Tai Chi-connecting the dots

Connecting the Dots-Tai chi as an expression of Self

The first thing I have to confess is that my ego has taken a battering, and it all started at Summer Camp 2011…

It was my first WTBA Summer Camp, after only a couple of months of hard training, it had dawned on me  that this was real martial arts… I was just determined to go there and have some fun. This was also the first time I would be instructed by Eli Montaigue (Chief Instructor WTBA ) so I was eager to see him in action. So there we were on the first day doing some of the Bagua power sets, with Eli pulling them off seamlessly, and as you would expect I as well as many others were all over the place. Things went on as usual we were all enjoying ourselves the weather was beautiful , all just one big family. At the end of the camp my mind inevitably stumbled upon one of the most dangerous feelings, can anyone guess what it was?

Comparison… Upon seeing a man who was only a couple of years older than me appear decades ahead of me… seeing how far I had still to go was a shock. I was in a daze, how would I ever be that good? Would I ever be able to get to that level?

… my mind was an endless maze of self doubt, bouncing… endlessly looping. I had some searching to do, I had to confront my demons.

For a while I just pushed it away but each and every time I trained there it was again. I confessed this to one person who went through the same problem as me, and they came back with this…

“look at your life what else has it ever been about but comparison. Can you blame yourself for the way you feel”?

This was the trigger I needed. Every single day of my life has been about comparison, from the time I attended school we were divided up into groups, which in itself is fine, not everyone is the same. When we played sports naturally the people who were better were picked first, and the people who were not so good tried as desperately as they could not to show up or found something which they were good at, but this is fine, not everyone is the same. If it was fine…why was I having so much trouble?

My most recent example was job interviews, you are chosen on the basis of how another set of people judge your abilities, and this is what really hammered things home for me. I’m sure that everyone at some point in their lives has experienced that sinking feeling after they have been told by someone else that they just are not good enough.

Maybe it has always been so,maybe it is an expression of our Modern society… comparison and judgement. Segregating an organic living breathing individual into something as impersonal as a set of abilities… endless competition.

For me things really didn’t settle down for my tai chi until a good friend saw a video of me practicing a drill, the first thing they said was, “I am actually worried for you, it looks like when you do fa-jing your going to rip yourself apart from tension.”  After the camp I had spent all my time trying to get power from my strikes, trying to do fa-jing… pulling a lot of muscles in the process, so when I was told this I thought to myself what am I doing?

What I was doing with my Taiji wasn’t working…things needed to change.

I started down a different road… doing Qi gong, the Yang Lu Chan (Old Yang) Tai chi form without the fa-jing movements, the “Post” exercise. Everything else was done slowly, including the Wudang Hammer, just keeping the wrist in the centre and moving the body as one unit.

Now things really started happening, and I realised that over time I just had to stop fighting with my biggest enemy, myself. All the time it was me stopping my training progressing, I was allowing my ego to compare myself, I was looking down on myself from the perfection I wanted to achieve. I remember reading Erle Montaigue’s articles about how Qi…

“Qi is like a shy girl peeking at you from behind a tree, you try to catch a glimpse and you never can but when your stop trying to look, there it is…”

…in other words when you seek power it will never come to you only when you accept yourself and live in the moment and just do it, without thinking does the power over yourself come, accepting your weaknesses and your strengths and all those minute little things that come together uniquely to create you. The ability to accept yourself as you are is real power, as I mentioned not everyone one is the same, everyone is beautifully unique. And the best thing is that even though we have weaknesses, we also have to realise that the world does not revolve around ourselves. The one thing that has helped me on this journey so far are my friends who point out my mistakes, in this way the people we know make up for our weaknesses, wouldn’t perfection be a lonely place? Tai chi has taught me so much already, because I have had to confront myself over something that means so much to me, and I have started to discover that life is not about competition, with other people or with yourself. The trick is to let yourself be, it reminds me of another of Erle’s sayings…

“when you do Tai chi it eventually becomes your art and yours alone because everyone is different, Tai chi is a true art as its expression is totally unique to every person. Go and make it your own”.



Wudang Hand Weapons Training Drill – Bump Strikes

Wudang Hand Weapons

This video was inspired by World Taiji Boxing Association UK rep Nasser Butt and the Wudang Hand Weapon DVD ( MTG 217, 218 ) by Erle Montaigue. We often struggle to find a way to practice certain strikes when we don’t have a training partner handy…we need to be innovative in our thinking as well as our Tai chi ( Taiji ) training.


Erle Montaigue System

MTG 217 Video reference

MTG 218 Video Reference

If you would like to see more Single person training videos click on the links below:

Tai chi training partners…Bag work

Taiji Instructors have Balls – single person training

Learning Tai chi – video learning guide


We are opening our doors to guest contributors…this first one takes you through learning Tai chi by video. The Tai chi videos referred to are from the extensive life work of Erle Montaigue that are available from Moontagu Publishers…we will give links to previews on Youtube for your convenience. We hope you enjoy some new Blood…(Editor)

There are many of us around the world that don’t have access to a taiji teacher on a regular basis.  For many taiji renegades, we rely on DVD’s to learn and expand our understanding of our art.  I used to think that this was a double-edged sword, but now I realise that one can have all the DVD’s they could watch, but it won’t do much if they can’t understand how to use them to learn from.

WHAT??  Don’t you just put a DVD into the player and press play and follow along?  In my experience, that is probably the worst way to do it.  In a class setting, that is fine because the person showing you is right there and can correct things on the fly.  When that isn’t the case, we need to slow things down a bit.

The first thing I will always do is sit and watch the DVD completely BEFORE I do anything else.  For me, I feel it is vital to have an idea about where you are going with the DVD before you start because remember; you are controlling your own path, so to speak.  While Moontagu DVD’s are extremely thorough, the big picture is still important to have before you begin.  In a class situation, we hand that responsibility over to our teacher.  I hope that makes sense.

The next thing is to take your time.  With respect to Moontagu titles, many of the DVD’s are broken up into segments that were filmed on many different days.  It is a good practice to follow suit (when their clothes change, stop!).  On other DVD’s, where they just go on (like MTG2), learn no more than 3 new postures at a time (like Erle taught).  Going too fast can cause confusion and actually slow down the whole learning process (trust me!  I learned this the hard way).

I have found that the ability to make your body do what your eyes see is a learned skill, especially in the internal arts.  I invested a HUGE amount of time learning on my own WHILE I was learning my first art, karate.  I would literally figure out some sequence from a book or video, and then I would get it corrected by my teachers.  It was easy for me as I had about 8 teachers at the time (in one school).  What I was doing was teaching my eyes and body to work together.  If you haven’t spent the time, a mirror is a great tool.  Recently, I have found a video recording device (camcorder or a webcam on a computer) to be invaluable.  Being able to do the movement without checking over your shoulder is life changing!

I could go on, but I want to hit the important points.  This last one is so very important, and is ignored by almost all of us without regular contact with a teacher.  Simply, “YOU AREN’T AS GOOD AS YOU THINK YOU ARE!”  Ok, that isn’t meant to be harsh.  It is meant to point out that, if you have been doing taiji for 6 months and you “feel” you are ready for small frame form, you probably aren’t.  I used the excuse that I had over 20 years of martial arts training under my belt (literally, and it was black), so this taiji stuff was going to be easy.  I was wrong.

I got caught up in the “To the Max”-series, telling myself I only wanted to see the applications.. YEAH RIGHT!!  It was pointed out to me recently that anyone can FAKE the feeling of sung if they are moving their arms only a few inches (like the beginning of that Luchan to the Max form).  It isn’t real though.  Sure enough, I went back to work on the Foundation form and found that, at the level where I am at, the bigger movements work better (after 8 years of working on my own, and making all the mistakes).  In fact, I have actually noticed a substantial improvement in my taiji over the last 2 months than I have noticed over the past 5 years.

The other day,  I came across a YouTube video of a mate doing the form at a To the Max level, but he is also having issues with other, more basic things.  This is a sure indicator that he moved too fast and is not ready for that version of the form.  In the beginning, bigger is better (I know mate, but I said IN THE BEGINNING!).  We tell our children to enjoy youth, to not be in a hurry to grow up.  Why do we forget that in our art?

Tai Chi Video Learning Guide

  • Watch Video 1st Time fully – like you would a TV episode
  • Take your Time – learn a few moves well before moving on
  • Take Breaks – give yourself time for it to sink in
  • Start at the Beginning Please – Don’t jump ahead of yourself
  • It is important so we will say it again – BEGINNER Videos to start with!!!
  • Stick with “BIG” moves for a considerable time
  • Go over your Old collection and find the Pearls you missed
  • Enjoy yourself – don’t make it a job

If you are learning the Old Yang style on your own, dust off that copy of MTG2 and watch it.  Try to feel sung at that frame.  If you can, then you are really getting somewhere.  Better yet, get your hands on the “Luchan Correction” series and learn it in detail.  Practice that frame for a few years without fail.  That is the foundation.  Besides, doing it this way, you will distinguish yourself from the rest of the DVD players and be a real Taichirenegade!





Taiji Instructors have Balls – single person training

Taiji single person training exercises is all about having Fun

As a Taiji instructor I’m always asked about single person training drills…many of us don’t have a regular Taiji training partner so we struggle to come up with exciting ways to train reflexive movements. So we have come up with this cheap and easy training tool for you to play with…Tennis Balls. When we train we want to get the most out of everything we do so we should also try and learn a few things for each training drill.

In this Taiji training drill we want to learn at least three things…

  • Moving Forward
  • Use Peripheral vision
  • Balance, timing and positioning
  • Most Importantly, Having Fun!!!

This Taiji exercise is a building block…no it is not about Fa-jing. Sadly too many of us are making our training a chore…a job, it needs to be more about play and fun. Relax have fun and learn to play. Come up with combinations…multiple balls…different size balls, you name it nothing is wrong when you are having fun. This complements our exercises on the bag to develop P’eng Henge

Now this is not my idea…Erle Montaigue told be many years ago how he had tennis balls hanging in all parts of his Sydney house, ready to be struck as you turned a corner or boiled the kettle. Hang them at different heights and use different strikes…just do it and have some fun.


Tai chi Rehab

Some days I feel like a Broken down Tai Chi Renegade in need of a Little Tai chi Rehab

We may have a not so “Secret” weapon in the form of a Foam Roller if you feel the same way…let me explain.

A life time of Martial arts including those youthful Full Contact Bouts…a nose that is not quite straight and a few old injuries from work and play…sounds like the typical Tai Chi Renegade warrior. As most of you know I make my living as a Podiatrist and spend it on all things Tai chi, so when I got thinking about combining my Podiatry clinic with teaching Tai chi my mind opened to new possibilities and we created the Tai chi Foot Dr clinic.

One of the most common questions I get asked from patients and students, from the group of Renegades we’ll lovingly call “Old War Horses”…

“What exercise can we do to warm up for Exercise and Tai chi”

Well up an till now I would discuss various forms and drills…not really getting to the heart of the matter. We all have injuries…we all want to exercise and do Taiji like warriors, not Nana’s in the Park. We find our postures getting higher and a little bit out of plumb… catering for those injuries. Most likely if we have good instructors or training partners they have pointed out the problems and we are working on those corrections but not getting very far…what to do.

Back in the 1980’s I vividly remember a BBC program on Martial Arts …“The Way of the Warrior”…what has stuck in my head is a segment on Kalari – the Indian Way. Of note is the vision of Kalari Master and Marma Doctor suspended over his oiled up student stretching out every inch of his body with his feet…new students had to undergo massage for a month before starting their gruelling Martial Arts training. It was things like this that made me want to do a Traditional Martial Art with a Real teacher.

The massage technique appeared to be a form of Myofascial release and trigger point therapy working on the connective tissue network of the body. Now we all can’t have a dedicated instructor / Health Professional stretching out our bodies with massage to open up blocked channels and relieve tired old muscles and connective tissue before and after every training session, working on the myofascial meridians to enhance our life force…or can we. This is when we realised that we had a cheap easy option right in front of our nose…Therapeutic Foam Roller.

We use Foam Roller therapy for self treatment of trigger points and myofascial congestion in the Podiatry clinic so why not for the Martial Artists and the Tai chi “Old War Horses”.

While I work on an advanced article for Foam Roller therapy for Martial Artists have a read of the article I wrote for the Tai Chi Foot Dr website on using the Foam Roller before and after exercise.

All you need is a Basic Foam Roller and follow a few simple guidelines for your Health and safety…

Click Here for “Foam Roller Before or After Exercise” article… it has more than enough to get you started.

Ciao for Now


The Knife…

Self Defence against a knife…

Many people play with this and teach silly techniques…placing you in harms way.

If you have ever participated in a serious self defence situation you know that someone is going to get hurt…in a knife fight most likely everyone is going to get hurt. It happens so fast… even in a realistic training situation it is not till it is over can you count the cost. In my early years of Ninjutsu I was lucky to train with some seriously realistic people…some Army, some Police and some just down right scary. Knife defence sessions always finished with the ‘Reality check’.

Two men…light protective gear…2 wooden knives…all over in a matter of seconds.

Erle was also the Master of Reality when it came to knife defence and kindly allowed us to publish the introduction of his book that he was working on…now his son Eli may have to finish the book.


The Knife…Real World Knife Fighting

Erle Montaigue the Tai Chi Renegade

©2010 Erle Montaigue


Weapons were always taught last in any of the great fighting systems of China. There was a very good reason for this. An old Chinese saying: “Learn Weapons, do not do anything different”. Meaning that we spend a lot of time and effort learning about the “empty Hand” fighting methods in order to gain “hand/brain” automatic co-ordination, so why would we want to learn something different when moving on to weapons?
The biggest mistake that most martial artists make, is to treat all weapons, of which the knife is one, as a separate area of one’s training. “Ok, we have learnt the empty handed stuff, now let’s learn how to use a knife”! Another 5 years on top!
When we learn a real fighting system such as Tai Chi or Bagua, we have all of the necessary elements already in place to then pick up an edged weapon and use it successfully. That is of course providing that you have been taught a martial art that is “body friendly”; one that makes use of what the body has already rather than placing onto it, difficult un-natural movement. Such movement will never work in the real world as it can never become reflexive. Such movement might work in a tournament where you have two people doing much the same stuff. However, in the real world, you do not know your attacker, you do not know if he knows anything, or if he can actually fight with a weapon. He will not attack in a set pattern as in the ring, he will attack with ferocity that you have never experienced before; he will be in your face before you even blink. And when edged weapons are being used, it means death!
A teacher should never, hand a beginner a knife and show him some “moves”. This will lead to defeat and the student will never understand the knife in a real situation. A lot of teachers teach in this manner. They will show the student how to attack using the knife, or how to avoid a knife attack etc. Worse still, they will actually teach self defence methods against a knife that will get you killed. Like for instance the Old X-Block”! I can’t believe that teachers are still teaching this type of stupid defence. I have demonstrated many times that no matter how big and strong a pe3rson is, the X-Block does not work against someone who is intent upon killing you! Handing a student a knife and showing he or she some moves acts like water off a duck’s back to the student as he hasn’t yet even entered the first door of real self defence. “Real Self Defence”, well there’s a can of worms! Just to take a side-line for a minute, you can never take a martial art, learn some moves or katas and expect to defend yourself! You can never enter into tournaments, win a few and then expect to win in the street. I know of many top tournament fighters and boxers who have been decked in the street because it is nothing like being in the ring. One such famous boxer I knew said that he broke his hand because he was used to the gloves! Another very good tournament fighter of the sport, Taekwondo wondered why, when he got into his first street fight that his high kicks actually caused him to be defeated, simply because the attacker had no respect for him as a fighter, he just barrelled in and decked the TKD lad as he kicked because he was standing on one leg and literally only had one leg to stand on!
A martial art is NOT a self defence art. It is a good place to start learning about self defence but all martial arts were only meant as exactly that; a starting point. The forms or katas only teach you how to move correctly and some even teach you NOT how to move correctly such as the swathe of Sports Martial Arts! Using a sport for self defence will get you killed in a real situation where edged weapons are used. Sports martial arts are fine if you know the limitations and only treat it as a sport. But you will get into trouble if you think that leaning a few kicks will save you in a street fight!
To push this point, I will tell a true story of when I went to Manilla for the first time in 1981. I was watching a group of young men training in their Filipino fighting arts of stick and knife. They were dressed in normal clothing and going for it. An older gentleman was sitting on the same brick fence that I was sitting on. At one point, he got up and approached these young men who began to attack him! Just about to jump up and help when this old man kicked the shyte out of the young men! I discovered that the old man was none other than the Keeper of the Escrima system of fighting in the Philippines, Antonio Illustrisimo. I soon became friends with the whole group and remained friends with Illustrisimo until his death in 1997. And remain friends with some of those students.

Antonio Alulud Ilustrisimo was one of the most well respected eskrimadors of the Philippines; He is famed for winning countless duels and street encounters, as well as serving as a guerrilla against the invading Japanese forces during World War II. GM Ilustrisimo was never defeated in combat, and earnt great respect as a result of his brave exploits against the Japanese.
In 1976 Antonio ‘Tatang’ Ilustrisimo accepted his first students Antonio Diego and Epifanio ‘Yuli’ Romo. After Tatang’s passing in 1997, Tony Diego was elected head of KI. Other notable students include – Rey Galang, Romy Macapagal, Roberto Morales, Christopher Ricketts, Pedring Romo, Norman Suanico and Edgar Sulite.

As I was a young man in Manilla, some of the senior students were asked to look after me and take me around Manilla. I was taken to some tournaments where one of these chaps was the 6 times all Philippines stick and knife fighting champion. Tony Diego and I became good friends as also with Yuli Romo and Edgar Sulite (who is now deceased). Tony gave me a word of warning that I was to be off the street by 6 PM! I asked him why and he said “so that you do not get killed”! So I asked him when THEY had to be off the streets, and he said “8 PM”! Here was this champion stick and knife fighter in the tournament not wanting to be on the street after 8 PM!
So that story tells how different it is in a tournament to the real streets. I asked Antonio how they trained in knife fighting and his answer was that they trained in Stick Fighting first in order to get the necessary natural body movement. They would train for hours and hours until that stick became a natural part their own body. Only then were they able to train in the knife. And it wasn’t that difficult as they too already had the necessary elements for fighting with the knife.

It was a wonderful experience in Manilla even though only a short time, it shaped my thinking about knife and stick fighting and indeed all weapons for the years to come. I had already been practicing the internal martial art of Tai Chi ch’uan since 1967 and had noticed that when I picked up a knife or sword or any weapon, it seemed to come naturally blending in with my own body, moving in accordance with the natural flow of energy. And when I came across a movement that didn’t move naturally, I would examine it to discover that the movement was flawed and a little change here or there would make all the difference.

I noticed that the Wudang Stick fighting methods were also of a natural body type rather than the weapon being something different in my hands. Each movement naturally followed the previous movement in harmony with nature. And by training in these natural “form” movements, it enables us to move in any direction at any time and without thinking, use the most lethal strike to the most lethal points on the attacker’s body. So when it came to doing it for real, all of the elements were there in the training that I had done for many years prior.

Nowadays, I always begin a knife fighting session with my senior students by doing the equivalent empty hand moves to show that there is nothing different once the knife is in the hand. This applies to attack and defence, which are one and the same in the end. The only difference of course is that it is more dangerous and the timing has to be adjusted automatically to make up for the longer arm length, however, this is not a problem as the training does it all for you. My students have noticed that I never teach footwork in the real fighting area. Sure, I HAVE to teach where to put the feet in the form-work, but in the real world, I always tell them to not look at my feet and that I will not tell them where to place their feet. This teaches the student to move in accordance with their OWN body and in accordance with what is happening to them and what kind of attack is being felt. You learn to sub-consciously step to exactly the correct position to gain the upper hand. And it is our way of real push hands from the Tai Chi area that teaches us this. I am not talking about the silly “I push you, you push me” type of push hands now being taught in the West for the sake of tournament. I am talking about the push hands that we teach in order to learn how to defend ourselves in the real world. No low wide stance, no pushing at all, just strikes! We stand in a normal stance, one that we would be in at any time of the day; standing at a bus stop or just walking down the street etc. We do have strong attacks coming in but these are just so that the body can get used to taking a force and re-attacking instantly. If anyone pushes us in our system, they get hit! That’s what push hands is all about. It teaches perfect body placement for a devastating attack. It makes use of the utility posture of “P’eng/Hinge” which we also use in knife fighting. And all of this comes from the best training method for real self defence ever, Push Hands.
For instance if I am teaching a P’eng/Hinge method against an attack as in Photo No. 1 where the attacker has attacked with a curved type of street attack (a common type of attack in the street), I might use the hinge part to slam his arm and the P’eng part to attack his eyes as in Photo No. 2. We do not then have to learn a different method when we have the knife. If for instance, the same type of attack was being felt only with a knife, we would use the same method but also sticking to the knife fighting saying of Evade, Bump and Attack. Firstly bumping his arm out of the way while avoiding the attack as we NEVER grab the arm that has the knife! However, it would be my knife that did the bumping in order to cut deeply into his wrist! Photo No. 3. His arm is still thrust away but his hand is on the ground. I would then attack with my knife with natural and flowing movement such as in Photo No. 4 and Photo No. 5. And both of the above methods come from our push hands training, going deep into the subconscious.
In Push Hands, we call it walking down the street. So the normal method of “P’eng, Lu, Chee and Arn” (NB: NOT THE METHOD THAT MOST INSTRUCTORS TEACH WITH BIG OPEN STANCES ETC) becomes just like walking down the street and anything different from these movements back and forth between the two partners, we will automatically react with a violent attack coming from that “P’eng/hinge” posture. See Photo No. 6 for the basic push hands posture. Notice the normal stances and close in fighting.
So the normal movements become “normal” and anything different is an attack. Eventually, when we ARE just walking down the street, which is when we are most likely to BE attacked or in a bar etc. just minding our own business and we are attacked, we react sub-consciously reflexively and attack the attacker with huge power from a very short distance. We haven’t even registered that we have done this! And this is the way of the Warrior. Our BODY does it and our MIND stays calm. We learn to move from reflexes rather than thinking about it . If you THINK about it, like when you are taught un-natural body movement which can never be taken to a reflex level, as in tournament, you will lose!

In this book, I will be teaching you how to take your knife fighting skills to a higher level, the knife will become part of your own body to be moved automatically by your sub-conscious brain. Or as we call it, the Reptile Brain. This is your survival brain and is the only method that will give you the best chance of survival against weapon attack. I will be showing you some excellent training methods both empty hand and with the weapon in order to teach perfect body movement, being able to move away from an attack from a knife and re-attack with devastating power.
While I will be teaching many knife fighting techniques and Wudang Knife Forms, that’s not what my method is about. It is about being able to defend yourself against knife attack as well as use the knife at a “reflex” level. The techniques are only there as a guide as to how to move naturally. However, all of my knife fighting techniques are utility methods whereby they will teach you something much more than just one method. Within each technique there will be a reflex action that will teach you how to move in any situation and not only using that particular method.

In this book, I will be talking about Eagle Vision which is a kind of peripheral vision used by all birds especially the birds of prey. They do not have to focus upon their target as they are using Eagle Vision”. You could also call this Energy Vision whereby we “see” the energy being emitted by the “prey” or opponent so we do not have to focus upon any part of the attacker. To focus brings defeat as in the time it takes to focus, he has struck you. We take the whole body into peripheral vision, then we are able to receive that energy that the body is putting out. And it is energy that you will see first at a sub-conscious level. And once you are able to react to the energy you will react with lightening fast reflexes the instant that the attacker even moves! You will no longer wait for a strike to be upon you as you will … if someone attacks you hit him before he hits you.
I will be covering a number of excellent training methods in order to gain Eagle Vision. So it will help to have someone with whom to train as most involve working with another person. You will learn not to look at the attacking weapon or portion of the attacker’s body. But rather take in the whole body and react as soon as there is any movement from that body in just the same way that an Eagle swoops upon its prey.

This book has been based upon my many years of experience in not only knife fighting but also the Internal Self Defence Systems in general, those that rely upon things like Fa-Jing or explosive energy, and Dim-Mak or Death Point Striking. And although it really doesn’t matter about where you strike with the knife as long as it is to an important area of the attacker’s body, the Dim-Mak training does come in handy as you will automatically strike to the most dangerous points such as those in the neck. I have also learnt that using a knife, you can easily take a person down by striking to one of his peripherals which are easier to get to, such as his wrist. Cut his wrist … off and he cannot hold a knife! So you will notice that I place some importance in the training upon striking to these areas before going in for the kill to the neck or heart.

In the following pages, you will enter a different world of self defence, it may seem a little strange from what you expect or what you have learnt in the past. However, this method is like when you heat a small soldering iron; it takes only a short time to heat up that small point but when the power is shut off, the point loses its heat very quickly. But when you heat up a much larger point, it takes much longer but the heat stays in for much longer. And it’s the same with this method of learning, you will retain the knowledge for much longer once you have stopped the learning phase. And what you learn in this manner will remain with you for life and give you much more than just leaning about knife fighting.

Tai chi training partners…Bag work

P’eng Hinge bag workout

We have been having a great old time discussing the essence and secrets of ‘The Erle Montaigue System’ in a closed discussion group on Facebook. If you ask Nasser politely he may let you in if you are involved with the Erle Montaigue system…the group is regulated and only open to serious Taiji martial artists.

We all have our strengths and weaknesses…we all approach these differently. A common weakness is due to lack of suitable training partners…You can use a Punching bag in many ways to supplement your training…

I call my bag ‘Mr. Everlast’.

This video is for you to play with the P’eng and Hinge principles as used all through the Erle Montaigue system.

Renegades have similar stories…

Tai Chi brings out the best in people…

Al Krych, Eli Montaigue, Colin Power, Erle Montaigue, Nasser Butt ...USA workshop

The job of the editor is to sort out what is worthy and what is not…well so they tell me. Actually it is a humbling experience. When fellow Renegades of the Tai Chi world contact me for a chat and to share common experiences it reminds me of why I also train in the Internal Martial Arts.

We gain so much from sharing and opening ourselves up…

So we are going to share an article written by a young man willing to as he said ‘out’ himself to the martial art world. We think his story should resonate with quite a few of you…it did with me after all these years.

A letter from…

Ramakrishna Chedumbarum Pillay

Hey mate I wrote that essay on Erle I’ll send it over and you see what you think.

Why do I do tai chi? I once asked myself this question but I found the answer was not really needed. 

About a year ago I decided I was going to be the next Bruce Lee (a cliché if there ever was one.) I looked the part, I was the same size, weight, similar proportions. Body building was going great, loads of cardio, I was going to be the best. I originally started doing TKD, Tony Jaa was my idol as much as Bruce, but what especially was his extremely humble attitude. 

I wanted to do ten spin kicks in the air I was going to be a stunt man. I bought all the magazines with master X Y Z telling me his art was the best. But there was still something amiss inside me. I found I was naturally drawn to the reality side of martial arts, and taking the word of those magazines instructors as gospel I started my (short I’m glad to say) journey into boxing and krav maga that “Israeli martial art,” but there was still something amiss. 

Out of all these magazines it was always those articles on tai chi mentioning internal power that drew me, how this deadly art could make you unbeatable. So the first time I stepped into the KM dojo the instructor was there, about my height but at least 1.5 times wide and heavy as me so this was it. So I patiently sweated and bled (often as much as each other) every night three time a week in the dojo, the testosterone flying everywhere, the knife disarms, the lock escapes, the gun disarms (don’t laugh they took this seriously) , but there was always this belief in internal power. The first time I mentioned it to the instructor he said “I don’t believe in that stuff,” so I quietly agreed to disagree. 

A few more months went by, pumping my muscles, cramming food into me, then one day my mind just pulled me up and said what are you doing? What are you afraid of? Ever since I started this journey I was becoming more and paranoid, is he dangerous? He looks big and strong be careful? Every time I went out I was afraid of being mugged of being stabbed , and with all this self defence I was just covering up my fear. I wasn’t making myself less afraid I was just isolating myself.

Each time I went to the dojo, all these muscled up men were civil … not genuine friendship. Just aggression, sweat and most importantly ego, tons of it. It was the most uncomfortable place I had ever been in my life and I was dragging myself there three time a week, but now I had had enough. Then a close friend of mine, Chris said “come and try Tai Chi with me in Leicester”. 

So I went to Leicester, with no expectations, well maybe thats a lie, I always had a ‘thing’ for that martial art with internal power. Little did I know this would be a life changing experience for me. I walked into the studio in Leicester it looked amazing, bags and weapons, but more importantly it felt good, fresh , clear, friendly. In walked Nasser Butt, for some reason I could not and certainly did not want to judge the man. He shook my hand, and asking me how I was. 

Nasser Butt was the kindest instructor I had ever known, I felt he meant it. No silk pyjamas, just a man. But then so was everyone there, almost unnervingly friendly, nothing I was used to. So we started, three circles, 3 minutes in and this was the most physically demanding exercise I had ever done in my life. I had never sweated so much while standing still, (or maybe I had never stood still before), then the wudang hammer, then post work, then fajing, something so alien to me …it felt awkward. Nasser then hit the pad for me, my arm seemed to vibrate as it was blown away, I had never been hit that hard before. He then took the trouble to casually uproot all my prior knowledge of martial arts. 

When we finished I sat on the sofa and could hardly speak, my mind was reeling, and when we left I never thanked someone so genuinely in my life. The rest of the day I couldn’t speak, from then on I read as many of Erle’s articles, watched as many videos as I could , amazed at his teaching style, generosity with the amount of information available. In between I was going up to Leicester as much as I could craving those hours. I have to say now that Nasser is one of the people I respect the most in my life, he is not just my teacher he is something more important, my friend.

Now 11 months down the line I still have one regret and that was never getting to meet Erle. Through his teaching I have realised many things. Sure I have learned a lot about martial arts but it extends far beyond this. Just through his teaching, I know Erle was a man who was never afraid of speaking his mind, whose discipline was second to none, whose knowledge was as deep as an ocean, whose life was colourful and varied, whose humbleness, selflessness and generosity was something special that doesn’t come around very often and whose friendship extended to everyone. One of the most poignant things he said was, you don’t live for martial arts, your art lives for/through you. 

The same thing Nasser has always said to me “Don’t forget to live.” Now I realise even though I never got to meet Erle in person, his teachings show me the qualities to aspire to throughout life. And by being so generous Erle lives in everyone in the WTBA (World Taiji Boxing Association), and I am grateful to belong to this family.

So what about my paranoia? I won’t be bold enough as to say it has gone, but now I realise fear is something unique. You can choose to cower and never step out your door, or you can try and build up walls and challenge the fear but it is always there, the only way to ‘escape’ fear is to observe it , until fear is nothing but a word, and there is no ‘fear’ associated with it. So when I walk down the street I say, if something happens, then my training will deal with it the best that it can and if something happens then it was going to happen, that is it, I have other things to concentrate on. So when I ask myself why I do Tai Chi, I realise I don’t need an answer I just do it, like Erle tells me to.

Have a think about why you train so hard…

No Comments please…

Let’s give this another try

It has been nearly a year since Tai Chi Renegade died…

I’m talking about the website not the man…Erle Montaigue was much more than a Tai Chi renegade.

Those of you that knew Erle personally knew that he was many things to many people…least of all being a Master of the Internal Martial Arts. He was so much more…

The stories that people could tell about the man we knew as “Erle” would fill a number of books…No worries Mate! He was a funny bugger…equally happy in and out of the lime light. He had lots of great life long friends, he always shared …he gave back to the world wherever he could.

Erle Montaigue and Eli mucking about for the camera

Just prior to Erle’s death we were discussing the Martial Arts community , peoples expectations and the state of the Economy. Things weren’t going as well as could be on the sales front… video sales had declined dramatically , business wasn’t booming, the whole world was hurting and his sales reflected this.

We had a New Economy …didn’t we all know it, the world had changed, making money had gotten even harder for some … people were pointing fingers all round.  People were angry and resentful…lashing out at anything they could. Erle’s business was no different to others and he was having difficulty trying to work out this New Economy …trying to figure out how to Survive.

What you may not realise is that the internet has helped create the New Economy…blame the Bankers if you will but we are all responsible to some extent. The Bankers took advantage of a human weakness…the internet stimulated this weakness.

We seek the Holly Grail…“Something for Nothing”. Let us call the New Economy the Free Economy. People want their music for next to nothing or free…Movies for free (even if they have to steal them) and it seemed they wanted their Taiji for free.

Many of you know that Erle was way ahead of the New Economy ,he gave a darn lot away for nothing. He had been giving stuff away for years so that people could learn. Erle tried to fit in with the New Economy …so he built up a tremendous following on Facebook,poured his heart and knowledge into Facebook only to one day turn it all off.Why did he do it…he had his reasons.

Let’s just say he was sick and tired of inappropriate comments…

Taichirenegade.com was getting some inappropriate comments behind the scenes so I understood how he felt. People can be very demanding of free services…without a second thought. They have been trained well by the masters of the New Economy.

Now not everyone is cut out for Taiji or any form of Martial tradition. It takes a special someone to train hard …question themselves and the Status quo…a true Renegade. 

As I’ve said before …

“Pyjama wearers just don’t understand”

Erle Montaigue and Son Eli showing "How Push Hands should be done"

Some people are just collectors of information and video content…waiting for that magic something to land in their lap …make everything right.They don’t do anything with it. They think they deserve something for nothing…maybe they’re right.

No problem…we’re not here to judge what should be and what shouldn’t and discuss non-duality verses everything else.

We didn’t want to change the world (it could use a little changing though)…we really wanted to find more Tai chi renegades that would get it…

..Like you.

More friends to train with and share ideas…Hang out , be around like minded people.

It had to pay its way though…you know the drill, bills to pay and a family to support. You know…real stuff.

We had come up with a plan to create New video content and give it away for free…not just snippets on Youtube but full feature video …action packed with content on Taiji, Bagua, Qigong and the Internal Self defense arts.

I was going to come up with the platform for this video content and Erle was going to supply “the good oil”.

It was worth a try. What did we have to lose… now I have to admit that Erle wasn’t 100% convinced with my plan and he probably had good reason. We were going to try something new, not sit back and blame the New Economy like so many people do.

We were going to kick it off with more interviews like the Taichirenegade series and Erle was going to start filming the New segments.

We were going to take a risk, hopefully the Martial arts community was going to support it…

…but first Erle said “if we are going to be in business together you have to know one thing, we are in bad shape”.

OK I said “How about you get some friends together that you like training with and make some videos…I’ll worry about trying to make this Bloody New Economy pay for itself”.

Maybe he liked the idea of training with a few special people… putting it on video, just training with the people he loved. Maybe he was going along with my crazy plan…because we were friends, maybe he didn’t know the extent of my vision but just wanted to support me as friends do.

I was going to keep our plan a secret but that wouldn’t be very friendly would it. Ok…we were going to create a Martial Arts ATM website.

An ATM website is a little different to the magical whole in the wall that your bank provides. It is a website were you get your first withdrawal for free and then if you like what you see then you can make a small monthly contribution…then make as many withdrawals as you like, when you feel like it, wherever you are. No big outlay for say 20 DVD’s at once just so you can get a discount.

Just imagine it…a website of real content…access from any computer, smartphone, iPad etc. You wouldn’t have to worry about lugging DVD’s around, if they got damaged or lost. Access to what you wanted when you wanted it…and no risk of buying a DVD that you may never use. You would be truly part of the Renegade family with help at your fingertips…you would belong. We would build it for you…and Yes we would give and give and give. We decided we would build on what Erle had already given but in new revised content and then invest in better ways for you to receive all that you wanted and more.

That was the Plan.

This was my last conversation with Erle…you know the rest.

I can’t tell you the pain I felt with his departure, you may have felt it too.

Erle Montaigue had left the building … maybe Taichrenegade.com and all the content should depart as well. I did pull down all the previous posts…maybe this was a mistake.

I tried to keep it together and made a few attempts…then I took a Gap year to sort my head out and decide what to do.

This is the final try…to make it work… one thing has to change.

I realised that inappropriate comments were not my biggest worry…but they sure as hell can give you writers block.

Well Erle’s business is still going on at TAI CHI WORLD and I can still help  his family.

So I’m turning comments off…I need to concentrate on getting the job done and frankly they were paralysing me.

You can’t effectively write whilst worrying about peoples misconceptions and knee jerk reactions…well you just go round in circles.

Those that have a need to comment try our Facebook Page

What can you do to become a better Tai Chi Renegade…that’s for you to decide.

What is the single most important thing for your Taiji…what would Erle say,

“Just Bloody well Do it”

Better yet…go and buy some Bloody DVD’s at Tai Chi World and support the family of a true Tai Chi renegade. The Martial Arts ATM website never came about due to Erle’s unexpected death so you need to have a look at Erle’s video trailers on his YouTube channel for a better understanding of what to buy then take a leap. Don’t be a Tai Chi conformist…become a Tai Chi Renegade.

Like a true Aussie Erle Montaigue died on Australia Day, 26th January 2011…