Erle Montaigue and Yang Family Stories

Postby Wushuer » Tue Jul 06, 2004 9:42 pm

Where do you get your figures? How did you come to this conclusion about 95% of practicioners not picking up the martial art?
Is this an opinion, or a hard fact?

I can only give you opinion, not hard facts.
My opinion, based on personal observation, is that 100% of those who seek out a teacher of genuine, martial TCC, and who want to learn the martial art, will learn it.
100% and not one person less.
The caveat here being "who want to learn it". Because you have to want to learn it, and practice like you want to learn it, or you won't.
I frequently and loudly recommend the Kempo Karate school down the street, where they have a basic self defense course that you take in two weeks and their own brand of something or other the Master there invented on his own and calls TCC, to those who ask me about TCC classes... IF all they are looking for is an effective self defense technique that they don't have to study very long or very hard to learn, and something that they can call TCC to be nouveau cool.
Why would I do this?
Because they're NOT looking for TCC, real, genuine, martial, healthy TCC, they are looking for a quick fix.
I have only met a very small handfull of people who are even the slightest bit interested in the "real" TCC, the martial, hard to learn, can't fake it, can't gather it by osmosis, art of TCC. Just about every single student I've ever run into, and that includes those at current and former schools, are looking to be able to SAY they are practicing TCC, but don't want to put in the time or effort to learn it.

There is no quick fix. No short cut. No getting out of the grueling hours of practice required to reach the level of actually knowing the martial art of TCC and how to use it.
How many of those who post on this board can honestly say they've defended themselves using TCC and it's techniques? I'd wager not many.
How many would be able to say, honestly, that they even know how to defend themselves using TCC and it's techniques?
I am happy to say that I took the time, put in the effort, did the research, practiced many, many times when I didn't feel like it, didn't want to, wished I was doing anything else in the world, and learned enough of this crazy art to be able to succusfully defend myself using the principals I've learned from this art alone.
Not every time, not in every circumstance, because I do have a hard style background and I have used some of those techniques and principals when defending myself or others, the notable time being when I had to defend my wife as mentioned above.
So I still have some rough edges to work out. I most certainly would not, at this time, attempt to defend myself using Yang style techniques, not even after nearly three years of studying them. I feel certain I would rely on the Wu style techniques I learned previously.
I'm much more familiar with them.
For example, just this past Saturday morning I found a major defect in my Yang style stances, it had to do with the placement of my back toes in relation to my back knee, and it totally undermined my root in those forms.
I'm working on correcting it, and have for the most part, but until these little bugs get worked out of my Yang style forms, I certainly would get myself in a world of trouble if I tried to use them in a real world altercation.
So after three years, I would still resort to the Wu style in which I spent nearly fifteen years training.
That's how hard this stuff is to learn, correctly.
One little defect and I might as well have been doing Yoga.
Fortunately, I have a skilled instructor, who also took the time and effort required to learn his art, and he noticed the defect and corrected it for me.
Sure answered a lot of questions I'd been having about why I always felt kind of mushy in Yang style bow stance!

My point is that 95% of people who take TCC classes may not "get it", but those 5% are the ones who come to actually "do it". That's your real statistic.
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Postby chris » Tue Jul 06, 2004 9:43 pm

If the mirror gathers dust, then it is not bright. Image

Yang Jun is a affable guy. What is your excuse for not visiting him, and politely posing your questions in person?
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Postby rmfield » Wed Jul 07, 2004 9:01 am

"I want to reply to your first post because you mentioned Earl montigue. ... but he is a big guy and sure he would love a fight if one came to him."

I don't think size is important, and anyway Erle is not that big. I visited Erle and practised with him in '82 or '83 and he wasn't as tall as me (180). I bumped into him in a shop in the Donga in Oz 15 years later and he did not appear to have grown any.
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Postby WU » Wed Jul 07, 2004 5:30 pm

Greeting Wushuer!

Thanks for your reply! It’s a great discussion because I think this topic would definitely help every Tai Chi lovers to search for their truth of Tai Chi.

Where do I get the figure of 5%? Well, I have been traveling around China a lot and have visited Wudang Mountain, Chen Village, Beijing, Shanghai, Taiwan and the other famous Tai Chi places. I have met different styles of masters or so-call diamonds. Personally, I have studied all styles of Tai Chi although I cannot claim that I am an expert. However, I do realize that Tai Chi is similar to PHD of any other professions. Lots of peoples would try to master it but only handful of enthusiastic fans could achieve their goals.

The fundamental problem is that not too many teachers could teach the real Tai Chi. What is the secret then? None! All the secrets are well documented in all the Tai Chi Classic scripts. I could name a few like the Tai Chi Treatise by Master Wang Zhong-Yue and all the texts written by Master Wu Yu-Xiang and Li Yi-Yu,etc. Unfortunately, most modern Tai Chi practitioners can’t understand the real Tai Chi principle, that is equivalent to a handbag, could transfer from one place (or style) to the other. Instead they still think that the Wu’s is different from the Yang’s and any other ones. They are still thinking about “Some Magic Techniques” that may help them to reach for the top. But they ignore the training method that could help them develop the internal strength and power (Qi).

My suggestion is that every Tai Chi lovers should ask themselves: Am I ready for a friendly challenge from any other hard and soft style practitioners whose have same year of training and experience? If not, when should I am ready! Ten or twenty years or wait until you are seventy! Honestly, if you have no confidence to test yourself after three to five years of real Tai Chi training, you are on the wrong path! Please be careful here, I don’t promote fighting but only testing! You need to test your training method and new theory all the time and prove it before claiming it’s working or not!
Good luck to you all!

[This message has been edited by WU (edited 07-07-2004).]
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Postby Wushuer » Wed Jul 07, 2004 10:17 pm

But Wu and Yang and Sun and Li and Chen and all of these styles ARE different.
Most definitely.
Not in principal, but in application.
To suggest that you could train for ten years in one of the many flavors of Yang style then jump over into North American Wu style and immediately apply the principals from your Yang style to Wu's applications and forms....
While the learning curve is going to be shorter, most definitely, it's still going to be there.
The handbag correlary is not very apt for this scenario. Rather I would use an engine from a Ford going into a Chrysler automobile.
It's not going to fit or work correctly without a lot of work being done to both first. Once you've done that work the engine will sit in the car and hum along with few problems, but without the work to alter the engine and the car you're not going to go anyplace. You'll have an engine in perfect tune and a body in perfect shape, but without a way to connect them and make them work together.
While I see the principals of the two styles I have studied are deep down the same, they are shaped a little differently, come at from a different angle, expressed in different ways.
For one thing, Yang styles don't incorporate the Baguazhang and Xingyichuan into their forms the way Wu style does. So you've got some alterations that need to be made right there.
Do you see where I'm going?
While you can change styles, you're going to have to work at it a bit before you gain any kind of competance from one to the other.
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Postby WU » Wed Jul 07, 2004 10:48 pm

Please see the family tree:


Only difference is that some peoples try to patent their styles by using their last names after Tai Chi rooted in the Chinese villages and cities.

Please analyze them completely. Tai Chi is an internal art and it doesn't matter how the external movements look like!
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Postby Duffy » Thu Jul 08, 2004 12:17 am

Hi all,

I am fairly new to Tai Chi - have been practicing for a little over 1 year now. I believe I got a "real deal" instructor - was taught by his father, who was a student of Yang, Cheng-Fu. In the many hours per week we train, I have so far not reached an adequete level in the short form. This is not because I am particularly slow, but as you all know it takes a long time to get it right. After that I will have to learn the long form, and whatever other forms follow (sword, stick etc). I can't even yet do basic push hands. My master quite rightly spends more time teaching the fundamentals and principles, and also spends much time demonstrating the Qigong, healing, massage, accupuncture etc. I do not however for one minute doubt that he can use it for martial arts. But more to the point, I think it will take a very long time before I can.

So now I am begrudgingly deciding to leave Tai Chi. It takes up so much of my time, and it seems I have no time for anything else. I really hate this decision because I enjoy Taiji so much, but have decided to focus some energy on my other love - music/guitar. There is just not enough hours in the day to learn both.

So to those who are asking if Taiji is effective, I would say yes it definitely is, very effective. But also as the saying goes it takes total dedication, time & practice (kung-fu!). And yes, it seems like most western instructors are bogus - even I can spot their bad Taiji after only 1 year of practice!! If you truely want to learn Taiji defense, better be ready to abandon everything else. Otherwise, learn it for inner healing and meditation, posture, balance etc. I would still highly recommend it for these qualities alone, and I will miss it dearly Image

Just my advice, but maybe one of the experts here will differ in opinion.

Happy Tai Chi'ing Image
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Postby Polaris » Thu Jul 08, 2004 12:33 am


Good advice, T'ai Chi is a lifetime's study. Don't completely give up on T'ai Chi just yet, though. In a few years you may want to come back to it in order to repair the physical damage playing guitar will cause!

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Postby The Wandering Brit » Thu Jul 08, 2004 1:48 pm

Wow, I read that post and had the distinct impression of someone walking over my real name is Duffy, I also play guitar and have been practising for a relatively short amount of time. Small world!

Anyway, back on point, I have seen enough from my instructor to know that Yang Tai Chi is definitely an effective art - he has put many, many years into his practice and is at a stage where his kung fu is very good.

Coming from a hard styles background I wondered about Tai Chi's efectiveness as a fighting art, but went into classes with an open mind. I'm glad to say that my preconceptions were based on ignorance and it is my belief that the internal arts can be extremly effective, but that they need more dedicated practice than the hard arts in order to become 'street effective', if that is your goal.

I would also reiterate the earlier point that there are way too many instructors - particularly, it seems, in Yang style in the UK - who simply practise wavey hands and palm it off as Tai Chi, but I think any sincere, dedicated student who really wants to learn the real art will put in the time and effort to search out a good instructor...if you read up on the basics and principles of Tai Chi beforehand, I believe that a 'fake' instructor will reveal himself pretty quickly if the student has a functioning brain.
The Wandering Brit
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Postby Wushuer » Thu Jul 08, 2004 3:22 pm

Why on this earth would you give up TCC simply because you also play guitar?
I don't play guitar, but I have quite a few other hobbies outside of TCC and I manage to do them all with regularity and no loss from one because of the other.
You may wish to re-think this decision, especially as you will develop some strains and aches from leaning over that guitar all the time.
My brother, one of Polaris's confreres in Wu style discipledom, is an accomplished musician of long standing. He doesn't seem to let one suffer for the other.
Perhaps you have some unrealistic expectations of your TCC?
Instead of giving it up, why don't you try just giving it a little less time on each day? You don't have to be at the level of Yang Cheng Fu, you know.
If I'm remembering correctly (P, correct me if I'm wrong here) then even Sifu Eddie says that twenty minutes of practice a day is more than sufficient for your average bear who isn't making expertise in TCC his lifes goal.
TCC is, for 99% of those who practice it, a hobby with good health benefits and maybe even some self defense thrown in.
In my opinion, you most certainly wouldn't have to give up one to enjoy the other of these pursuits.
If playing the guitar is your lifes ambition, the by all means concentrate most of your time on that. But there's no reason to "give up" TCC because of that, at all.
Practice your short forms in between sets of your guitar, when your back is tensed, your hands are cramped, your neck is crooked, do a form and straighten up for a bit before you go back to your guitar.
See where I'm going?
TCC doesn't have to be the focal point in your life. You can, most do, simply practice in your free time between other things.
Myself, my main hobby is tinkering with computers and networking, and that also happens to be my work. I will work on a cranky server for an hour, then while the little blue bars are filling up on my screen while software is loading or a diagnostic is being run, I step back and do a long form, or a short form if that's all the time I have.
It's not an all or nothing proposition.
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Postby yangchengfu04 » Thu Jul 08, 2004 3:42 pm

I don't think Duffy has really thought out his decision, or maybe the truth is he just doesn't care for it as much as he thinks he does. I also have been playing guitar (25 years now) and have time to do both. As well as work full time and spend time with my SO. As a matter of fact, I believe it's probably best if one has at least a couple of different interests. Many a tai chi masters have had multiple interests (TCC, caligraphy, painting, poetry - see CMC here).
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Postby Michael » Mon Jul 19, 2004 6:05 am



Wow! I would like to have posted this back on page one, but fish were biting my flies. So if this is out of place, sorry, I just couldn't resist.

I do play guitar and I fly fish.

I studied hard arts. I found taiji and saw a whole long list of of incredible techniques...but something more as well, something that I found in none of the hard arts. And I saw this just by looking at the form before I ever had any instruction.

Taiji taught me how to walk on water, fly, push over thirty people with little finger, put my middle finger through a concrete wall, break bones with a leftward motion of my lower lip, gave me heat vision,....and only after two years of practice.

There are things a good teacher gives you, but mostly it is direction into the exploration and understanding of principles. He or she doesn't teach you these things. You learn them in your own practice and from your corrections in form and application. A Karate teacher can teach you all the mechanics so you can clean somebodys clock. Taiji you learn from the inside out.

When you learn enough you can tell what teacher knows his stuff just by seeing how "he" holds "himself", from "his" answers to questions. I say get started learn and then shop around. One would be very lucky to learn "everything" from one teacher. But each teacher has something different to teach. Sometimes you get a "hack", but you will know who is wasting your time and who is not. It isn't hard to see if you have some understanding. Don't waste your time shopping around for the "perfect" teacher, you may not ever find the ONE. When you are ready, they find you it is said. What that can mean is that when you have learned enough and are ready to move on you will find where you need to go. And darn, if you can start with Yang Jun (you lucky dog) don't waste anymore time.

AND I can tell you I would feel privileged to work out with most of the people here on this Board, Polaris, Jerry, Wushuer, Steve,....a long list. If i didn't mention your name don't get hurt, your names are in my mind, believe me.

I have looked into Earle years ago. The man has some skills, there is no doubt. But there are "hard" aspects to his "style". But there were hard aspects of Yang Ban Hou's as well, his poor father lamented this at times--it was said. I thought Earle would be a very interesting teacher..but the more I taiji learned the less I wanted to study with him. If you want Earle's method move to Aussie land. As much as the martial art is about techniques, it is more about something I won't describe, others have done it far better than I here.

Last word. Start learning then ask your questions. You say you have researched taiji. Reading in books has little practical value until you feel what they are talking about. Until then they really are just words. I am not trying to be rude, but helpful in my own strange way.

I will probably regret this post, but a month of fishing will do strange things to one.

my best.
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Postby Wushuer » Mon Jul 19, 2004 3:53 pm

Welcome to the party!
We seem to have lost Wushunut, however.
You make some excellent points.
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Postby Michael » Mon Jul 19, 2004 9:12 pm


I for one would be very interested in what you learned about Cloud Hands. How about a new thread on it. It is doubtful that there is not something in there from your perspective that most here would not benefit from regardless of how simple or small these things might seem. Some of the responses might add even more to your knowledge. Share the wealth! And if you don't feel like it, how about e-mailing me about it.

As far as wushunut, I may be wrong but I think Jerry was right all along, he was a troll to some degree. He sounded like most "hard" stylists I know, looking for something "more" but doubting what he sees, and toooo much of a hurry. If you are in a hurry, taiji is not the thing to be trying. What was it for you, 18 yrs or something? And you still feel like you know *#*!. Wouldn't be nice to just practice and not have all that other stuff that makes up life in our way? Well, yes and no.*G*
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Postby Wushuer » Tue Jul 20, 2004 9:20 pm

Just saw your response. Don't know why I missed it earlier today, must be slipping.
I posted most of what I learned about Cloud Hands on here someplace or other earlier today.
I didn't put it in it's own thread, but I did gab about it quite a bit.
The finer points were:
We found out NONE of us really knew Wave Hands Like Cloud as well as we should.
I found out I was not holding my downward then across arm correctly for Yang style, I was still holding it in Wu style mode, which works with the energy but was confusing the heck out of some the newer folks who were watching me do it. In the same vein I was keeping my arm too close to my body, because in Wu style that arm folds down directly across your side and turns with your hip, rather than being extended and turning with your waist. I can reconcile the energy movement as being the same, but the external manifestation is quite different. (OK, this is what I learned, I can't say the rest of the group picked this up, all they saw was me taking a major correction on the form and being damn glad of it)
We learned that if you keep your arms open, rounded and extended, and then only move them up and down appropriately and allow them to move with your waist turn that they fall right into place all on their own. This is a big one here people, if you're really swinging your arms around in this, instead of just turning your waist around your spine, then you're expending a lot of energy for no purpose. There is the extension at the end of the turn, then the downward pushing, but you don't need to move your shoulders or arms much at all, just let them follow your waist. (I knew this one, but was making a point of it so my instructor could give this lecture to the new guys) This is a truism for most of the forms, but is really noticable in WHLC and BK&TS, with their big waist turns.
We then practiced a few dozen times, just WHLC, single posture practice.
Then we did applications. We all tried the ones we'd heard of, most of which don't seem to work very well. When we did find the ones we'd heard of that did work, we then practiced them until we all felt comfortable with them.
Then our instructor showed us a few more applications we'd never seen or heard of before and we all practiced those for a while.
Then at the end my push hands partner and I finally broke down and demo'd the application that we came up with the previous week. We weren't really sure it was a "real" application, though it was amazingly effective, but we soon found out that it is, indeed a legitmate application of WHLC. Which made us very happy, indeed.
To point, you have an opponent directly in front of you, he is punching at your head or upper body repeatedly with both arms. You WHLC at the same speed he is throwing those punches and he can't possibly get through to connect. You can stand there and turn inside his circles for hours, you won't get tired because his energy is what is driving your motions (borrowing your opponents energy personified) and it's actually quite fun. A variation is to trap one of his punches and lock his arm at the elbow while you continue the waist turn and throw your opponent.
So we all practiced that for a while. Did you ever think you'd see a whole group of people in the middle of a Japanese Zen Garden throwing punches at each other and having the time of their lives? Well, I did and we did. It was great.
THEN we learned that in WHLC your arms are actually superflous. You can do the same thing, nearly exactly, with your arms pinned down tight to your sides.
THAT was a huge eye opener for most of those there. (I have to admit I'd been previously trained in that fashion, but it was still fun to practice it again)

So, there it is. Actually more detail here than my other post.
If anyone wants to start a thread like that, I'd be happy to jump in and talk about it. I'm more of a joiner than a starter, really.
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