Martial Arts Biography

Widely known as the ‘Kirtan Rabbi,’ for his integration of yogic call-and-response chant with Hebrew verse, Rabbi Andrew Hahn, when he steps out of a different phone booth, has also been called the ‘Tai Chi Rabbi.’

Rabbi Hahn practiced Japanese (Shotokan) karate for twenty-four years, starting at age 16. He was awarded multiple degrees of black belt directly by the legendary Master, Tsutomu Ohshima – the first person to teach karate in the United States. For a decade, Rabbi Hahn led a large Shotokan Karate of America affiliated dojo (karate school) numbering well over 100 students in New York City.

Beginning in 1998, Rabbi Hahn began an even more intense study of Chinese internal arts. He practiced Tai Chi Chuan for six years with Grandmaster William C.C. Chen and since then with Tai Chi Alchemist, Rick Barrett, author of the seminal Taijiquan: Through the Western Gate. For the last seven years, he has been an “indoor” student of Master Fukui Yang, from whom he has learned an idiosyncratic synthesis of meditation, Yiquan (I-Chuan), Hsing-yi, Bagua, and Chi Gung and Nei Gung.

While he also continues to function as a secular teacher of martial arts, Rabbi Hahn has developed a fun and meaningful form of Jewish practice which he first called, ‘Tai Chi Kavannah,” and then — more recently — “Tai Chi Prayer.” The result is a form of “Bodyfulness Meditation” which seeks to get Jews beyond a legacy of being overly cerebral and to learn to pray and think with their whole being.

The Tai Chi Prayer which Rabbi Hahn teaches contains movements which are simple, safe and easily repeatable. A typical session opens with gentle, easy movements to warm up. Usually, these are done standing, but they can also be done sitting or lying on the floor. (He has even had success with people in wheel chairs.) Next, a Jewish text and/or concept is introduced and framed. Then, the students learn a sequence of movements that allows them to embody the idea from the Jewish tradition. Class usually ends with a meditation or visualization which helps students internalize and digest what they have experienced.

Rabbi Andrew Hahn holds a Ph.D. In Jewish Thought from the Jewish Theological Seminary (Conservative) and received ordination from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (Reform), both in New York City. He is a Faculty Fellow at Clal: The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership in New York. He is the regular representative of Hebrew chant at Bhakti Fest, the pre-eminent yogic chant festival. He has also been working regularly in Los Angeles with Metivta: a center for contemplative Judaism. Rabbi Hahn offers communal concerts, Shabbatonim, festival performances and meditation seminars around the country. For more information, see www.KirtanRabbi.com. Please also see Rabbi Hahn’s new video entitled, Personal Practice: Judaism and Martial Arts.

Selected List of past Tai Chi Prayer Topics

(an ** indicates that this can also be a multi-day retreat course)

  • Fear and the Amygdala: Using the Shema to move from the reptilian brain to higher consciousness
  • Ve-zot ha-Torah: Using pointing to attain mind-body coherence
  • Love Thy Neighbor: Big Love Chi Gung as a Jewish Practice
  • **The Tao of Tanya: Bittul ha-Yesh as the Ground of a Jewish Meditation
  • Techiyat ha-Meitim: Resurrection of the Dead and the Tailbone
  • Receiving Torah, Projecting Torah: An embodied Hasidic Prayer for Chatzot of Leil Shavuot
  • **Olam ha-Ba Now! Learning to Find Peace and Eternity in the Moment