The Complete Guide To The Internal Martial & Healing Arts
Combat and Healing Volume 62 June 2011 Editor
ÂŠJune2011NasserButt/Combat&Healing. All Rights Reserved.
The points of view represented here are solely those of the authorsâ€™ concerned. You do not have to subscribe to them if you do not wish. Nor is their inclusion here necessarily an endorsement by the WTBA or the Erle Montaigue System.
Dedicated To: Sandra Montaigue Ben Montaigue Eli Montaigue Kathleen Montaigue & Erland, Kristian & Cheryl Ann You are all in our thoughts and prayers.
Erle receiving his Master Degree from Master Wang Xing-Wu - The Disciple of Grandmaster Fu Zhongwen, Co-founder of the Peking 48 Style Taijiquan & Vice-President of The China Wushu Committee - in 1985, China. Photograph appears courtesy of Erle Montaigue.
Erle Montaigue Photography Nasser Butt ÂŠ 2010
EDITOR Nasser Butt Email: CombatandHealing@gmail.com Tel: +44(0)7792242150 +44(0)1162708730 83 The Fairway, Oadby, Leicester LE2 2HP England, UK http://www.fajing-chuan.co.uk
COPYRIGHT All articles, images & logos appearing in this publication are protected under international copyright law. Please do not copy, reproduce or redistribute without prior written consent of the copyright owners. All photography by Nasser Butt, unless stated otherwise.
Erle Montaigue: My Life Erle Montaigue
A Word From Eli Eli Montaigue
About Erle Wally Simpson
It Seems So Strange... Did He Leave Or Did He Just Change Ben Montaigue
A Remembrance of Erle Rolly Brown
The Way of The Warrior Erle Montaigue
There’s Something About Erle Claire Botsford
Few Words For A great Master Roberto Buffolini
Aloha Erle.. Dale Burnham
Favourite Erle Moments Steve Morris
OK, I Get It Now... Maybe Gord Hill
My Road Trip To Erle Colin Power
The Concert: Kathleen’s Words Memories of Erle Faith Crompton
Page 34 Page 35
Life Through A Lens
Letters To The Editor
Erle Al Krych
And... Views From The Midlands
If I Had My Time Over Erle Montaigue
Erle & Fu Zhongwen, May 1985.
Photograph appears courtesy of Erle Montaigue
At the end of the session, we said our customary goodbyes with a giant bear hug. I handed him his own set of keys for the t was the end of October 2010, when Erle came to studio as he got into his car and said: “I’ll see you at the Leicester for his regular end of year workshop. We instructors workshop in a few weeks.” He smiled had just completed the work on our Leicester and nodded.... unbeknown to me then, that was to studio, which was to be the home of the WTBA be the last time I’d see him alive! for future workshops and I stood there, proudly, Fate was to conspire against me and I would watching Erle teach the Qi Development Tools, never make the instructors workshop due to my while his beloved, Sandra sat in a corner car breaking down in the early hours of the Nasser Butt catching up with her correspondence. morning, as I was preparing to depart. This was to At the end of the day’s training session, Erle be only the second workshop that I’d miss in 7 and Sandy came around to my house for supper. It was years! I contacted Erle and he told me not to worry, he’d so great having them there and watching Erle play with my see me soon... youngest daughter, Skye, who kept on running behind him as he Although we spoke many times after that about training sat in a chair and pulling his hair. He was so amazing with and future workshops amongst other things, it was the surreal children and seemed to have all the time in the world for them. conversation we had had the day before he died that still cuts We returned back to the studio later in the evening. I had me... arranged a small gathering with my students and friends to We had spent the Tuesday emailing, texting each other for celebrate the completion of the studio, and also it was a chance most of the day regarding the summer camp and the for a lot of the new guys to meet Erle. The evening was a huge forthcoming USA trip, as well as future workshops as far ahead success and Erle, of course, was as charming as ever with as 2012-13.. When I got home that evening, I contacted him everyone. with some information he had asked for earlier. It was then that The following day, we continued with our training and Erle he asked me if I had received the package he had sent me. I said was in sublime form. As the the sunlight danced through the no and asked him how long it had been since he had sent it? windows, creating haunting shadows, Erle moved amongst them seamlessly as if bathing in the golden rays themselves.
Over the years there have been many who have questioned It had been a few days and when I said that I’d contact the Erle’s knowledge and pedigree, but virtually none of these armpost office, he told me not to bother, “the package would arrive chair ‘martial artists’ dared to leave the comfort of their online when it was meant to!” He had sent me the last dvd he had just forums and challenge him directly. For those who did come to completed, as was his habit, and said that if it hadn’t arrived by train with him, not only discovered a treasure trove of the next couple of days, then he‘d give me another copy on authentic knowledge but, also, a humble man, who disliked Sunday, when we were to meet for our first 2011 training lofty titles and a formidable fighter! session. Then there were others, self-styled masters and I had just replaced my old car and told him that there was grandmasters, who happily stole his knowledge and claimed it no way I was going to miss the session and I’d see him then. for their own, as well as those disgraceful former students, who So, when I got the call from Eli, the next day, Wednesday used him as a stepping stone to make themselves a name in the 26th, the world turned dark. I sat in the stairwell of the training martial arts community and then turned their backs on him later. studio, my legs weak, my brain numb, refusing to believe what But none of this stopped or distracted Erle from sharing I had just heard through Eli’s sobs. How could it be...??? I, and even giving away his knowledge for free. At a time when along with many others, had thought he’d outlive us all. The dubious masters were charging extortionist fees, he would send next few hours are a haze as, through streams of tears, out his dvds for free, all across the world, to those who couldn’t Wednesday turned to Thursday, and after somehow managing to afford to pay, yet wished to learn. In other instances, he’d even get through the day, when I arrived home that night, upon pay for the accommodation fees for workshops out of his own walking through the door, on the side shelf , I saw a familiar pocket to help his students! Giving... and giving package. unconditionally to all, was certainly what gave him great joy. The circle had completed itself in a stroke! As a young child, many years ago, I had read a book called My relationship with Erle, himself, had began with an “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein. It was a book that taught unexpected package arriving on my doorstep some 13 years me about love, selflessness and selfishness. The love and earlier, from a place I couldn’t even pronounce in Australia... selflessness of a tree that gave of itself freely to a young child, but that is a story for later! and the selfishness of the child, who just took and never said thanks even unto old age, yet the tree continued to give because it made him happy! I loved that book and many years later I rle, in his one lifetime, had lived many lives. Musician, discovered that tree in Erle... only, the tree had become an “Old actor, wrestler, martial artist and so much more. To write about Tower” and he gave to me, too, and let me sit under his shade. any one of these lives would require tomes, nor am I going to He was a friend to all his students and his workshops were even attempt it, as in all honesty, only Erle himself could have legendary. He would often break into an anecdote or tell a done that! funny story half-way through a teaching spell and had a wicked However, it would also be wrong not to say that in the sense of humour! He travelled the world over, even teaching the modern era of martial arts, both internal and external, Erle was art back to the Chinese, holding workshops in the Americas, not only a pioneer but a guardian of the ‘old’. His no nonsense Europe and Australasia. His students, too, traversed across the approach to the ‘neijia’ and practical self-defence caused many globe from all backgrounds and nationalities eager to learn. In seasoned martial artists to re-evaluate themselves. And yes... at fact, his were perhaps the only camps where I had witnessed times he may have divided the martial arts community with his Arabs and Israelis training side by side, like old friends! opinions, but to the end, he backed his words with deeds! In Erle’s most important role though was that of a father and fact, it can be resolutely said that Erle, perhaps, did more then husband. He was dedicated to his family - Sandy, no doubt the anyone in the last 30 odd years to reassert the martial essence of love of his life and inspiration, alongside Ben, Eli and Kathleen, the Chinese internal arts at a time when they had been hijacked as well as Kristian and Erland - His two sons from his previous by the ‘flower-power & esoteric brigade’! marriage to Cheryl Ann. He was never more happier then when He produced almost 400 instructional DVDs of the highest he was surrounded by his family and music. It is his family now content gathered on the neijia and shared that knowledge that our thoughts and prayers are with in this time of great loss. willingly with others. This was also a first, no doubt, the only And although they are grieving, yet theirs is an amazing ‘Master’ to have left a complete system on film, alongside strength no doubt fostered by the incredible bond of love that many written volumes - The Encyclopedia of Dim-Mak (cothey have for one another. This bond was on display, when the authored by his good friend and student, Wally Simpson), ‘kids’, showing a maturity well beyond their young lives, perhaps being the most in-depth book ever been written on the gathered on stage and held a concert in memory of their father subject and still a best seller to this day!
in Llandovery, Wales. They poured their hearts out in song and words and for those who witnessed - there was no doubting the power of their love. Finally, there have been many questions about where will the WTBA go from here? Well, it will continue to go as Erle had already stated in his lifetime, with Eli at the helm. End of discussion! What follows on the next few pages are the fond memories of Erleâ€™s family, friends and students. Oh... and a few words from Erle himself, giving us a brief glimpse into the life of man from the point of view of all whose lives he had touched in some way. There is much more that I wish to say about the man who changed my life. However, the wound of his loss is still fresh and the eyes still well up at the thought. In time, though, I will and I am not alone. There are a few others, dear friends and long time students of Erle, who are hurting just as much if not more and I want to thank them for their support and words of love and encouragement, especially, the beautiful Peter Jones, the amazing Peter Smith, the legend that is Wally Simpson, Colin & Lauron Power - two of the most lovable persons I know, and on the other side of the pond, the wonderful Al Krych and Josephine Anderson. I love you all.
Thank you also to the many friends who have written emails and left messages on facebook from around the world and have also sent in their pictures and memories for this issue. You have all helped immensely. But, the biggest thanks is reserved for Sandra Montaigue: Thank you for sharing your â€œpreciousâ€? Erle with the world. And Erle.... My father, my guide, my friend: I miss you and thank you.
Summer Camp, Rostock, Germany 2007.
Erle Montaigue: My Life 1949-2011 You can never tell the true story of someone's life, only the physical part is ever heard. What is inside is difficult to put down in words, so I will write it in a song. In fact if you read the words to many of my songs, you will hear the true story about Erle Montaigue. Born in 1949 in a small mining village about 50 miles south of Sydney in New South Wales Australia. Born by Caesarean Section, his Mother actually watched in a large mirror over head as they cut her open to lift him out. Erle's two siblings were still born due to the umbilical cord strangling them and Erle was also in this same situation, hence the Caesarean at 6 weeks premature. Weighing in at only 4 lbs, the doctors said that Erle Montaigue would be a backward boy in both brain and body. (Many would still think that!) His Mother, Margaret Kathleen took Erle back to the hospital where he was born years later to show them that he was indeed not in that condition and was in fact thriving. Erle's Father was also a self taught musician and could put his hand to just about anything and this rubbed off on Erle as he grew, trying many different musical instruments until his first guitar came in 1962. An only child and "different" to the others in his mining village, he was always picked upon and had to find different ways home from school (which he just hated) every day to avoid being punched and beat up in general. His only friends being girls and in particular his constant friend Eileen. They were together from ages 3 until 13. During his time at school, Erle met a music teacher who asked him to be in the school choir and this proved pivotal in Erle's music career as he discovered that he had a voice. School was not good for Erle and by age 12 could hardly read, write or add up. But soon realized that in order to get the girls, he would have to at least be seen to have a brain! So he embarked upon a self teaching regime whereby he learnt how to read, write and do complicated arithmetic in only one week
and became head of the class to the teacher's amazement. However, this didn't last as the call of the wild and girls was just too great and by age 15 was spending most of his school days truanting down at the local beaches. Erle's first band was formed at school in 1964 and by 1967 he was expelled from school for deeds far above and beyond the call of school duty!! This also proved to be one of the best things to happen to him as a huge weight was lifted from his shoulders, leaving him free to pursue girls and music. Erle was playing in his band "Earl's Court" in an open air concert when he noticed a pair of beautiful blue eyes looking up at him. She was only just 15 and they were eventually married just after she turned 16. Of course a marriage of those ages (18 & 16) was very difficult to maintain and so after two children it ended. Erle remained great friends with Cheryl Ann till the day he died, who has been re-married for about 30 years now.
Erle in 1950. Photo appears courtesy of taijiworld.com
Erle took on a job as an apprentice telephone technician in 1967 and caused havoc in the teaching institution run by the then General Post Office. We won't go into all of that but just to say that Erle has always been a bit of a rebel to put it mildly. So his sojourn with the Telephone company lasted for only two years when he was chosen for a new rock musical, "Jesus Christ Revolution", followed by Godspell and Jesus Christ Superstar.
cannot pronounce his real name and means an "Old Tower" During this time, Erle also recorded his first hit song "Can't which Erle is happy with. Wait For September" (1969) which became a big hit for him. Between the years of 1979 and 2011, Erle had an explosion of While at the Telephone institution, Erle met an old teacher creativity and production and has now produced the largest called "Mr Wong Eog" who everyone mistakenly called Tokyo number of DVD titles on the internal fighting/healing arts as Joe. Mr. Wong told Erle that he knew a martial art whereby one well as a wealth of books published world-wide. He became the could become superman! So wanting to become superman first Westerner to introduce Dim-Mak to the Western World (after being beaten up for most of his school days), Erle was with his books from the early 80's and also DVD productions. right in there to learn Prior to Erle's from this gentleman. The productions, there were style which was unheard only a couple of small of in the West at that and insignificant half time, Erle discovered hearted books written was Tai Chi. and published in China Erle did many things in on Dim-Mak as not the music industry in many ever received the Australia until 1974 real transmission. Even when he travelled to now, Erle's books on London to further his Dim-Mak are the ruler music and acting career. for all others and all But God had an ulterior other books on Dimmotive in that he really Mak have taken from went there to meet his Erle's work. Many so2nd Tai Chi teacher, Chu called masters say that King Hung who took they knew it all along, him on as his first but sales records show student. that they have all bought And so the story goes! Erle's work. One The rest is history when extremely famous Erle travelled back to Chinese Master in the Australia upon the death USA who wears the silk of his father in 1978 and suite and Nike shoes met the love of his life, recently bought Erle's Sandra, had three more MTG3 DVD on the children and also met Pauchui San-Sau form Chiang Yiu-chun who and then put out his own became Erle's main DVD title on that form. internal arts teacher from However, Erle, being whom he learnt REAL Erle, has changed some Erle in Godspell, 1972. things in the original Tai Chi, Wudang Arts Photograph appears courtesy of taijiworld.com and Dim-Mak. form so that they work In 1981, Erle travelled to Hong Kong where he much better and sure met and trained with both Yang Sau-chung (the son of Yang enough, this master has re-created these changes in his own Cheng-fu) and also Ho Ho-choy, the great Bagua master. Erle DVD titles. So we know positively that this person learnt from has had a number of other teachers in China and those from Erle Montaigue's DVD! Not that he or anyone else will ever whom, although he cannot say that he was a long term student, admit it as it is not prestigious to say that one has learnt from a has learnt heaps from, such as Fu Zhongwen, Shao Shan-kan DVD of a chap from a small village South of Sydney in and some others whose names have now faded. Australia! In November of 2003, Erle, his family, two dogs and business moved to the UK where they all still live in Wales. Erle Passed away on January 26th 2011. The above biography has been taken from taijiworld.com as it His music has again surfaced and he played and recorded with appeared during Erleâ€™s life, with a few minor adjustments made after his children in their family rock band, "MOONTAGU". his death - Editor. Moontagu, is what the Chinese people call Erle because they
A Word From Eli Montaigue
Only the good die young
working on a song with Kathleen in the morning. Then I had what turned out to be my last lesson from him only about an hour before he left. He was fighting fit, and had just ran up the road to catch up to Mum, Kathleen and I walking the dogs. A few minutes after, we were all walking back down and he just said "hold me", as he sat down on the road, he was out in only a couple of seconds. I sprinted back to the house to get his diabetic kit, and
Kathleen to the house near us to get some sugar. Ben was down at his house only 1/4 of a mile away, so Kathleen called him and he ran up.
So Dad had no chance! As most of you know he had diabetes, and was controlling it with Diet and his training. And doing a bloody good job! As anyone who trained with him would tell you, how much energy he had, and how fit he was, no one could hit as hard as him! Mum Ben Kathleen and I were all with him, I'm so glad I was here, as I live in Swansea now about an hour away. We had just had a band practice the night before, and he was
When he got there we'd already started CPR, the paramedics got there in a helicopter, we were trying for about 15 minute, then the paramedics for another 20 or 30. I was pushing all the points I could think of, and even tried the old Pen through the foot trick! The paramedics gave me a very strange look! Ha ha! But as it happened it was a clogged artery that caused the heart attack, so nothing would have worked.
But he got his wish, never to get old and to go out with a bang. He didn't suffer at all, and was in his prime He will be Cremated at about 2pm on the 3rd of February UK time. We're doing a concert for him in a few weeks, as he wouldn't have wanted a funeral, he never liked funerals. This will be in
big bear like jacket that we use to hide in when he'd give us a hug when we were kids. I will never try to be Dad, but to just be me, and take on what he's left to me. With Ben at my side, and the help of my family and fellow instructors. There has been some talk about what will happen to the WTBA now he's gone. I know I am only 24 years old, and would never make a claim to be of the same level as dad, or call myself a master etc. But he had already announced me as World leader of the WTBA, so it's been run under me for the past year already, and I will keep it running as the great organization he founded. I am so glad to have had all the time I have with him, a lot of people just see a young kid and say "he's too young to lead an organization!" But I have grown up with Dad, spending nearly every day of my life with him. His teachings will live on in me as he wanted. And his spirit in all of his children. I don't claim to know it all, but I do believe I have it all, somewhere in me, left there by Dad, I feel like he gave me everything I needed, he couldn't have taught me anymore than he did. I'm very lucky, as it was only with in the last year that I no longer felt the need to say "I'm not sure I'll ask Dad" As you know, we've never been into formality, I never had any grading from Dad, he just said to me last year before I went to teach in Canada, "Be confident my sonny, you know as much as me now in what we teach" I don't feel like I know everything, but took that as meaning I know everything I need to figure it out for myself now. Just didn't think I'd actually have to so soon. Thank you to everyone for all your words, and thanks to all the WTBA instructors who have given their support to me in running the WTBA.
Llandovery for all those who knew him around here, as they knew him for his music more so than the Taiji. But of course any close personal students of his are welcome to come to that as well. I'll be doing a special training session on the Sunday of my March Camp, the 13th, for everyone who can make it. And each seminar and camp this year will be for him, I'll be taking all his classes. Including the USA seminar and Summer camp. So that way everyone should have a chance to join in and say a big thank you to him. Dad was the closest person in the world to me, as you all know. Up until February 2010 I lived with him, and trained with him nearly every day, and even after I moved into my own house I still saw him for two or three days a week. And traveled with him to every workshop he did.
Cremation 2pm, 3rd of February. This is only for family. Concert will be announced. First and main thank you training session to Dad at my March camp 2pm till 3pm on the 13th, then those attending camp will continue with course. I look forward to seeing everyone at some point in the year at one of the workshops. There will be a special moment at every workshop and camp to say thank you to Dad. Everyone can say this in there own way, but for me it will be for everyone to go through the YLC form together. Then to beat the shit out of some bags! And then each other in Push Hands! Dad and my closest moments were in beating the shit out of each other!
Love to all... We're all staying strong and getting on with life, Kathleen handed me his favorite jacket just before I left to go to teach the Eli Montaigue other day, we all broke down. It's mine to wear for him now, as (Head of the WTBA) his footsteps will continue in me now. I'll never fill his shoes, as he's always had bigger feet than me, so the Jacket it is! It's the
This was one of the funniest moments ever... Erle was filming Eli and to Eliâ€™s horror, he discovered later, that his dad was recording when the camera should have been off and vice versa!
The infamous train journey in China, 1985 ÂŠErle Montaigue
Erle & Wally. Photos courtesy Wally Simpson
About Erle Wally Simpson So where do I start with my stories about Erle? Well first I had been doing some Taiji with a school in Australia when a trainee instructor told me he had found someone teaching real Taiji. So, I went down to this small hall in a little seaside town in northern New South Wales and there was this guy and about 4 people, one of them my friend the trainee instructor doing Taiji each on there own with the teacher walking around watching them, correcting them and teaching them a new move when he thought they had the last one down. I was intrigued by this approach and by the depth of instruction with each move. I think I learned 2 moves that night. I am a little slow and dyslectic at times. I went back the next week and the first thing I noticed was that my friend the trainee instructor was not there and when I saw him several days later, he told me that he could not teach this type of Taiji to his students as they were mostly old. I continued to go along to this class and after a short while the class came to an end as there was not enough students to cover costs of the hall, so I began private classes with this gentleman. This went on for about 12 months and about 3 or 4 months into it he got me to do the second move from the Chen Fu form
towards him and suddenly threw a round house punch at me, slow enough so as not to freak me out. I should tell you here that I didn't come along to Taiji classes to learn Martial Arts, I came because I had not long ago completed a course in Chinese Medicine and thought I should learn some of their exercise / relaxation techniques etc. Most of the people who I met, who did Martial Arts, were total dick heads as far as I was concerned. I was into Yoga and my motto was make love not war. I had never met anyone doing the Internal Arts before only the fringes of the external art schools, fueled by lots of alcohol, had come my way generally in the form of pub brawls or sleazy neighborhoods. Anyway, I managed to block his punch and so I started my journey into the Internal Martial Arts via Small San Sou. My new teacher began to tell me stories of Erle and his Sunday classes at Mt Burrell out past Uki. Finally I got an invitation to go out to one of these classes and I found about 15 to 20 people paired up throwing punches at each other as they practiced different moves from the Taiji forms. This was the first time I saw Erle, he was this long haired bloke, demonstrating a lot of amazingly punches and defense techniques that left me dazzled and wondering what the fuck I was doing there.
The atmosphere was very relaxed and there was a lot of laughter, so I quickly warmed up to it all and attempted to join in with the training. I think I went out there about 2 times before the bloke who was teaching me told me I needed to come along to this class he had started in Murwillumbah, where he introduced me as a trainee teacher. This was news too me, I didn't think I knew enough to teach anyone anything about Taiji. I went to my first camp out in Numinbah Valley, in the hinterland between the Gold Coast and Murwillumbah, for an afternoon and the morning of the next day, where I saw some of Erle's students doing Linear Ba Gua (blew my mind) and Erle leading a class where it seemed like each move took about 5 to 10 minutes to do. I dropped out, it was too much for me at that stage as I was only just getting to the end of the Chen Fu and I was embarrassed about my lack of knowledge. That night I stayed there and Erle made the evening meal, don't remember what it was but, I was impressed that the teacher was making food for all his students. I got to help wash up, probably should have felt privileged being given any task in such illustrious company, everyone else seemed to be so good at this Taiji shit. Time went on and my new teacher decided to go away on a trip around Australia, he left a young bloke and myself in charge of his classes with the promise of Erle dropping in from time to time to teach us some stuff. By this time I was all the way through the Chen Fu form, the Small San Sou and Large San Sou, had started my journey with Single and Double Push Hands and was about two thirds of the way through the Yang Lu Chuan form - I thought I was on a roll here and beginning to enjoy it, this Martial Art stuff ain't so bad after all and there were some great people involved with it all. Erle's first class with us and about 10 minutes or so into the form he stopped and said, “OK forget everything you have learned, we are going to start from scratch.” Twelve months earlier I would have gone, “Up yours mate!” and walked out but, by now, I was hooked. We were all invited out to Erle's farm at Mt Burrell and so the Sunday classes at Erle's began. We would pay for them by bringing some fruit for him and his family. On one of those first days, after at least half an hour doing the first move of the Lu Chuan, with Erle going into great detail about every minute movement, he said to the class that it will probably take you all years, but you will all eventually get it right - then he turned to me and said except for Wally, he's too old! The whole class bust into raucous laughter and that set the scene for every other class we did with Erle on a Sunday. The Sunday class had around 20 to 30 people at times from all walks of life, and all had come to learn from this amazing man. We would do about 2 to 3 hours of training, with Erle Filming each move he demonstrated. This was the beginning of the Taiji to the Max series and the
real beginning of me learning about the Internal Martial Arts. After our Sunday training, Erle and Sandy took us, a pretty wild and ragged looking bunch, into their home and where Sandy would spend the morning baking muffins, we would have them with a cup of tea before heading off home. Erle would come and teach for free at a Gym in Murwillumbah on a Monday night, anyone who wanted to come along was welcome, it was here that he began to teach us how to teach the Internal Martial Arts. There would be up to 50 people at times and after an hour or so he would leave us to carry on, honing our teaching skills. I was amazed how much more you learn when you have a whole lot of people asking you questions about the different aspects of each move.
Tuesday class, at first, it was just my friend and me who would go out to Erle's place to train. This soon became 4 and then 7 of us going out to the farm. We became Erle's personal students and we would do 1 or 2 moves from a variety of forms, the Lu-chan, Circle Bagua, Small San Sou, Large San Sou, Chen Fu, Fa-Jing Chuan, 12 Deadly Dim Mak Forms and slowly we learned them all again plus more, with Erle always filming what he showed us. The Taiji Stick, Double Stick, Wudang Qi Disruptive Forms, Wudang Sword Form, Wudang Short Stick Defense against a Knife, Bagua Wooden Man, Baguazhang's Deer Horn Knives and the list goes on. I have said many times that while I don't remember all of the forms that Erle taught me, but my body has learned to move in a very different way from that of the stiff semi ridged bloke I see, when I look at early clips of my self being Erle's demo model. I remember after a 3 week camp at My Warning, where there were people from all around the globe come to train with Erle, it was our first Monday back after the camp and I got there late. Here was this bald bloke leading the class who I thought was a Swami, I just assumed he must have been be a student of Erle's that I hadn't met - I thought to myself this blokes pretty good - Erle had shaved his head and he was for the first half hour unrecognizable to me.
facebook "Lift Hands" and feel the gift he has given us all. Jennifer Blake I remember the first time I met Erle, even though we had corresponded for awhile before we met, he seemed like an old friend. Would talk for hours on T'ai Chi and life and great stories. I remember bringing in about 10 of his books that I had purchased and I made him sign each one which he did gladly. I think his spirit will live in all of us that knew him and had the opportunity to stand next to him and do T'ai Chi. Joey Del Make him proud & practice your tai chi everyday. Keep his teachings alive. The journey doesn't end here this is only the beginning. Andrew Bell My condolences to all the family. I can't say I really knew Erle but through his early videos and articles in the Australasian Fighting Arts magazine (and a few conversations over the years) I felt as if I did. I credit Erle for opening my eyes to the 'softer' arts and thank him for producing the first ever instructional video I ever bought. Erle gave so much to the martial arts community and to the world, he will be long remembered. Rest in Peace.
Erle taught us twice a week. For us lucky ones who were in the Tuesday group it was 3 times a week, all for free or some fruit. I have never met anyone who was as generous with their knowledge and time. When I became very ill in 1999 / 2000 and gave serious thought to quitting my profession as a Chinese Medicine Practitioner, Erle was the first person to come up to me and tell me that I was a very good practitioner and it would be stupid to quit my profession. He gave me enormous support and love during this time of incredible difficulty, not knowing if I was going to die or continue. There are so many stories about Erle that will be told over the years, many of them may be exaggerated, but a man like this comes along only on very rare occasions and he is what legends are made of. I will remember him every time I play the guitar he gave me, every time I do any of the forms he taught me and every time I drive down through the Tweed Valley, as well as many other unexpected moments when his voice will resonate within my soul. It has been a privilege knowing you Erle, happy trails mate. The photo I have attached was taken on my 50th birthday, it was an ad for Hemp clothing that Fionia, the lass with the hat on, was going to market on Erle's website. Erle's birthday was 2 days after mine. Even though it is not a clear shot, I have always liked it because Erle has this cheeky mischievous little smile that was so typical of him when he was in a playful mood. The other 2 photo's were from when I visited Erle & Sandy in Wales a bit over 12 months ago.
Robert Frost Erle was a an exceptional teacher and a wonderful person and his legacy will continue for generations. His teachings continue to inspire and guide me in my life.. May his soul rejoice in eternal bliss. Simon Collins "Amazing Master", that is for sure!!! He touched me, my heart, and taught me so much, beyond my greatest imagination, how to accumulate and manifest more and more Qi (I can feel it all the time now. Thanks to him, and his Wudang Shan , 12 Qi Development Tools. I miss him a lot! My heart continues to ache, in the absence of Erle, and for his wonderful family. I am both a senior and a junior in the WTBA. And he really touched my mind and my heart, like no other teacher in over 49 years training, not even close. Erle was the BEST! James Fraser Baltimore County, MD, USA
Erle & Sandra Montaigue
IT FEELS SO STRANGE... DID HE LEAVE OR DID HE JUST CHANGE?
He seemed to have the answers to so many questions I had, now when I go to ask those questions I don’t get an answer back in words, only his energy and memories of him are
there to guide me. I remember so many of his lessons in life
It feels so strange... did he leave or did he just change?
so strongly and it’s as if I understand them better now than I
As I walk down my road, mind a whirl of thoughts, I try to
the ideas that he was trying to put across seem so clear to me
make sense out of it all, sometimes it helps and sometimes
now. I like to think that he left me with a little of himself to
it’s just better to leave my thoughts to their own devices.
help me conquer any thing that I come up against. Every
Everything feels the same except for an emptiness that can’t
time I complete a task at hand or solve a problem, anything
be filled, I can still feel his energy the same way I would if I
that I know he’d be proud of, I can hear him saying to me,
knew he was nearby, except there is a sense of power that
“you’re a great booy” or “I want you to know that I love
wasn’t there before. Like everything that he touched,
you”. Even when I see something that I think he’d love I can
everything that he put his mind to, everyone that he healed
feel his presence with me, might be when I’m watching a
and everywhere he went has been left with part of him. It
funny movie and I can feel him laughing along.
ever did. Things that I found silly or simply couldn’t grasp
feels as if he created energy out of nothing and put it here; when his physical form left us he didn’t let his energy float
I know there are so many things my dad still wanted to do,
out into space; he focused it on everything around him, into
for one he wanted to see all us kids settle down with families
everyone around him, to be here, around us changing and
of our own, but he had so much more to give, he’ll find other
forming and helping everyone he loved just like he always
ways of giving it through everyone and everything that he
has become a part of but I know how much he would have
But every time I feel the need to see him or to hear his voice
loved to do a lot of it in person as the thing he got most
or to feel his arms around me I can’t help but feel such an
enjoyment out of was giving and seeing the smile on peoples
emptiness, he was the person that would put me in my place,
faces, whether it be advice, help with fixing most things
tell me if I was making a mistake, that's the bit I miss the
electrical, his teachings of so many things, or even a small
most, he would know when to tell me not to do something!
gift, that was the thing he loved the most (Giving).
leads. This resulted in a project named “Duck Lands On Water”, which Erle released as a cassette. At one point, Erle put forth the idea of getting together every morning to train. There were four or five of us, and we’d show Rolly Brown up at Elizabeth Bay at 5 a.m. Starting the form in the dark, our Sellersville PA, USA practice was to do the long form, in its slowest (40 minute) three times through. The middle time was done Jan. 30, 2011 manifestation, in mirror image. We were in a grassy little park looking out on n 1982, I moved to Sydney from Pennsylvania to be with my the bay. We’d begin in darkness and solitude. As we moved slowly and silently through the two hours of doing the forms, Australian girlfriend. I had had the good fortune to study Tai the sun would begin to rise, cars and pickup trucks would Chi for 6 or 7 years under a couple of excellent teachers arrive, sails would be unfurled, and boats would glide away (following 2 years of intense GungFu training), and, after getting settled in, started observing some classes to find a good instructor. I was particularly interested in push hands, and visited 2 or 3 Chinese instructors with disappointing results. Finally, I decided to try this Australian guy whose ads I’d noticed. My friend Peter Hicks accompanied me. We entered the studio mid-class, and the instructor, a solidly built blonde Aussie with a rockstar hairdo, wordlessly directed us to some visitor’s chairs, without interrupting his class, to watch. His teaching style was simple but labor intensive. There were about 15 students in the room, each in a different place in the form, and he went to each student in turn, taught them the next step that they needed, and then left them to practice as he moved on. At some point, he led the whole class in a standing “Zhan Zhuang” qigong exercise for ten minutes. After several minutes of watching his teaching approach and the body mechanics of the movements he was demonstrating, I turned to Peter and said, “This is the guy!” And that’s how it started. Erle was teaching 4 or 5 nights a week, and, rather than following the “one class a week” regime of most of his students, I began attending every class. Erle’s teaching, like that of all the good instructors I’ve encountered, was based on hard work, minimum tension to get the job done, and powerful body alignment. He would teach me the movements as quickly as I could absorb them, and, in 7 weeks, I’d learned the entire long Yang form, and was ready to proceed to push hands, which onto the perfect blue of the harbor. When we finished at 7 a.m., Erle taught on weekends in a little park on Elizabeth Bay, next the world had come alive and we were energized and ready for to the high-rise apartment complex where he and Sandi were anything. It was a beautiful way to begin a day, and one which living. I’ve never forgotten. This was the advanced class, and included Tony Ward and I trained and hung around with Erle for the full 7 months that I Jenny Blake, his top students at that time, as well as a few spent in Sydney. I learned the long form and small and large san others. When I tried to pay Erle, he refused, saying, “Before, shou as well as lots of push hands training. His push hands you were a student...now you’re someone to train with!” After classes were two-hour marathons with no breaks. If you class, we’d go up to Erle’s apartment for a cup of tea and some stopped for a second to discuss some point of technique with conversation, and a friendship was forged. your partner, Erle would admonish you to get back to work. By then, Erle had learned that I was a professional guitarist, and Legs ached, and root was obtained. I went from being a rube, we had started getting together to play music. Soon, we were who Erle could set up and topple simply by removing his ward recording an album of music together in a studio in Sydney, off arm, to a journeyman push hands player who could sort of with Erle singing and playing rhythm guitar while I took the hold his own.
A Remembrance of Erle
At the end of my stay in Sydney, I’d moved briefly to Brisbane with my girlfriend, who was directing a play there. A family emergency arose, and I rushed back to Sydney to catch a plane for the States. Erle and Sandi, generous as always, put me up in their tiny apartment for a couple days while I settled the affairs necessary for departure. A month later, he and my friend Peter teamed up to go through the onerous task of packing up a wooden kennel/crate for my Australian Kelpie pup, Max, and shipping him to America for me; friendship above and beyond the call of duty. Erle also urged me to start teaching, citing his own experience of returning from his London studies with Chu King Hung and needing to teach in order to get people with whom to train. I said goodbye to him there in Elizabeth Bay and left Sydney, never to return. My Tai Chi life has continued, and I’ve studied with several eminent masters since then. With Grandmaster William C.C. Chen, I found my true road, but Erle had paved the way there for me. Over my 38 years in Chinese martial arts, I’ve met many people who called themselves “masters”. A lot of them weren’t, and I’ve also known several true masters who would never claim that title. Most of the true masters I’ve known were a generation older than me. Erle and I were born in the same year, and he is one of only two or three contemporaries whom I would acknowledge as a true master of the art. At long distances, through emails and phone calls, he remained my friend to the end, an end which came way too soon, but seems to have been mercifully painless. He died like a Tai Chi master should, living life fully up to the last day. Those of us left behind can only hope to emulate that model.
Top: Erle at a wedding ceremony in Sydney. Main: Erle ‘mugging’ on the beach in his native Australia . Photographs appear courtesy of Rolly Brown.
The Way of The Warrior Erle Montaigue
A warrior is not just a person who has learned some moves, is able to kick at 90 miles per hour or who has won the world championships at kick-boxing. A warrior must earn his title. The martial artist is a person who knows things that go far deeper than just self defence, he is someone who walks into a room full of people and an immediate calm falls upon that room, he is a person who can touch a person's head, or arm, or hand and cause an inner stillness and peace to fall upon that person. You know a warrior not from the way he looks, his big biceps, or his rolled up sleeves revealing a row of tattoos, or his shaven head or the fact that he wears his full gi (karate uniform) to parties!
We know the warrior by his presence and the healing he automatically gives to everyone he meets. His energy, his 'Qi' is touching you, you don't feel anything physical, but rather the internal effect of this touching, and peace is with you. The warrior looks upon the earth in a different way than those who are not warriors, everything, from the smallest insect to the largest mammal, and the most insignificant rock or tree is important and has life, the grass he walks upon, he thanks for softening the rough path he walks upon, the trees, he thanks for giving him shade and oxygen. Everything has importance because it was put there by mother earth for some reason. Sure, he has to live in modern times, he must drive a motor car and go to the supermarket and mow his lawns, but always, he never loses sight of what he is, and more importantly, where he is. He knows that what he is, is not only what he has made himself to be, but also what is handed down to him and what is an accumulation right inside the very cells that he is made of, from his ancestors. Everything that they were, is now him, every bit of information that his fathers and mothers gathered is now inside of him, this is how we live on in our children, we literally, and I mean literally, pass on our knowledge, along with eons of knowledge accumulated since the beginning of time, to our children. Everything that we are at the conception of our children is passed on to them. We think that we have certain talents, but the warrior knows that all that he is, has come from the beginning of time, he knows that he is made up of the same stuff that a rock is made of, or a tree or a blade of grass, the difference is only physical. He knows that he owns nothing, and that all animals are free, his animals chose him to be with, he does not go to the pet shop to chose a new dog, he knows that the dog has chosen him to come to that pet shop to chose it. The warrior communicates with the earth, he talks to the dogs, to the cats and owls, to the snakes, not so much verbally, but simply by being. This is the one thing that everything on earth has in common, being. He knows that there are forces at work on this earth, forces that he must learn to go with and to live with, otherwise he will surely perish. The energy within the warrior has the power to join with these forces, and then he has the power to change. But this comes not without payment, for he also knows that we cannot receive without first having paid for it. The whole of the universe is based upon this giving and taking, it is called yin & yang.. For every up there must be a down, for every happiness, there must be a sadness, for every full tummy, there must be an empty one. The warrior knows that he must lose in order to gain, and so he sacrifices. He sacrifices his food, he sacrifices his sexual longings, his every day comforts, in order that he has the power to change and to help others to change. Not in going out specifically to help others, but to have the internal power
always there to automatically help others to be peaceful, and in doing so, they too will be able to see where they are, and who they are. We are not only someone's son or daughter, we are the sons and daughters of an infinite amount of people, those who have passed on to us their cells inside of which is hidden the very substance of creation and everything that has happened. Not 'since time began', because there is no beginning or ending Being a martial artist is only one hundredth of what a warrior is, it is only a part of the whole, it is what gives us the confidence to become a healer, the internal energy to make changes. A warrior knows that we do not have teachers, but guides, the people we meet who are able to give us something internal, that something extra to cause us to become our own greatest teachers. Just by simply being, a guide helps us to realize that it is we, ourselves who teach us, because the warrior also knows that locked away inside of everything, is that primordial cell that contains all information. He learns to read this information which comes in the form of 'flashes' at first, and this is too much for his feeble human brain to handle, he shuts off as soon as the flash arrives. But soon he learns to read these flashes, and they become longer in duration than just a moment. This is when the warrior knows that he is reading time. He learns to communicate other than speaking, he knows that his physical needs are being looked after, and needs not worry about where the next mortgage payment will come from. The warrior finds his place on the earth and stays there, where the power is. It is not a physical searching, but rather the warrior is 'taken' to where he must be, and there he stays, and the whole world will pass by, he needs not to travel, because the universe is there within him, and those who will in turn need to seek him out, will do so when their time is right, in just the same way that he did when he had to travel the world searching for his own guides. They then will learn to teach themselves from within, and also then go and find their own place, and he may never see them again, but this does not worry the warrior, he is in contact. The warrior is not the master, he is not the sifu nor the sensei, these are just physical words that we put upon ourselves to make us seem important, or better than those who we guide. The warrior is a friend to his students, and so cannot be our master. He does not wish to gather students as they will search him out, and those who need to have a master or a sensei will not stay, they will keep searching until they realize that what they search is within them, and who they search, can only be their guide.
The making of an MTG DVD... Ben filming Erle & Eli .
Rostock, Germany 2008
There’s Something About Erle Claire Botsford I
first met Erle in 1999 on a bright summery day at a workshop in Folkstone. I had travelled there with a motley group of guys from Swansea and Leicester, most of whom I had only just met, to attend a workshop that I suspected would be filled with highly skilled, and likely scary, martial artists, all far above my single year’s worth of training. I was nervous, yet excited to be apart of the training. I had obviously heard about Erle from my instructor, I had read everything on Erle’s website, and I felt that I could risk
friendly, were very focused on hierarchy. Everyone had to bow before they entered or left the training area and those who wore one of the highly regarded and respected Black Belts tended to keep to themselves except to teach you. I had appreciated that way of doing things, respected it, but it wasn’t ‘me’. Instead I was stood in Folkstone among a relaxed group of people, some flown in from other countries and the rest from across the country, all stood comfortably together, not in strict lines, in no standardised uniforms and with no coloured belts around their waists. I instantly felt relaxed and welcomed, though still rather nervous at how my own standard of taiji would be compared to theirs. I don’t remember the exact first time I saw Erle there, instead my first clear memory of him was when he had paused in the teaching and began to explain a concept using an analogy that, shall I say, was rather more adult and humorous than I ever would have expected from a ‘Master’. I remember that moment catching my attention, not because of the analogy itself, but because it made me see Erle, as compared to the ‘Master’ I had been nervous to meet. Not only had he made us all laugh, but he had made us understand exactly what he had meant in that concept. Here was a man who was so profoundly skilled at his art and yet had no sense of superiority, no arrogance to him at all. He made me instantly feel that I didn’t have to put on airs, didn’t have to be nervous, and certainly didn’t have to be overly serious in the workshop. And yet, there was something else about him, some deep inner stillness that seemed to seep out of his bright intelligent eyes that made you just want to smile. I think that is part of being a true warrior that Erle spoke about, but I’m not sure if I am right. I do know that when I met him several more times after that wonderful weekend in Folkstone, that feeling from him only grew stronger. And when he would greet me with that wonderful massive bear hug of his, I felt so grateful to know him.
attending one of his workshops, and so with the backup of the aforementioned motley crew, I arrived in Folkstone. It turned out to be one of the most wonderful weekends of my life. The training venue was a wide gym, wooden floors throughout, beautifully light and airy, with floor to ceiling windows at both ends. The sun shone gently in over us all throughout those two days, creating a light, easy, and relaxed atmosphere. The highly skilled martial artists I had formally been nervous to meet all turned out to be kind, friendly, ordinary people. Sure there were more smiles, relaxed shoulders, and humour than you might get in a random group of people, but I do remember being surprised how ‘ordinary’ everyone was. I had formally, and briefly, trained in a popular external martial art and those people, though very
That scary Master I had feared meeting back in 1999 turned out to be the most kind, wise, and most powerful men I have ever met. He was a mentor to so many of us, but more so we met the kind man. The man who would respond to every question anyone sent him. He was generous and honest, and had the scariest fast reflexes I’ve ever seen! I will miss Erle Montaigue, but the legacy he left us lives on. Through Eli the WTBA will continue, and I hope that others will experience, as I have, the relaxed, ordinary atmosphere of a WTBA class. Everyone has value, any question is welcome (because lets face it most of us were probably thinking the same question), and no one is more important than anyone else. That was what Erle felt, but I think most of us will agree that Erle himself stood out in his own unique way. As he once put it about others, he was extraordinary in his ordinariness. I will miss him.
When I received the news that Erle had passed away a sense of disbelief fell over me. How could this happen to such a vibrant and seemingly healthy man? For a week I was unable to look at the Baguazhang disc I had been learning from. Then I realized that Erle will always be alive for me. All I have to do is put in a disc and there he is. He had said that it was important to attend a camp or class because you can’t feel the energy through these discs. But I would have to disagree with him on this point. Erle’s energy and spirit penetrates through on each disc with dynamic intensity and power. With the exception the last few titles, (which I shall purchase very soon), and the discontinued discs, I have everything he produced. Some people may find learning this way difficult, but I for me it became sort of a one on one Zen approach to learning. There is no competition over the teacher’s attention or having to play a political game with other students; I can simply ponder on my own the wonders of these amazing arts. Learning this way also forces me to find the answers in myself and not rely on the teacher to feed me the “good oil”. As a humble teacher myself, I marvel at Erle’s teaching ability which was and still is amazing. He can get an important point across literally in just a few seconds. With very few exceptions, all of the questions I had were answered right there on the disc. If I didn’t get it the first time, I just took the lesson over again. The few questions I did have to ask him were answered almost as fast as I emailed them. I always had the feeling that he really cared for each and every one of his long distance students. I never had the fortune to meet Erle in person, but through his DVDs and our email correspondence over the years, I grew to consider him to be my teacher, mentor and a friend. I feel so fortunate that we live in an age where Erle was able to put all of his thoughts and abilities onto a media that can touch as many people in the world who wish to learn these arts. I live on the Big Island of Hawaii where such information just simply not available and finding a qualified teacher is impossible. I owe Erle a debt of gratitude for opening my eyes to the “real stuff”. Without him, I would still be doing level one YCF form, hoping the Taijiquan gods would one day enlighten me. Instead, Erle gave me the keys to the kingdom. Aloha Erle, you will be deeply missed. Dale Burnham Kamuela, Hawaii
Few Words For A Great Master Roberto Buffolini
But, thanks God, I've also had the immense fortune to know Erle, by Facebook; I send a friendship request and immediately Erle gave it to me! We sent each other several e/mails, and for me it was very beautiful to discover as Erle was really the simple, good and concrete person and the real, real great Master you can feel reading his books.
Erle, as friendship sign, sent to me a French copy of "DIM MAK: MODE You obviously don't know me, my name D'EMPLOI" too, with the dedication in is Roberto BUFFOLINI and, as you can Italian! imagine, I'm from Italy. If I'm here writing to you is because I He wrote, as you see: "PER IL MIO want just to say "GRAZIE" (Thank you) CARO AMICO ROBERTO BUFFOLINI, to Erle, from the bottom of my heart. CORDIALI SALUTI" You must know I'm a man with a lot of physical problems 'cause an huge amount of wrong surgery operations made on my right knee. Result - From 1996 I am lame and with big problems of arthritis, and my life quality became ugly, I even started to drink, searching to forget may pain and my desperation, but pain and desperation don't drown, never.
I swear, when I saw that I've started to cry: it was so nice, polite and sweet from Erle to do it, and this demonstrates how great he was. I'm glad for the opportunity you gave to me to remember Erle Montaigue, a person, a man, a Master, a friend, I'll
After a while, and thanks to my lovely wife Barbara, I stopped drinking and I have begun to study pressure points, partly for self-defence and partly to fill the time. I searched and I read a lot of books about this matter but I never didn't find nothing of interesting and real, but . . . Suddenly I read "DIM MAK DEATH POINT STRIKING", by Erle: for me was a shock! For the first time I began to clearly understand this fascinating and amazing world, and I decided to prove to myself to be able to fight, even if I was lame.
always feel in my heart, always . . . I give you the permission to publish, if you find this mail interesting, in the Erle's commemorative issue, as you like to do; I am really fierce to have been able to know a person as Erle, and I'll always keep him in my mind and in my heart.
Now, thanks to Erle's books, at the age of 44, almost 45, I'm a VII° Training Level Thanks for all, and excuse me for my of Kyusho Jitsu and a Ryukyu Kempo english writing . . . practitioner. Roberto BUFFOLINI
Favourite Erle Moments Steve Morris Favourite Erle moments – that’s a challenge in itself because every moment spent in his company was an enjoyable one. Even driving home from Llangadog with my soft delicate knuckles, red raw and bleeding was to be cherished. My first memory was reading his book – “How to Use Tai Chi as a Fighting Art”. It was a little black book, home produced, and there was this wild looking dude hitting pads and punch bags and showing fighting techniques. I remember taking the book to my Taiji instructor at the time and he just looked at me in disgust. Back then, the internet was unheard of so I wrote to the address in Erle’s book. A few weeks later, a package arrived to my home and inside was a personal letter and two VHS tapes. The tapes were a gift and if you include the postage from Australia and the knowledge on the two tapes, the generosity was there from the start. Years of correspondence followed, and once email and internet became the norm, the volume of correspondence increased. Some of my embarrassing basic questions are still there for all to see on Erle’s website today. I first met Erle in Swansea. I was standing outside waiting to go into the training hall and he walked past and said “hello mate”. I entered the building behind him, not knowing anyone inside and proceeded to join in the training session. During the break, I approached him to introduce myself. He was sat, on the floor munching an apple. I introduced myself and he stood up, gave me a hug and asked how I was. I was humbled by his pleasant and likeable demeanour. As an excuse to talk to him, I had made up some story about how I was having difficulty with my standing qigong. I blurted out something about lower back pain and he then said “go on then, show me”. Shit, this has now backfired I thought. I then manoeuvred into the qigong position and awaited his destructive words. He just nodded and said “not bad mate” and then made some slight adjustment to my posture. I remember a game myself and another student used to play whenever we trained with Erle. If we were having trouble pulling off a certain technique, we would call him over and get him to show us, but we would make sure the other one was on the receiving end of Erle’s technique. The more either of us got whacked, the more the other one laughed. The game ended for me when I was having trouble evading a knife attack to my stomach. I called Erle over expecting him to show me by using my colleague as the attacker. Instead, Erle gave me the knife and told me to attack him. He evaded me with ease, bumped my knife arm so hard, the knife flew across the room and I just stood there mouth wide open. I think perhaps he had rumbled my little game as he walked off smirking. It’s hard to pick out one outstanding moment but perhaps the greatest thrill for me was one Monday morning, after a weekend class in Bath, he emailed me congratulating me on my improvement and said something to the effect of “it’s all there now mate for you to be one of the best”. Although I never believed it, the fact he had noticed the hard work and effort I was putting in made my day. I think that email and
Photograph appears courtesy of Steve Morris
the instructor grade he sent me out of the blue were my two defining moments. I think all of Erle’s close students have personal occasions they can remember where perhaps they were alone with Erle and for that one moment, they had him to themselves. Mine was in London, where Erle and I walked back together through the London streets, to Erle’s hotel. He was staying the night whilst I was catching the train home. We walked together, chatting about music, training, London and Australia until we came to a small park. Erle turned left into the park and I said “where you going, your hotel and the station are are straight up this hill” and he replied “this is a shortcut, I remember it from when I lived in London years ago”. He was walking at some pace, so as I trotted behind him, he let out a chuckle. “What you laughing at” I said. “Your face, you look bemused” to which I replied “I’m not bemused, I’m bloody embarrassed that me, a London boy is being shown the way home by a bloody Aussie” Erle was a hero of mine. He would hate me saying that but it’s a fact. Heroes have a habit of letting you down when you eventually get to meet them. They are never what you build them up to be. The greatest tribute I can give to Erle was he never let me down, how can one man be a mentor, a teacher, a hero and more than anything, a mate. He was all of these things to me and yes I was in awe of him, again something he would despise but I couldn’t help it. He never asked me to be, he was just Erle.
OK, I GET IT NOW… MAYBE Gord Hill “Thanks mate, I saw you doing it like me! That's what I liked. Only a handful of people can do that! Kind regards E” On January 29, 2007, I had sent an email to Erle thanking him for popping on to a webcam lesson that I had with Eli (see MTG 316 Bagua: This is how we walk, clip on Youtube.com). After a few back and forth emails, this was his response to me. Thanks Erle. I have to admit something; actually, it is something that I have told several times to Erle via email over the years: I am a terrible qigong student. I know! Blasphemy, right? Let me attempt to explain. I literally started to learn from Erle via video clips he had up on his site (before Youtube.com) and from his books in pdf form and with emails. I started with the Yang Chen-fu form and had wonderful success with it. Erle says that the “form becomes your teacher”, and being all that I had to work with, I took his words LITERALLY. Strange things started to happen with my form. Within 3 weeks, I remember doing Single Whip and a “something” came from inside me to straighten my right arm, ensuring that the wrist was bent fully. This caused my body to balance on the right leg and to move to the left to fill out the posture. It was magical. A few months later I was doing my 3 circle qigong and I started to drift into doing the form. After 20 minutes, I was aware that I was no longer standing, but doing the movements of the form instead! Maybe I was supposed to start with circle walking qigong! I hear that some schools of bagua start students with walking qigong because it is more natural for some people. Anyway, when this happened, I found it very hard to stand in 3 circle qigong. I would do it off and on, and I even did a week of 40 minute sessions, but it was never a consistent thing. Despite being told that the 3 circle qigong was the main training in the beginning, I thought I knew better. I did everything else, taiji, bagua, wudang, I just didn’t think I needed qigong because I thought I was getting it in the other stuff.
This December I decided that 2011 was going to be THE year! To train every day, regardless of what life throws at me. It is February 7 at the time of writing and I must say, I have done a fair job. Some days I don’t do form, but qigong or some smaller form (one of the 12 kata or a bagua animal form). Other days I do form and bagua qigong. So I am not feeling too bad about my training. I have done the Bagua Palm qigong practically every day (I missed 2 days simply because I was exhausted from working 12 hours through the night and looking after my daughter during the day) and I must say that I have noticed a very nice change in me. But for some reason, it isn’t enough. One of the things that made me really listen to Erle back in 2003, not because his art was amazing, but because he was diabetic. I am diabetic. I thought, if he could do it, so could I. For the last few weeks, I have had this “feeling” in my lower back area around my kidneys. I figured that if I work with the Bagua Palms (number 6 heals the kidneys) and do taiji and wudang forms that heal the kidneys, that this feeling would dissipate. Well, I felt energized! The work helped me wake up (from the sleep deprivation), but the “feeling” didn’t go. After 35 days of doing this and seeing no difference in my lower back, I got this feeling to do 3 circle qigong. It was a feeling I have had many times over the last 8 years. In 10 minutes, the “feeling” had dissipated! Ok, I get it Erle! It’s not about being superman. It’s about being a healthy ME! Being a long distance student of Erle’s, has been an experience. While I never had someone there to correct me or to discuss things with, I never felt alone. He had this way of making me feel that he understood me. Even when he was literally heading out to a seminar, I would get an email response from him on a question I had asked, answering the question and then saying “I wish you were here”. Yep, I wish I had been my friend. *edit (March 6, 2011) Since I wrote this, something inside has changed! I have just done a solid 2 weeks of 2 session per day three circle qigong sessions (at times, doing them in the cold Manitoban winter night, because that was all I had to work with at the time… yes, 20 minutes in -20C weather (I was wearing appropriate winter gear) is a LONG time!). The biggest gift he has given me is to trust myself. Thanks Erle. Peace G
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Old Yang Style
National Wushu Championships, Yinchuan, China, 1985
Photograph appears courtesy of Erle Montaigue
My Road Trip to Erle Colin Power When I think of Erle driving long distance always comes to mind , you could say that Erle and I spent many hours in the car together. I better start the story from the beginning... I woke up this day and all I could think about was getting back into martial arts. Life had become busy with work and family ,although everything was going to plan I just felt lost in all the busy. If you asked my wife Lauron she would probably tell you it was the start of one of my many mid life crisis. The feeling would not go away so I decided to dig out some of my old Australasian Fighting Arts magazines out and leaf through the pages. I kept on slowing down and reading these articles by Erle Montaigue even though I had never studied Taiji or Bagua. In the back of the magazine was a contact directory and totally out of character I picked up the phone and dialed his number expecting no answer or at best a polite response from an assistant... To my surprise Erle answered the phone and we started to chat. My aim was to find out if he had any instructors close by so that I could see what all this internal fighting arts was about. It turned out that no instructor was anywhere remotely close by and I thought that was going to be the end of that until Erle piped up with the invitation to come train with him. The only problem was that Erle was a 6 hour car drive away... Problems can seemingly dissolve away with the support of a good woman and your family. So began “My Road Trip to Erle” Now I canʼt put a figure on the amount of miles that I have clocked up to train with Erle but if you think of a Big number and add some more you will probably be close. Sometimes things just work out right and two families get on well together and so it was with mine and Erleʼs. Lauron being a professional singer had the opportunity to record some of Erleʼs music and develop a deep friendship with Erleʼs wife Sandy, my boys had great times filming crazy fight scenes in Mystical Warriors with Ben, Eli and Kathleen and I well I got to share time with Erle. The thing about sharing times with your friends is that none of us wants to talk about work all the time, Erle was no different. I think he appreciated that I only talked Taiji during class time or through emails and faxes, never during down time.
To let you in on a few secrets... Erle was fun to be around and always good for a laugh. One day we went up to the top of the Empire State Building even though he was terrified of heights he still did it...but I canʼt repeat the language that came out of his mouth when we reached the top. Another time he was traveling a car in front and every time we went through a toll booth he paid for us without us knowing so the attendant would look at us like we were crazy and wave us on. I daren't not stop just incase he hadnʼt paid...we could see them laughing their heads off each time.
Photographs appear courtesy of Colin Power
He would offer you a cookie and break off a piece as he handed it to you ...because he knew he shouldn始t have a whole one. I often knew when Erle was going through a rough patch so I would touch base, it was just a feeling I would have ...no doubt others had the same rapport. Erle was one of my friends on the Road Trip of life he was good to be around and I knew he would always be there for me if I got into trouble. No different to any other mate on a road trip... you best keep your eyes open because he was always ready with a joke. He certainly didn始t know all the answers and we would argue the point if need be but one thing can be sure... ...my friend I do miss you dearly.
The Concert Rhys Pritchard Memorial Hall, Llandovery, Wales 19th February 2011 On Saturday, 19th February 2011, scores of people descended upon the Rhys Pritchard Memorial Hall in Llandovery, Wales. Their intention was simple - to celebrate the life of Erle Montaigue. Family, friends, students, musicians and people from all walks of life gathered together and shared stories, laughter and memories of Erle, as Ben, Eli, Kathleen & Gail, alongside a host of others sang their hearts out. Yes, there were tears - not of sorrow but of joy to have known such an amazing man! I will say no more as the most potent words spoken on the night were Kathleen’s about her father, so I will let her speak:
Kathleen’s Words Why did you go? When I was about 14 or 15 it came up that my favourite song of dad’s, is a song called “Why did you go?” and it was in that conversation that I, ( the horror struck teenager) found out the song was in fact about Dad’s Ex wife! :-O He can’t have a song about his Ex!!! I thought. I still loved the song but it wasn’t until I went to meet Cheryl, in 2009, that I accepted she has a place in my Dad’s life, she is the mother of our brothers Kristian and Erland, and she’s actually just a really lovely woman and I understand why my Dad loved her. Kristian and Erland lived with us at Mount Burrell when I was very young and we never consider them half brothers. Kristian even had the honour of being the first guy I punched where it hurts the most! And as Mum told me off for it, I saw Dad laughing his head off in the next room. Anyway this song is dedicated to Dads first wife Cheryl, and their boys Erland and Kristian.
Kathleen in full flow.
Memories of Erle Faith Crompton Cwtsh. That’s what I remember from my first trip to Swansea, Wales, the first workshop when he, Sandie, Eli, Ben and Kathryn moved to Wales. All the cwtsh. The hugs, the embraces, the cwtshes. Erle was a Cwtsher, a big Hugger and that’s how he greeted
everyone, and that’s how the WTBA family greeted each other that day. Friends hugged friends, that’s what I noticed, men hugged men, men hugged women, women hugged men, women hugged women. Me? I was a non-tactile person who learned to hug friends. That’s what Erle and his family taught me. It hasn’t just been taiji and qigong. All the trips to Llangadog, Ammanford, Swansea, Leicester to workshops. How to embrace, how to open the heart and hug friends, how to cwtsh. That was Erle: embrace life, embrace family, embrace taiji, embrace us. It’s part of the WTBA heritage, part of the WTBA family, the hug that reaches everyone. Summer camps, workshops, it’s always there, that hug, the hug that says “hello friend” and at the end of a workshop or camp when it says “it was great to meet you” and “bye friend, see you again.” Thank you Erle x Ben Montaigue leading the Male Choir
. "Have I told you lately that I love you, have I told you lately that I care. I am very proud of you and love you more and more as you become a woman. if every man had a daughter like you, the world would be a much better place. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxooooooooooooooooooo lups lups lups X" My Dad and I were never so good with the talking “thing” so it was notes like this that I found on my doorstep in the morning or on my desk when I came home from work. Unfortunately, at the time I got this one, I was a little more interested in saying things like this to a certain German boy... a few months ago a friend of mine Luke, asked me after a gig “how are you such a good singer?” and my only response to him (and to anyone else) is, "I am my fathers daughter." I don’t regret anything in my past, but if I did it would be that I never told my Dad that. So this one’s for you Dad.
Main Picture: Sandra Montaigue addressing the guests.
People keep saying, “Life’s too short” and I can’t help thinking, “is that your excuse for not accomplishing anything in your life?” Life isn’t short! It’s the longest thing you and I will ever see! Ok yes, I remember like it was yesterday curling up in “that coat” and hiding from the storm in my Dads arms, but that’s not to say that the years in between haven’t been filled with wonderful memories of their own. 61 years, does that seem short? Does that seem unfair? I don’t think so, because there wasn’t a year out of those 61, probably not even a week in his life, when he didn’t get a smile from someone who loved him, when he didn’t pass on something amazing, when he didn’t take meaningless words and turn them into something beautiful . Yes, our Dad, our friend, the love of our Mum’s life is dead, but never could someone have said “sick old man” and been referring to him! (Unless they mean his humour). And yes his time on earth is up, but what a great time it was. There are some people I know who will worry, and to them I say don’t. And there are even some people who will think I’m heartless, and to them I say nothing and smile. Because yes, I have my head held high, but only because I can feel his finger under my chin. And you probably wont see my cry, but only because he is wiping away my tears. And I may be able to sleep at night, but only because he is rocking me in his arms. You will see me smile to myself, or is it at him? And you will hear me laugh, but you didn’t hear the joke he just whispered in my ear. But I promise you this, you will hear him play, because he is in Ben’s fingers and he is in Eli’s arms, he is in my voice, and he has left us with his inspiration, his love, his girl, our Mum.
My Dad, our friend, Erle Montaigue, he died while he was alive.
Left to right: Nasser Butt, Kathleen Montaigue, Peter Smith, Sandra Montaigue, Peter Jones and the weird bloke (Dave Garcia) from Leicester down below!
The beautiful Gail Adams in song.
Top: Final sound checks. Right: The beautiful Chloe Morgan. Below: Ben performing a solo, while Eli & Kathleen belt out a duet.
The â€˜Aunty Depressantsâ€™ performing at The Bear Inn, Llandovery, Wales
The â€˜Aunty Depressantsâ€™ performing at The Bear Inn, Llandovery, Wales
Life Through A Lens Images from students & friends
With Peter Jones & Al Krych: Old Students, Old Friends. Photo courtesy of Peter Jones
With Ian Garbett Photo Courtesy of Corey Stanley
Above: With the Montaneza family, USA2010. Photo courtesy of Miguel Montaneza Left: Rostock Summer Camp 2006
Left: Fooling around with Master Law in Kowloon Park, Hong Kong 1981 and practicing push hands above. Photographs appear courtesy of Erle Montaigue. Below: Teaching Ms. Zhang in Kowloon Park, Hong Kong 1981.
With Wayne Springer, Rostock, Germany 2008.
Above: The hidden talents of Erle. Summer Camp 2010. Photo courtesy of Evert Kramer
Above: With Din Butt, 2009
With Al Krych circa 1990. Photo appears courtesy of Al Krych.
Above: Joking around at the Instructors workshop, Llangadog, Wales.
Above: Teaching Push Hands with Aviyah Butt, 2008
Left to Right: Kung Guo-Wu (Pa-Kua): Shao Shan Kan (Hâ€™singi,); Fu Zhongwen (Yang Taiji); Erle Montaigue & Wan Wu-Tien (Taiji)
Erle with Wong Shun Leung 1986.
Photograph appears courtesy of Erle Montaigue
Summer Camp Rostock, Germany 2007
Above: With Iri Rangi, Keeper of the Maori martial arts system, 1990 New Zealand. Photograph courtesy of Erle Montaigue.
facebook We are very sorry for your loss. In the name of the "Club Neijia - Bolivia" we want to give our sincere condolences to his family and students and all the members of the "World Taiji Boxing Association". He was our mentor in the internal martial arts and was our Master Adviser for the Club. We will be always be thankful to him, and we will always remember his kindness. Huascar Anda Hi Montaigues! I just wanted to continue my Yang Lu-chan studies ... now I am very sad because I learned of his death.... I wish you all the best and its good to know you are out there! And Eli, I wished the world would be led by young people with perspective instead of the contrary! So.. good luck on your path and wisdom for your decisions! Don David Alegria My deepest condolences to his family. We appreciate so much the way he showed the internal arts leaving a unique legacy that will last forever through us who were touched by his greatness. Rest in peace Master Erle. Vladimir Ojeda In the short period in which I spoke with Erle, he was an absolute gentleman, exceedingly helpful beyond my greatest expectation & offered true insight into the internal martial world! Sorely missed, fondly remembered! Luke Gitsham I have seen many martial artists in the real world and on the internet and other media. But, I think Erle Montaigue was among one of the most open minded, kind, and spiritual people. He had a real thirst for wisdom. Randy Stroud What can I say about some one like Erle?? A wonderful Teacher, an amazing Friend, a Human being full of kindness, love and understanding, an incredible gifted Martial Artist with a deep love of his music and his family. Erle's compassion and generosity is legendary he was for ever giving away DVD's and equipment to those he befriended or who were less fortunate. What can we do to honor a man like this?? My suggestion is to train well in his system and to do it to the best of your ability so you honor him through your forms and Qigong. Most of us can only aspire to the heights he climbed, some of us were lucky enough to train for extended periods with him glimpse his awesome skills.I was fortunate to be his friend - Fly free my friend! Wally Simpson
Master Montaigue gave us his knowledge and self in each and every lesson he wrote, filmed or taught. Erle, The world is a better place thanks to your contributions. Your journey has made a difference. Thank you. Follow the path to the temple and keep a light out for us. We'll be home shortly. Joche Zapata An amazing person and his spirit will remain in all of us through his teachings, his stories and his music. I find Erle's passing hard to accept but know that every time my family trains he will be there guiding us through the forms. And it was you Erle that Sam first came to Australia to train with!!! Erle left such a mark on our whole family and we send our prayers and love to Sandi, Ben, Eli & Kathleen. 'As we all journey onward without you physically here, we all know and feel your footsteps beat within our soul' We are all so grateful to have met you and have you in our lives. Blessings of love and strength to the Montaigue and WTBA family. Taryn, Sam and the Beatty Family. I am sadden that I lost a good friend in the World Chinese martial art community! Master Erle Montaigue will forever be missed! May God bless his soul, his family, students, and friends! Inner gate Wing Chun On behalf of Ian Garbett and the rest of us at The Wing Chun and Tai Chi Academy I would like to offer my sympathies to the Montaigue family, it is a terrible loss to the martial arts community Corey Stanley Without Erle's early VHS I found at the library, form which I dubbed the audio to practice, the beautiful world of taiji and bagua would have remained hidden. For that I am eternally grateful. Bow. Felix Smittick Very sorry to hear the sad news. The international martial arts community has lost an important contributor long before his time. My heartfelt condolences to his family, students and friends at his time. Patrick McCarthy On and on the rain will fall Like tears from a star like tears from a star On and on the rain will say How fragile we are how fragile we are How fragile we are how fragile we are Tom Mazzaferro
Left to Right: Zamir Kimhi, Erle, Nasser & Adi Asher (WTBA Israel)
facebook I met Erle whilst studying Acupuncture in 1978. I was his first student that I knew of. His generosity was amazing. He never charged. I took him gifts that I could afford, and he loved them. Fruit, I think. I introduced him to some people at the two Acupuncture colleges I attended in Sydney, and he also held lessons across the road at Chris Wards place, in Forbes St Darlinghurst. We stood for an hour doing chi gong, sweating and shaking it out. Tony Ward attended lessons. Then my life changed (my mother's health deteriorated) and I lost contact for many years until recently, because of FB. My sincere condolences to Sandy and the kids, to Jenny. I'm devastated right now. RIP Erle. Susie Raddatz Grand Masters teach even when they depart. The multifeelings are Exploding in Me i.e. Sadness, Shock, Fear, Anger, Love, Appreciation for his life in my life, divine prayer, apex departures vs. bed ridden lag-time, the real meaning of the inner yoga's, vanity, and Hope that I can live up to the great Power, knowledge and Bliss that he imparted with his life and his love of his family, Are these the real push of his hands on all of us? Wow! Erle Montaigue , what a Man !!!!! Sung in Peace Stan Lassiter There is no one in the world that knew more about internal martial arts and that shared it with such integrity and passion than this great man. His spoke from the heart and with great eloquence and detail. I don't believe things happen by coincidence and it was this man's destiny to be a great teacher long before he was born.The key though was his generosity, courage and determination to share and document his work for the world to benefit. With truth in your heart you can see,feel and hear that he was stuff made of legends and great masters that a person can only dream of from a distant past and was lucky enough to meet in his/ her lifetime. Erle 'the true legend' Montaigue - May your spirit be remembered so as to show the world there is hope, that we are all masters in the making. PEACE WITH YOU. Manuel Lynx Mellet A legend passes on may we all celebrate Erle's contribution to our martial skills by training the concepts we learned from him with more vigor and zest then ever before! Phil Dickey This is a message from my father, Dale Burnham. If you'd like to contact him you can reach him through me on my facebook page. Last week the Taijiquan community lost one of their most precious assets. Erle devoted his entire adult life studying and teaching Taijiquan. He had so openly and caringly shared everything he knew about the internal martial arts to anyone who was willing to learn. Through his almost 400 DVD titles on the subject he is leaving behind a vast wealth
of knowledge and information that will keep these arts available for future generations to study. Along with his many videos, he also wrote several books and numerous invaluable articles. No one that I know has given so much to keep these precious arts alive. I have no doubt that there are others who are more knowledgeable and are more proficient than Erle was, but his legacy is that he did not choose keep what he had learned secret and private but instead that he chose to share his knowledge with the world. Erle starting making tapes about the time he earned his Master Degree from China. If you watch his DVDs from MGT2 forward, (MTG1 that is available today in a remake done at a later time), it is evident that his own art has gradually grown to higher and higher levels. I am sure he would agree that there are no masters; just people who are farther along the path of understanding than others. Just watching him interact with his students you can see his honesty, humility, sense of humor and his love for his family and his art. It was always just Erle being Erle. I discovered Erle in 2000, when one of my students found an article by him on line. My student subsequently ordered MTG1 and gave me the tape to look at. The moment I started watching the video, even before the opening credits were through, I knew was watching the real thing. I unfortunately never had the chance to meet him in person, but through his DVDs and our email correspondence over the years, I grew to consider him to be my teacher, mentor and a friend. The baton is now passed to Eli. We must give him support and help him continue the family legacy. He has big shoes to fill, but like Erle said “I stand on the shoulders of giants”. Already an accomplished martial artist, Eli will also grow with the art and help us to grow to greater heights alongside him. Tanya Burnham-Delorey “You can shed tears that he is gone, or you can smile because he has lived. You can close your eyes and pray that he'll come back, or you can open your eyes and see all he's left. Your heart can be empty because you can't see him, or you can be full of the love you shared. You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday, or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday. You can remember him only that he is gone, or you can cherish his memory and let it live on. You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back. Or you can do what he'd want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on.” Sean Harding
The knighting of Sir Dinkel, Rostock, Germany 2007.
facebook My deepest condolences to your family, rest in peace Erle, thank you for sharing the wonderful art of tai chi chuan to the world. Itâ€™s been a decade since I first came across your work, and it has help me a lot throughout the years. I still have have the tapes you sent me way back and I will keep them in memory of you. You will always be remembered my friend. kind regards, Larry (your friend from the philippines) Larry Anthony Kennon A g re a t t e a c h e r, a g re a t p e r s o n ! Magnificent skill, not only as a master (I know he hated titles), but above all as a human being. I will miss you Gunther Wanwesemael My sincere condolences to the family, friends and students of Erle Montaigue. I was shocked to learn of his passing and remember him as a really top bloke who did much for the MAs over many years, both in Australia and overseas. Erle was instrumental in the publication of my firstever article in 'Australasian Fighting Arts' magazine and I am forever grateful for his friendship, encouragement and support. RIP Erle. David Peterson My god... I was browsing through one of his books when I just read that he passed away... my deepest condolences to the Montaigues and all the people who knew and admired him... he leaves behind such great wisdom, I hope that people will preserve it in the same humble and philanthropic way in which Erle used to teach it. Alex May This news has made me profoundly sad. Erle and my great friend Roger, have not only opened my mind to the vast and varied possibilities of Taijiquan. They have also shown me that it is possible to a human being in the greatest sense. â™Ľ David Wong
Letters Dear Combat and Healing: What impressed me the most about Erle was not his formidable martial arts abilities and knowledge, but his kind and generous heart of gold -- as best exemplified by the uncommon kindness he extended to my dying mother, someone he had never met.
Hands To Infinity." I would say, Look Past Your Hands To Infinity, and what will you see? You will see Erle in Heaven, practicing his forms and teaching -- and, as on Earth, blessing all with his presence. God Bless You, Erle. Or, as you yourself might say it: "God Bless You, Mate." Kind Regards,
In the summer of 1998, when my mother, Louise, was dying of dementia, and shortly before I was forced into the sad duty of placing her in a nursing home, she enjoyed sitting with me while I watched Erle Montaigue videos I had purchased. She soon became a fan of his, and came to look forward to our video viewing sessions. My favorite of Erle's videos, then and now, is MTG168, "Erle Montaigue Does It, Volume 1." Watching Erle performing the Small Frame Yang Lu Chan Form, with the unique sounds and calls of Australian birdlife in the background, is incredibly peaceful to me. And, of course, the cameo appearances by Bluey always make me smile! Watching that video in 1998 with my mother was an oasis of calm amidst the worsening storm of her illness. I think that was her favorite video, as well. Watching that and other of Erle's videos was one of the final enjoyable activities my mother and I were able to share together. At that time, I e-mailed Erle, told him of my mother's illness, and told him how much she enjoyed watching his videos. In response, he mailed to her a complimentary copy of his then-latest book, "Internal Gung-Fu, The Complete Story, Volume One: Qi." At the front of the book, he personally inscribed it to my mother with the words, "To Louise. I've heard so much about you, all good! Love from Erle." In January 2000, after my mother passed away, I emailed Erle and told him the sad news, to which he responded with this kind reply: Dear Rick, Well what a blow! Sad news mate. She sounded like a wonderful Mum. Mine died in my arms about 16 years ago and it was not until many months afterwards that it really hit me. I am sure 'things' will begin to happen to you now as they did to me! Look for them. Kind Regards, Erle No matter how busy he was -- and he had to have always been incredibly busy -- Erle always found the time to extend a kind word to others.
Rick Helley San Jose, California, USA
I just learned about Erle's passing yesterday. It took me a full two minutes to realize what the words "Memorial" and "1949-2011" meant. I guess I never really associated mortality with the guy; he seemed like he could go on forever. I consider Erle as my teacher, though we never met. I first learned about him in college, and we corresponded briefly after I worked up the courage to contact him. His site was probably one of the first to offer so much free stuff, ha ha. He was generous enough to reply to a young and stupid buck like me; he even sent me a free DVD to answer some of my questions. He told me a lot of things that got squandered in the impetuousness of my youth; things like, "You're thinking too much" and "Better than being a badass, be someone who doesn't need to be a badass." I wish I'd listened earlier. I only ever learned two things from Erle from a martial artist's perspective: how to punch, and how to stand. I remember being so fanatical about training my punching in the old days; now though I'm leaning more toward standing practice. Standing is hard; it takes a lot for someone to stand naturally in spite of what life throws at him. The key I've come across (and Erle a long time ago found out) is to just do it. Just take your position, take in the good and the bad, the bitter and the painful. It's all a part of the life only you can live, and it will make you better so savor it. I'm still far from what could be called a martial artist, yet I'm very grateful to the man for introducing me to the world of the internal. I had really wanted to train with him, to see him laugh at me aping his movements, to see him smile when I finally got the form down (for a second). But life got in the way, and now I'll never be able to. All I'm left to say is:
He gave so much to the world -- and would have Thank you very much, Erle. We who are about to die salute you. given much more had his life not been cut short. My favorite quote of Erle, which he said in "Erle Montaigue Does It, Volume 1," is: "Look Past Your
our studies and practices and finally met in an airport for a chat. His love and understanding of the internal arts was at a level I had not seen before and his openness to share what he knew was truly refreshing. As we talked it seemed as
Erle Montaigue: my friend, my teacher, and just a good chap with a big heart. I met Erle in the early 1980’s and we became instant friends. I have been asked many times over
Photo appears courtesy of Al Krych
the years how we met and how did a New Jersey State Trooper and the long haired wild rock and roller seem to hit it off. Here we were thousands of miles apart, coming from different worlds, yet seemed so close. When I think back, it seems one day Erle wasn’t in my life and the next he was. What is the old saying when the student is ready the master appears. To go back to that time, I had been studying for several years with master Fu-Shu-Yun. She was unique in her own right as she had studied directly with Yang Chengfu in the later years of his life. He had taught her a version of Yang family Taiji that was different and unique from the other Yang Family forms that were being practiced in the United States. (How we met and studied with her is a story in itself). Erle and I started to correspond and talk about
though we had been friends for years and not just someone I had recently met. The time just when by and we agreed to meet again. We talked about his version of the Yang Cheng-fu form, who taught him and meeting and learning the original Luchan form from Chang Yiu Chun. He showed me some of the form and I was immediately intrigued and wanted to learn it. The one aspect which I remembered the most of our meeting and from subsequent meetings, something which became apparent when I started to host seminars with him here in the United States was his humility. Here was a man, a true master in the martial arts with tremendous skill, knowledge, and understanding, who was extremely humble. I can recall the first time I called him “Master Montaigue,” he had said to me, “Mate, don’t put me up on that pedestal, it just makes it farther for me to fall when I F….up.” He would joke with new students who showed up to a workshop and bowed and titled him “Master” telling them this wasn’t his title and go on to say his mother called him “Erle.” This wasn’t a joke or a show, but truly a master in your presence. He was constantly growing in his understanding and knowledge of the internal arts and was freely willing to teach all who took the time to contact him. Whether it was by email, telephone, or in person, he gave of his knowledge with an open heart. I have tremendous respect for him and believe he was one of the martial arts legends of our time. For those of you who had the opportunity to study with him, you know what I mean. For those of you who did not, I am sorry for you loss. You missed out on a rare opportunity which the universe placed in your path. Over the years I had seen articles, web postings, discussion boards about Erle’s teachings, the old Luchan form, and whether he made up Chang Yiu Chun, etc. What I say to all of that, who cares. The proof is in the pudding so to speak. I was a very practical type of person who looked for “what works” in the martial arts. I wanted something I could count on when I needed it. A martial art with beautiful flowing movements with no power or energy behind it doesn’t do me any good when I need to defend myself. When Erle moved you could feel the energy. When he struck you, you could feel the power. I remember the first time he hit me in a small san sau drill with his hinge arm (forearm). I thought I had been hit by a tree trunk or another time when I came in a little hard with an attack when he was teaching me some controlling points to use to get compliance with someone you were arresting. I was sore for a week afterwards. As for him inventing the old Luchan Form, I used to tell him, if he did he was even a greater martial artist then I thought. The form is simply that beautiful, that powerful, and that energetically balanced. If you don’t know the form, try it, you will know what I mean. Erle, I will miss you my friend. I will miss your caring nature, the sharing of your love of the arts, and your inspiring advice which at times I followed and at times I didn’t. You passed on the way you wanted and I am happy for you. You never wanted to be old and feeble. You were truly a good friend, a great teacher, and to me one of a kind. Thank you.
Views From The Midlands
Erle Montaigue was a great Tai Chi Chuan teacher. It is rare that you hear me call a Tai Chi instructor a “Teacher”. The words of some of my best instructors come to me saying that there are a lot of people around calling themselves Tai Chi teachers, but at best they are instructors in how to begin your Tai Chi journey. Erle Montaigue was a great Tai Chi Chuan Teacher! Steve Jones Erle was a man who led by inspiration. He set an example we can only try to emulate but will always endeavor to live up to his work. Gavin Mitchell Recently, I was going through my old Tai Chi magazines and I found articles from Erle Montaigue dating from 18 years ago! He was a pretty wild-looking man who said Tai Chi was a martial art and not just an all slow-moving health dance. My entire Tai Chi journey has been hugely influenced by Erle’s approach to this martial art. They say that you should never meet your heroes/idols as you will be disappointed. I can say every time I went to one of his workshops, I was totally blown away by his relaxed but powerful Tai Chi. He also had a great sense of humour and would tell lots of funny stories - he didn’t take himself too seriously. A very charismatic, bigger-than-life personality! It was with great sadness that I found out about his passing. I have met many Tai Chi practitioners of all styles who first heard about Tai Chi Chuan through Erle’s books and videos. I feel that he should be remembered for popularizing and promoting this great art in the west. His legacy will live on in his sons, Eli and Ben Montaigue both excellent teachers and also trainers such as Nasser Butt and Pete Smith. And just as important, all the students all over the world, who have been influenced by Erle Montaigue to take up the timeless art of Tai Chi. Rest in peace Erle Montaigue. Dominic Hetherington-Conner Over the last two years I have attended Erle Montaigue’s workshops. I once asked him what should be the basic training of one’s Tai Chi? And he replied, the Form, just doing it. After a pause he then went on to say that we should all be aiming for the middle road. Not on a high or a low but on a constant middle equilibrium. I will never forget the way he held a class together often from different martial arts backgrounds, with both a quiet seriousness but also with a good sense of humour. Tony Gough It was with some trepidation that I went to the WTBA Summer Camp 2010. What would I find there, would I survive the week? There certainly were some tough characters there but with Erle Montaigue it’s not about seeing how tough you are or if you are more aggressive than the other person: it’s about
working and learning together and as far as the martial applications were concerned: violence but not aggression. Erle had hurt his leg while out walking his dogs, but with his knowledge he had managed to alleviate the injury. It didn’t stop him showing us various applications, Tai Chi, Bagua and Large San-sau, and hitting bags with incredible force. However, there was another side to him as well. A devoted family man, who headed up the family rock band and had a lifetime of singing, playing instruments and even acting. One particular incident stands out. Amongst the people who had literally come to the camp from all over the world was a young, shy American chap, who with incredible bravery had left his small town to travel to Europe - the first in his family to do so. He had never had a Tai Chi teacher. He had bought Montaigue’s DVDs via the internet and then taught himself. On the final day, it was this young man that Erle singled out as excellent in his practice of the form and thus revealed the sensitivity that Master Montaigue had in abundance. Mike Payne I met Erle, during the summer camp 2010 and even if the camp lasted 4 days, he left me something that I will never forget. He has been the first Master I've ever met who answered with kindness to any question and made you feel like you're home. I've always been a pilgrim, but those days could have lasted forever in my heart. He always find something while he was moving and the movements revealed themselves to him while he was explaining. He smiled always and showed to his family and friends (because we were 'mates') virtue and love. He always had some story to tell and funny jokes for anyone. He helped me one morning because I had a bad hypoglycemia (low-sugar) for my type 1 Diabetes. I nearly fainted, but he pressed gently on some points on the left pulse. Later He took me under his arm, as a father (or as a Noble One, as the ancient chinese used to say) and offered me his own chinese figs (full of sugar) and a banana too. He spoke to me with a kindness that it's rare to find in the whole world, and his words shined in my heart as the Sun, while I was getting better. He told me about his mother and himself (they had diabetes too) and told me to worry not, and many helpful things to get better. The students of Erle, I've seen, and his sons, they have the same love and care for the human beings and love for Taijiquan I've seen in him, and I'm trying to follow his own path of virtue, love and practice, being in the martial family he created. At the very end of the summer camp we hugged each other and he told me: 'Come to see me whenever you want, You'll be my guest'. That 'whenever' will always be in my heart and I am very happy to have known the Man. Thank You for the Inspiration You infused us through your example and presence, Erle. I'll keep You in my heart and in my mind. Thank You! Massimo Farnesi
If I Had My Time Over Erle Montaigue So much time wasted in youth doing things that we discard
taken myself and my training so seriously. I might have enjoyed my training more rather than doing it because I had to.
later in life. If I had my time over again and knew what I now know, I would never have spent my youth fighting and learning how to fight and be the toughest kid on the block.
I would have seen the larger picture, what lied ahead and how many people I would have come in contact with. I would have been aware of how many lives would have changed just because I decided to do something small. I might have noticed that there were other people in the world.
It's strange that when I was younger I spent most of my time learning about things that I would think stupid later on. However, in order to actually KNOW that fighting is stupid I had to learn how! And there's the rub: I guess it's a bit like learning the Tai Chi form incorrectly in the beginning in order to discard it later so that you can learn the real thing. You have to go through the bullshit in order to learn what life is all about. If there was a way to tell young people how to learn and what not to bother with I would tell them. However, I have only ever been able to do that to a certain degree with my own children as they have been home schooled with no school influences what so ever. So to a degree, they do not have the problem of wanting desperately to learn things that later will seem like a waste of time. I would not have been interested in wanting to be tough or the best fighter out there, I would have had more time for the finer aspects of life such as art and helping others and watching my children grow and learn etc. Being a martial artist is not at all about being the toughest bloke anyone has ever met, it is not about being a great fighter, that's just BS! The martial arts teaches eventually about humanity and selflessness and feeling good when we see just one person gaining good health or becoming a better person for their martial arts training. Perhaps I would never have been so one minded about my training to the detriment of all other pursuits. I would not have
Erle with his friend Danny Innosanto. Photograph appears courtesy of Erle Montaigue
Erle training with his friend Antonio Illustrisimo. Photograph appears courtesy of Erle Montaigue
Today, I can see many of my younger students making the very same mistakes that I made when I was first learning. They only want to know how to be the best fighter in the world. Sadly, no matter what I tell them, will not change their mind as it is a growing thing for males to go through this phase in their lives like all male animals. Fe- males do not have this problem, they have already risen above the ego thing of having to prove one- self. Which is why nowadays it is a joy to get some girls into the classes who are really interested and also talented. They can cut to the chase without the BS of having to be the best and defeat everyone. Perhaps I would have run my classes a bit more structured? ...NOT! I am really not a structured person, changing from one thing to the next, doing several things at once. Perhaps I would have worn a Tai Chi suit? ..NOT! I would have made more money doing that, giving out formal gradings and having students bow to me etc. I just canâ€™t do it, all of the bowing and scraping to the teacher, I will al- ways be a rebel and would not change a thing in that regard.
I might have made myself a bit more inaccessible so that students would have given reciprocal respect. However, when a teacher is seen to be an ordinary human being, students often look upon that as being some- what less of a teacher. I learnt later in life to always see from whence you have come. I wish that I had known that when I was younger. When we can see who we were and not what other see us as, we can only laugh at ourselves. Had I seen the huge job ahead of me, getting the information out to everyone, documenting everything I ever learnt in book and video, I probably would never have taken this path. I would have stayed a Rock musician and would probably have been dead. So... Nah, I would not change a thing!
Editorâ€™s Note: This article originally appeared in the June 2005 edition of Combat & Healing Vol.56.
Photograph appears courtesy of Erle Montaigue
Training with his boys.
With his girls - Erle, Sandy & Kathleen. Summer Camp 2009, Quorn Hall, Leicestershire.
USEFUL CONTACTS Erle Montaigue www.taichiworld.com Moontagu Books & Video Ltd PO Box 35 Gwynfe, Llangadog SA19 9SY Wales UK. +44 (0) 1550 740136: Ph: 07868361519 MOB
Eli Montaigue Chief Instructor WTBA email@example.com
Nasser Butt Senior Instructor & North England Representative Editor Combat & Healing http://www.fajing-chuan.co.uk CombatandHealing@gmail.com firstname.lastname@example.org 07792242150
Peter Smith Senior Instructor WTBA Representative for the United Kingdom Email C/O Georgina Smith: email@example.com
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