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logoThe American Society of Internal Arts™ is an organization inspired by the work and dreams of one man, the late Grandmaster Jou Tsung Hwa. The first half of Jou’s life was spent as a college mathematics professor at a university in Taiwan. A prolific writer, he wrote over thirty college level textbooks in mathematics, books distributed throughout every science, math and engineering department of colleges and universities throughout Asia. At the age of 47, Jou was diagnosed with an enlarged heart and prolapsed stomach,  a fatal prognosis in the 1960’s in Taiwan. On the advice of a friend, he sought out a teacher and began to learn and practice the art of taijiquan (tai chi). Within five to six years time, his heart had shrunk to normal, and his stomach had moved back into its proper position. This began his love affair with the arts.


In the early 1970’s Jou traveled to the United States to earn his PhD in mathematics from Rutger’s University. He began teaching tai chi on the campus grounds, much the way teachers taught in the parks of China. He soon acquired a following and was eventually offered a position as a visiting professor with Rutger’s department of physical education. In 1975 he began the first annual Zhang San Feng Festival in Chinatown, New York City. Named for a 16th century Daoist hermit, often credited as the founder of tai chi, Zhang San Feng Festivals were common martial art celebrations in China, this was the first and original Festival celebrated in the United States.   At the same time, Jou wrote three scholarly level texts on the subject of the Chinese arts - “The Tao of I-Ching, The Tao of Meditation,” and “The Dao of Taijiquan.” The last rose to become the first in-depth book on the subject of tai chi, having gone through several editions and translated into six different languages. To this day it is considered a classic martial art text.


In 1984 now “Master Jou” purchased a 103-acre farm property in Warwick, New York and dubbed it “Tai Chi Farm.” For the next 14 years, Tai Chi Farm would transform into a legendary place, a beautiful property with rustic cabins nestled in the woods and a pond and waterfall feeding a streaming running through its center. Over the years visiting Masters and their students would help landscape the Farm with outdoor practice facilities, Chinese archways, religious statuary and hidden training nooks, all serving to transform the property into a martial arts paradise. An old carriage house was refurbished to serve as a tai chi school. At the same time, Master Jou moved the Zhang San Feng Festival to Tai Chi Farm where it grew into the largest outdoor martial arts event in the country, attracting several hundred people a year to an event that came to be known as a the martial arts version of “burning man.”

 

The Festival was unique in several respects. First, as a former college professor, Master Jou wanted the Festival to be a purely educational event, with no tournaments or competitions. While he felt that competitive events had their role, his visitingon for the Festival was as a place where teachers could come together and freely share their knowledge and experience. Because of this spirit of sharing, the Festival eventually evolved the motto “Leave your egos at the door. Come in friendship.” It was in this atmosphere that teachers, who normally would never have spoken with each other, developed long lasting connections with their peers. The Festival became a massive martial arts “picnic,” where extended family got together once a year to socialize with old friends, and make new ones.


In 1998 tragedy struck as Master Jou, Tsung Hwa, at the age of 81, was killed in an auto accident. This was an unforeseen tragedy that effected everyone who had come to know and love this gentle and generous master. For the next two years, senior students continued to run the school until Jou’s family handed the property over to a land developer in 2000. In 2001, a monument was erected in memory of Master Jou in Warwick Town Park, in Warwick New York, the hometown of Tai Chi Farm. In 2003 the American Society of Internal Arts was formed as the new host of the annual Zhang San Feng Festival. Today the Zhang San Feng Festival continues as part of the legacy of the late Grandmaster Jou, Tsung Hwa, a kind and generous teacher who believed in the transformative power of the arts.

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To all martial artists of all different systems and styles, students and teachers alike, who have had a “Master Jou,” in their own life, or are seeking a “Master Jou,” a teacher that guides and inspires, we welcome you. This organization, and it’s unique events, are for you.