Finding faith and firm ground: Twins in Amsterdam

Only having two days of training is already a great opportunity to have good focus and time for Systema. A four day seminar offers the opportunity to go even deeper. But only if you dare….

Going deeper not just means going deeper physically, but also mentally. Not that a seminar is some kind of confrontational soul searching exercise, but I found with myself usually that a block in progress in Systema was more a mental thing than a physical thing. And if you are prepared to look at what is holding you back mentally and deal with it, you might find yourself making sudden physical progress as well.

This however was not the subject of the seminar, which was ‘Dynamic power’. Unfortunately as with my last post, I started writing this way to late so many of the details have escaped me (I will make more effort to write sooner), so I will not be able to bore you with all the details. A general description would be how to generate powerful action, while remaining mobile in the sense of actually moving or being able to move.

This is one of the interesting parts of Systema: generating power while being mobile means you are by definition limited in the use of your body for the generation of the power. So for maximum mobility the power preferably comes just from the part of your body you are using for the contact without hindering the motion in the rest of your body. Anybody ever having tried this can tell you this is hard even doing each element separately.

As such the Twins had arranged for a full four days with exercises focusing on generating power from the part of your body you are working with, on mobility and obviously a combination of the two. As with all Systema work, this requires tension and relaxation in the right places and to be able to do that requires some faith.

Working as a climbing instructor (already more than a decade ago) you see the same thing. Fear of falling, lack of confidence of being able to do something will create tension, which will make it harder to move and will make you tire much faster. So on the one hand you need some faith to work to the best of your abilities, on the other hand it is still the case that you might fail. For this you need firm ground. In climbing you are secured by a rope (though there are people who like to climb without), in Systema you have your training partners and your instructors. However as with climbing,  where some people still have a hard time falling in the ropes, in Systema people can have a hard time trusting the firm ground of their instructors and training partners. This combination of not having faith in your own abilities and not being able to use the firm ground makes training a lot more difficult than necessary and it has made my training a lot more difficult than necessary.

And at some point, while training with a good friend, Adam approaches us and points out to me that I should occupy the whole space I am working in, not just the part where ‘I’ am at (though I do not remember the exact words). This triggered a feeling which in turn triggered a shift in attitude towards myself and my training partner and the instructors. I felt that I was able to do the work and supported by my training partners and instructors, while at the same time paradoxically emphasizing that I had not had this kind of faith and firm ground before.

Obviously after having this feeling for the duration of one exercise, I lost it completely in another. But I have no doubt I am able to get there again.

Instructors: Adam and Brendon Zettler

Organizers: Systema Amsterdam