With sadness I learned of the passing of Erle Montaigue last month. Although I never personally trained with him, I consider him one of my Tai chi teachers.
Back in my initiate phase of my Tai chi practice in the mid-1980s, while with the Long Island School of Tai chi Chuan, I found and purchased a few of Erle's books which showed the Yang Lu-chan Tai chi form and push hands forms. I remember learning his form from these books.
Fast forward to somewhere between 1999-2001 as the internet started growing, I searched and found (what is now) his Erle Montaigue's Taiji World website. I remember having a difficult time navigating and finding whatever it was I was looking for and so I emailed him asking if I could re-organize his site and improve navigation. My effort was strictly voluntary as I had hoped to use my work on his site in my portfolio to later generate paying web work. This was our agreement.
Over the course of the next few months we continued emailing as the web work continued. And then one day, quite unexpectedly, packages from Australia started showing up in my mailbox. Erle was sending me his VHS tapes!
When I asked (emailed) Erle about this, he said something like, it's only fair. By the end of the project, he sent me a total of 30 videos on Tai chi, Dim-mak, Bagua, Push hands, and Qigong! Fast forward another ten years, now you can find clips of Erles videos on YouTube.
Well, my final design didn't stay up too long. Each time I checked-in at his site over the following years, I found a different layout. Never one to sit still...
Since those days, I've had it on my "To do" list to meet this teacher and gentleman. Ah, well...
So even though I never made it to Australia or U.K. nor to a seminar here in the U.S., to meet or train with him in person, I did learn a lot from him. His generosity changed my understanding and perspective of Tai chi as a martial art. For this, I am thankful.
Rest in Peace, Erle. My condolences to his family.
The Tai Chi Renegade site, The Passing of Erle Montaigue has a message from his son, Eli.
The Hung Gar Kung-fu site, Why is Erle Montaigue so Famous has a nice biography.
Erle Montaigue on Facebook