Herman’s page – Memoriam

HermanIt is with some difficulty that I relate Herman’s passing on January 30, 2020. He was 92, a Dragon.

Herman Kauz writes:

As a student of Asian martial arts for [74] years and a teacher for [69], 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

( I visited Herman last spring and have to say, Yes, 4 ounces is real. Pushing with 4 ounces, not just reading/feeling but pushing with 4 ounces. It was inspirational and a training direction I give myself. pk)

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


  1. It was with sadness that I read about Herman’s passing, and wish that I had been able to see him once more, as we had planned in 2018 when he invited me to visit and train with him. Alas, I couldn’t get there. But I was so fortunate to have four years of his guidance in refining my form and teaching me his approach to push hands.

    I had been practicing Cheng ManJing’s form for 15 years and recommended The Tai Chi Handbook for my students. I then met Herman and after a few classes with him, realized that I had found the teacher that I didn’t realize that I was looking for! I asked him to take over my classes, and after consulting the I Ching, he agreed. I would lead classes in the form while he observed and made corrections. During push hands classes I played with everyone, attempting to make progress with his style. I slowly progressed. During one class Herman’s attention went from us to something else in the class while he was advancing to me and I reacted as I should and then with great fear and concern saw that I had just helped Herman meet the floor. I apologized and helped him up. He never again let his attention wander when pushing with me. Always soft, his center always elusive, his advances gentle and focused with a sense that the silk could become iron.
    Herman left for Arizona, and then moved to California. I continued the classes and am forever grateful for the four years of four classes per week that we had together. I continue to teach tai chi and Herman is always there, as his teachings have become part of me as a teacher and in my life.

  2. Lucy Koteen says:

    I just caught up with hearing that Herman died. I’m so sorry to hear that. What a wonderful inspirational teacher. So many people benefited from his teachings and his life philosophies. Students 1974-1984.
    Remember the weekends at his house in the Catskills?
    Lucy Koteen and Allan Young

  3. Eileen Mello says:

    My husband talked of his experiences studying Shotokan with Herman Kauz at one of his Brooklyn dojos. One of the stories was of when he was asked to spar with Mr. Kauz and his smile was soon wiped off his face. My husband died September 10, 2020. Can someone tell me if they remember him and have any memories they might want to share with me. His name is George Mello. He lived in Coney Island. ewmello@gmail.com

  4. Arnold Breisblatt says:

    It is with deep regret that I just learned about the passing of my teacher Herman Kauz. I studied with Herman for 5 years in the 1980’s at his Canal Street Studio. He was a big influence on my life that I will never forget. He allowed me to fail over and over again until finally I reached a level to be able to teach (with permission) his version of Tai Chi. I have been teaching now for over 30 years, (including digitally) and try to represent his teaching of “letting go” to my students. Herman, rest in peace, as you will be missed by me, my brother Les and many who benefited from your teaching and most of all, thank you!

  5. Arthur Krumholz says:

    My wife brought in my “Tai Chi Handbook” by Herman Kauz, which prompted me to Google Master Kauz. When I did and found that Sensei Kauz had passed, I was deeply saddened. I studied karate with Sensei Kauz in Brooklyn N.Y. when he and Stan Israel ran a dojo on Kings Highway. Sensei taught Karate, and Sensei Israel Judo. I made an effort to contact Sensei Kauz through his sister in law who lived in Manhattan. After a lapse in practice of a number of years, I have at the age of 86, took the Tai Chi Handbook of the shelf, and resumed practicing and am and feel better for doing sol
    Sensei was an excellent teacher with a genuine interest in his students.
    RIP Sensei Kauz.
    I noticed in some of the other remarks that Sensei also taught in Pine Bush. I had a house on Upper Mountain Road, or as it is otherwise known, “Road from Dwarkill.” Wish I’d known then that Sensei was teaching there.

  6. Yitzhak Avigad says:

    Here in Israel, we just heard about Herman’s passing away. I am a member of Arthur Gribetz’ Tai Chi club in Jerusalem Israel. Arthur had studied for two years with Herman in the early 80’s and with Herman’s encouragement opened a club when he returned to Israel. The club has been around for over over 25 years and I have been a member from almost the beginning. Up till 2011 Herman used to come to Jerusalem to lead week long seminars. We are all greatly grieved over the sad news and feel incredibly privileged to have learned and practice non-competitive pushing hands. All the thank yous in the world can’t express our indebtedness to Herman and what he taught us and what we continue to practice diligently. Herman’s legacy is too precious to lose. Here in Israel, we have had no contact with any practitioners of non-comparative pushing hands in other parts of the world and in the interest of keeping the flame alive I would like to be in contact with other practitioners and ensure this precious gift continues. If you see this, please contact Yitzhak Avigad, yavigad@gmail.com, +972545664629

  7. bill lehman says:

    All things must pass (at least from this reality). But individuals live on in the people they have touched.
    Your teaching and good humor reached many of us. I fondly remember our early-morning pushes near the river, and I have continued to push with Frank and his group for decades. And I visited you once in San Diego. You passed on your belief in the integration of mind and body, and the clearing of distractions through the practice of 4-ounce pushes.
    Thanks for the inspiration.

  8. Danny Emerick says:


    I am so sorry to hear of the passing of Mr. Kauz.

    Deepest condolences to the family and his students.


    Danny Emerick

  9. Michael Langenstein says:

    Happy Birthday Herman,

    We’re still pushing hands at 83 Leonard street and miss all of your tune-ups!

    More power,

    Michael Langenstein

    From Peter: Herman is 92 years old; the 4-ounce push is real. Regards to my brothers & sisters in Tai Chi.

  10. Cliff Panetta says:

    Herman Kauz… one of the biggest and best influences of my life… What a wise guy I was when began studying Shotokan with him on Kings Highway in Bklyn, NY… Herman was as patient as could be until the day I guess he decided I needed a little extra help…

    I remember him asking me off of the floor to spar with him… All I could remember was the many many many times getting up from the floor… until the grin was no longer on my face…

    I loved this man! And I loved training along side his daughter and young son… such great kids!

  11. Mary F. Berkey says:

    Hi Herman,

    Thanks for pushing hands with me at The Association in NYC and all the laughs.

    I just turned 80!

    Mary F. Berkey