When I was a child, people knew me as the kid who sang the songs also imitating the sounds of the instruments with his mouth. I remember how amused my uncles and aunts were as I covered some famous Italian melodies of the time. Unfortunately I was not exposed as a kid in the 60s/70s to the great music of those years. Rolling Stones, dei Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Doors, Pink Floyd, were there but no one suggested I listened to them.
At the time I had no idea of what was happening around me. I was satisfied with what I happened to find, even the stupid songs that the priests had us kids to sing when my parents sent me to church. Sorry, no politically correct statements here: in this moment of my life I just don’t need that.
Sure as hell I grew up with a passion and natural inclination to music. Later I learn how to play guitar. My first experiments date back to when I was 11. For al my youth the guitar has meant everything to me. It was shield, discharge, refuge in the worst moments. The passion for music also drove me to the quality listening, the high fidelity audio.
As an adult, let’s say after the college, I encountered another great passio (not women – too obvious): a Japanese martial art known as Aikido.
Aikido is generally considered for pussies: people who practice a martial art but cannot beat up others. Oh yes, martial artists are commonly viewed as fierce fighters.
Aikido is a form of Budo, an ingenuous invention where man’s natural aggressively is channeled into constructive tasks instead of making wars. This way we fight our own limits and become better human beings. That’s why Aikido is considered for pussies: people who practice a martial art but cannot beat up others. Oh yes, martial artists are commonly viewed as fierce fighters. Uselessly, the old founding masters of Budo preached humility, self-improvement and so on. I’ll tell you that in the best cases you are dealing with people with inflated egos who use Budo to reach important positions they could not dream to achieve in real life. Worst case scenario, they glorify their physical prowess, they dream of being invincible warriors and fight each other in a way that has nothing to do with Budo; a matter of testosterone excess and lack of maturity.
Obviously, many are really good people that work hard to improve themselves. There are good teacher who quickly cut off any attempt to strutting about (a few, maybe one or two). All the others like to appear as the cool guy executing the cool technique or publish pictures with the great master they can’t stand but he shells out Hombu Dojo degrees…
My Aikido passion has continued for 15 years of my adulthood among all this filth. I felt I was my true self only when I was wearing a keikogi and stepped on a mat.
Then somebody “put the guitar on my lap” once again in a critical moment of my life and something happened…
Music is back in my life in a powerful way. Maybe because it has been my first true passion, it is what I really am that is surfacing in a critical moment.
Being unemployed in Italy after the age of 50 and with a small child is not an easy situation to deal with. Years of Aikido have taught me to always move forward, to fight for what I want, not to give up (not to engage in street combat). So I don’t stand here feeling sorry for myself. But maybe some different priorities, something more important than the endorsement of some self-centered and petulant Aikido prima donna, have made me see things differently, more clearly…..
Music has come back into my life so overbearingly, perhaps so vehemently because it was my real first passion, what I really am, that comes back to the surface at a critical moment.
Aikido is supposed to make better people. Instead you often find yourself in front of people who are looking for a showcase to get noticed, maybe to recover from everyday life, I don’t know, everyone has their reasons. The rush to the ranks, the recognition by the “great master”, the debasing of Aikido by resorting to techniques of, say, Karate if not even fighting or boxing, has somewhat pathetic….
In my new life situation, the passion has faded, the smallness of people has cooled me down. Maybe that’s how the old, original passion came back to life as soon as it was given a chance.
A rediscovered me? Maybe. I’m not going to quit Aikido, it’s too good for me, just that of a certain teacher and some people I know I share certain principles with. The rest can go fuck themselves, yell at socials all they want, get photographed with the asshole of the day, act like a fucking macho, I don’t care, that’s not Aikido, it’s just material for psychologists. So don’t look for me on the various mats, I’ll limit myself to people with whom I have a real human relationship.
…we are not our job, our Dan rank, our salary, our public, outward appearance. We are our passions, what we sincerely do.
Welcome back music! You straightened me out! Today I’m more interested in how to reproduce Gilmour’s solo, the minor pentatonic scale, rather than Tissier’s fucking kotegaeshi wrist-breaker (I need my wrist intact for more important things so I do the kotegaeshi as I know it).
Well, maybe so, but if a musician fills his social page with prizes and awards, it fits; if a budoka does it, it’s a bit of a turn-off. I have few awards to advertise, as a guitarist and as aikidoka, and I don’t care. Maybe because my professional curriculum (as a geologist) is not so trivial, on the contrary? Perhaps… Actually I don’t care about that either, we are not our job, our Dan rank, our salary, our public, outward appearance. We are our passions, what we sincerely do. Unfortunately, in today’s world, we do things for appearances, whatever they may be. And we lose the essence of humanity. Who knows it anymore? For years I believed that Aikido could bring it out again, but who knows, probably nobody really does Aikido, they just look for a stage to appear, so it doesn’t work.
As an Aikidoka, I’ve always hated to appear, but as a guitarist I perform. Weird? No: Budo is not for stage, music is for stage. Isn’t it a bit more coherent?