Push Hands:
Teachers & Coaches


Thomas, Howard
Woodstock, New York 1997.
London, England
128 pages, $24.95 Hardbound

For the most part, everything Herman Kauz says in his new book, Push Hands, has the ring of truth to it. However, he tends to wander in directions that make it difficult to know who his intended audience is. Beginning students are likely to become bogged down in the political meandering and lose interest before they have a chance to discover the benefits of non-competitive practice. More advanced students will question the necessity for over pontification, and will likely want more in terms of pracical advice. Furthermore the book contains little information that would be of value to instructors. SO the question becomes, who should read this book.

If you are a wealthy (the cover price of Push-Hands is $24.95) dabbler in martial arts, given to the practice of mental masturbation then this book is for you. You can rise, with a sense of righteous indignation, to the occassion that a sense of non-competition is the way to solve the world's problems. You can hear, yet again, how T'ai Chi Ch'uan will change how you see things. And for good measure you can also read a brief history of the Tao Te Ching. Furthermore, you can get a hefty dose of Herman Kauz's rather large ego, a quality that raises the question of how competent this author and teacher is to discuss the nature of non-competition.

The section "Main Considerations in Push-Hands" is a worthwhile reminder of the Classics, but it seems too little too late, as it begins nearly two thirds of the way through the book.

To close is a short chapter called "Training Tips" which seems to address yet another audience: that of the young neophyte, who would understand little of what had come before.

Herman Kauz is a knowledgeable practitioner of martial arts and probably a gifted teacher. In Push-Hands he seems to have written the beginnings of several books rather than focusing on the subject the title suggests.