Many of us marvel at the abilities of extraordinary people. It is in our nature as we are inherently tribal and look for, and up to, leaders.
In the sports arena, think of Bruce Lee, Mohammad Ali , Mo Farah, Hussein Bolt, Bradley Wiggins or Chris Hoy. We all look up to them and their achievements with respect and somehow we think we can be a little bit like them.
Yet we probably all think that to be that successful, you have to be blessed at birth with extraordinary capability and you have to dedicate your life to being that good. But, what if you just want to be a little bit like them to enjoy many different sports. Not to necessarily excel, but to savour and to enjoy what you do without working your butt off . 99.99+% of us are like that.
And here’s a thing. Look at your cat, or someone else’s, if you haven’t got one. How much exercise do they do. Do they spend hours training? Heck they do – they spend hours sleeping or perhaps even contemplating. Have you ever tried to pick up a cat that doesn’t want to be held? If not – good luck with that. They don’t even need to use their claws or teeth to break free – they are that powerful when they need to be. So what do they do that is different to what we do?
If they have been born with powerful genes – then so have we. If they can stay in prime condition by exercising a little bit through-out the day (and night) – then so can we. If they can muster their whole body to act in unison – then so can we. The difference is that cats don’t think much or even adapt much. They rely on their innate abilities – we don’t, so much. We have been blessed with reasoning powers and therefore we think things through. We look for the easiest route most of the time, and follow what we see and hear about rather than what our bodies are telling us. Why? Because, we have forgotten how to listen to, and with, our bodies.
Genetically we are blessed with powerful bodies – what we do with them is another matter. Under exercising, or even over exercising various bits to look better, yet still under exercising other bits. Focused training for the most obvious ‘pride’ muscles rather than working with our inherently connected structures.
If we want to tap into our innate power, some re-education and reversion to our inherent capabilities is necessary.
Most of us wear shoes with heels. Whether they are low, high or medium height – most shoes have heels. We think that they are necessary for us to walk. Why? Only because most people do and we follow the herd.
Heels were invented to aid horse riding. To stop the rider’s feet sliding forward in their stirrups. Then they became a fashion item. Then they became the norm.
These days heels have become necessary because we have inadvertently trained our bodies to need them. They can actually hinder our natural movement so that we have become more reliant on muscle power than connected body power.
Our bodies have been gifted to us with some inherently powerful structures which we mostly ignore. Walking without heels now feels unnatural – how odd is that?
The reason for picking on heels is because it’s an easy example to see and test. What happens if you walk or run in shoes without heels?
Put one foot forward and point your toes so that the ball of your foot touches the ground first and your heel is off the ground. You will need to keep you weight forward as you do this. As you put more weight onto your front foot, you should notice a bounce in your foot and leg, until your heel hits the ground. If at first you don’t feel this, play around a bit with extending your foot and your body weighting. You will then feel it.
Now try this same exercise again with your shoes on – can you feel the bounce? No? That’s because without the shoes you can engage the natural structure of your leg. With your shoes on it is much more difficult – unless they have flat soles!
The importance of this example is that you have a pair of massive bows in your legs that could be exercised every time you walk. These bows harness the power of gravity so that once your legs have been re-trained, every time you step, your leg stores energy that can be used for your next step and so on. Is this news to top athletes? I doubt it. But they will probably train these bows in specific ways, rather than with inherent structure.
In Systema, the training we do enhances all of these bows, and their ability to store energy and re-apply it. If you know what you’re looking for you will be able ‘feel’ the bows when training – and so will your partners!
Much of my initial learning about kinetic, elastic bows came from other Martial Arts, but the key to the puzzle has definitely been my training in Systema. My thanks and appreciation go to Vik and Glen for their insightful and open teaching, and obviously their lineage!