I Maestri

Sauro Somigli


I was Born in Florence on the 20th January, 1951, in a time still suffering the devastating effects of World War II and at the same time, a time of great economic and social changes that will be remembered with the name of economic boom. In that phase of history one was still playing in the street, climbing the trees and learn to swim in the river Arno, thrown into the water by the oldest friends.
Soccer was already a mass sport and when I went and visit relatives in the countryside I used to play with a ball of rags, while in the city there was the rubber ball, and rarely the famous leather one. The games were almost never-ending and it was not the clock time to declare the end of the match but the score, and after finishing we started again, changing teams.
At 14 years old the entrance in a semi-professional team, the tournaments, with specific roles and the referee for three years, two in the under 15 and one year in juniores.
In the same period started the passion for music, for drums, using a cartoon cilinder of washing machine soap, but soon I rented drums.
An accident caused me the fractured of left clavicle, I remained half covered with plaster for forty-five days, with my hand hanged over my head, but even with this suit of armour I went and play football.
The game played by kids had fun, was free and it was not a structured training as the one adults play.
After the incident, when I started again training, I felt uneasy in the tackle and jumping with the other players, so instead of rehabilitation it was suggested karate, it could not seem the best rehabilitation system, because the collective imagination looked at karate only for breaking tablets and it was considered dangerous and violent. My mother, because I was under age, signed the paper to join the club without telling nothing to my father who did not agree these "dangerous" things, even if he after accepted and shared this choice, without creating obstacles in any way. The most beautiful memory of my parents is that they never made me feel uncomfortable in any of my choices. It was in 1968, Shotokan style of Karate and my first teachers came from Shotokai.
Later I became interested also in Goju Ryu for his approach to the strong and forced respiration.
In 1971 I received the first Dan and more for the lack of teachers than for my knowledge, I began teaching, it was not yet the time of large numbers but soon this art became very popular and it was practiced almost anywhere. In the same year I graduated Technician in Radiology and after a year in Rome at the Military Hospital and practicing karate, I returned to Florence with a regular job and a gym where I thaught. Time passed and together also the Dans, but I found it hard to understand the hard relationships I found in karate, a clear discrimination between the most clever and the weakest, a poor listening and attention towards women and the weakest, I found a great distance between the deep and romantic readings on these martial arts and the many examples of abuse of power and arrogance, a contrast between the inner growth and the hardness of hierarchy, so karate seemed to me very rude in training and in relationships. Even the competitions couldn't enter in my blood, I had to participate in them and so I did for seven years, but the competitions of kata (codified forms) where the opponent was not present, while in the fighting I felt this awkward form of discomfort, without a clear understanding of the spirit of these "battles". It was the different attitude of my mind and the different way of channelling the energies, that the relation between agonism attitude and techniques made me win some national tournaments and an italian Championship. It was on 1978 when I decide to stop agonistic experience and together also my state employment.
From that moment onwards many things changed, I started feeling that life was mine and I could decide her flow or at least direct her where I felt, in a land full of minerals that could give a start to my personal research and so as a teacher I began practicing Hatha Yoga, meditation and attending seminars in kobudo. For three years I did kendo and Jaido, practiced also a couple of years in London. In 1985 I started again music with saxophone and from then it is always with me. Until 1990 I devoted myself to teaching in Florence and Tuscany training many students, among them some good teachers, many amateurs found an important moment in their lives, some athletes obtained good results in competitions at regional and national level, including a member of the kata team, who became champion of Europe in 1982.
In those years I held the position of Technical Director in Tuscany and I was part of the National Technical Commission of the Italian Federation of Karate.
In 1987 I began studying Taiji Quan looking for punctuation in it, the sense of space and musicality, I went to London to study this art, searching for something that was not in karate, a different point of view within the same family. Once in London I followed a few samples of sportive karate champions created in Britain at the time, storing interesting suggestions for my work that I found later when I worked as a coach of athletes of regional and national level. The best result I got is the third place in the Italian Championships, after the military groups. In 1987, 1988 and 1989 I made two trips to China and in Italy I followed the teachers coming from that country as consultants to some Italian schools. The beginning was with the Yang style, then Sun and Chen styles, always followed by the study of Qi Gong and the exercises for health. I went back to that country the third time in 1998 directly from Kathmandu. In 1987, 1988 and 1989 I followed the preparation, before entering in water, of the professional team of water polo, an experience in a new environment that intrigued me and fueled my passion. In 1990 I decided to move in London, a city that impressed me positively for the many diversities living together, for the big spaces and the people living in this cosmopolitan city. I remembered that in my classes, especially those at the Holborn Center for Performing Arts in central London, I had a “melting pot”, creating moments of high emotional intensity and sharing, together with a lot of privacy and detachment in that beautiful school where we breathe art, classical and contemporary ballet, music and drama. Dressing rooms were sometimes set up in a corridor, those who tried to act drama before entering the room and those who were waiting for someone after audition, all were together. In that place I felt fine and with me also the Italians who came and visit me. In 1994 I moved to Paris with the same purpose of meeting another culture in one of the most beautiful and intriguing city of the world. I began to teach and got the first contacts after few months, and after I received some calls from the United States I already knew because, a couple of years before, I had been in some centers in California and Florida and it was just from there that I got an invitation from Miami where I decided to move. In this american city with a strong Caribbean influence where it is normal to hear Spanish language I taught in small classes in a Center close to the Ocean, where I held seminars and private lessons in a great atmosphere with the sea shining with the movement, with the exercise that blended with nature and with a great sense of pleasure I felt every morning training in front of the sea. I remember the big cigar of the director of the center where I taught, a nice person who wanted to invest on me, and every morning after my class, sitting in front of the Ocean, he was telling me how I could become famous in that country. In 1995 I returned to Florence, where Dante Alighieri, the great poet, told about the need to move every so often to "wash the dirty clothes in the Arno", so I maintained contact with Italy and held seminars in Singen in Germany and Monaco in Lugano in Switzerland, Budapest in Hungary and Budapest in Romania.
In 1996 I took a trip to Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand, where I studied some combat techniques from Indonesia and Malaysia then I arrived in Bangkok through Malysia, fascinated by the jungle trees and by the work of the peasants during the trip. Once I arrived in Bangkok I studied Thai massage in the capital.
In Indonesia I stopped for a couple of weeks on a small island surrounded by coral reefs, Gili Islands, where I met some people who spoke to me about Nepal, the Himalayan country that touched my life for the next eleven years.
From 1999 till 2001 I participated as a Taiji Quan teacher in three professional events in classical ballet, through a contact with some famous teachers of this art and some important etoiles, these moments provided me with an approach to dance that gave me important advice to work on and to reflect.
I founded Apeiron in 1996 and it was the main effort for the next eleven years, a plunge into the field of human rights, the idea-ideal of seeking a material form of response to the philosophies under the arts I studied.
Initially I used Karate with street children to provide an educational and recreational support in order to find time to make these children stay together, giving them means for socialization, then over the years, the reality of the country became clearer, I understood that the needs were different, it seemed to me to make little or that what we offered was not enough, so the need for a greater involvement and the decision to live in Kathmandu working with women, survivor of violence. At the same time I did missions in Brazil, Romania, Albania and Kosovo, then regular missions in India for meetings and for walk protest march on land rights of indigenous inhabitants of forests in India, Adivasis.
On that occasion we were guests of a group of Gandhians and I started telling about martial arts, they knew as an expression of violence, the same feeling I even got the first time when I started, notwithstanding they invited me to show what I could express through my body and emotional expression during the movements and they were all amazed. They were astonished in performance and they had to reconsider their idea of martial art, and the approval of these old militants set a sense of peace around us, no tile was broken and we were all good, the movement was the way to feel what you can express without speaking. In the project for women survivor of violence I introduced this psico-physic activity with good results and a strong interest among the women themselves. Today a young nepali girl, student of sacred dance, teaches at my place.
In 2006 I was in Africa, Mozambique and South Africa, traveling from Lesotho and Botzuwana, a two months experience with a completely different flavor than the beloved Asia. Send me a rude mosquito Plasmodium falciparum, the most dangerous malaria, fulminant if not taken in time, I care in South Africa and then went back home to Kathmandu.
In 2007 the experience in Nepal was finished and it was the time to live in Crete, Silvia and I have never been before on the island but decided to try. An island at the same distance between the African, the Asian and the European mainland, in the midst of the power of the sea, in contact with nature and with silence, these are the reasons to get the container with all our things to Heraklion, the capital.
In the island Silvia and I have taught in two dance schools and experienced a period of strong yang energy, the wind, the sun and the sea.
In 2008 came back to Italy, in Florence, a year of reflection and study waiting to start a new journey, and in March 2009 the new house and again the beginning of our work in Italy.
There are few other things to add, only some events that may be of little importance to explain the path that each person tries to take, but sometimes it is small details, or small connections that determine major changes, as when one loses a bus in Istanbul and does not reach a place from where one would have been part of another experience, and from there another with another meaning, another role and other structures.
Currently I have collaborations with the University of Science of Movement in Florence, and I am responsible of the Taiji Quan sector in FIAM (Italian Federation of Martial Arts).