I grew up loving martial arts and combat forms of many kinds. As with most people, I studied this area of work by watching others. Movies, street fights, sparring sessions, sporting events and physical competitions were just a few of the outlets that I gleaned my information from. The more I watched, the more I gathered ideas about the connection between physical power generation and its visual manifestations in the human form. Simply put, by watching others move and work, I started to learn what powerful movements look like.
I was convinced I had things figured out in this area of study, that is, until I discovered Systema. It shattered all of my mind's concepts concerning how to generate force to move objects or people. The first time I saw a Systema demonstration on YouTube, I simply couldn't believe my eyes. Attackers where falling and flying everywhere, and yet the Systema practitioner looked as though he was hardly exerting any effort. I really didn't believe it at first. I needed to investigate more.
My first Systema seminar with Vladimir Vasiliev was in 2007. During that seminar I was fortunate enough to work with him for awhile. His work left my head spinning, both literally and figuratively. How could someone of his size and level of relaxation generate such force and move me with such ease? In truth, I felt a bit like a caveman discovering fire for the first time. I could sense the power in this new discovery, but my mind had absolutely no reference points by which to decipher or make sense of this new information. All I had was my old paradigm of power, which included loads of tension, grunting, straining, a body builder physique and/or large physical stature, certain rigid body structure arrangements, etc. etc. etc. How was he able to achieve similar or better results without using the concepts that I had come to know so well?
I was at a loss...but I knew that I had experienced something quite real.... and I wanted more.
So, I began purchasing Systema DVD's as often as possible, and watching them almost religiously. I've heard it said that it takes up to seven repetitions of a positive verbal statement to replace just one negative statement lodged in the mind. In the same way, I felt as though I was immersing my mind into the visual "positive" power generation concepts of Systema to rid myself of the "negative" effects of my old ideas. I knew that if the 7 to 1 ratio held true in this regard, I had a lot of watching to do before I would begin to experience any real change. I also began training with instructors who understood these concepts and could generate power effectively through controlled tension and overall body efficiency. As I began to make new connections between what I saw on the DVD's and my own new experiences, slowly my mind began to change and I gradually developed a brand new paradigm of power.
Now when I watch masters like Vladimir Vasiliev or Mikhail Ryabko work, I have new reference points to draw from, and thereby, a deeper understanding of what is happening so that I can replicate it. I write this blog entry as an encouragement to all of the Systema practitioners in the world who may feel as though they are a bit lost, or that they have no idea what is actually occurring when they watch Systema in action. Take heart my friends. Don't give up. I implore you to immerse yourself more deeply into Systema and simply open your heart, mind and body to what you experience. With a lot of hard work, time, openness and humility, I guarantee that you will develop your new paradigm of power and your ability to share this precious gift with the world.