On July 16, 1999, after 56 years of service to the self-protection community, “the Keeper of the Lost Art”, Antonio Pereira, breathed his last and passed away. Master Pereira was my combat teacher for the past 18 years. Much of what I write and teach comes directly from things that he taught me, or paths that he started me down. The world lost one of its most talented and active minds in the self-protection community.
I did have a chance to visit him on his deathbed. His wife told me that I was one of the few people that he requested because he did not want anyone to see him as an invalid. I admit it was hard for me seeing someone who I regarded as wise and powerful brought down by time and sickness. Master Pereira asked me to simply to make sure that the accomplishments of all of the advanced practitioners of his art are known. He thanked me for accepting his discipline. He was extremely gracious and could not help but reflect on some of his more popular statements, some of which I have tried to capture in this article.
“In order for a technique to be effective, it must also be simple.” Having fought in World War II for five years in the jungle, he knew that in a self-protection situation you will not be able to perform complicated techniques. This is the cornerstone principle of Miyama Ryu. Many of the modern arts miss the point of simplicity and add in components unrelated to survival.
We are not fighters, we are defenders.” If you really want to understand how not to be the victim of a violent crime, this fact is key. Master Pereira believed that your mindset and physical techniques should work for you regardless of your size, physical conditioning, or strength. He taught the difference between sport martial arts and self-defence. He was an acknowledged expert at both and that is why peers called him the ‘Keeper of the Lost Art’.
“What if? Will be answered in time.” As a teacher of the self-protection arts, the question of “what if” is constantly popping up. It is normally in relation to a scenario. So for example, if you are teaching someone how to avoid an attacker who is coming at you with a knife, the student may ask, what if he has a gun. Master Pereira always tried to focus on what we were learning and doing at the time. His idea was that to save your life you must be able to concentrate fully on what was going on right now.
Master Pereira taught me many things. I will continue to write, teach and expand on them. In 1998 he named me as one of the successors of his system with the mandate to spread it worldwide. I hope that I am worthy of the task to carry on his legacy as one of the modern-day “Keepers of the Lost Art.” Protect yourself.