Thanks to reporting by Dojo Rat, I recently learned the sad news that Erle Montaigue has passed away. He was 62 years old (1949-2011).
If you’re not familiar with his work, Erle Montaigue was a strong voice in the Taiji (Tai Chi) community and a proponent of the combative elements of the art. He was most well known for his theories on Dim Mak and vital point striking.
In regards to the circumstances of his passing, I’d like to provide a few details from TaiChi Renegade, and then send you over to that resource if you wish to read more. This passage is from Eli Montaigue, Erle’s son and style successor:
“As most of you know he [Erle] 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 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.
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! Haha! 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.” – read more from Eli here.
Although Taiji is a widely spread art these days, it is often just the energy enhancing movements that are passed on. Not too many practitioners have worked to preserve the original combative elements as well. Erle was a rare resource for individuals looking to take that next step.
Interestingly, Erle was also a source of controversy due to the scope of his work. There have been other individuals in his and other martial fields that have not agreed with his methods and conclusions. This is inevitable, for better or worse, when creating anything related to martial arts.
Personally I’ve found Erle’s work very informative and thought provoking, and I have borrowed from it to better inform my own art. Erle always seemed ready to share and demonstrate, but made sure to do it safely. He offered many books and dvds on his subject matter, but created many more that he spread for free. one quickly got the impression that he was an artist at heart with business on the side.
I’d like to say more, but I’m simply not the right man to do so. I keep a list tucked away of all the great martial artists I want to do interviews with. Erle was on that list, and unfortunately my chance is gone. Instead, here are a few videos that others have been kind enough to preserve and post, including Erle himself: