A Disarming Quality

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,


I have a youtube channel where I regularly post clips and videos. Click here to subscribe.

You can read more about Systema and the approach to it in the books below:
Click here to find out more about them.

Systema is Rich and Individual


Systema is Rich and Individual

I have met Matt Hill on three occasions now and have been impressed with his teaching skill and understanding of Systema.

My background for understanding movement is as a physiotherapist for 30 years. I have worked with everyday injuries and with athletes amateur and professional up to Olympic standard across many disciplines. It is against this background of experience that I have found Matt’s presentation of the art inspiring.

His approach to health work and conditioning for life is so refreshing. To improve the mind and body and strengthen against the demands of modern living gives freedom and good quality of life.

Athletes and people can be so outwardly focused, how fast they can run? How much they can lift? How long they can work for? Matt turns our attention inwards to developing the quality of the self, the internal running and operation of what we are. I am convinced that this focus will ultimately help achieve greater performance.

Systema is rich and individual. Matt’s real mastery and skill is in his eloquence and personalised explanations of the art. He has an insight and understanding of his students.

This talent is the factor which enables you to make the principles of systema workable for you personally and so achieve results.

Ian Felix.

Ian has been a practising Physiotherapist and Acupuncturist for over 30 years and is long term student of the Martial Arts. He currently runs the Mariko clinic in the West Midlands.

My very best wishes for your training and health,




You can read more about Systema and the approach to it in the books below:

Systema Breathing Workshop

A 2 Day In-Depth Look at Systema Breathing.

January is a time to get off on the right foot. Whether you do Systema or not, your breathing is a good place to start. If you do Systema, this will make sense, if you don’t, this is worth attention.

Taking conscious control of your breathing is a key element in better managing any of the following:

  • Anxiety.
  • Performance under pressure.
  • Endurance and recovery during exercise.
  • Suffering from stress.
  • Struggling to relax.
  • Dealing with chronic or regular pain.
  • Recovering from trauma or injury.

Training in the breathing methods of Systema will help.

Over 2 days on Feb 24th and 25 I will lead you through training that will:

  • Identify problem areas with your breathing.
  • Provide corrective tools to restore optimal breathing function.
  • Gently and progressively stress these tools to give you the confidence to adapt your breathing to manage the scenarios listed above.
  • Build confidence under physical and emotional pressure.


Date: 24-25 Feb
Timings: Sat: 11am Finish 5pm | Sun: 10am Start Finish 4pm.
Venue: Systema Academy, Avonside Enterprise Park, New Broughton Road, Melksham, Wiltshire, SN12 6PX.

Accommodation:There is plenty of good accommodation in the Melksham Area. A quick search on booking.com or airbnb will reveal all!

Personal touch:
The course size is going to be limited in order for me to spend maximum time with individual participants to address individual problem areas.

This course has been advertised already and is filling up.
Click here to find out more and secure your spot now.



Here is the link to pay via Paypal.

or email me for BACS details.

My very best wishes for your training and good health,


Shoulder Healing and Systema – Testimonial by Ian Smith

…I have done things I never thought I would do again. My quality of life has improved immensely. – Ian Smith

Shoulder healing and Systema.
Over 20 years ago, at the age of 22, I suffered a dislocated left shoulder during a Karate Competition. It was never the same again and I dislocated it several times after that. In 2012 while practicing Sword Cutting in Iaido, I dislocated it again. Badly. This time it resulted in 4 months off work. I struggled on with physio exercises But resigned myself to a life of limitation. I had now settled into Tai Chi as the only martial arts practice I could do. I was very frustrated. For 20 years I had been living with a constant injury that was stopping me living life fully.

I searched the net for, ‘health’ and, ‘shoulder health’ and came across the book, ‘Systema Health’ by Matt Hill. I bought it, liked what I read and contacted Matt to come for a class, which I loved. I joined the Academy the following week. Being a Martial Artist I loved the combat elements of the art and was keen to progress so asked for a personal training session. My aim was to focus on improving the shoulder and progressing in the combat elements.

Matt got me doing exercises with variations that I had never seen. These included a variety of hangs from a bar and all kinds of strange push-ups underpinned by breathing exercises. He also started putting my shoulder through a number of locks and pins to pressure test it and build confidence.

He gave me a series of exercises to practice at home that week. I returned a week later. In less than a week my shoulder was feeling stronger. I was astounded. I had lived with the problem for 20 years, had extensive physiotherapy and been told my only option was an operation. Now in just a week I had seen a big improvement.

My improvement has continued. Matt gently and patiently builds the exercises giving me lots of variety. I was further amazed after a Systema massage. Matt basically walked on me, giving me the confidence that my shoulder could take the pressure. Afterwards I had a new level of flexibility in my shoulder even being able to touch my hands together behind my head. Something I had not been able to do for 20 years. I still retain that ability today.

In less than 6 months at the Academy and 4 private sessions I have gone from constant anxiety about my shoulder and sleeping with a pillow under my arm for support to being able to do a dead hang with shoulders by my ears to chin over the bar, and not thinking about my shoulder for days at a time. I have done things that I never thought I would do again. My quality of life has improved immensely.

I look forward to continuing my training with Matt as I feel that this is only the tip of the iceberg. Matt’s knowledge, enthusiasm, compassion and understanding and inspirational and infectious!





Ian Smith

The 28 Day Systema Transformation Challenge

Revisited, Updated and Improved! 

If you are looking to make 2018 your best year yet, then this challenge is for you. It will leave you feeling:

  • energised,
  • fitter,
  • more mobile,
  • lighter,
  • more toned,
  • stronger and
  • calmer,


All areas of your life are affected by your health, wellbeing and fitness levels. The 28 Day Systema Challenge addresses all of these.

I first put it together 3 years ago and since then hundreds of people have benefitted positively from it:The Program starts with a nutrition plan. No fads or supplements. Just a timeless, natural SUSTAINABLE and healthy approach to your nutrition. With a few big surprises!

This is accompanied by 28 emails to motivate you daily though to the end of the challenge.

Each email comes with tips, ideas and encouragement about the Systema approach to a healthy lifestyle.

Movement Challenge

Each Daily email also comes with a Unique Systema Challenge in the form of a short video clip. The Challenges range from easy to hard. They are based around natural movement. They will steadily check and build your strength, movement range, mobility, relaxation, balance and other physical attributes in a way that will enhance your life.

They can be done in a few minutes, anytime, anwhere.

Done the Challenge before?

Some of it you will recognise, but I have updated each day and added 7 new ones. I have also given stretch targets to some of the days to challenge you even further!

Even if you have done the challenge before it is a great chance to check your key health and wellbeing habits, check your body’s strength, mobility and fitness levels, detox your body and get 2018 off to your best possible start.

A Holistic Approach
To perform, look and feel great, you need a holistic approach. You can’t just focus on exercise or diet alone. This challenge addresses the 5 key areas of health and wellbeing.

In one unique, varied, interesting and simple program The transformation challenge addresses the key areas that make a difference to how you feel on a day to day basis.

Participants state that the daily emails were the key in keeping the motivation going for 28 days.

Your investment 
The price is just £1 per day. £28 in total. If you do not feel satisfied at the end of the month I will refund you the entire fee, no questions asked. Don’t even think twice about it. Just click below now to enrol yourself or a loved one onto the 28 day challenge or email me to find out more: matt@matthill.co.uk




With my respect and best wishes for a fantastic 2018,


Click below to register and pay for the 28 day Challenge now:

From Health to Performance

The title may seem quite obvious, but its actually the opposite of most sports/martial arts philosophies. The first time that most think about their health is when they are broken, and need fixing.

Being healthy is about much more than just being fit. You can of course be fit and unhealthy. In fact most top athletes are always on the verge of being sick, like a finely tuned racing car that’s just on the edge of breaking down. For me, a holistic rounded healthiness is a goal worth pursuing.

In Systema you first focus on building the person to a level of holistic health. When you do, all of the following are improved:

  • Joint resilience and mobility. You have to be strong not just when you are ‘aligned properly’ but also when you inevitably come out of alignment. Mobility exercises on the move (dynamic) are great for this.
  • Avoiding injury. Strengthening and recruiting the ligaments and tendons in order to endure longer and protect against injury. Slow movements target tendons. Try taking a minute to do a single, smooth push up for example.
  • Strength to bodyweight ratio. This should be 1:1, if you can bicep curl, run and bench press but can’t do a strict pull up or push up then you need to think again. Work with movements instead of exercising muscles. When you do this you don’t need supplementary ‘core’ or muscle exercises. More movement is all we need. Smooth, slow, simple movements are great, such as getting to the prone position and back up, or ground flow.
  • Effortless movement. Learn the correct way to move i.e with your body not against it. Move with softness and ease, protecting and looking after yourself. Avoid an unnecessary build up of tension and pressure as you move. You can do this with every movement that you do throughout the day.
  • How to manage physical stress, contact or impact. People carry the effects of impact around with them, often far longer than they need to. Letting the impact go is simply a case of learning to breathe it out and release it. Static pushing and striking drills are great for this. 
  • How to manage emotional stress. Again simply a case of learning to breathe and let go physically. We hold emotions physically in the body. When you let go of your tensions physically the emotions leave too. Again practices that require physical contact are great for this because they push so many buttons for people. Doing them gently and mindfully, and then building speed and intensity is the way. Gradual adjustments.
  • Breathing in a way that calms, restores and protects your body. Simple Russian breath ladders while walking are great for this. 
The exercises and many more can be found in the books below or in the downloadable videos also shown below.
My very best wishes for you training and health,


Click the images below to find out more and get your copies. 



Living Systema: Why I wrote it.

When I went on the 2012 Systema Camp with Vladimir Vasiliev, we were able to ask some questions at the end of the last days session.

I asked him how in the absence of any kata or techniques, we could practice Systema alone, without a partner.

He looked at me a little quizzically. I guess he was searching for how to answer a question on a concept that came so naturally and obviously to him.

He then got me to stand up and guess how many paces away from him I was. He then asked me to close my eyes and walk the 8 paces that I guessed towards him.

That was his answer. Typically simple and yet profound. In every action and moment we could and should be studying.

How often does our training end when we take off our kit, zip up our bags and leave the training hall?

This moment really got me thinking about how to train Systema more and more.

  • How do I walk?
  • how do I stand?
  • how do I deal with people? Do I get tense and rooted, physically, mentally, verbally, emotionally?
  • How do I allow my breathing to naturally adapt to whatever situation I am in?
  • Do people notice me when I move, or can I move in a way that people do not notice.
  • Do I pick up on things that aren’t right in a situation and then act upon them?
  • How much tension am I carrying moment to moment and can I release whats not needed?
  • What about mental tensions?
  • How much is my posture compromised by my thoughts and emotions? How do I restore it?
  • How do I get out of my own way and become more and more natural in my movement, my responses, my breathing, posture?

In short, how do I live this art? I wanted to find a way to work on it in every moment, in a way that wasn’t  too intense or obsessive, but was natural. It should enhance my life not be a chore.

This book, Living Systema, has been my collection of thoughts distilled into 30 practices comprising physical movement, breathing, balance, tension and awareness.

Like so many writers, It is the book that I wanted to read.

It is not meant to be a definitive dogma but rather an explorers guide. You should take it and run with it. Use what is useful and then build and expand it.

I sincerely hope that you find it of use.

Copies are available on Amazon. Here is the link.

My sincere wishes for your training and health.


A Soldier’s Story – Systema 4 Day Intensive in review

Clark had never done Systema before enrolling on the 4 Day Intensive, and he won’t mind me saying that he nearly walked out after the first morning of breathing and ground exercises. But all credit to him he stayed and this story is the result:


Dear Matt,

I waited until this morning before writing because I wanted some time to digest all that had taken place over the weekend.

I went to the gym this morning and, as I came out of the shower, one of the guys said “what the (insert expletive) happened to your back?”. To be honest I’d forgotten all about it but I just laughed and said “you really don’t want to know”. That’s what sort of a weekend it was – every bruise is attached to a memory that brings a smile straight to my face.

I don’t know if they were still running, ‘Exercise Snow Queen’ when you served, but if they did you will probably know what I mean when I say that this weekend reminded me very much of those exercises: day after day of hard work (and great fun) skiing with your mates, followed by evenings sitting and drinking, swapping stories and laughing with Officers, NCO’s and O/R’s alike. This weekend brought those days back to me – hard work, lots of fun and some amazing memories.

So, I’m extremely grateful to you, Matt, not just for the obvious effort you put into making these weekends possible. Not even for the memories you’ve given me, or the patience and understanding you showed when things became too much and I revealed aspects of my character that I would rather keep hidden. But for the way you’ve created an atmosphere at your school that can make such a diverse group of people work together, support each other and even trust each other like very few people in civvy street will ever come to know. Whilst working with you during the last few days, you reminded me of all the best officers I ever served with. And I thank you for that.

As I get back into the rhythm of things here at work, walking around the factory, I carry with me the knowledge that the trust and camaraderie that I thought I’d never see again is alive and kicking (literally) down in Wiltshire, and probably in all the other Systema clubs dotted around the world. I also know that my journey in Systema is only just beginning.

I’m sure we will be seeing much more of each other over the coming years. Thanks again Matt,


November 17.

P.S. Living Systema my latest book, has gone to print, it will out before Christmas. More information to follow soon!