I have heard on the proverbial grapevine that others who are a little less informed and perhaps a little jealous, are saying that Chang Yiu-chun did not exist. This has mainly come from the Chinese community here in Australia who just hate it when a Westerner such as myself has anything of importance to offer.
I have many Chinese students worldwide who see that what I teach could not have ever been invented by one person, let alone a white Australian! They, and thousands of others who study my system, see that what I teach is the real thing, the very top of the heap, the pinnacle of Taijiquan as it was when Yang Lu-ch'an invented it. The reason that these misinformed individuals say these things is that they cannot find any records of Chang ever having been in this country. The 'records' they speak of are going into China town and asking people if they knew him!! For starters, it is very difficult to actually spell old Chinese names without having the Chinese characters which I have never had, not being able to speak or write Chinese. So when I met Chang, I took a stab at the Roman spelling of his name as Pinyin was not in vogue at that time. Another very good reason is this. If you were an illegal immigrant who had jumped ship, would you let people know that you were in the country? I think not.
The same people, one in particular, who say these things used to come to train with me when I used to teach in a small park by Sydney Harbor way back in the late 70's and early 80's. He came to me to learn push hands and had spent 9 months with Yang Sau-chung previously. He did not learn push hands with Yang and when he saw the push hands that I was teaching immediately saw that it was the real thing and wanted to learn. However, he would go back to the class he was teaching and tell them that he learnt push hands from Yang! while he was training with me one morning three of his students also turned up for lessons as it was an open class where anyone could just join in. He immediately broke off training and went and stood by a tree pretending to be just watching! years later, his students after much badgering, were told that he did indeed learn from Erle Montaigue!
It does not worry me in the slightest as I am too above the petty squabbling of so-called Taiji Masters in this country. If they were masters, they would not even worry about someone such as myself if I were so unimportant! However, it is nice that these people think that I am a bloody genius as that is what I would have to be to have invented all that I teach! So either way, it is to my assistance. So I thank you all for thinking so highly of my ability, but it is not true, I am not a genius, I have come to where I am riding on the shoulders of people of genius.
It does not matter who you are, white, black, yellow or brown, anyone can rise to a high level of Taijiquan and the internal martial arts given the right stuff to begin with. And I believe that I have been given the right stuff. Others have been doing the same old slow movements for tens of years and have never even risen about what they were twenty or thirty years ago. I go back and see them and they are still doing the same movements in exactly the same way, why? The reason is simple, they never received the real thing to begin with and therefore have no way of advancing to the highest levels.
Why do students have their different teachers? Because they need them! I have a certain type of student, others have their own students, all will eventually find the teacher that they deserve! My students, I expect to be of the earthy type not expecting to be superman, only expect that after a certain amount of time, to be able to use Taijiquan or Baguazhang to defend themselves against real attacks and to be able to heal themselves and others. No mumbo-jumbo, no calling me 'Master' no wearing of special clothing that will impart Qi!! Just normal people wishing to get well and defend themselves. Those other students who come to my lessons expecting to see God and to become Gods, are very disappointed as I often use profanities and act like a normal person. They leave very quickly to my relief!
I do not worry about other instructors as I am confident in my own ability and learning and teaching. So I expect others to have that same confidence in their own ability. This is always shown in the fact that a person who is confident never puts other teachers down, nor tries to belittle their teachers or learning. I know about this as when I was much younger in years and ability and learning long before I met Chang Yiu-chun, I was like this myself, but we all grow up and we all learn. And we should also learn as we grow older that we are not supermen or women and we should always remember from whence we have come. People read my books and watch my videos and put me up onto some pedestal. When they see me in person however, I knock myself down off that pedestal very quickly as the higher up you are the longer you will have to fall when your students discover that after all, you are only a normal person just like them. People will phone me and be shocked, some to the point of not being able to even talk, when I answer the phone myself! They expect me to be some millionaire so high up that no-one can even talk to me, expecting me to have helpers who answer the phone and write letters for me. But I do it all myself with the occasional help from my beautiful wife Sandra and Children. The most humbling experience for a so-called master, is to have children! "Dad, yea, he's only Dad, he swears often and gets things wrong, hits himself on the finger with a hammer when doing some building or falls off the tractor when mowing steep slopes" etc. But the reality of Erle Montaigue is that he is just a kid from a coal mining town South of Sydney who happened to have some really cool teachers. I cannot play the Master/Sifu game. And it IS a game. I see where I came from and am proud of my humble beginnings. I am not Chinese, will never be. I have a totally different culture based upon Christianity and have only taken what I need from what my Chinese friends and teachers have had to offer. The rest of Erle Montaigue is a normal Aussie with Aussie parents (deceased) and English and Irish Grandparents.
I have had many different occupations/paths in life and this adds to my ability to communicate with people across continents. I have been a rock singer with records to my name, I have been an actor having acted in England and Australia, I have been a flower seller, telephone technician, chauffeur, stone mason, butcher, hole digger, gentleman's clothing fitter, foreman, navy person, wrestler on television, cab driver, delivery boy, shop assistant, shop manager, and many other things. In fact, at the last count, only life I have had some 60 different occupations All leading to this one path. And if I had to do it all over again, I would do it exactly the same. As far as being rich is concerned, I advise anyone contemplating getting into the martial arts 'business' to not! Get into golf or tennis if you wish to make money. Or put on a funny little suit, act like a God and franchise Taiji schools!! I could have done that, but I would not have been true to myself. I am rich however, having such a wonderful family, living in harmony in God's country, we have grass to walk upon and trees to sit under, birds to listen to and snakes to watch. What more could anyone ever wish for.