We hold regular workshops focusing on the principles behind flowing, structured powerful movement. The principles are useful for any form of exercise or self development but are particularly relevant to the flow and power in Systema. We make a distinction between training (drilling), application and flow, with flow incorporating the principles from both the training and application stages.
Here is a very nice review from a colleague and fellow Systema practitioner:
For me, Systema is not just a passion but a journey; a journey of exploration.
A journey that is established within the foundational framework of Systema; where humility enables us to open our mind to new approaches as well as the ongoing consolidation and/or understanding of its revered traditions & skillsets. This same journey allows us to continually learn, finesse and revisit one’s own capabilities.
Such journey to me is not about seeking one simple answer or wanting to comprehend more than anyone else. It is simply to aspire to the knowledge that is propounded by those who have become skilled in teaching Systema and passing on their own wisdom and learning. During my relatively short Systema journey (in comparison to some, whose paths I have been fortunate to cross so far), I have been blessed in being taught by individuals whose perception & wisdom of Systema, has not only inspired me to look further along such path, but to also constantly evaluate myself both physically (external) and psychologically (internal).
When I say internally, I am not just talking about improving behaviours (i.e. mood, tolerance pride etc.) but importantly my internal strengths. ‘Strengths’ in the sense of managing my breathing, my energy, structure and movement; I am continually evaluating these to find relaxation & vice versa. Therefore, when the kind offer from Julian to work with both him & Michael Culloty one afternoon presented itself, I went along with an open mind and measured anticipation.
Come full circle and it has brought me to share this short precis with you here & now.
On arrival I found the actual working focus was on ‘Flow’ & ‘Connectivity’; facets that I’ve engaged in before but equally want to understand so much more about. These facets not only apply to us as single entities but also between us and other living matter, whether it be humans, other living creatures or our natural environment. The body & mind are such powerful tools – for not only are we inter-connected physically but also spiritually & emotionally.
Thus, as I stood silently surrounded by beautiful gardens, the sun embracing my form with its warmth & energy, I attempted perhaps naively to start with, to understand that ‘Flow’ & ‘Connectivity’ might be simply understood through normal circular breathing patterns alongside subtle body movement.
However, with patient insight, I began to feel the energy ebb & flow and eventually fill me from head to toe; a feeling very hard to explain; and whilst I’m certainly not trained to evaluate authoritatively, or to even know if I was experiencing the feeling correctly or following the right lines, it was, nonetheless, an unworldly moment when I began to feel the energy become ‘whole’ within me.
Feeling ‘as one’ or ‘in accord’ with both the ground & natural surroundings and those persons around me, was only I can best describe, like being when one performs full body pulse work, preceded by independent pulse association. It was this feeling of energy (power) that I then endeavoured to maintain throughout the rest of the session – a difficult task indeed. The feeling of being and moving as ‘one’ or a ‘single powerful unit’, blending perfectly in conjunction with the Connectivity work undertaken immediately afterwards.
To be able to ‘Connect’ (unemotionally), feeling the tension of your attacker in one single pivotal moment, is a sublime part of the essence of Systema. It is that moment when (and undoubtedly honed through continuous years of practice), one can accept the need to move as a single unit into an empty space. This is presented through one’s immediate, wholly instinctual extrapolation of distance, timing & directional ‘pre-emptive movement at the same time; interpreted through the recognition of where tension resides in one’s attacker.
Once you connect with your attacker, you are immediately drawn (the ‘Flow’) towards the attackers’ initially loaded ‘weak’ structure point. Each loaded point then presenting another and so-on & so-on; rather like a series of collapsing layers of corporal constituents, but with frightening rapidity. Naturally there are evolutionary building blocks to this, and with time & humble practice and a belief in one’s ability to reach such capability, it is possible to journey further in this fundamental area of Systema.
For me either my feet stopped working, I thought too much and missed the ‘empty space’ or the timing wasn’t quite right. However, this is also where relaxation and breathing play their vital parts. The more you ‘Connect’ with both your internal self and the attacker or partner, the more you relax. It is evolutionary and not revolutionary.
So, if you are like me: one who takes their time to mull over an experience and ponder on those few wonderful occasions when everything came together and then dissect it all again; and/or you just take one or two elements away to study over & over again, eventually these components will all come together.
When they do, if they do; there will be no shout of ‘Eureka’ or proclamation on social media, it will purely just be a ‘feeling’ – like as if someone has sketched a smiling face on your soul….quite simply, nothing more.
If for that just reason alone, my heartfelt thanks go to both Julian & Michael for giving me an opportunity to practice again, this almost spiritual work further; this wonderfully integral but equally challenging aspect to Systema….it was yet another captivating ‘Port of Call’, on my Systema journey.
As my father once said “If you study with an open mind, the knowledge will touch your Soul”