4 Day Systema Intensive – Wiltshire – 16-19 November


The 4 day Intensive is running on the 16-19 Nov in Melksham.

The aim is to cover the range of systema work, including some outdoor and environmental training (weather dependant).

We will also cover elements from the Systema Twins recent Sweden Immersion Camp and Vladimir Vasiliev’s upcoming UK Camp.

Systema Progression:
The course will progress over the four days covering, ground, standing, stick, knife, multiple attacker, environmental, and testing phases leading to an optional video recording of the final testing phase for you to keep and if desired send to Vladimir Vasiliev for feedback and/or instructor validation/renewal.

Health and Conditioning:
We will also cover the Systema approach to mobility, stretching, massage, deep and functional relaxation and conditioning work.

It will be intense but a lot of fun, with time for relaxation and use of the studio for your own free training. There is already a lot of interest and limited spaces.

The cost is £199.

It will be a small group with lots of opportunity for questions, discussion and peer learning. The aim is to make big leaps in your understanding, teaching and execution of Systema.

To pay by paypal click here: (Cost is £207 to account for paypal fee)

To pay by BACS please email me for details.

Best wishes for your training and health,


Matt.

P.S To help keep costs down there is also the opportunity to sleep on the mat at my gym for a nominal nightly fee. First come first served.

Recommended reading for the course:

Systema Health

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Systema Combat
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Dealing with tension in the torso/chest

Chest MobilityI recently posted a Facebook video of a chest mobility exercise. It got a lot of shares and comments, one of which really stood out and I have shared it below.

The audience of these blogs may differ to the Facebook audience, so I thought that I would share here too in case anyone missed the exercise. Here is the comment:

“I have been very much enjoying my career as a BDM over the last four years. Unlike most, one element I very much like is the amount of mileage, my area Being from the M4 up to Scotland. A fair amount of driving. Over the last two years I have become uncomfortable in my driving position to the point where it has obstructed my breathing. Not able to fully inhale or exhale without increasing discomfort. This made me check my driving position. I found I was habitually leaving my right hand at 12 o’clock on the steering wheel most of the day. Even though I corrected this habit over a year ago, have seen several doctors / specialists, had chest scans ect – nobody was able to address the issue ( I just know you are going to be smiling and knodding to yourself knowingly here ) that I repeatedly mentioned I felt was ‘Muscular’.

Last week I watched this post and your reference to chest tension immediately caught my attention. Now, I’m not one to be throwing my hands up and claiming miracles BUT this exercise not only provided INSTANT relief, enabled me to locate and target precisely where to focus but has also noticeably improved my lung capacity. Which I might add – after giving up smoking for 20 years just two years ago – Is allowing me to swim those extra, extra lengths…. just like you said it would.

So, I know this reads like some kind of made up promotional review – which it is 100% NOT – I wanted to say thank you. This really is making the world of difference mate.” Lauson Higgins.

To watch the clip, click here

My very best wishes for your training and health,


Matt.

P.S I am running a 4 day course in November which will include similar exercises that will mobilise tense areas of the body and leave you feeling relaxed, supple and mobile. Click the image below for more information. The course is over half full.

Sweden Forest Systema Camp – In review

5afd7133-6256-41f3-999a-fe26f93a02f6Firstly a huge thanks to all who came on the Sweden Systema Camp. This years camp was the biggest yet. Just under 30 people from all over the world. This time I will leave the reviews of the camp to the participants. Here are some snippets of what they had to say:

‘Many things can be life-changing, although not all of them are good. I believe that this kind of experience can benefit people in so many ways. It’s not just the martial training, although that is the main drive, but the chance to get way from “civilisation” to a simpler time, and the opportunity to take stock of yourself.’
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‘A fantastic opportunity to excape concrete jungle, enjoy nature and above all else learn systema from some of the best instructors.’
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‘A camp, deep in the Swedish Forest, where you meet up with complete strangers, train up to 8 hours of Systema a day for 5 full days and leave as brothers and friends is hard to describe without using any superlatives. If I am allowed to use only two words, I would call the Sweden camp: mind blowing and life changing. If you really want to dive deep into Systema without any distraction and enjoy pure nature at the same time, there is nothing better than this camp now. High quality teaching by Systema HQ certified Instructors guarantees that you learn about your true potential and rise well above your limits. Last but not least you feel, see and learn one of the most important things in live: how to become friends with complete stangers and call them your brothers. It makes you grow but in a humble less egocentric way. In a true Systema way. I highly recommend this for everyone who is not only interested in Systema but wants to learn how little one needs to be truely happy and satisfied.’
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‘The camp should be integral part of your Systema training. it allows the concepts to sink in and blend into yout daily life: breathing, movement, posture, psychological state. Same amount of training in the camp gives exponentially greater progress compared to regular training in the gym.’
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‘This was the second time I’d had the good fortune to be able come to Matt & Dirk’s Sweden camp. Some have said this is a potentially life changing event, others have expressed their sense of great calm or wellbeing entering their person. Such feelings are special to each & everyone, and mine are no different. However this camp felt like an emotional step up for me. My tears (which came from nowhere and even caught me unawares!) at the end feedback session, probably cemented for me, the past two years of wonderful Systema training alongside personal losses and a plethora of constantly changing emotions. On the Systema side, the Twins’s almost personal attention over five days, perhaps honed into me how far I may have come with this wonderful art. Their sublime teachings supplemented by frequent humble discussions & dynamic demonstrations, allowed me to solely focus on my weaker areas like movement & strike heaviness. They also instilled a calm & spiritualness which, when combined with the beauty & tranquility of the forest & lakes, the camaraderie of my fellow friendly students, ultimately added up to an intense personal experience. Emotionally the last two years has been quite tough, having lost three close family members and a best friend. But equally it’s been a period of transition, a positive step forward with study, amongst the humble privilege of being able to start a small Systema club. Perhaps the camp therefore acted like a vortex for me…..the spinning culmination of two years of positive & negative emotions coming together, to vie for supremacy. As always though, good overcomes bad; the spiritual calm and indomitability of the camp, succeeding in bringing together a band of people to train, support & smile with each other. To ‘smile’ while being struck by leg or fist, knife or chain, during rain or sun, in mud or grass, night or day, is something I’ll always remember. “A smiling heart heals both body & soul” I could go on and on….describing the wonderful nuances of the training (“The Still Chain”), the bearhugs of training partners, the call of a single Raven embracing us with Odin’s good fortune, or watching summer turn to autumn as leaves fall upon us with the gentle breeze….but no. Suffice to say though, I must end yet again with the words of Vladimir (the words I tried to present through my tears)…. “Without humility we cannot be truly awed, and when we incapable of being awed, we fail to be inspired.” Thank you to all….. ‘
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The camp will run again in 2 years time. In the meantime I will be running a 4 day Intensive course in Melksham at the Systema Academy on the 16-19 November. Numbers are limited to 24. Basic accommodation is available. I will be sharing concepts from the Twins Camp and Sweden and Vladimir’s upcoming seminar in the UK.

Click here to find out more.

My respect and best wishes,


Matt.

Systema Breathing & Health Testimonial – John Hawley

MJ2

Systema Health and Breathing Testimonial – John Hawley

I remember looking at him and thinking he must be mad – but again I did it and that was a turning point in my life…

After an introduction by a friend I met Matt in early May ’17 at a point when my physical health and confidence was at an all-time low.
In June ’16, well into my 60s, I unexpectedly had to have urgent major surgery resulting in the removal of my left lung followed by over three months of intensive chemo and radio therapy – and for months after that wrestling with cumulative and debilitating side effects.

Medical advice in early ’17 was that it would take at least two years to recover. There was no other support available so I was told enjoy day time TV! I was angry and frustrated, something that I was not prepared to accept.

When I met Matt in Melksham, as I watched him walk up the second flight of stairs my immediate thought was I couldn’t possibly get to the top (I struggled at home to get up our stairs) but I did it. His positivity, calm confidence, and the overwhelming sense of genuine care was immediately evident.

We discussed what I would like to achieve over the next three to six months, goals which I thought then were impossible. At best I felt a shuffling wreck. But Matt said we could achieve them and more, and then had me walking around the dojo, motivating, encouraging and prompting me with an almost spiritual understanding. He then asked me to do a press up, sit up, leg raise and a squat – I remember looking at him and thinking he must be mad – but again I did it and that was a turning point in my life.

Over the following months he has patiently taught me how to walk and breathe again. Week one I could barely walk back to the car, or a hundred meters from the house without collapsing and wondering how I would get home.  I am now daily doing a series of exercises and walking a mile and a half with an achievable goal of four miles in sight. Matt’s confidence, motivation, commitment and patience is extraordinary.

Each week he has added a stretch factor, another challenge, another bench mark; improving significantly my breathing capability, getting me to jog around the room, walk the plank backwards, hanging on the bar by the door downstairs for ten seconds and lifting my feet off the ground (exceeding Matt’s expectations) were memorable moments, seeing Matt genuinely delighted with my success and achievements. I feel a real and holistic re engagement with my body and soul.

After training sessions I have wonderful aches and pains in parts of my body I thought had long ago given up.

I run the risk of a tsunami of adjectives, Matt has hugely and positively changed my life, giving me new hope, new aspirations, an incentive to look for new challenges, helping me rebuild my confidence and self-esteem. Summer camp ‘18 now seems an achievable target.  Matt’s ability to enthuse and motivate personal self-achievement, and his passion for people is a very rare and inspirational quality.

For people who have had similar experiences to mine or worse, I feel like shouting from the roof there is a better way forward, you can get your life back. Talk to Matt.

John Hawley
July 27th 2017

John is a rare man. He wasn’t prepared to accept the debilitating condition that his life saving surgery left him with. He has worked incredibly hard in the sessions, but that isn’t enough. Systema isn’t magic, you have to put in the work. John has put in the work. He has persevered through the daily breathing and movement exercises that we agreed on and the results have spoken for themselves. He has holistically and gradually built himself from the inside out. Systema is a complete system of internal and external work. John has left no stone unturned. It has been an inspiration and a pleasure working with him over the past 3 months. 

Matt Hill.

To find out more about Systema Breathing and Health classes click here

Are you prepared – part II – Systema Camp

Wide Range Sensitivity

Wide rangeIn the previous newsletter Are you prepared – part I, I discussed two important points that I picked up from the last Systema camp with Vladimir Vasiliev:

  1. Before you move a muscle: Catch the thought.
  2. Minimize preparation: Just move.

… Here is the conclusion of the story.

  1. Wide range sensitivity: The highest level.

We worked on a lot of different terrains: open field, close forest, water, by day and night. Vladimir encouraged us to take a few seconds to check ourselves when we moved between terrains. Was there any effect on our heart rate, blood pressure, tone or tension in the muscles and nervous system? If so, we were to work to restore and remove the tension.

Then he said to spread that sensitivity out to check the feeling in the group, had it changed? Was there more anxiety, excitement, calmness?

Finally, Vladimir asked us to spread that sensitivity outside the group and into the wider area. Are there other people outside the group, around camp? Is their focus on us or are they going about their business? What do you sense around you in nature from the wind, the trees?

This is an important skill for a professional.

However, it is also valuable in everyday life. If you walk into a business meeting, take the time to check yourself before you go in. Are you calm and prepared? What is the feeling when you enter the room? Is it tense, friendly, guarded? Most of us naturally take a gut feel, it’s built into us, but how many of us are conscious of it let alone adjust our actions according to it.

In this day and age, I think this is more important than ever. When you walk into a pub, a busy train station, get on a train, enter a restaurant, attend an event or just walk through a supermarket or down a street, are you sensitive to the perceptions you are getting?

If it doesn’t feel right, do you have the courage to get off the train or walk out of the restaurant or club? This may just be the highest level of martial arts. The ability to sense a problem and leave safely with your family and friends before you even need to deploy or test your skills.

We will be covering this in the upcoming UK Systema Camp in Wiltshire on June 29th. 

Click here to secure your place and see you soon!

Best wishes for your training and health,

Matt.

Are you prepared? – Part 1

Are you prepared?Are You ‘Prepared’?

2012, 2014, and then 2016. Last years camp was my third Camp at Systema HQ Toronto. It was the best one yet.

Vladimir did nearly all of the teaching himself (except for the early morning sessions from 7 to 8.30 done by the hugely talented Systema Twins) and this gave the camp a total consistency of thought and training that flowed from beginning to end.

Verging on 60 hours of training with practically no repetition of drills or teaching.

I had three main takeaways from the Core Mastery Camp.

  1. Before you move a muscle: Catch the thought.

Many martial arts work on blocking or evading, then countering. Slightly more advanced is to block or evade and counter at the same time. An even higher level is to strike as they make the decision to strike you. Before they even move.

This theme ran through the camp. Vladimir said that physical skill is fine and important, but limited. If you can sense and feel the opponents’ intent to strike, to see their thought before it becomes visible in their body, then you won’t be late. We did several drills specifically designed to develop this concept.

Many great martial artists and warriors from history, have been attributed with this highly developed skill, Musashi, Ueshiba, Napoleon (on a larger scale). I had never seen or felt it in action.

Vladimir called me up for a demonstration. I held a knife and he held my wrist. It was my job to attack randomly.

It was night, in a small clearing in the woods. Every time I thought to attack, he moved my hand. Before I had moved a muscle. It is a very strange feeling. I played with the timing. He didn’t get it wrong once. I must have thought to attack 10 or more times. He caught my thought every time.

  1. Minimize preparation: Just move.

Before we move, we prepare our body for movement. For example, if we stand up from a chair, we move our hands to the arm rest, plant our feet, sit up straight, etc. Vladimir watched me do a sit up and just shook his head and smiled. ‘Not there yet, Matt.’ Watching Vladimir sit up off the ground is beautiful. It was leonine. There was no preparation in the normal places such as shoulders, adductors, feet, etc. before the movement. He just moved. This sounds simple, but just try it. Lie flat on the floor and try to raise your torso without doing any peripheral movement first. This is mastery of movement. Simple yet profound. When applied to combat, it allows you to move smoothly, with minimal warning, almost unseen.

… Continued in the next newsletter.

I am running a 4 day woodland Systema Camp in Wiltshire this year. There are still a few spaces left. Click here for more details

Where do you Train? – Optimise your skill, awareness & health

Systema Logo - Where do you Train?Where do you train?

If, like many others, you only see training taking place inside the dojo or gym, you are missing out on most of your training opportunities. In fact when it comes to practicing a martial art, you may even say that you will never truly get it.

A martial art is a way of life. A way of approaching every aspect of your life. The way that you stand, sit, walk, breathe are all training opportunities. The way that you deal with people, situations or setbacks are some of the best training opportunities. The way that you observe people, rooms or landscapes are again, all opportunities to train. When it comes to Systema, they are ways to not only train your martial skill and awareness, but also your health. In fact one of the reasons that I appreciate Systema so much, is its moment by moment ability to become conscious of and thereby improve your health, mobility, awareness and relaxation skills.

The dojo or gym is where you learn a particular skill, that may be a technique, principle or concept. But you will never master it there. If the next time you think about it, is when you go back to the gym, even if that is every day, it is not enough. It has to be embodied. It has to become part of every thought, every movement. It is a way of thinking, breathing, moving, being.

For me, Systema is a feeling. I am either in a feeling of Systema, or I am not. This feeling is relaxed, balanced, smooth, calm. Wherever I am or whatever I am doing. As soon as I notice something pulling me out of that feeling into tension, I check whether it is appropriate or not, and if not, I release it and drop back into the feeling of Systema.

Our bodies communicate thier to us through feelings: Pain, happiness, fatigue, tension, emotion etc before concepts and ideas. These are our first internal representation of what is going on. So if you can establish your baseline feeling as a good (clean) one: light, relaxed, calm, balanced and notice when you are pulled out of it, you are well on your way to making Systema a habit.

I am currently writing my next book, ‘Living Systema’. It is about taking the concept of training out of the dojo or gym and into your life. A way to bring your training to every moment to improve your skills, awareness and health. A way to make the act of living your training. In short, the way to improve yourself.

I will share these concepts more during the 4 day camp coming up in Wiltshire at the end of June. One of the key benefits of the camp is to make you more aware and conscious in every moment of the 4 days. Training outdoors is a one of the best ways I know to breathe life into your training. 

I look forward to sharing these ideas with you.

Respect and best wishes,


Matt 

I will also be sharing many of these ideas at the upcoming course in Marple, Lancs on the 21st May. Email me for more details.

Click the links below for Matt’s systema:

Upcoming Courses:

  • 20-21 May – Matt Hill Marple Seminar, UK. Contact Chris Wallace of Systema Marple to book.
  • 29 June – 02 July  – UK 4 Day Systema Summer Camp – Wiltshire with Matt Hill. Click here for more information and to book.
  • 22-23 July – River Wye Canoeing and Camping Trip. Click here for more information
  • 28 Aug – 02 Sept Sweden Total Immersion Systema Camp with the Systema Twins. Nearly Sold out. Click here to get one of the last remaining places.
  • 16-19 Nov 4 Day Systema Intensive with Matt Hill – Wiltshire. Click here for more information.
  • More dates to be added soon.