Would I Survive?

I received this testimonial from Susan, an attendee at last years Systema Camp in Wiltshire. It is a good indication of the benefits at any age and level of fitness or experience.

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I have written this to to demonstrate how systema is becoming part of my daily life. It is getting me through times that would have challenged and stressed me before.

I had the honour to meet up with some systema practitioners last summer at the Systema Fundamentals camp in Wiltshire under your guidance Matt. I had no idea what to expect and was nervous as to what would face me. Would I survive?!

I loved the experience.

It was probably the first time that my mind and body was able to look past the daily worries and challenges of work and aging parents.

It was also the first time in a long time that I was pushed out of my comfort zone over my 56 years.

Since then I have enjoyed (and struggled with) your 28 day challenge and the online breathing video course.

Unexpectly I have found the new approach to movements, breathing and even something as simple as standing a huge benefit to my overall health.

I have been amazed at how elements of the camp your programmes have naturally become part of my daily routine. This has meant that even during the most demanding times, I am able to find calm, focus on my immediate surroundings and relax the mind.

You mentioned recently in an email Vladimir’s quote “stop feeling sorry for yourself” while performing strenuous exercise.

I realised that this ethos can be applied when I feel life in general is getting too demanding. Just that viewpoint grounds me. Without realising it I had adopted this quote.

I look forward with respect and anxiousness to returning to the camp this year!

Thank you for introducing me to a way of living that I am beginning to include in my daily life.

Susan.

This years camp runs from 3-7 July 2019. The theme is Living Systema.

Among many other things we will be covering how to translate the exercises and drills into a way of living your life with more ease, calm and relaxation. We will then bring this state of body, mind and spirit to the application of Systema in self-defence.

It is a deep 5 day immersion into all aspects of Systema and ultimately a better understanding of yourself and how to live, move, breathe and respond in better ways.

The price goes up in less than two weeks. Here is the link to the page with more information.

If you enjoyed this blog there are more in my weekly newsletters here.

My best wishes for your training and health,

Matt.

How to amplify your health and skills

There is a surefire way to amplify your health and your skills.

Go outside.

Whether you are a runner, martial artist (maybe not a sports competitor) yoga practitioner or whatever, your training will be amplified outdoors.

For a start fresh air and sunlight give you an instant hit.

All of your senses will be much more engaged making the whole experience a more holistic and embodied approach than the cleansed, de-risked environment or a studio, dojo or gym.

In most cases it takes more effort to get outside and therefore more willpower. You strengthen this a little each time you use it. Rather like a taking a cold shower.

Your awareness will be heightened.

Your movement has to be more mindful because of natural obstacles. You also begin to see more opportunities in the environment for use as defence, weapons, obstacles, challenges and tools. You become more adaptable to a random number of variables in weather, terrain, surface etc.

A natural environment will make you move more naturally.

Traversing rocks, logs, trees etc. sitting on the floor or on a log makes you step properly, sit properly and move properly. Nature is the perfect teacher for heathy, organic movement: soft, steady, balanced, smooth and powerful.

The detox from the cyber hive of screens resets your eyes and posture.

Going to sleep with firelight and waking with the sun resets your body clock and will give you an immeasurably good nights sleep. Being able to look at the stars in the heavens can reconnect you with the bigger picture. Who we are, where we come from, where we are going. Perspective.

The outdoors for me is the best place to hone your skills and your health.

The more urbanised we become, the more wild we need.

Try to get in touch with your wild side more often. Get outside to a natural area and train, walk, move.

Study after study has shown that just a few hours in nature, even once a month, is enough to lower key biological markers:

  • 12.4% decrease in the stress hormone cortisol,
  • 7% decrease in sympathetic nerve activity,
  • 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.

Th upcoming Living Systema Camp in Wiltshire will really hone in on the benefits outlined above and the price goes up in a few weeks time so lock in the early bird price now.

I will also be covering how to get the most out of outdoor training this weekend in Lancashire and in the Highlands of Scotland in June:

  • June 8-9 Aboyne (Scottish Highlands) Systema Course. Contact Steve Murphy for details.
  • July 3-7 Wiltshire 5 Day Intensive Camp. Click here for details. Price goes up in a few weeks time!

If you enjoyed this blog there are more in my weekly newsletters here.

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

Matt.

How to relax more (includes tutorial video)

Everyone wants to know how to be more relaxed. More at ease. Unfortunately like most things this takes some effort. It is a bit of a paradox.

It is useful to educate and train yourself in the art of relaxation.

A good method is to stress yourself under controlled conditions. One way to do this is with a simple breath hold. There are many varieties of these in Systema.

A useful variation is to do a breath hold whilst doing exercise.

What comes next is the crucial part:

You go straight into learning how to properly relax and restore yourself after the breath hold exercise.

This gives your psyche and your body the knowledge, skill and therefore the confidence that you can feel very stressed, and then within seconds bring yourself back to full recovery.

You begin to understand this deeply and intuitively though a gradual progression of the exercise. Done properly it can take over 30 mins, as I explain in the video below. It is a tough exercise, but It will reveal deep lessons and great benefits to you.

Several variations on this theme can be used in Systema:

  • Breath holds.
  • Physical endurance.
  • Pain.
  • Fear.
  • Physical contact and pressure.
  • Exposure to things that scare us.

The result is a deep and rounded understand of your stressors, a sensitivity to the effect that they have on you and the knowledge of how to restore yourself to a relaxed state.

The key is that it is all is done with full consciousness of your psyche and physical state through the connecting thread of your breathing.

In summary the key benefits are that :

  • The level of your relaxed state deepens.
  • Your length of time in which you can maintain the level of relaxation in everyday life expands and;
  • The speed with which you can consciously relax yourself increases.

There is real magic and power in the simplicity and ‘anytime anywhere’ accessibility of these tools.

Below is the video. It is one of 36 sections of the Systema Breathing Course.

Breath Hold Pillars

It is 6 mins long. The first four minutes detail the exercise, and the second part answers a question on overcoming doubts.

I am teaching three upcoming courses over the next few weeks and months. I hope to see you around!

  • May 19th – Marple Systema Course. Contact Chris Wallace for details.
  • June 8-9 Aboyne (Scottish Highlands) Systema Course. Contact Steve Murphy for details.
  • July 3-7 Wiltshire 5 Day Intensive Camp. Click here for details.

If you enjoyed this post you may want to sign up to my weekly newsletters (this was taken from there) here.

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

Matt.

Jungle training makes you a better soldier in any environment.

I wrote this piece for the team coming with me to Borneo for the Systema Jungle Trip. However, I am sending it out as a general email because there are thoughts in it applicable to all forest environments. Not as intense maybe, but present none the less.

Jungle training takes you back to basics. Your core skills have to be at the top of your game. Especially but not limited to:

  • Personal administration of yourself and your equipment.
  • fitness,
  • strength of character,
  • map reading,
  • command and communication,
  • team spirit,
  • observation and awareness,
  • obstacle crossing drills and
  • movement.

The emphasis that the Jungle environment puts on these skills makes you a better soldier in any environment.

I remember hearing and experiencing this during my Jungle Training. I read it again recently as I was prepping for the Systema Trip to Borneo.

Here is how I think that it will apply to Systema and our Jungle trip:

  • Breathing. With 95% humidity, the weight of a pack and very steep hills, there will be ample time to practice breath work. The moment to moment awareness of breath and requisite adjustments will be invaluable:
    • Recovery breath.
    • Endurance breath.
    • Light breathing for soft, smooth movement.
    • Nasal breathing to improve hydration retention.
    • Focusing on your breath to maintain calm during tougher moments.
  • Soft movement. You can’t fight your way through the Jungle. You have to move with it. Softly. Sensitively. If you try to tug, rip and hack your way through the Jungle will claim its first victim within hours.
  • Awareness. There is so much to see and hear. Sights that you wont see anywhere else. Key to this will be the ability to relax your eyes, open up your senses and appreciate everything that the jungle has to offer.
  • Managing fear. Everyone will be a little scared at some point. Whether during a river crossing, when seeing some jungle wildlife, When feeling the oppressive nature of the trees, or the pitch black and unbelievable noise of the nights. A refocus on breath and or burst breathing will bring you through these moments.
  • Selflessness and humility: It will be vital to work as a team. Sometimes you will feel great, other times not. People will wax and wane at different times. The key will be supporting and working for each other.
  • Sensitivity. There will be the chance to feel your way through the environment. To get in tune with nature. We will be as far from civilisation and man made things as many people will go in their lives. There will be a chance to plug in to this environment and try allow yourself become part of the forest. To spread your awareness outside the walls of your skin and see how far out into the forest you can feel.

The Systema Jungle trip will be unique but many of these skills will be apparent during the Living Systema Camp in Wiltshire and in the following upcoming courses:

  • June 8-9 Aboyne (Scottish Highlands) Systema Course. Contact Steve Murphy for details.
  • July 3-7 Wiltshire 5 Day Intensive Camp. Click here for details.

You can sign up to get more newsletters like this here.

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

Matt.

Living Systema Camp 2019

It is with great pleasure that I can let you know that the booking for this years Systema Camp in Wiltshire is now open.

Click the link to download the full Brochure and information pack:

Living Systema Camp Brochure 2019

This year my aim is go deep inside Systema. The health aspects, the healing, the combat, the emotional management, dealing with people and situations.

In short how to better understand yourself, your environment and those around you. This is where Systema begins. You plant a seed inside and help it to flourish. This is the essence of the Systema approach to self defence, health and wellbeing.

You don’t learn it. You live it.

Who can attend?
The course is suitable for men and women of all ages and skill levels.

Over the five days we will take the time to work deeply with key concepts of Systema including:

  • Breath-work: for health, psychological state and self-defence.
  • Health: Understanding how to use the principles of Systema (breathing, movement, relaxation and posture) to improve overall health and feeling of wellbeing.
  • Movement: Learn and enhance your basic understanding of distance, timing and precision. Grappling & striking, on the ground, standing, multiple attackers & crowds with & without weapons, in open & close environments, by day & night.
  • Strikes: Working to find the relaxed heaviness that allows for free, fluid and deep strike work from any body part.
  • Tactics: How to use positioning, terrain and obstacles.
  • Awareness: The outdoors is the best place to open your senses and your awareness. You will learn tactics and techniques to improve your general and tactical level of awareness.

Living Systema. At the camp we are together 24-7. It is an ideal time to begin to understand and refine how we build the feeling of Systema into everyday life. For 5 days you will live, train and immerse yourself in a holistic approach to Systema and life.

Accommodation: Accommodation is camping. You can bring your own tent, or basha (tarp).

Cooking. All cooking is done over a camp fire. Hearty, wholesome and healthy. Vegan, Vegetarian and GF options are available.

Dates: This years camp will run for 5 days. Wednesday 3rd to Sunday 07th July.

Cost: The  cost is £450. This is inclusive of all food, accommodation and training. See below for payment options. The cost will increase and places will be limited so get in early.

Payment Options:

  • Paypal: Click here
  • Go Cardless: Click here

Cancellation Policy:
As soon as the payment has been received, the registration is considered valid and binding. An already received registration/payment can be cancelled in writing until June 20th 2019 (processing fee: £50). Cancellations after June 20th 2019, as well as participants who are absent from the camp, forfeit the entire amount of payment. There is no right to a refund of the seminar cost after this date, but another person can take your place.

Places will be limited.

Click the link to download the full Brochure and information pack:

 

Living Systema Camp Brochure 2019

I look forward to welcoming you to another week of great training. Please email if you have   any questions: matt@matthill.co.uk

My very best wishes for your health and training,

Matt.

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” –    Henry David Thoreau

Systema Breath Work Course now available!

Recently I told you about a new online video course that I have put together with an attached a clip.

I am very happy to now make the whole course available.

You can read more about it here.

Or go straight ahead and purchase it here for £9.99.

As a reminder:

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.

I hope that you enjoy it.

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

Matt.

Vladimir Vasiliev UK Seminar: How to get the best out of it – a key question answered.

Will the seminar be of value to you?

I have had several people email me to ask whether they will still get value out of the course if they come but can’t partake in all of the Vladimir Vasiliev seminar.

For some this has been because they are injured, for others it is because they are new and wonder if it will be too intense and for others it is because they are more interested in the health and wellbeing aspects of Systema.

I have thought carefully about my answer to each of them, because I don’t want them to come and then be disappointed. However, in each case my answer has been, ‘Yes, you should definitely come.’

There will be much of the seminar that almost anyone can do, regardless of confidence, skill or physical fitness level.

Additionally there is no problem at ANY time to stand aside and watch some or more of the drills.

IN FACT stepping out and watching from time to time can be seen as advisory.

This has been the thing that occurred to me as I thought about the answers. It is the key reason that I have advised all of the people who asked to come along.

When you watch the teacher (Vladimir) demonstrate and explain a skill, most people will then go and practice their own take on it. Some people will just go off and do something COMPLETELY different to what he has demonstrated. Anyone who has taught a group will have had the experience of witnessing this phenomena.

This is not always deliberate. We all have ‘built in’ filters and approximators that ‘delete’ and ‘distort’ much of the information that we are presented with to enable us to process it.

We then all jump straight in and start practicing, and often can’t see objectively whether or not we are really practicing what has been shown.

This is especially true during a long tiring day of practicing new skills and processing new or unfamiliar information.

With a small group, it is not so much of a problem, as the teacher can usually get around everyone during each drill and correct them. However, even this is not foolproof.

When you have a large seminar with a popular teacher, it is impossible for the teacher to see you during every drill.

Stepping out of the practice and watching from time to time allows you to have this objective viewpoint and calibrate yourself.

If anyone has any doubts as to whether they should do the seminar, for any of these reasons, please don’t hesitate to reply to this email and I will be happy to chat with you.

Bookings are now coming in so to make sure that you don’t miss out, you can book below.

Vladimir Vasiliev UK Seminar

I would love to welcome you to the seminar.

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

Matt.

The (not so) surprising impact of fixing the things that you do everyday.

I received this email from a friend that I have known for a long time. He emails from time to time about the emails that I put out, and although he has never done Systema, he has done the 28 Day Challenge. Below he writes about the two key things that have stuck with him. They are not big things, but they are the things that you do everyday, and the things that you do most regularly are the things that define you, your health and your skills.

Matt,

I wanted to write to let you know how I have benefited from the Systema way of life.
The two key methods are walking and breathing.
Walking: I began to use the suggested method, of being straight and keeping good posture. Whilst initially, it seems unnatural, the benefits are really quite outstanding. No more the curved shoulders and slouch forward, but rather the straight spine, which has helped my lower back, a problem has been with me since I was 14 and cycling. The pain was nothing too great, but would be there if I walked like a ‘bag of potatoes’.
Secondly the Breathing method: I have found it excellent in high adrenaline rushes, a good example would be a near hit whilst driving. Following the correct breathing method brings you quickly back to a relaxed state. It also aids in physical exercise (don’t really need to tell you that), but, again, it is truly amazing the way in which you can return to a ‘normal’ level.
I don’t suffer from the health problems that many of your correspondents have had, but it just goes to show how effective the practices are even in small adjustments.
Regards,
John.

These things may seem trivial, mundane, but they aren’t. Just add up the amount of time that you spend on them. These things that you are doing all day every day. I would say these are the important things. Small adjustments here can have a huge magnification in your life, health and skills.

My book, ‘Living Systema‘ helps you to work on this element of your skill set.

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

Matt.