A Path to Liberation by Herman Kauz

Another week, another challenge; this week I had to move all my (and my children’s) belongings away from the parts of our bedrooms that are flooded (most of the area). This morning I found the source of the water, a rather anti-climactic dripping pipe in the walkway behind the apartment (we live in a basement apartment) so fear not, the flood will soon be a memory.

Fortunately not quite this bad (really wet floors though!)

Now to continue martial arts as A Path To Liberation, the next chapters of the book I have been reading by Herman Kauz;

As I continued to read this book I again found many things that resonated with me in terms of my world view and the things in life that I have found to be important. In the chapter “Health, Diet and Drugs,” the issue of health and how health is related to diet and exercise (and the importance of a healthy body to a martial artist) is one to which I have given much thought. Having gone after many years from a diet high in animal proteins to a diet that emphasizes vegetables and fruits as well as raw ingredients, the author states that he feels lighter and clearer of mind. He also discusses the possibility that processed food and the addition of preservatives and chemicals such as pesticides can have an adverse affect on the health of the organs and body as a whole. He also claims beneficial his daily intake of vegetable juices. Similarly I have at times eated a wholly raw diet. I felt better and more energetic during these times, and would probably continue this way if it were a more affordable option. Currently I eat a diet which consists mostly of a good deal of fruits and vegetables (fortunately I work in produce which helps), plus rice, (locally grown) corn cereal, and rice, corn, tapioca and oat products (including bread, pasta and tortillas). I also try to eat cultured food as much as possible, including sauerkraut, kimchee and kombucha (these have many health benefits including aiding digestion). I have found that I feel best avoiding gluten (in wheat), eggs and dairy, and I also don’t eat meat. I have found these restrictions to be beneficial to my health.

Now I am getting hungry!

It is important to keep in mind that there is no one diet that is best for all or even most people. As it is stated in the book, “The cultural differences in food consumption and in ideas of what constitutes a good diet are somewhat disturbing to those who seek a universally recognized diet that will allow them to function optimally. In many cases, dietary philosophies contradict one another completely. In the West, we believe that to enjoy good health we need a balanced diet with a relatively large amount of animal protein and a variety of foods that will provide us a whole range of vitamins and minerals. Yet people in some other parts of the world eat very little of a limited number of foods and manage not only to survive but to live long and productive lives… It would seem that the choice of which foods to eat, at which times, and in which combinations is a matter best left to individual need and inclination. We must learn to notice the effect on our body and mind of what we eat and drink and then make whatever changes are necessary until we reach a diet that allows us to feel and function well. Our diet should, as with all the concerns of our lives, receive an appropriate but not disproportionate share of our attention.” Many schools of teaching about nutrition can be interesting; for example ayurvedic diets, raw food, eating according to blood type, etc. etc. The book then adds in a mental aspect of diet; “some people have theorized that it is our beliefs about the food we eat that are of greatest importance. Thus, if we believe we need large quantities of certain foods to be healthy, the lack of these foods could make us ill. On the other hand, we might enjoy good health if we believe our diet is adequate even if it seems below par by some standards.” Further, Mr. Kauz believes that “although the kind and quantity of food we eat, how we combine our food, the timing of meals, and our beliefs about food can, over time, affect our health and well-being, these factors are not the primary ones responsible for our development on various levels in martial arts. Nutrition, important though it is, is no substitute for hard and steady training.” A good reminder to keep practicing! I will add, as a reminder to myself, that even though I find it useful to read books about martial arts philosophy, this too is no substitute for practicing.

“The Ideal Dojo” chapter interested me personally for a few different reasons. Throughout the book, the author promotes a belief that teaching martial arts primarily for the purpose of preparing students for competition not only may not pass on some of the more profound teachings of martial arts, but may in fact teach students ideals one would rather not pass on; such as the idea that winning is important, rather than learning to accept both the experiences of winning and losing. His personal experiences in competition have led him to this belief. In the ideal dojo, “People of all ages should be able to practice one of the martial arts and appreciate at first hand the various changes in themselves such training can bring about… Obviously, competition and preparation for it would be deemphasized.” Later he notes that he has met with few examples of the kind of dojo he envisions, which could teach a wide range of students, not only the young and strong competitors. It occured to me that my martial arts training perhaps mirrors his “ideal dojo,” as did in his experience two schools in New York City, a tai chi group and a judo club.

The other interesting points involve teaching children. The author has come to believe that children may best be taught in adult classes with adults, starting as young teenagers. His reasoning is more than I can reproduce here; it does seem that in an adult class a young teenage student might learn better than with many young children. This recalls my own experience, I began taking Taekwondo classes at age 13 in a children’s class and soon switched to adult classes. However I have also seen children learn a lot in Master Pearson’s children’s classes and after school programs, including martial art skills as well as self-confidence and respect. The author even mentions teaching his own children martial arts, which is of course interesting to me since my children now accompany me to my children’s classes. He concludes that it may have been  better, as tradition would dictate, to have sent his children to another teacher; though there would certainly be benefits to my children to learn from other teachers, logistical matters keep them in my classes. It is good for me to have a time put aside (as well as more room than we usually have) in which I teach my children martial arts (even when there are no additional students). It seems to be very good for them to learn to move in different ways and react quickly at times.

And here is a quote for the week, as quoted in A Path To Liberation.

“A man is supple and weak when living, but hard and stiff when dead. Grass and trees are pliant and fragile when living, but dried and shriveled when dead. Thus the hard and strong are the comrades of death; the supple and weak are the comrades of life.”

-Lao Tzu


  1. Ms. Doll,
    You have inspired me to go on my own detox diet. This is week one of a three week process. I have to say I feel different already. I have taken Mr. Walsh’s advice and am drinking green tea instead of coffee although at times I miss the comforting smell. I have to agree with you that food is not food anymore as we know it and I am educating my myself abotu organic foods and clean eating. Thank you again for all your blogs. I reaping the benefits of tai chi. Thanks again!!

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