Sunday, 14 April 2013

Why the Fundamentals?

For a long time now I have considered starting a Systema Fundamentals class at our club in North Sydney. However there is something that I must share.... This is not a beginners class...This is also not an advanced students class....It's a Fundamentals class :)

To put it in a nutshell; 
For anyone who is new to Systema the work covered in this class will ensure that you develop a solid base of understanding and ability upon which to develop your skills. For anyone who has been doing Systema for a while now it will further enhance whatever your understanding and ability already is.

I have already seen the results that this type of training has produced for my current students. On the nights that we have decided to engage in this, we have started throwing around the terms "Fine Tuning" or "Base Training" . Work to ensure that the foundations are correctly developed before we try to build a house on it.  Work to ensure that our primary weapon, ourselves, are functioning optimally and without hindrance.

Let me give you an analogy. Imagine person who has just bought a car second hand which he sourced from an add in the trading post. Some sort of really sick looking piece of machinery. He looks at this new acquisition lovingly. Black paint job, recently polished by the new owner, sick rims, mad sound system, and leather seats.

He gets in the driver's seat, puts the key in the ignition, turns it expecting to hear this thing's engine fire up.... But instead he hears the engine strain, shake and rattle. He tries to turn the key again same sad shuddering followed by the sound of the engine dying.

Confused and dismayed he climbs out of the vehicle, heads to the front, pops the hood and takes a look inside. He see's the that the radiators cracked, and the spark plugs are half torn out. He check's the oil gauge to find out that it's empty. To add insult to injury the engine looks like it's a hundred years old. 

He steps back, takes a deep breath and says to himself...  "You know what I need to get this car working?....More paint.... Yep...More paint, and a bit more polish.... I bet if I lower the suspension too and get this baby just a few millimetres closer to the ground then the it'll work... You know I should get some of those fluffy dice to hang off of the rear view mirror too while I'm at it... Just to be sure.... She should work after that."

...Guys... I'm assuming at this stage you can see there's something horribly wrong with this picture. All lost working on the exterior things that people see on the outside. When a piece of machinery like that is functioning as it should people only see the flashy paint job, the sick rims, the roar of the engine as this things just powers on by at speeds that would make your eyeballs fall into the back of your head if you were in the drivers seat. But it's what people don't see, the inner workings of the vehicle that make all of it work. And in the case of our friend here the priorities on which he is focussing on are probably not likely to result in a functional vehicle. 

The things is popping that hood, replacing the spark plugs, replacing the radiator, putting the oil into the engine...Hell probably replacing the whole engine. This all isn't as flashy as the idea of working on the external features. It also takes a lot more time, understanding and patience to do the work that needs to be done.  Certainly a more frustrating prospect to most people. But to focus on the previously described list of "external" priorities in the hopes of getting the car working I think we can agree is not likely to yield a good outcome for our friend here.

However the funny thing is... People treat their martial arts like this... Focusing on the cool looking heavy hit that makes the other guys body tremble (even if he was going a third of the speed you were...but whatever), the fancy looking acrobatic roll (without any proper breathing which may explain why you're starting to bruise so much), the forced take down (which results in a 5 minute wrestling match completely negating your ability to deal with more than one attacker which is probably not a great thing since you're surrounded by a bunch of them). 

Correct breathing, the appropriate level of relaxation, an understanding of when to utilise the right movement, and proper use of structure. Not to mention understanding of and ability to adapt the principles of the System and their variants. The unseen things admittedly are just a little bit more boring but will allow all of the above mentioned applications to occur as a by product. And yet again a majority of the time priority is given to only what can be seen to look flashy: The heavy hit, the fancy roll, the mad take down or pretty looking knife disarm....

People like to do things which look cool, which are flashy and impressive to the eye. It's human nature. But it's the simple things, the unseen things, the things which are often perceived as too basic or boring. The things that make people say "Yeah Yeah I know all that already, now show me something cool"...These are the simple "boring" things that make it all work.

This is why I have started the fundamentals class. To do the work that needs to be done. As such I have decided that this class....IS NOT MANDATORY... And for those who are already on the casual pass or monthly memberships...IT IS FREE.

This class is for anyone who wishes to take the time to do the work that needs to be done.  It was not designed to be popular or to make money. It is there for those who want it and are willing to do the work. 

As I've explained before:
The work will not be complicated but it will be deep. 
The work will be simple, but not always easy.
No tricks, no promises, no sugar coating,  just hard work.

Oh but I will say this...If you take the time to study yourself and learn how to learn... It is actually fun too.

Details are as follows:


Justin Ho 
Principal Instructor 
Systema Sydney Russian Martial Art 

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