In one of my confidential reports whilst in the Parachute Regiment, my then Commanding Officer wrote of me that, ‘Capt. Hill has a certain disarming quality.’ At the time I didnt really understand what he meant, and happily passed it off as something akin to a ‘charming’ quality.
The more I have studied Systema, the more I realise my misunderstanding and the comments worth.
This is what we strive for in Systema. In the military, people strive to have a certain, ‘grey man’ quality about them. Certainly in the Special Forces community. In most cases, the last thing that a soldier wants is to stand out on a field of battle.
If he can, a soldier would like nothing more than to get in, do the job, and get home to thier family and friends without anyone ever knowing they were there.
In Systema, it is the same approach. In most cases, you want to, ‘disarm’ anyone that would like to do you harm. You want them to relax around you and let their guard down. Not be constantly on edge.
If there is going to be a fight, you want them to think that the fight will be easy, to underestimate you. Even better, you want them to miss you entirely. If you are walking through a crowd, you want people to see you but not notice you.
Ideally you don’t want people to be able to latch onto, understand you or predict you.
This takes a humility that is rare in this age of needing attention and needing to stand out. In the military of course, it is born of the desire to survive. Nature is the same. In general, animals don’t stand out in nature, they blend in.
In martial arts the term, ‘blending with you attacker, is often used. In Systema it is the same, but we can take it a step further and talk about blending in before you are ever attacked.
A disarming quality is a good one to cultivate. It is one that puts people at ease. That relaxes them.
This then becomes very transferable, because you can’t help but transfer your state. Whether you are in a state of anger, fear, frustration, or one of ease, peace and relaxation, it will spread to those around you.
Have a think about your own interactions. Do you rub people up the wrong way? What about the people that you enjoy spending time with? Are they abrasive? or are they a balm to your soul?
One of the best definitions of leadership that I have ever heard is that it is the communication of emotion.
What emotion do you communicate?
Whether in self defence, or personal and social relationships, a soothing, calm and relaxed persona is a useful one to cultivate.
My very best wishes for your training and health,
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You can read more about Systema and the approach to it in the books below:
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