Fame.