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.

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

Matt.