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

  12. Christine Kirk says:

    Dear Mr. Kauz

    I am so happy to see you here online!!! I studied with you in New Paltz, NY and I have a copy of your Handbook. I look forward to sharing this information with many others.
    Best to you!

  13. rose sabine says:

    Greetings Master Kauz!
    I am a Tai Chi player from the Southern Appalachian Mountains.
    I was introduced to Taiji about 14 years ago and study regularly. I recieved your handbook as a gift about 4 years ago . Thank you for your gift of knowledge. I hope to meet you and have a conversation one day.
    Until that time I wish you many good mornings.
    Rose from Tennessee

  14. Jan Potemkin says:

    Hi Herman:

    Hope you are well. I’m happy to see you’re still teaching. I’m still studying with Frank in New York, I showed up about a year ago after a few years absence (although I kept up the form) caused mostly by the illess of my parents and then my wife. We are now a school of old folks who do the same things over and over — and then suddenly a little breakthrough. Hope to see you again someday, we might visit San Diego.

    Jan Potemkin

  15. Dear Herman,

    I had the great honor of being your student in the ’60’s when you had a dojo in Brooklyn, off Kings Highway if I remember correctly.

    I just want to say you have had a large positive influence on my life.

    You are a wonderful teacher and a wonderful man.

    Sincerely and gratefully,

    Robert DiGregorio

  16. Lucy Koteen says:

    Hey Herman Kauz fans,
    Allan and Lucy still here married with two grown up children. So glad to see Herman is still teaching Tai Chi in San Diego, sharing his wisdom with another generation.

    Love to all those who shared in Herman’s practice as we all worked to help each other grow.

    Thanks Peter for keeping this page alive.

    Good times with the dancing.

  17. Hi Herman,

    It has been sometime since I have practiced the Tai Chi form, but I would like to say, “you were the very best teacher/mentor/instructor that I have ever met.

    Also the friends if that time from your studio were all fabulous people that I learned a ton from. Thank you Jaime, Allen and Lucy for teaching me to dance.

    David in Seattle

  18. Hello Brother Herman
    Over the last year I found my way back to teaching the form and push hands at the Tri-State College of Acupuncture in NYC, where I have been working for a long time now…and now I’m starting classes at a new office in Rhinebeck NY.

    So my thoughts go out to you with gratitude for all the time we spent together and for inspiring my progress. You are always present in my classes.

    Peter Dubitsky
    Rosendale NY 5/2015

  19. GREG YOUNG says:

    Dear Mr.Kauz,
    I was stationed in Japan in the late 70’s for three years and was very interested in the religion. After coming back the states I began studying the Tai Te Ching and about the same time I also bought your Tai Chi Handbook.
    I have been self taught using your handbook and at one time actually called you for advice. I will never forget how amazed I was that you took the time to talk to me. Thank you very much. That was 1998, and I still practice Tai Chi by myself her in West Virginia. I have became more interested in Taoism and use it and Tai Chi to develop myself spiritually. Your book change my life.
    Arigato gozaimasu
    Greg Young

  20. 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.
    Wendy Larned

  21. 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.

  22. 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

  23. 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.

  24. 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

  25. 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.

  26. 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

  27. David Hayes says:

    Dear Mr. Kauz,

    I only know you through your books.

    You have my thanks for them.

    Best wishes,

  28. 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

  29. 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

  30. 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

  31. 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

  32. admin says:

    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.

  33. 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.


  34. 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,

  35. 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.

  36. 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.
    patti walsh

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