The short game vs the long game

I am passionate about the martial art that I teach being applicable in life. Not just in a self defence sense but being there to help you during the inevitable difficulties that we all face in life.

The things that really take our legs out from underneath us are things that come when we least expect them.

Things that call on us to find strength and courage when everything that we thought we had has been used up.

A good analogy is between a Sportsperson and a Soldier.

The Sportsperson has conditioned their body to be able to go all out for a set period of time. They have prepared nutritionally for it, had the correct amount of days off to allow the body to recover and adapt and rested adequately for it. They will have studied thier opponent and have a very specific game plan to win. Hugely impressive.

They have a team to make sure that everything goes perfectly in the build up to a contest. The entire focus is on the needs of the Sportsperson or team.

This is perfect preparation for a contest, but not for the life of a soldier, and maybe not for life itself.

There is probably little doubt that most Sportspeople would beat most soldiers in a contest whether that be a race or a match etc. You get good at what you train for and they have trained for exactly that scenario.

A Soldier on the other hand has been trained very differently. He has undergone long periods without food, sleep, rest or comfort. Their individual pride has been systematically dismantled and replaced with a pride in something bigger than themselves, their unit. This humbles you.

They have been trained to be prepared to fight when they are the least ready. When they are injured, have had no sleep, rest, food or when the situation seems hopeless.

In short they have been trained to know that the preparation of an indomitable spirit is more important than physical preparation.

If you are used to fighting only when you are in perfect shape, as per a contest, will you be psychologically ready to fight when it is unexpected?

You are ready for the short game, but maybe not the long game.

I think it is the same with life.

We all hit a crisis sooner or later.

It may be financial, loss of a job, your health or that of a close family member. How are you preparing for it?

Nurturing a strong spirit to aid you in times of crisis is, I believe a duty. When the chips are down, is your only tool one of anger and aggression, a bitterness of ‘why me?’ An inclination to collapse in despair and hope someone else will pick up the pieces?

Or will you be the one calmly facing the inevitable storm. Standing up straight, looking it in the eye, not with aggression or a false pride that is easily shattered, but with strength, courage and humility.

Yes you may still be scared and overwhelmed. You may even fall short of prevailing through the crisis. But you will have prevailed as a human being.

You stood up forthrightly when the time called, exposed yourself to storm and strengthened yourself in the process.

You called out to the potential of your future self and took steps to get there.

Systema training follows the same premise. Mikhail Ryabko says that physical prowess is worthless without a strong spirit.

All of the training in Systema is designed to cultivate a calm, non-agressive approach to your fears.

From breath holds, to strikes, to pressure, to single push ups that last minutes, the training is designed to make you look deep inside yourself, acknoweldge your fears and work through them.

This process builds skill, humility, courage and spirit. I have seen people crying and really struggling in classes. I have been there myself.

A crisis is usually a crisis because we never know when it will strike. Whether it is a self-defence situation, or a problem in life, we probably wont be ready.

I want to help people find the strength through training to be the person in the room that stands up, calmly facing the storm.

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

Matt.

Plus, whenever you ready, here are a few ways I can help with our Systema journey:

1. Sign up for the Living Systema Camp from Wednesday 3rd – Sunday 7th July 2019 in Wiltshire, UK.

Details are out for this year’s Systema Camp in Wiltshire, UK. Set in stunning private woodland this year’s camp will take you deep inside Systema. We will explore the health aspects, the healing, the combat, the emotional management, dealing with people and situations. You can get all of the details here.

2. Complete your Systema Assessment:

The holistic assessment is designed to check your overall level of movement quality, range, tension, stress, stability, freedom of movement, coordination, strength and balance. Find out how you score across the 10 Functional Systema areas here.

3. Work with me 1on1 as your personal coach to improve aspects of your health, fitness or Systema Skills:

This is for people struggling to find the right coaching locally. Lots of people don’t have access to a regular instructor, or maybe you are an instructor and don’t have access to a regular mentor to help you improve. You may need to broaden or deepen your knowledge of Systema, get you over hurdles in your breath work, movement, tension or structure in solo or partner work.

The coaching will keep you accountable and progressing in your journey. I have space for 3 or 4 clients, so if you’d like to discuss and see if it’s a fit for both of us, email me and put ‘personal coach’ in the subject line.

4. Come and Train at the Systema Academy in Wiltshire.

We regularly have visitors from all around the world to train at the Academy and they are always made very welcome. Whether you just want to train at the regular classes, take some 1-1 sessions or a bit of both, just email me with ‘visit’ in the subject line.

5. Systema on-line breathing course – an access anytime anywhere course ideal for those wanting to deepen their understanding of Systema Breathing, Instructors who want to broaden their knowledge of drills or for those who spend time practicing on their own. You can find out more here.

6. 28 Day Systema Course – The programme is ideal for complete beginners, people who want to hit the ‘reset’ button, or those who would like to undergo a structured programme that covers the key principles and movements in Systema.

You can find out more here.

Systema Assists to help put your focus in the right area (includes video tutorial).

I received the following email from a 28 Day Systema Programme subscriber last week:

“I find Systema is a much a health system as a martial art. But for those of us with mobility issues, whether from an injury, extra weight, or simply sitting in an office all day, it can be difficult find your path into the basic exercises without building excess tension. Enter Matt Hill, who’s training methods provide an excellent bridge for beginners into this ancient and effective system of total body health, strength, and flexibility.” – Patrick, Washington, D.C.

Patrick’s email reminded me of why I put together this short video on assists for the four pillars and of the positive feedback that it has received from many people struggling with the issues that Patrick referred to in the email above.

The assists are a good bridge and they allow you to put your focus where it really should be in Systema. In the breathing. If the physical work is too hard in the beginning, you will miss the real point of much of the work, which is to notice and improve your breathing skills. The physical work highlights inadequate breathing.

I hope that you find the video useful. Click on the picture or link below:

Systema Assisted Pillars

Systema Assisted Pillars.

My very best wishes for your training and health,

Matt.

Plus, whenever you ready, here are a few ways I can help with our Systema journey:

1. Complete your Systema Assessment:

The holistic assessment is designed to check your overall level of movement quality, range, tension, stress, stability, freedom of movement, coordination, strength and balance. Find out how you score across the 10 Functional Systema areas here.

2. Sign up for the Living Systema Camp from Wednesday 3rd – Sunday 7th July 2019 in Wiltshire, UK.

Details are out for this year’s Systema Camp in Wiltshire, UK. Set in stunning private woodland this year’s camp will take you deep inside Systema. We will explore the health aspects, the healing, the combat, the emotional management, dealing with people and situations. You can get all of the details here.

3. Systema on-line breathing course – an access anytime anywhere course ideal for those wanting to deepen their understanding of Systema Breathing, Instructors who want to broaden their knowledge of drills or for those who spend time practicing on their own. You can find out more here.

4. 28 Day Systema Course – The programme is ideal for complete beginners, people who want to hit the ‘reset’ button, or those who would like to undergo a structured programme that covers the key principles and movements in Systema.

You can find out more here.

Are you a leaking Vessel?

Last week at the Academy I was talking about energy management during training and daily life. It was based on the DVD Breath and Body by Vladimir Vasiliev.

The key is that too much tension will leak your energy away.

You can think of your body like a vessel that contains energy. You obviously want to leak as little of this precious resource as possible.

Any kink in your posture, excess tension, asymmetry etc. will all leak energy through the day.

You can try this as an exercise:

Try to stand in a way that your have minimal leakage.

Firstly stand so that you can feel the soles of your feet even on the floor.

To do this relax the knees slightly. Elevate the chest slightly up and forwards, imagine you lift your heart slightly up and out, but stop before any tension comes into your back.

Then draw your chin back slightly but again stop before any tension comes into your neck.

Now inhale, exhale and relax all of your muscles and let them hang on this straight frame but don’t compromise the frame. Relax your knees and feel even in the soles of your feet.

Now check yourself for the following:

  • Any kink in your posture such as rounded shoulders, concave chest, hips too far forwards or back.
  • Areas of too much tension such as around injuries, in the shoulders, hips, back or legs.
  • Loss of symmetry such as standing too much on one leg, holding your arms in a way that brings in tension, leaning your head to one side or hanging forwards, rounding of the shoulders etc.
  • Too many thoughts.

Imagine that your body is a vessel filled with energy. You want to keep it.

You can also apply this work to sitting, walking and other activities like training and working.

You can practise this whenever you are standing in a queue for anything, or are walking. You will start to feel that you actually gain energy by walking, and moving this way. It feels light and free, almost as if you glide.

In another email I will talk about about how to add to your energy by moving and breathing correctly.

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

Matt.

Plus, whenever you ready, here are a few ways I can help with our Systema journey:

1. Come and Train at the Systema Academy in Wiltshire.

We regularly have visitors from all around the world to train at the Academy and they are always made very welcome. Whether you just want to train at the regular classes, take some 1-1 sessions or a bit of both, just reply with ‘visit’ in the subject line.

2. Sign up for the Living Systema Camp from Wednesday 3rd – Sunday 7th July 2019 in Wiltshire, UK. 

Details are out for this year’s Systema Camp in Wiltshire, UK. Set in stunning private woodland this year’s camp will take you deep inside Systema. We will explore the health aspects, the healing, the combat, the emotional management, dealing with people and situations. You can get all of the details here.

3. Systema on-line breathing course – an access anytime anywhere course ideal for those wanting to deepen their understanding of Systema Breathing, Instructors who want to broaden their knowledge of drills or for those who spend time practicing on their own. You can find out more here.

4. 28 Day Systema Course – The programme is ideal for complete beginners, people who want to hit the ‘reset’ button, or those who would like to undergo a structured programme that covers the key principles and movements in Systema.

You can find out more here.

River Wye Canoe and Camp Trip 27-28 July 2019

River Wye Canoeing and Camping Trip 27-28 July 2019 – Booking Open!

Symonds Yat

Canoe down the River Wye, one of this Britain’s more beautiful and spectacular river sceneries.

Camp overnight on Saturday (tent and roaring campfire) and then back home for lunchtime on Saturday.

Yat Camp Fire

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

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.

Systema Breathing Seminar

Sharing a gift:

Without doubt one of, if not the greatest gift I have received from Mikhail and Vladimir is the knowledge and ability to change how I perceive the internal and external landscape in a single breath.

No matter what is going on around you, or in your head and body, your breathing is the thing that you have control over.

It would be nice if we could manage the world so that everything landed butter side up, but we know that is not possible.

Dare I say that it is even harder to control the internal landscape. As the saying goes it is more difficult to rule yourself than to rule a city.

Correct and conscious breathing is the one thing that we can have control over. It releases the pressure and gives you clear space to think and make calm decisions.

This is a skill, and skills need practice to become of use.

They then need to be applied in situations in order to understand them and make them yours.

Systema has a good, progressive, reliable method for this.

On Saturday January 19th 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 be of use to you in everyday life.
  • Build confidence under progressive physical and emotional pressure.

This course is purely an exploration and study of the Systema Breathing skills and so is suitable for everyone regardless of experience or fitness.

It is ideal for those wanting to better understand how to manage their internal state and problem areas such as:

  • 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.

Details:

Date: Saturday 19th Jan
Timings: 11am Finish 5pm
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.
Reserve your spot below:

 

The cost of the course is £70.

Here is the link to pay via Paypal (£5 added to cover the paypal surcharge)

or email me for BACS details.

My very best wishes for your training and good health,

Matt.

The Benefits of Nasal Breathing – Free Video Clip

I have just finished editing and preparing a new on-line video course which I am really pleased to share with you.

It is a Systema Breathing Course designed for:

  • People wanting to deepen their understanding of Systema Health and Breath Work.
  • Instructors looking to add to their repertoire of teaching drills (there are over 2 hours of drills and exercises.)
  • People who spend a lot of time training on their own.

The course has information segments and exercises that you can study and do on your own or with a class or group.

There are over 2 hours of footage split into 36 handy video segments.

The course can be accessed from any laptop, PC or smart phone.

Here is a clip that you may find interesting about the benefits of nasal breathing:

I hope that you enjoy it.

I will be releasing the course soon!

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

Post Update: The course in now available here!

Matt.

Quite possibly the best way to start and end your day – Systema ground movement free video tutorial.

As a lifetime practice, I struggle to think of many things as beneficial to building and keeping a body that will serve you well into old age.

At the start and end of a Systema Class we will nearly always do some, ‘soft ground movement’.

At the start of the session this gently warms up the body, checks the muscles and joints for brittleness and tension, fixes injuries, and resets it from a day of poor posture, stress and tension.

At the end of the class it allows you to gently recover, check yourself for any sore spots, massage out any hits or tensions and psychologically collect and relax yourself.

I covered this on the recent strikes and massage course in Melksham. It seems very simple and structureless on the surface, but as is often the case with Systema, there is a lot going on beneath the surface.

Here is a 4 minute video that explains in a sequential manner the different levels of ground work and some key things to look for:

  • ‘Reaching’ into simple stretches to pull the ‘crinkles’ out of the body.
  • Rolling over the muscles using gravity and bodyweight to gently massage them.
  • Using random angles and directions in the stretches and movements to check the body.
  • Getting the feeling of Systema.
  • Gaining confidence in your movement.
  • Using movement to relax yourself inside and out.
  • Mixing in the pillars to check your strength to bodyweight ratio.
  • Going through the whole range from standing to lying and using the action of going to ground and vice versa to release tension.

Ground movement is a great place to start getting the, ‘feeling’ of Systema.

Finding the feeling of Systema will be the focus in the upcoming Intensive Seminar at the Academy in Melksham on the 21-25 November 2018

The seminar is half full, so to secure your space click here.

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

Matt.

New Video Podcast with The Scholar Warrior

Earlier in the year I did a very enjoyable video podcast with Robin Gamble of the Scholar Warrior Podcast. It was our second podcast and we discussed a lot of topics such as:

– Using Systema to augment traditional martial arts.
– Where I think the current fascination with Special Forces Training comes from.
– Layering and build training to get the most out of it.
– Being the influencer rather than the influenced.
– Explanation of the Systema Four Pillars.
– Transferable skills outside class.
– Comparisons of gym work vs Systema.
– Using Systema to deal with Stress in life.
– Links between rounded physical and emotional confidence.
– What’s inspiring me at the moment.

Robin is a real gentleman with some great insights into the world of martial arts and holistic approach to life. Click the image below if you would like to see the podcast.

My very best wishes for your health and training.

Matt.

Click the links below for Matt’s Systema:
  • Upcoming Courses:
    • 22-23 Sept Systema Seminar, Melksham, England. Waiting List only! to be added click here
    • 21-25 Nov 5-Day Systema Intensive Wiltshire. Melksham, England.
    • 23-24 March 2019 New* Vladimir Vasiliev, ‘Structure of Systema’ Seminar – booking opening soon.