Herman’s Page

HermanHerman Kauz writes:

As a student of Asian martial arts for [66] years and a teacher for [62], my thinking about the function and value of studying these disciplines has undergone a number of changes. My ideas were, naturally, strongly tied to my experiences in training. In retrospect, my meanderings in the martial arts appear to have followed a sequential pattern of development. This sequence might be acceptable in terms of the idea that all roads eventually lead to the same end. Yet, I know that the pattern I will describe is something of an illusion. It is probably formed by the rational mind’s tendency to select certain memories of events from among many in the past and to arrange them in a way that seems logical and coherent.

I began to study judo in Hawaii soon after World War II. I had done some wrestling prior to this, but when an opportunity to begin judo training afforded itself I took it. It became my major interest. I soon found, however, that my preconceptions about judo as the ultimate in self-defense were wrong. The judo I was learning was sport judo and not the kind of jujitsu and karate combination my reading had led me to expect. Nevertheless, I continued to practice and gradually found myself being caught up in this training. The competitive aspect of judo also attracted me. In addition, I slowly became aware of and interested in a Japanese way of doing things.

After studying judo for eight years and teaching it for about four, I went to Japan (1956-1958) to continue my training. To practice judo in Japan had been my intention for a number of years, because judo originated there. While in Japan, I became interested in karate and began to study that art daily for about two years. Karate training differed slightly from that encountered in judo in that more of the training consisted of individual practice. Moreover, at that time, competition in karate was not as strongly emphasized as it was in judo.

In 1958 I returned to New York and resumed teaching judo. Because of the rising interest in karate, I taught this as well. During this period I practiced kendo briefly and continued studying aikido with a friend who was a teacher of that discipline. I had studied aikido for a short time in both Hawaii and Japan.

As the years passed, my approach to the study and teaching of martial arts continued to change. My earlier emphasis on self-defense and competition began to move more in the direction of training as a preparation for, or an aid in, living as fully and completely as possible. As I reflected on the changes my study of martial arts had made in me, I realized that my training had been something more than the surface, body strengthening, skill-producing kind. I became aware that an inner development was also intended and had occurred. The beginning of an interest in Zen also contributed to this change in my outlook.

In 1963, I decided to go to Japan once again to study Zen and to continue my training in judo and karate. I stayed for about two years and then returned to New York where I began a study of tai chi chuan. Tai chi attracted me strongly because it combined the mental and physical aspects of martial arts training in the proportions I had come to feel were right for me. Presently, almost all my efforts are devoted to practicing and teaching tai chi.
. . . . . . . .
The ideas I hold about the direction in which martial arts training should go are not shared by all who practice or teach these arts. Among those who would generally agree with my point of view, a much smaller number would place primary emphasis upon inner development. Nevertheless, my experience in studying and teaching martial arts over a fairly long period of time has gradually brought me to my present view. My hope in writing this book is that I might turn others in a direction I have found very helpful for living.
Excerpted from The Martial Spirit, by Herman Kauz; Overlook Press, 1977

Additional books by Herman Kauz include:

Tai Chi Handbook – Exercise, Meditation, and Self-Defense
A Path to Liberation – A Spiritual and Philosophical Approach to the Martial Arts
Push Hands – The Handbook for Non-Competitive Tai Chi Practice with a Partner

Comments

  1. patti walsh says:

    Dear Herman Kauz,
    you were my first tai chi teacher in new york at the ?ymca or ?ywca in the 1970′s, on the upper east side.
    nice to find you in the internet.
    hope all is well.
    sincerely,
    patti walsh

  2. Martin Falk says:

    Dear Herman:
    I took lessons with you for 2 to 3 years at your loft in China Town, in the late 1970s. Prior to that, I took lessons from your daughter for a few months, as part of a continuing education program at Brooklyn College. I have always valued what I have learned from you during these years. Hope all is well with you, your wife and your daughter.
    Sincerely,
    Martin

  3. Frank says:

    Hi Herman
    I studied with you at the New School and then on Canal St over a period of several years. Although I have moved away from the practice of Tai Chi I am still respectful of the practice and have kept it as part of who I am as a person. From time to time when I when I feel the need I bring out your books and practice the form. It continues to offer me focus and helps me to sort things out.

    I hope that you are well.

    Respectfully yours,
    Frank

  4. Deirdre says:

    Dear Herman,

    You taught Tai Chi to George Morrison’s acting company at SUNY Purchase of which I was a member. Your work and presence and the practice itself made a long-lasting impression on me for which I have utmost gratitude. It was during a very difficult period in my life. I found peace in doing the form.

    I am seeking to take tai chi classes, most of all for the spiritual and physical practice. If you are able to point me in the right direction I would be most grateful.

    Warmly,
    Deirdre

  5. admin says:

    Deirdre-
    Herman has spoken frequently at his seminars about the realization that :”We have what we need.” My impression is that you have the right direction; blessings on you.
    Peter

  6. I started at the Association on Canal St. a bit before you, but would sometimes join the class you were in. You stood out to my friends and me because of your experience in other martial arts. I recall your telling us that Prof. Cheng had what you had been looking for through all your study of other martial arts, like judo and karate. I remember that you had a younger friend who was heavier and shorter than you and who always wore a black leather jacket, a pleasant man whose name I can’t recall, but I believe he too came to the Association from other martial arts. I moved from NYC to Delaware to practice law in 1969 and no longer studied formally until reconnecting with Maggie Newman in a Philadelphia class in the late 1980′s. I bought your form book when it came out in the 1970′s and used it as a reference. I now live in Sun Valley, Idaho, am retired from law, and have a successful writing career at 70. I don’t do my form every day, but I try to do it as much as I can. Youtube has been a wonderful resource. I’m sure you would not remember me, but you can see my face on http://www.hoffasolved.com. You set a terrific example in my 20′s and you do so again in my 70′s. If you’re ever coming to Sun Valley please let me know. Best, Charlie

  7. Arnold Ring (Arnie) says:

    Dear Herman, It was Great talking to you today. I’m very glad to hear you’re teaching. 1966 is when I first walked into your JKA, Shotokan Dojo, in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn. I remember training 6 and sometime 7 days a week.I remember your young son and daughter training with us. We also trained at Coney Island Beach. Friday evenings, we trained in Manhattan, with Mr. Mori who visited from Japan. I found you again in 1989 teaching Tai Chi, in a residence not far from New Paltz,and later at a Church in New Paltz NY.and You instructed me to walk in slow and quiet. You are one of the Most Important persons to shape my life.I wish you Good Health and many more years of doing what you do so well. Arnie Ring

  8. Julie French says:

    Greetings Herman,

    I also studied Tai Chi with you in Dwarkill and in the Old Main at SUNY New Paltz (Ulster County), NY. I enjoyed those classes so much then and doing the form these days helps me stay healthy in body and mind. Topper and Marjorie shared a photo of you two in action shortly after their move to AZ that resides on my desk. Not in touch any more due to so many changes over the years. I am so happy to find a way to check in with you and say Thank You. Peace always. Julie

  9. Dear Herman,

    Seems like almost forty years have passed since I was your student on East Broadway. I spent last week doing my first vapassana (insight) meditation and you there sitting with me, at least in spirit.
    I am happy to have returned to doing the form and I have nothing but the deepest gratitude for all that you gave me.
    I send you blessings of peacefulness and ease.
    As ever,
    Jack Coddington

  10. David Hayes says:

    Dear Mr. Kauz,

    I only know you through your books.

    You have my thanks for them.

    Best wishes,
    David

  11. Jack Stravage says:

    While taking lessons at the School of Tai Chi NYC (Patrick Watson) I almost gave up than I found you book Tai Chi Handbook Copyright 1974 well your book saved me with it’s well writen instructions I was able to find my way, Now 34 years later I still use your book as a referance with my Tai Chi class in Delray Beach Fl.
    Thank You

  12. steve says:

    Dear Herman,
    I studied Tai Chi with you in Pine Bush back in the late 80s. You left me with profoundly insightful memories. Many needed this lengthy digestive process to be fully appreciated. Thank you for all of it.

  13. Gary Liu says:

    Dear Herman,

    I am a tenth year Yang’s Tai Chi beginner at Hong Kong, taking regular lessons from my teacher who is a student of Master Fu Qing Quan. We are quite aware of the essences of the traditional Yang’s Tai Chi which become a rare spices compare with today’s widely-spreaded but at the same time over-simplified teaching and practices.

    We still find it difficult todays to come into good books in Tai Chi at an intermediate level written in Chinese. I was very surprised when I read your book “Push-hands, The handbook for non-competitive Tai Chi …” written in English which explained the essences of the subject in a clearly understandable way – far better than 99% of Tai Chi books written in Chinese. We learnt a lot from you and we shall continue to do so.

    Since Tai Chi is one part of human beings common cultural treasure, I am glad to know that you are one part of it – one part that will last for a long time.

    Best Wishes,
    Gary Liu

  14. Henry Sapoznik says:

    Dear Teacher Herman Kauz,

    I was your student for five years at the loft on Canal Street in the 1990s. Though I have not actively continued my tai chi studies, I have incorporated many of the essential lessons I learned from you into my daily life.
    While you might not remember me, you might recall a student who was a professional musician and who, upon returning home from touring, would always bring a bottle of an exotic beverage with which we would all toast after class.
    I am now interested in returning to tai chi and look to find a teacher in my home of Madison, WI who follows what I learned from you.

    With warm thoughts across the decades.

  15. Excuse my typos from the last message.master Cheng man ching. I’ve accomplished the long form from your book. Thank you situ for your hard worl and dedication. Sincerely Joseph bunone

  16. Denis Yurgel says:

    Dear Herman,

    I hope all is well by you. I studied karate with you at BMCC in the mid 1970′s and I wished to continue with you after the class ended. This is when I learned that you taught Tai Chi in a studio in Chinatown. I studied in Chinatown for a few years in the late 70′s and life lead me away. I still have your Tai Chi Handbook and from time to time I attempt to start doing the form again, which is what I am doing now. Do you know of anyone in the Seaford, New York area that teaches
    Tai Chi the same as you. I wish you peace and happiness and I thank you for all you have done for me and others by teaching tai chi.

  17. wendy larned says:

    Hello to my dear teacher Herman,

    I studied Tai Chi and Push Hands with you in your Chinatown loft in the early 1970′s. A group of us from class went up with you to Ulster County one fall weekend to help you work on the foundation of a house you were building there. We brought our tents and Myrtle did ALL the cooking for 3 days… We did the form together under the trees.
    I did not continue with my practice after that, but now at 62, I am learning the form you taught me – once again.

    I am very fortunate and very grateful to have crossed your path Herman, in body and in spirit.
    Fondly,
    Wendy Larned

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