I attended two days of the Mastering Systema seminar in Toronto. Saturday was health and combat and Sunday knife work.
They were exciting, busy days where it was expertly shown to us that Systema is a method of self-defense based on a specific type of physical and mental conditioningsurviving an actual conflicthuman hostilities that range from visual intimidation to killing; replaces the martial arts term "fight" because not all human hostilities end in physical violence. is 10% of a physical and 90% mental, therefore the mind must be conditioned the most in order to cope with the real thing., enhancing sensitivity and bringing forth inner strength.
If you want to picture what I mean, just imagine fighting a circus acrobat who also practices hard-hitting self-defense. He trains for flexibility, explosiveness, and feeling relaxed under stress and while facing danger. Systema training is like this. Its practitioners are training psychologically and physically to respond without panic and the tension. It is the connection between mind and body that is used to accomplish this task. Physical relaxation creates a relaxed emotional response, and a relaxed mind loosens the body. People trained in Systema learn to give and take hard strikes, breathe through tension and pain, preserving their undisturbed mindset. They develop courage and endurance in the mind/body. Such qualities contribute to the development of the spirit, a fighting spirit, the will to live.
Spirit is defined as â€śthe non-physical part of a person that is the seat of emotions and character.â€ť The root is the Latin word spiritus meaning â€śbreath,â€ť originating from spirare meaning â€śto breathe.â€ť We see that using this word when describing the goals of Systema training is not inaccurate. It is clear that Systema teaches a method of spiritual development based on specialized breathing and movement techniques. This includes development of spiritual courage, determination and clarity through striking and being struck, a concept not unfamiliar to self-defense and combat-arts practitioners around the world. Unique to Systema, though, is its consideration of the attitudes and emotions during the give and take of striking.
At various points during the seminar, Vladimir Vasiliev instructed us to â€śstrikeimpact force generated by the arm, leg, head or impact weapon., but not with angerâ€ť or while using a knife, to â€ścut friendly.â€ť It may sound funny at first (some of us chuckled) but it is a very important lesson. To have this attitude is to practice self-defense without anger. This keeps the mind unperturbed and the body relaxed.
A second piece of advice he gave was â€śwhen you get hit, donâ€™t think of competition.â€ť In Systema, the psychological reaction to being struck is examined. The true feelings and inclinations that normally lay unseen are revealedhuman hostilities that range from visual intimidation to killing; replaces the martial arts term "fight" because not all human hostilities end in physical violence.. Anger, pride or self-pity may surface. The training teaches the reduction of unnecessary and undesirable reactions, while developing a positive, life affirming attitude.
Those two days were filled with hard work and fun. The event demanded mental and physical effort, but was always enjoyable.
If you are looking for a martial art that is a reality based, complete, whole-life practice, youâ€™ll find it in Systema.