Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Learning Systema, Climbing Mountains and Christmas

Hello Everyone. First off Merry Christmas.

Secondly, Thanks to everyone who has come and supported us in the training and growth of our school. I must take my hat off to the crew as they have put in the hard work and have really helped each other to progress in our training of the System.

It's nice to be winding down now as we are approaching the Christmas and New Years break. I've been thinking a bit about what message I wanted to send out as we approach 2014. This has been on my mind for a long time and I guess this is as good a time as any to put it out there. It is something that one of my teachers, David Quaile, told me a long time ago that has always stayed with me regarding Systema.

Learning Systema is a lot like climbing Mountains.

You start at the bottom of this huge mountain thinking to yourself "Gee I'd like to climb that." And so you begin. You gear up and proceed to ascend this thing, climbing between the rocks, finding perches in the mountain face, hanging on for dear life, and somehow having a good laugh along the way. Finally you make it to the top of the Mountain, and it is the best thing ever. You're so pleased that you made it, and you look back down with a real sense of accomplishment at how far you have come.... Then you notice something. Off in the distance you see an even bigger Mountain, which gets you thinking... "You know what? I think I'd like to climb that one now.".... But you can't do it if you stay at the top of the current Mountain you have just climbed. So down you go back to the beginning, back to ground level, to restock your equipment and to begin planning how to climb the larger mountain.

It feels pretty annoying descending back down from that great height you worked so hard to get to.
After all the ground level is beneath you. Literally beneath you. However you do it. You find yourself back on the ground where you started. But now you have a whole new point of view having just climbed that last mountain. You have learned a lot about yourself and acquired a whole new skill set, as well as a better understanding of how to use the equipment that you brought up with you. Going back to the beginning you are newly informed when you restock your equipment, maybe even finding a few things to take that you didn't last time, in preparation for the next climb.

You get to the foot of that larger mountain and begin to climb. But because of the perspective you gained from the last one, and how this informed your decisions when you restocked on ground level, you climb even higher than the last time, making it all the way to the top of this even larger mountain. What a feeling!!!! Even higher than last time and it feels awesome. You look at the landscape before you, and you look back down at how far you have climbed. You see that smaller mountain you climbed before and can't help but sneer a little bit and how much lower it is than the height that you have just ascended to. Then you look off into the distance... Where you see another, even larger Mountain.... "Gee I'd like to climb that..." is what goes through your mind.

And so... Back down the Mountain. All the way back to the beginning again, grumbling and cursing as you descend and your feet eventually touch ground. But then with perspective, and new skills you have gained, you are once again more informed when you restock your equipment. You really begin to see that there were pieces of equipment available to you, that you just didn't take with you before that were actually quite necessary. You begin to find the things that you were missing previously and rectify the error by taking them with you.

Up we go this third bigger Mountain, Up, up and even higher than the last time until you reach the top. "I'm the king of the world!!!!", you exclaim. So much higher now. Then you look off into the distance... An even larger Mountain stares back at you.... Guess What? Yep, time to go back down to the beginning...Again.

The thing about going back down to the beginning... Is that its Hard. It's a massive affront to pride, the ego, and it hurts. But you can't spend the rest of your training on one plateau. When you hit the plateau and can't go any further, always remember to go back to the simple things. Often things that were so simple that they didn't seem to be worth the time. Things that were so simple often people exclaim "But I knew that already!!!" Simple... Not Easy. It takes a lot of humility to be able to do this again...And Again...And again. The hard thing is that the higher you climb, the further it is going to be every time for you to have to come down... Back to the beginning. It never ends and nobody is exempt from this... The reward for good work.. Is more work :)

Upon this realisation two particular principles stand out and become particularly useful:
1. Remember to laugh at yourself
2.Enjoy the journey...Because it never ends.

But not to worry. Just remember, every time you go back and fix the simple things, the fundamentals the things in your base, you will be able to climb even higher. Don't neglect simple things just because they don't look cool...Trust me. I know it can be hard sometimes, but what you get back is truly rewarding. A true gift that you give to yourself. It does make a better person of you... And it's kind of fun :)

This is the study of the self... And it's a cracker.

For all our friends overseas: 
Cracker - Australian colloquialism indicating that something is great or amusing.

So as one year comes to an end and a new one beings. Merry Christmas everyone, stay safe these holidays and have a very Happy New Year.

Justin Ho
Principal Instructor
Systema Sydney Russian Martial Art

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