Shoulder Healing and Systema – Testimonial by Ian Smith

…I have done things I never thought I would do again. My quality of life has improved immensely. – Ian Smith

Shoulder healing and Systema.
Over 20 years ago, at the age of 22, I suffered a dislocated left shoulder during a Karate Competition. It was never the same again and I dislocated it several times after that. In 2012 while practicing Sword Cutting in Iaido, I dislocated it again. Badly. This time it resulted in 4 months off work. I struggled on with physio exercises But resigned myself to a life of limitation. I had now settled into Tai Chi as the only martial arts practice I could do. I was very frustrated. For 20 years I had been living with a constant injury that was stopping me living life fully.

I searched the net for, ‘health’ and, ‘shoulder health’ and came across the book, ‘Systema Health’ by Matt Hill. I bought it, liked what I read and contacted Matt to come for a class, which I loved. I joined the Academy the following week. Being a Martial Artist I loved the combat elements of the art and was keen to progress so asked for a personal training session. My aim was to focus on improving the shoulder and progressing in the combat elements.

Matt got me doing exercises with variations that I had never seen. These included a variety of hangs from a bar and all kinds of strange push-ups underpinned by breathing exercises. He also started putting my shoulder through a number of locks and pins to pressure test it and build confidence.

He gave me a series of exercises to practice at home that week. I returned a week later. In less than a week my shoulder was feeling stronger. I was astounded. I had lived with the problem for 20 years, had extensive physiotherapy and been told my only option was an operation. Now in just a week I had seen a big improvement.

My improvement has continued. Matt gently and patiently builds the exercises giving me lots of variety. I was further amazed after a Systema massage. Matt basically walked on me, giving me the confidence that my shoulder could take the pressure. Afterwards I had a new level of flexibility in my shoulder even being able to touch my hands together behind my head. Something I had not been able to do for 20 years. I still retain that ability today.

In less than 6 months at the Academy and 4 private sessions I have gone from constant anxiety about my shoulder and sleeping with a pillow under my arm for support to being able to do a dead hang with shoulders by my ears to chin over the bar, and not thinking about my shoulder for days at a time. I have done things that I never thought I would do again. My quality of life has improved immensely.

I look forward to continuing my training with Matt as I feel that this is only the tip of the iceberg. Matt’s knowledge, enthusiasm, compassion and understanding and inspirational and infectious!





Ian Smith