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Are You Really Training?

Have you ever noticed this about yourself?

Your partner does an “unfair” move towards you, for example, he responds to your light strike with a hard and painful one. And then you get angry.

Or your partner is a bit arrogant or slow to learn, and you get irritated.

Then again, your moves work very well, and it makes you proud of yourself.

Or someone praises you and vanity starts to creep in.

I see this happening every class. In this case, your real training time might be only a few minutes out of the entire session…

Technique is relatively easy to learn; you can break it down into parts and grasp it. It is specific and with some practice – you’ve got it. The focus of Systema is different – you need to understand yourself. What does that mean? Watch constantly what is it that interferes with your calm, objective and continuous movement.

Uncontrolled emotions are detrimental to effective work. These feelings come in a subtle way and unnoticeably begin to dominate and eat away at your strength. We must be vigilant. Step one is to be aware of these weaknesses; step two is to try to overcome them through breathing, understanding, changing the attitudes and the movements. Then we gain true strength and skill.

At that point where you feel angry, annoyed, resentful or self-important – you are not longer perfecting your movement or breathing or doing other tasks, instead you are dealing with a petty conflict. If you succumb to your emotions you can be easily controlled and manipulated. While taken by emotions, you can no longer have clear judgment and swift decision making – and that is destructive for your training and for your life.

I recommend, throughout the entire class for you to try and identify what are your limitations that prevent good work. Whether you are learning or teaching, always observe your emotional condition. As soon as your emotions are unstable – you are not really working any more.

When we come to class – we come to train, that is the foundation. You might be disappointed in yourself or something in class could be disagreeable. No matter what happens in a session, it should all serve its useful purpose.

The work of recognizing and facing our pride and weakness is much more difficult than polishing techniques, but it is much more profound. As we know, memorized techniques often let you down in real unrehearsed confrontations, for example, if your arm is broken or if you are in a confined space. Whereas, if you can control your emotions and study movement, you will be capable of solving any problem in a multitude of ways. I know from experience that such work is extremely rewarding, it creates true skill and allows us to survive and succeed.

Notes from class by Vladimir Vasiliev

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