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,


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.

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