Sunday morning guitar players

Anyone can buy a guitar, get some practice (Youtube would be enough), take some lessons or advice from someone who already plays and then say “I play guitar”. That’s what I did. An uncle gave my sister and me his guitar when we were 9 and 11 respectively. We experimented based on the first chords our uncle gave us. And we moved on. I in particular focused on being a guitarist, learning solos as well. Then when I was 16 the electric guitar arrived and by the time I was 20 we had a small band playing the songs of our heroes in the rehearsal rooms. When people say “I play guitar” it doesn’t mean much. I’ve always said that about myself – I play guitar – but what does it really mean? Do I play it alone? In a band? Do I perform publicly or do I play at home sitting on the couch? Even a professional can claim “I play guitar”. It only takes a small-time professional to humiliate someone like me who plays in his spare time. But there are also non-professionals with killer technique. The vast majority have not become famous, not even those who make a living from guitar.

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An old Italian tragedy that left a scar – I was close

The southern Italy earthquake of 1980

It was a rather hot day for November. We teens and children were playing outside, in the courtyard and in the surrounding countryside. It was a beautiful autumn Sunday, sunny and cool, but not too much. In the afternoon there was the classic ball game in the courtyard. Our cheap but legendary Super Santos orange plastic ball, very common in Italy even today, had ended up in a balcony on the 2nd floor and one of us had climbed over from the stairs window to retrieve it. He took a risk that today, as a parent, would make my skin crawl. But over time we had all taken that risk in turn: the courtyard was surrounded by balconies and terraces on the ground floor, it was inevitable that the ball would end up in one of them. Sometimes we buzzed the owner to ask the favor to return it. More often, since the ball was easily confiscated, or worse, cut in two with scissors in a solemn ritual that they made us attend ruthlessly, we took the risk of climbing over before the owner noticed. When it went wrong, we would resort to a desperate fundraiser and rush to buy another one. In practice, we risked breaking and entering to avoid embezzlement by the flat’s owner. But that Sunday afternoon, November 30, 1980, the ball had ended up in the balcony of a friend of ours who no longer lived there, the apartment on the 2nd floor was uninhabited. So someone had to go to retrieve it despite its height of about 6 m…

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The website of lost causes…

HiFi? And who listens to music anymore with two well-placed speakers and a system with separate components? Stream in earbuds and go!

The electric guitar is no longer the star of music, the cool “musician” dances and makes a scene, he certainly can’t play. Young people do not sacrifice themselves to learn an instrument….

Computers are very up-to-date but the Internet is not what it used to be, computer literacy is not needed since a PC is used for social activities and gaming.

Geology? And what is it? Is it useful? I graduated in it and ended up doing another job myself. Geology is not duly considered among the sciences. It’s a big mistake but it continues to be ignored;

Photography? Film? No way! A smartphone is enough, what do we care about exposure latitude and field depth!

Cars with a certain character? Mah … the German stereotype = cool goes for the most. Instead, the made in Italy would deserve but … who believes it except me?

Aikido! Art of harmony? But I want to fight, otherwise what is the point of a martial art? The streets are dangerous and I need to defend myself: MMA and BJJ!

They may be lost causes but I enjoy them…and I let off steam! It all started with the curiosity of understanding how a website works. Then it got into my head and grew over the years. It’s something I do for myself, aware of the fact that maybe nobody reads me. If someone will find useful the things they read here, I’ll be the happiest blogger on the internet… 😉

Happy reading!

Exams and failures

Pasquale_RobustiniIn the summer of 2012, during the usual Philippe Gouttard seminar in Follonica (Tuscany), I failed my 3rd dan Aikikai exam with the great French master. Some would argue that my image as a teacher, although since a short while, could suffer a serious damage. Furthermore, the feelings after a failure are diverse. The will of practicing decreases a bit. You feel a somehow mentally tired knowing that all you’ve done was not enough, while you were convinced it was much. Like after a bicycle or horse accident, it is important to start over again soon! Thank God I was at a seminar, so, immediately after my failed test, I was back on the mat!
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Understanding the Great Masters

gouttardFor the past three decades, I have been returning to Tokyo every year in order to train with the masters of the Hombu Dojo, and every time I feel the same joy, even though my expectations are not always fulfilled once I actually step on the tatami. But it is just fine like that. Given this situation, there are questions that I am being asked rather often, particularly during the social moments such as those spent at the cafe nearby the Hombu Dojo, the one where foreign practitioners often meet between classes. These questions are mostly “Why are you coming back to Tokyo every year? What are you coming for? Why do you always go to Saku to train with Endo Sensei even though your practice does not at all correspond to the principles that he is demonstrating?” Continue reading