Working with my psyche: observations after Emmanuel Manolakakis in Kortrijk

Two weeks ago Emmanuel Manolakakis gave a seminar in Kortrijk. During the seminar, Emmanuel used working with weapons as a means to instruct us on a stable psyche.

I used to consider the main cause of disruption of my stable psyche during training irritation with my partners or myself. These days however I can manage this quite well and I rarely loose my calm over these things during training anymore. Nevertheless something was agitating my psyche during the training to such an extend that it was difficult to do certain exercises.

Now obviously fear can play a role during training. The interesting thing I observed is that often it seems to creep up on me. Most of the time it does not fall out of the sky and suddenly leave you unable to do anything. It is more like an ambulance you hear coming from afar that eventually stops next to you. The distant sounds already tend to make slight differences in my work. Even though I was already aware of this, the seminar made me more attentive to it and made it clear that even if the ambulance is only far away, it is already a reason to try to stay calm.

Fear however was also not the most disturbing factor to my psyche during the seminar. So what was it? During one exercise we were working on the ground and when we felt threatened by the other, get our gun without agitating the other person. At a certain point, in stead of getting the gun in a calm fashion, I find my fist in my partners face (sorry Vincent) and hear Emmanuel laugh in the background. “That is the opposite of the exercise.” What happened?

I was not afraid, I was actually having good fun.

One might say it is not possible to have too much fun during training. I think it depends, if you are training as a pass-time maybe not. If you want to learn things, it can. It agitates the psyche and can lure you away from the exercise as much as a competitive training partner can. Am I worried that in a violent situation my psyche will be agitated by ‘having too much fun’? Not really (though they might send you to a mental hospital for it). For me however it was the most important point of ‘psyche-instability’ during the seminar and a good point for practice during training. Practicing with irritation I can do plenty during working ours.

Combat trauma emergency medical course

Last weekend we went to the combat trauma emergency medical course in Kortrijk Belgium.


Here’s a short summary.

Why do you train Systema? I like to be able to defend myself and certain others, not just for the fun of it, but to be able stay alive and as healthy as possible. As such, doing some first aid courses seemed logical. In the Netherlands these are mostly aimed at office environments, with a focus on sprained ankles and heart attacks. These skills are also very useful, but as Jeff and Kirill (instructors) showed us in a time span of two minutes, probably not good enough for more violent conditions.

But what can you learn in only two days? With the right instructors, a lot apparently. The course started with a surprise exercise, which made it clear what kind of situation you might end up in. For me, this made it quite clear how frustrating (to put it mildly) it is going to be when something serious happens and all the help you can offer is holding someones hand. And even though I had no hesitation to rush to the scene, I did it with a somewhat ignorant attitude towards my own safety. First lessons: mind your own safety, stress really does interfere with your performance and ehm I don’t know what I should do.

Why did I not know what to do? My first aid classes did not teach me what to do or expect with injury resulting from violent attacks involving guns, knifes or bombs. What kind of trauma can you expect? What to do in what order and how much time do you have? What can you use when you have nothing on you? In terms of safety, what should you pay attention to and how? What kind of nasty scenes might you run into and what difficult choices might you have to make?

Not only did Jeff and Kirill manage to give as much answers as our minds and bodies were able to absorb in a weekend, they made it clear that learning does not have to end with the weekend. So I want apologize to my co-workers beforehand for putting tourniquets on them and making them put them on me.

Big thanks to Jeff and Kirill for teaching us and the patience to answer all our questions and to Koen for organizing another good seminar!