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In Memoriam: Grandmaster Kao Tao (1932 – 2024)

In Loving Memory

Grandmaster Kao Tao

Grandmaster Kao, Tao (高濤)

Born on July 7, 1932

Passed away on January 11, 2024

92 years young

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Grandmaster Kao, Tao (高濤). His impact as a devoted teacher, husband, father, and friend resonates deeply with countless individuals. As an esteemed mentor of Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming, Grandmaster Kao’s teachings in Taijiquan and life wisdom have left an indelible mark upon thousands worldwide.

Despite enduring hardships throughout his life, Grandmaster Kao taught us how to persevere while maintaining a positive and optimistic attitude. He will always be remembered for his charisma, fortitude, sense of humor, and spontaneous musical displays. Grandmaster Kao will be deeply missed.

Grandmaster Kao’s battle with gout led to his contraction of COVID-19, which subsequently triggered pneumonia, ultimately resulting in a myocardial infarction (heart attack). He passed away on January 11th, 2024 at the age of 92.

Grandmaster Kao is survived by his wife and daughter.

To honor Grandmaster Kao’s memory, we have organized a memorial fundraiser aimed at assisting with funeral expenses and fostering good fortune for the departed, in accordance with Chinese tradition. Contributions are not compulsory but if you would like to contribute, any amount will be appreciated.

With Dr. Yang’s endorsement, the funds will be collected by his student, Michelle Lin, via a PayPal fundraiser. The funds will be transferred to Michelle’s mom, who is visiting Taiwan. Her mom has offered to hand-deliver the customary cash gift (called 白金, “bái jīn” or “white gold”) and flowers to Grandmaster Kao’s family residence in Tamsui, Taiwan.

Feel free to share the PayPal link with anyone looking for ways to give. We invite you to contribute your memories and photos of Grandmaster Kao via the online board.

We thank you for all your love and support for the Kao and Yang families during this difficult time.

Michelle Lin on behalf of Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming & YMAA Board of Directors

Grandmaster Kao, Tao (高濤) 1932 – 2024 

Kao, Tao (高濤) was born in Shanghai (China’s largest city) on July 7, 1932. Grandmaster Kao, Tao’s mother saw public Taijiquan demonstrations by Yang, Chengfu and enjoyed them. In 1944, his mother encouraged Master Kao to study Yang style taijiquan with Yang’s disciple, Mr. Yue, Huanzhi (樂奐之), who held a teaching post at the Catholic Zhendan Middle School (震旦中學) in Shanghai.

Master Kao’s mother had many times admonished him to not study fighting techniques. She wanted him to conscientiously practice only to maintain a healthy mind and body. This is because Master Kao’s maternal grandfather, Kao, Zhongwei (高重威) had been killed because of his martial arts. He had practiced Shaolin kung fu from childhood and was well-versed in saber, sword, rod and staff. He had a security services business in Suzhou’s Tai lake (蘇州太湖) area. He had more than ten vessels and specialized in transporting clients’ goods. Whenever transporting goods, he himself sat on the first boat, which had a large flag at the bow marked with his surname, Kao. No pirates dared to approach. As soon as he took on a job, they would rather turn over and fall into the water. However, due to his martial skills, Master Kao’s grandfather was often challenged, and was finally killed in a plot against his life. Though Master Kao studied Taijiquan for health, he could not help but be exposed to the martial side, due to the traditional style of training.

Under Teacher Yue’s earnest instruction, Master Kao studied diligently for three years, until 1947, when he graduated from junior high school. Teacher Yue treated him as his own son, often giving Master Kao food and money to survive. Master Kao’s mother suddenly converted to Buddhism, became a nun and wished to leave for Putuo Mountain (普陀山). Therefore, Master Kao had to go to Hong Kong to seek his father who had left the family many years earlier. While bidding Teacher Yue farewell, Master Kao was told that his martial postures had met the necessary standards, and even though they would be apart from each other, his forms would remain accurate. Teacher Yue paid Master Kao’s traveling expenses to Hong Kong. During this period, Master Kao became very interested in soccer and swimming, and after graduating from senior high school became busy making a living.

Teacher Yue later passed away in Shanghai in 1961 as a result of food poisoning. He had recently healed a high-ranking communist officer with Qigong. But, he refused to treat other members of the communist party, and was soon after poisoned.

In 1961, the Overseas Chinese Affairs Commission recommended Master Kao to Xinzhu Provincial High School (新竹省立中學) in the capacity of teacher for overseas Chinese students, and concurrently as the Chinese martial arts instructor at four other schools. Consequently, this revived martial arts as the main focus of Master Kao’s life.

Interview with Grandmaster Kao Tao (高濤) (new release)


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