Systema Strikes and Massage Seminar – 22-23 Sept

A 2 Day In-Depth Look at Systema Strikes and Massage – 2 sides of the same coin.

Systema strikes are characterised by their depth, power, effortlessness, unpredictability and healing power. Yes you heard that right.

This seminar will look at all aspects of Systema strikes:

  • Preparation. How to prepare yours and your partners body and psyche for strike work.
  • Structure. How to deliver the strike with minimal loss of power.
  • Short work. How to hit from close range for infighting and unpredictability.
  • Multiple strikes. How to hit multiple times in one strike and against multiple opponents.
  • Control. Learn how to control your depth in order to allow you to work without protective gear with all skill and age levels.
  • Feeling. Correct striking is a feeling. Learn when a strike feels correct in order to replicate it at will.
  • Strikes to heal and relax. How to heal and relax people with strikes. ‘What is in your heart comes out through your fist’

We will also end each day with massage. It is important to understand how to restore an recover from strike work. 1/3 of each day will involve deep recovery and restoration from the work. We will focus on how to take the same skills of releasing power and energy into strikes into releasing healing energy into massage. The focus on both is relaxation.

Over 2 days on Sept 22nd and 23rd I will lead you through training to understand:

  • Healing hands.
  • Percussive massage.
  • Bodyweight Massage.
  • Optional use of massage tools such as sticks and cossack whips.

Details:

Date: 22-23 Sept.
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.

Payment Options:

Paypal: £124

GoCardless £120

 

 

or email me for BACS details.

My very best wishes for your training and good health,

Matt.

The Master Key

When I find myself feeling under par health wise, struggling emotionally, in an emergency situation, or in a confrontation, my first check is to come back to the basics. In my experience, the right path in all these situations is to be found there. It’s just so easy to overcomplicate things. That said, basic is far from easy.

Health wise these are my first checks:

  • Is my breath nasal, light and easy? Can I take a full breath, into any part of my body, from my head to my heels? Or is my breath stuck somewhere?
  • Am I sleeping well? Getting to bed well before midnight? Waking feeling rested?
  • Am I drinking enough water, especially at this time of year, at least 3l per day.
  • How about my diet? Am I eating mostly real food, not too much, mostly fresh fruit and veg?
  • Have I been too sedentary? Am I moving my body through its full range daily? The pillars will do that for you.
  • Am I getting outside enough? Taking long, easy walks in a natural setting, doing some breath ladders?

During times of high stress, emotion or confrontation similar basic checks can be made, but these are more like scans. They are simple, but require daily practice under artificial stressors as we do in Systema classes. Unless you have practiced them and tested the skill under varied circumstances they will desert you in times of high stress.

  • Firstly you have to manage your breathing, and adapt it to the situation consciously and constantly. Left unconscious it will inhibit you in all but a very few emergency physical situations, and even then you want to be able to adapt your response. This will give you the mental flexibility to manage your way through.
  • Then you have to check your tension. Is the situation tensing you in a way that you are inhibited in your movement and thought. You need to be moving and scanning your body for tension, relaxing and releasing this, correcting the crumpling of posture that anger, fear, anxiety and stress bring, so that you are physically and mentally free to respond with different options.

There is a tendency to overcomplicate things. Looking for quick fixes such as drugs for health and wellbeing, the perfect technique in martial arts, the latest faddish diet, drink, supplement or piece of equipment in exercise. They may mask things for a short time, but rarely, if ever, stand the test of time.

The fundamentals underpin it all: your health, wellbeing, skills and situational management:

  • For health look to your breathing, sleep, hydration, nutrition and where and how you are moving your body, get outside. We need fresh air and open spaces, not poky rooms with artificial heat, light and a/c.
  • For combat skills and situational management, develop the skill to notice and manage your state. This is NOT easy. Especially under stress. You need to go through the cycle to achieve unconscious competence. The ability to notice when things are going awry and to self correct. This blends to a feeling, for me it is the feeling of Systema. Where my breathing, movement, relaxation and posture come together not as separate parts but merge as this feeling. As soon as I feel myself being pulled out of that feeling by a situation, I drop back into it. When I am in that feeling I know that I am in the best state that I can be to meet the challenge.

This is the key in Systema training. There is not a requirement to master every aspect of what is taught. You are there to grasp the master key that all of the aspects are allowing you to look at, and once you have grasped that, you have grasped the basics, and you are on the way to unlocking it all.

I am committed to sharing these concepts with as many people as I can in order to walk healthily and calmly through life together.

My very best wishes for your health and training.

Matt.

Click the links below for Matt’s Systema:

A slow and surprising realisation…

I recently shared my thoughts about the healing power of Martial Arts on Facebook, and it seemed to resonate with a lot of people. I know that some of you are not on social media, so I thought that I would share this with you here too:

‘I took up Martial Arts because I wanted to be a great fighter. I soon realised that the world was full of them. Lots better suited than I. Over half a lifetime this has led me to Systema, and a slow and surprising realisation. That the greater power of martial arts is that they can also heal. Physically, emotionally and spiritually. I’d read about this but never really experienced it in the way I have in Systema.

Now my biggest pleasure in Martial Arts, the thing that gives me a great sense of purpose, is the people that come to me saying that Systema has healed them. Its given them confidence where they had none, it’s allowed them to move better than they have in decades, helped them through personal and psychological problems, it’s recovered them from injury and illness, and given them a community to be part of.

I still love the fighting, but the world probably doesn’t need more good fighters. I now get more from understanding how Systema has healed people and the world could surely do with a lot more of this.’

I hope, as always, that this email finds you well and wish you the very best for your training and health.

P.S. I will be opening the booking for the September seminar soon, (22-23 Sept). The topic will be Strikes and Massage. Two sides of the same coin.

My very best wishes for your training and health as always,

Matt.

Reflections on the annual Systema Camp 2018

We have just finished the Annual Systema Fundamentals Camp. Five days living in the woods, sleeping under the stars, training as a group.

There were nearly 50 of us this time. A big group, lots of scope for things to go wrong.

For 5 days people didn’t go into a building, drive a car, sit on a chair, look at their own reflection or turn on a light switch. Did they survive? No.

They thrived.

That is not to say that all of it was easy. In the training, in mixing with others, and in adapting to the loss of routine and creature comforts people struggled. Demons came up and some internal battles were fought.

I remember being told when I was small that if you want to get to know someone, go camping with them for a couple of nights. Then you will see the real them.

I would take this further, if you want to know yourself, go sleep in the woods for a couple of days. It strips away the veneer.

One of the great things about the camp is that it puts Martial Arts in their proper place. Nothing special, no more important than cooking, eating and communing. Equally it is not something to be hidden or shied away from either. Wholesome physical contact and a playful approach, without ego, is so important for a healthy person.

People are coming for these skills of course, and a lot of time is spent on them. But they see them as part of a whole lifestyle approach, and this is a healthy perspective.

At the end of the camp we sit and just reflect on the experience. There were some emotions, it can’t help but touch you deeply. Everyone felt more relaxed and at ease.

In this way I asked the participants to try to use the camp as a touchstone. They have a new benchmark for the feeling of being relaxed and at ease. The challenge now is to notice when they are pulled out of this feeling and then try to inhale, exhale and drop back into it.

It was hard at times, but though that shared adversity they have a new treasure in your their box of contingencies.
An old Sgt Major of mine at Sandhurst, used to ask us if we knew why training is so hard. He said that it is so that when we come up against hard times in the future, we can look inside to our box of contingencies and know that we have been through tougher stuff, and take confidence from that, from our ability to dig deep.

How do you think that you would do? I always say that everyone should spend at least one night alone in a wood once in thier life. To be alone as a wood gets dark. Everyone is a little afraid of this. Then get a fire going. As the flames grow your fears recede. You will only know then, what comfort a camp fire can give you. What fire really means to a human being.

My very best wishes as always for your training and good health,

Matt.

The Systema Matrix

At the end of each Systema class we sit in a circle and each person takes a turn in reflecting briefly on the session. They can outline thier key difficulties, learnings, questions or insights.

It is powerful. Because when one shares, the group learns. Like the Matrix.

After my first military operation, my then OC, (Officer Commanding) said to us all, “there is no point in doing something, either training or operations, if we don’t take the time to learn from it. What went well, what went badly, what you would do differently next time.”

The Army is very good at this. In many ways the Army is a training organisation. That’s what it spends most of its time doing. That stuck with me.

When I encountered this in a Systema class, I immediately felt at home, even though I had never encountered it before in a traditional martial arts class. It just made sense. Everyone has equal chance for input, from a first night beginner to the instructor. No-one is elevated above anyone else. Think of any high performance team. They will do the same thing. They will do a review of the match, race, performance etc. and learn from it as a team.

Even long before any formal military was around, Scouts would have done the same thing when they did a sortie, recce, ambush or whatever.

It is not done to embarrass or glorify any particular person.

It is designed to make everyone better.

I know it is tough for some though. In the beginning they feel slightly self conscious. This is normal as nearly everyone is fearful of speaking to a group. However, people soon get used to it and benefit from it.

At home we do it as a family too. Not in a structured way of course, but after sports matches, tests or other events, questions can be casually asked to encourage a little critical thinking: So how did it go… what do you think you did well? What didn’t go so well this time? What would you do differently next time?

Three simple questions, that if they become a habit, have real power for improvement.

 

These after action reviews form a key element of the Systema Fundamentals Camp. I have a deep commitment to people leaving with real improvements in their understanding and application of Systema for their skills, health and wellbeing.

My very best wishes for your training and health.

Matt.

P.S. there are still a few spaces left on the Systema Fundamentals Camp click the link to find out more.

Click the links below for Matt’s Systema:

The Worlds Biggest Zoo?

I have an thought for you to ponder…

The following concept makes sense to me and I wonder if it does to you. When the comparison clicked in my head, I was momentarily taken aback.

I was talking with a local forager, and we were comparing behavioural problems affecting animals in zoos such as premature death, pacing, tails drooping (think killer whales), depression, sobbing, hair plucking and weight loss to name a few), and the growing behavioural problems faced by people in urban environments.

In the animals case, they have been forcibly removed from their habitats and put into tiny (in comparison) spaces.

In our case, we have removed ourselves from our natural habitat (or built over the top of it) and I would argue that we are encountering similar behavioural problems:

  • In the UK 1 in 3 young people today suffer from a mental health issue. It takes the average person 10 years to seek help for it. Some don’t make it the 10 years.
  • In the UK 6 out of every 10 women are on medication for anxiety, depression or stress. Men are not far behind.
  • The WHO says that by 2020 depression and anxiety will be the worlds number 1 disability.
  • The Centre for Disease Control states that sleep dysfunction is already at an epidemic level.

These are of course multi causal problems, and I certainly don’t mean to oversimplify. I do think that there is a key factor here though.

Animal Pharmaceutical industries now earn billions from prozac, valium and antipsychotics to keep the animals under control.

The comparison immediately made sense to me. Removed from our natural habitat, neither us nor animals do well.

It is tough to swallow when you are living in a built up area, like nearly all of us. However, upping sticks and moving to the country, isn’t the only way to rectify it.

What does this have to do with Systema?

One of the things that immediately resonated with me in Sysetma was the outdoor training. It just made sense. The outdoors is where Martial Arts and indeed health and exercise are meant to be done. I think that when you practice outdoors you engage both with, and in an outdoor environment. It all comes to life. Your skills, health and sense of wellbeing.

Call to action:

My call to action to you would be this. Try to make sure that just once per month, you take a 3 hour walk and spend time in an expansive natural space. This could be forest, fields, whatever.

Japanese research into forest bathing (I have blogged on this before, click here if you haven’t read it, its fascinating) has proved that just one long walk every 30 days, resets our key markers for health:

  • A 12.4% decrease in the stress hormone cortisol,
  • a 7% decrease in sympathetic nerve activity,
  • a 1.4% decrease in blood pressure and
  • a 5.8% decrease in heart rate.
  • On subjective tests, study participants also report better moods and lower anxiety.

A lot of bang for your buck there or one walk a month in the countryside.

I hope that it made interesting reading. I would be curious to hear your thoughts.

My very best wishes for your training and good health as always,

Matt.

Upcoming Courses:

River Wye Canoe and Camp Trip 27-28 July 2018

Symonds Yat

River Wye Canoeing and Camping Trip 27-28 July 2018 – Booking Open!

Canoe down the River Wye, one of this Islands most beautiful and spectacular river sceneries, camp overnight on Friday (tent and roaring campfire) and then back home for lunchtime on Saturday.

Yat Camp Fire

This started out as a small trip for the Systema Family Class but has since opened out to all.

Start time – 11.30am Friday 27th July in Symonds Yat.
Finish time – 10.30am Saturday 28th July.

Symonds Yat Swim

Basic camping kit will be needed (tent, sleeping bags and mats, cooking equipment, food etc. full list will be given on booking).

Wye Sun

This is a fantastic trip down the River Wye. A timeless trip of high adventure and the the kind of trip that childhood memories are made of!
Numbers will be limited. Please let me know ASAP.

Costs.

£50 per child and £60 per adult.
To pay via paypal click below (£3 added to cover paypal fee):
Please email me matt@matthill.co.uk for BACS details to pay by bank
Adult
Child (16 and below)
Children must be accompanied by an adult.

I look forward to welcoming you on the adventure!

Best wishes,

Matt.

Click the links below for Matt’s Systema:

Pull-ups for health and function – Free Video Tutorial!

I recently uploaded a video to YouTube about Pull Ups.

You can think of it as the fifth pillar of Systema. In my experience it is the one that most people struggle with.

In the video I cover the key reasons why being able to hang and then lift your body weight by the arms in a vertical pull is important for your health, physical function and survival skills. I then break it into 3 simple steps for those who struggle with it.

Health:
An overlooked component of the pull up is the passive or dead hang. Health wise the ability to do this is a crucial for the health of your shoulders and back.

So many people suffer with back and shoulder problems. In many cases they don’t have to. With a gentle and progressive programme to reset and strengthen the area chronic shoulder problems can be fixed naturally.

The passive hang strengthens the ligaments and tendons by hanging the bodyweight with minimal muscle engagement. This alleviates the compression problems caused by bad posture and resets the structure of the whole area.

Many shoulder problems can be fixed by regular passive hangs. If you have shoulder injuries, you should of course always use your judgement, go gradually and slowly and breathe out as you load the shoulders. Load the shoulders gradually as per the video. Don’t just jump or drop into a hang. If in doubt, check with your Doctor first.

Physical Function:
For your physical function it is all about balance. Balance of strength, mobility and range. The four pillars of Systema check your ability to move your body smoothly and in control through its range of motion. Are you injured, too stiff or do you lack the strength and control to be able to do it?

The vertical pull is one of the key ranges. I have read that 9 out of 10 adults in the western world cannot lift their body weight. My experience bears this out.


Survival:
This is not as Bear Grylls as it sounds. Imagine being in a burning building and you have to jump and pull yourself out of a window. Or falling into a river and you have to pull yourself out of a shear sided bank.

The ability to pull yourself to safety is a natural survival skill and there is no reason why it shouldn’t be available to you right to the end.

In the video I go through three simple steps to developing the ability to do a pull-up:

  1. Passive hang
  2. Passive to active hang
  3. Assisted to full Pull up.

I hope that you find it useful and if you have any questions please feel free to post on the video or email me.

Here is the video.

My very best wishes for your training and health,

Matt.