ERLE MONTAIGUE -- May 1997
N/B Alot of the links and addresses in this article are very old, and are no longer in use. Thank you for reading.
Erle Montaigue is regarded internationally as one of the leading instructors of the internal arts of Taijiquan, pa-kua chang, and qigong. He has been practicing the internal arts since 1968 and can trace his lineage directly back to Yang Lu-ch'an, the founder of the Yang style.
He has taught in Sydney, London, and Hong Kong (in fact, he is one of a select few Westerners who have taught Taiji back to the Chinese in Hong Kong) and has given workshops all around the world. In 1985, Erle became the first Westerner to perform at the All China National Wushu Tournament, at which time he was tested for hours by three of the world's leading internal martial arts experts and received the degree of master. He is believed to be the only Westerner to have earned such an honour.
Erle began his martial arts instruction at the age of 11, training in karate and judo at the local police Boys' Clubs in his native Australia. His forte in these early years, however, was wrestling, which later led to a stint as a professional wrestler!
An eclectic and colourful character who has never allowed himself to be pigeonholed into any one art, pursuit, or career, Erle is also an avid musician. He has always "marched to the beat of a different drummer," and his somewhat rebellious nature can be traced back at least as far as 1966, when he was expelled from school for painting the building yellow, among other "small" things.
In 1967 he took a telephone maintenance course, where he happened to meet his first teacher of Taijiquan, Mr. Wong Eog. By the late sixties, Erle was married with two children. He was performing in stage plays and in a band, and he already had a No. 1 hit record, "Can't Wait for September," to his name. When he was "expelled" from the telephone job for dyeing his hair green and singing on the job, he took up music as a profession and became a rock-'n'-roll star, producing several hit records and albums by the early seventies.
In 1974, Erle went to England, where he met his second Taijiquan instructor, Mr. Chu King-hung, who took Erle on as one of his first students (if not the first). Chu King-hung is one of only three disciples of the late Yang Sau-chung (1909-1985), the eldest son of Yang Lu-ch'an's grandson Yang Cheng-fu. Erle continued his acting career while in London, performing in several plays, musicals, and films before returning to Australia at the end of 1977.
In 1981 Erle travelled to Hong Kong, where his form was evaluated by Yang Sau-chung and where he studied with Ho Ho-choy, a direct disciple of Baguazhang Master Chiang Jung-jiao. In 1982, he began teaching Taiji in Sydney and became the chief of therapeutic movement at the NSW College of Natural Therapies. He opened his own school in Sydney in 1983. The next year, he found his main internal martial arts master, Chang Yiu-chun, from whom he learned the secrets of dim-mak and H'ao ch'uan (Taijiquan). Chang Yiu-chun was one of only two students of Yang Cheng-fu's brother Yang Shou-hou.
In his "spare time," Erle writes his own column for the prestigious British martial arts magazine Fighting Arts International and for Australasian Fighting Arts Magazine, one of the longest-running quality martial arts magazines. His photo has appeared on the front cover of both of these publications, as well as that of Karate/Kung-Fu Illustrated, published in the United States. He also serves as the editor of Combat & Healing magazine. In addition, Erle has produced several books and a video with Paladin Press. Erle's magazine articles and books have helped change the way people view the internal fighting arts, and his 150 self-produced video titles have helped students learn from quality tapes in lieu of a teacher.
Today, Erle teaches primarily in Australia, and he serves as head of the World Taiji Boxing Association (WTBA), which has schools in more than 30 countries. All of these schools have learned Taiji in some way from Erle Montaigue.
Check out Erle Montaigue on the World Wide Web at:
You can also contact Erle as follows:
MTG Video and Books
P.O. Box 792
Murwillumbah NSW 2484
Fax: + -61-66-797028
Erle Montaigue On . . . Modern Taijiquan
"T'ai chi ch'uan (or Taijiquan) is a relatively modern phrase. It came about in the late 19th century. Before that, what we now know as Taiji was called by other names, such as hao ch'uan' (translated 'loose boxing') or its more correct name of dim-mak (translated 'the striking of the vital points' or 'death-point striking'). It's ironic that the art most people call Taiji has now been reduced to a wimp's boxing rather than the 'supreme ultimate boxing,' which is what T'ai chi ch'uan means. Once it was known as the most deadly fighting art ever invented."
"Nowadays, most other martial artists and even ordinary street fighters are able to take on any of the so-called Taiji masters and grand masters and defeat them with no trouble at all. Most of these Taiji people would have no hope of defending themselves in the streets. The reason? Taiji has lost its roots, its beginnings. What people teach as being representative of the whole art today is a mere shell of taiji's former glory."
"There is a bittersweet irony about taiji's migration to the West. We would never have gained this great martial/healing art if certain individuals had not brought it to us. But the Western mind was just not ready for the effort that needs to be put into learning such an art. So we changed it to a simpler form -- that of an 'exercise.' Taijiquan had already been changed dramatically, but when it finally arrived in the West, we took great pains to modify this once great art into something that was easy and quick to learn, and something that the mystics could go 'oh, wow' over. The martial aspects of Taijiquan were lost, but not forever. Nowadays there is a resurgence of interest in the martial side of Taijiquan. Sadly, it had almost died and was very difficult to revive again, since few even knew that it was a martial art. The irony is that people are now discovering that even the great healing benefits and spiritual side of Taijiquan can never be found if it is not done as it was originally intended -- as a great fighting art."
"Don't take your martial art too seriously. Men in particular tend to take the martial arts seriously to the point of distraction because they are just so afraid of being beaten in a fight. So they practice their martial art purely for the physical self-defence area. If we leave out any part of the martial arts training, then we lose the whole. If we practice the martial arts purely for the sake of the martial arts and self-defence, then we are not doing the martial arts. If we do the martial arts purely for the healing side, then we are not doing the martial arts. This is like having yin without yang, and that is impossible."
"The highest level of any great martial system is the healing area, but we learn this area through the self-defence area, as we use the same energy for self-defence as we do for healing. I do not mean the very basic and often useless kick/punch type of martial arts, but rather the internal Qi- or energy- oriented martial arts. Learning an internal martial art is a relatively easier way to enter into the higher levels of both self-healing and healing of others using energy."
"The family unit is the closest subject to my heart. For me, all of the modern troubles of the world can be linked back to the slow but sure disintegration of the family unit. The family can be compared to the very cells we are made of. While the cells are active and strong, we have a strong body, but disease begins with the cells that we are made of. It is the same with civilization; the family units of the world are the cells, and while they are strong, we have a strong civilization based upon truth, trust, honesty, and love. But when the family unit begins to break down, we have a society based upon self only, which breeds hatred, mistrust, dishonesty, and eventually anarchy and war."
"The biggest problem, as I see it, is that the things that are important to people are those things that should not be, and those that should be important are no longer so. Consumerism and money have taken over as the most important things in many people's lives. So when we do not have money, our whole lives are thrown into chaos. We do not have that strong family background onto which to fall and to be protected. Often some cataclysmic change in our lives, such as a deadly disease, will force us to rethink our values, and we then realize that the most important thing in the world is the family unit, our wives and husbands, and, most importantly, our children."
"I live in the mountains in the northern part of the state of New South Wales (NSW) in Australia, on the caldera of one of the world's oldest and largest extinct volcanoes. This backdrop provides me and my family with one heck of a beautiful place to live, study, and communicate with God. I have a most wonderful wife, Sandra, and five children -- four lads and one wee lass -- ranging in age from 5 to 28 years."
"I enjoy taking long walks with the family, taking in beautiful sunsets and pondering how God made such wondrous things for us humans to look at. In order to capture the absolute beauty and fury of nature, I make sure that a camera is never far from my side."
"Music is a big part of my life, as it is with the whole family. My son, Ben, who is now 13, is already giving concerts at our local church hall. As a musician of the self-taught variety, I am making sure that my children do it right by learning 'proper music' from scratch. I still write music and have a small recording studio in my home, where I still pump out the occasional raging rock-'n'-roll tune. My second eldest son, Kristian, is also a guitarist and now accompanies me, playing lead guitar on these tracks."
"Teach you own if you are able. Modern schooling is the most unnatural way of learning and does more great harm than good. By having to go to a school to learn from strangers, children get reading and writing skills, but their brains are warped because only one side is developed -- the logical side. The artistic and equally important side of the brain is completely left behind. As a result, those children who are naturally gifted (most children) before attending school usually end up losing that artistic ability by the age of around 10!"
"It is amazing how children learn when left to their own devices. Children must learn; there is no possible way that a child will not learn. My three youngest children have never even been inside of a school. They are brilliantly talented in the arts, and in their more logical subjects such as math, English, science, and geography they are also brilliant, simply because they want to know! Their learning is nothing special; it is simply a part of what we do every day."
"I lived in many different countries in my youth, and I held hundreds of different occupations for only short duration, never having the patience for something that I call a four-letter word: work."
"One of my occupations, that of being an actor, led me to London, where I first met Chu King-hung, who introduced me to real Taijiquan. I spent the next 30 or so years searching the world for the very best and most knowledgeable teachers of the internal martial arts. One of my favourite sayings is 'Do not live for your martial art; do your martial art to live.'"
What Others Say about Erle Montaigue
"I have met several Taiji practitioners, all of them practicing for their health. And one cannot deny that they are getting great benefit from it. But Taiji cannot be complete as a martial art without some hard aspects. When I attended Erle Montaigue's seminar, I was pleasantly surprised that he was actually teaching a fighting method. I was impressed by his vast knowledge of martial arts and particularly of vital points, or dim-mak. He is one of the rare, lucky people who learned 'the real thing' from true masters of the art."
-- Keiji Tomiyama, senior instructor
6th Dan Sito-ryu Karate-do Kofukan
"I had the pleasure of attending one of Erle Montaigue's workshops in London . . . to see if his ability matched what had been written about him. I was not disappointed. Erle is a very genuine man and an excellent teacher who is prepared to share his considerable experience with others. He is also able to practice what he preaches, as both my colleague and I found out when he 'explained' some of the finer points of the techniques in answer to our questions! I have since been able to evaluate the techniques that were taught, and I am convinced that they are of considerable value to police officers, irrespective of size and strength."
-- Jerry Lander, head of detective training, Bristol, England
2nd Dan Aikido; 2nd Dan Tijo-Jutsu
(British police self-defence system)
"The 'Erle Montaigue way,' or system, has arrived . . . direct from a line of famous masters, all of who developed their art beyond style. Erle is continuing this process."
-- Jim Uglow, leading English instructor
Taiji and Hung Har Kung-fu
"Erle Montaigue is an Australian Taiji practitioner whose mission is to teach Taiji as originally intended -- as a fighting art -- rather than as only a healthful form of dance. While many agree with him, some so-called traditionalists view him as a renegade. Whatever [your] orientation, Erle's views are bound to be stimulating."
-- Arthur Smith
Black Belt magazine
Taiji Farm Australia (Horse's Head)
The beautiful Northern Rivers District of the state of New South Wales is home to the place of learning called "Taiji Farm," originally called "Horse's Head." Erle's Taijiquan and dim-mak internal martial arts healing training centre is based here.
Situated on the caldera of one of the world's largest extinct volcanoes, it is a peaceful place; according to Erle, "all that can be heard there are the sounds of birds, an occasional cow in the distance, the odd barking dog, and copious kinds of frogs."
Internal martial arts are a way of life at Taiji Farm, with the whole Montaigue family involved in training and learning about life using the martial arts. But it's not all martial arts; every aspect of life is taught on Taiji Farm, with a special emphasis upon the arts.
Erle Montaigue and the World Taiji Boxing Association hold an annual training camp in this area, where people from all parts of the globe converge in a spirit of friendship and mutual respect to learn about the internal martial/healing arts. It is not uncommon to have well over 100 people, speaking all kinds of languages, all learning and living together in a camp-style training centre at the base of Mt. Wollumbin. The main part of the training begins at around 8 a.m. each day, with Erle Montaigue teaching various subjects until 1 p.m. After lunch, training continues, with the other instructors of the WTBA each taking a session. This allows the students to savour some of the different ways of teaching from around the world.
Mid-camp (the whole camp runs for two weeks) a party is held where everyone who is willing and who can . . . or cannot in some cases, gets up and performs either a play or some music or does something to entertain the group.
Food, accommodation, outings, and training are all included in a relatively small fee of around $560.00 Aust$.
"Most people agree," says Erle, "that from the very first camp their lives are changed for the better."
Other Paladin Books and Videos by Erle Montaigue.
Dim-Mak: Death-Point Striking * Advanced Dim-Mak: The Finer Points of Death-Point Striking * Dim-Mak's 12 Most Deadly Katas: Points of No Return * Power Taiji * Ultimate Dim-Mak: How to Fight a Grappler and Win * Secrets of Dim-Mak: An Instructional Video (video) * The Encyclopaedia of Dim-Mak: The Main Meridians * The Encyclopaedia of Dim-Mak: The Extra Meridians, Points, and More
For detailed descriptions of these titles, refer to Paladin's home pages on the front of this site. Just click on Paladin.
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