- Alessandro Vadalà
Seminar in Salzburg with Pedro Fleitas Dai Shihan
Last weekend we went to Salzburg for a seminar by Dai Shihan Pedro Fleitas. To tell the event, I decided to give voice to all the guys who came with me from Milan. Our words are so expressive that there is no need for any introduction ... I leave my comment at the bottom because my mates have already said everything and more. We thank Markus and Tina Behmer for organizing this fantastic seminar.
Chiara Zappoli Shidoshi: seeing Pedro again after many years made me a special effect. His powerful technique (at the time with no particular distinctions if uke was a man or a woman :)) and his fluid taijutsu were already known to me. What I did not expect was to see such growth not only as budoka but as "human being". His energy mixed with his elegance has shown at what level this discipline can bring the pratictioner. He's able to radiates all with a positive light, placing words and deeds in a harmonious overall picture. For what it is my level of understanding he is a true messenger of the Hatsumi Sensei's feeling.
Matteo Ranucci Shidoshi: seminars kept by western pioneers of this martial art with decades of experience behind them have always left a deep impact on my later training. It was clear to everyone that Pedro was not only a very skilled master, but his very presence was truly inspiring. During one of his speeches he said that a Budoka has to open his own heart: the concept of “heart” in japanese terms is much wider than our own(western cultures), it has to do not only with our feelings, but it also refers to a mental approach to life in general: it can indeed means to be brave. Moreover Pedro put the accent on the fact that having an open heart doesn’t mean being “stupid”, so not to be forcedly kind or condescending with everyone, because, as he also said, there are some conflicts that have to be avoided and others that must be faced. My interpretation on this point is: a Budoka shall have the courage to kill his own ego when necessary to avoid a conflict, but he must be brave enough to deal with an inevitable one. But just this interpratation is indeed reductive, because a Budoka has to be such in every field of his life, not only when he’s fighting; in fact I believe that there’s a wider meaning behind Pedro’s words: having an open heart means to be brave and determined, living a life free of lies and illusions, always shooting for the stars without letting it be an obsession. In conclusion: Pedro’s words and skills have strengthen my trust in Bujinkan and I’m sure that he will be a landmark for us western practitioners in the future, even more than now.
Gianluca Gulisano Shodan: Great experience, this seminar allows me to bring home new feelings and emotions, and of course some awesome techniques. As expected Pedro was extremely focused on the details, performing great power in every move. Beside this he results to be very modest, smiling and greeting everyone, as if you knew him from a long time and I think he represents perfectly what Hatsumi Sensei want to pass on the next generations. I would recommend this event to anyone interested in real bujinkan, and i will not miss the next chance to meet Pedro again. So gracias Pedro and thanks to Alessandro for caring about us and our growth in budo!
Pierangelo Toson Shodan: This was the first time I met Pedro Fleitas and it has been an awesome experience! I enjoyed his technique very much (as far as can I understand, of course), mostly because the feeling that I could catch is the one living in our dojo.
As my personal perspective, I would like to highlight the backbone of the training, that Pedro summarized in a single word: "happiness". As martial artists, we are commonly supposed to deal with violence, fear, death. This is completely a mistake. We train to avoid bad feelings and to preserve life (even the enemy's). Of course it is a challenge, misfortune happens regardless our efforts. But Pedros's kakemono gives a different perspective:
"May misfortune be your master to achieve welfare and a full life."
Francesca Marenzi 3°kyu: what drew mostly my attention by watching Pedro was his way of moving and handling his space, he has a stunning sense of timing. During his demostrations he has the amazing capability of showing the details of the techniques, by making them understandables to those who are observing and by allowing a deep study for every passage. He's always extremely relaxed and spontaneous but there is never a mouvement that is out of place and he never loses the control of the situation.
Andrea Beretta 3°kyu: the experience of the seminar was about technique and life. I think the reason for this impression is in what Pedro expressed through his taijutsu, with his art.
Art with the right technique expresses a feeling when it is real, and in those who enjoy it it evokes precise sensations and intuitions, even if often unconscious. The art of Pedro specifically has infused me well-being, tranquility, and has also shown me that there is much to do, a lot for the ones that want to follow the path. In other words, he transmitted to me a useful feeling to face the path I have in front of me, and the desire to continue it. The attitude of "open heart" of which he spoke means for me trust in confrontation and change, the enhancement of one's strengths and consciousness of the weak ones. Closure of heart, on the contrary, means distrust in comparison, that is, strengthening of one's weak points and weakening of the strong one, the opposite formula for happiness inspiration.
Martina Corongiu 8°Kyu: It is not common to meet people who are able to synchronize words, movements and actions to such a high level. Observing the details of that synchrony it was not only inspiring, but also left a wide trail of enthusiasm, not only because you learned something more, but most of all because you can see the beauty and the results of such discipline and commitment. It was heartening to see the possibility of Taijutsu: thanks to some kind of people, and I mean not only Pedro but all budokas we met and train with, few hours are enough to make you want to spread the message “be open heart” in every possible ethical meaning. The first day I went to Zenshin dojo I felt the same open mind/hearth feeling and this is why I came back there again. I’m so grateful to be part of it.
Alessandro Vadalà Shihan: my travel mates have already said everything. I thank them for following me to Salzburg and for understanding the importance of this trip.
I thank Pedro from the bottom of my heart for everything he has inspired. He has been so kind and generous to me. Far more than I deserved!
What you have read from the guys of the dojo is spontaneous and a symptom of a not indifferent growth. This due to a true Dai Shihan as Pedro.
If there's one thing I want to do, it is just add something that I could not do at the time of the seminar. That is answer to a guy who at the end of the seminar asked the question "how do you know your art is effective?". I totally misunderstanded the moment when I was asked to answer him by Pedro. I apologize again to Pedro, I'm just a "simplón" :)
I'll try to answer it now hoping my answer reaches that guy:
Well I think it is necessary, for answer to this question, to start from the name of our discipline. Budo Taijutsu. Now let's focus on the first word "Budo". It is written in two kanji: BU and DO. Budo means leterally "warfare way" or "warrior path", in what are just some of the possible interpretations. The kanji BU (war, martial) is as follows:
In the ideogram the long diagonal line represents a "spear" (hoko) resting on the rack (tomeru, to leave). So a spear not used, placed in a corner and not equiped in a conflict. Here ther is the contradiction that exists in art (which Pedro referred to on saturday). Budo is the way "to avoid conflict", not to generate it. We study war to preserve life. Now I answer the question directly: "How do I know it is effective?". To answer this question we must ask ourselves what "efficacy" means, because this aspect is directly correlated with "the objective of the art". What is the goal of Budo Taijutsu? For me it is about feeling safer, making people feel more secure around me and, more importantly, being HAPPY. In short, persevering with a smile despite the difficulties of life. Becoming increasingly capable of controlling emotions and destroying one's own EGO in the search for TRUTH. If you are happy in practice and discipline supports you in life, then it is effective. Otherwise change road, it is not said that the discipline fits for you.
I felt lucky to be at that seminar. To see people I had not seen for a long time and to be surrounded by so many buyu. The light spreaded by Pedro I think has reflected in all the Shihan, Shidoshi and practitioners in general, and has generated a powerful energy in the hall. An intense light that all the people brought home in the form of a small flame inside themselves ..... and the words from the guys of the Milan dojo, that you read above, are the proof ... see you for sure next time!