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Systema Seminar Reflections

(An email from one of the participants)

Hi Emmanuel,

This is Eric from the seminar last weekend. First, I wanted to say again that it was a pleasure to meet you. Also thank you for the time and energy that you gave to teach us.

This was my first systema seminar and it’s hard for me to imagine a more relevant one to attend for me personally. Contradicting ideas about systema that I’ve been struggling with were reframed by you in a way that allowed for me to bring those ideas together into a harmonious concept that no longer are at odds in my mind and body: namely the ideas of “following what makes sense for you as an individual” and “there are systems/concepts in systema and ways to 'do' that can be taught”. The tangible/physical manifestation of this for me was your idea that pressure is not something to avoid and can in fact be the path towards moving through. This idea is one I’ve clearly articulated in other parts of my life, but to apply it to systema was new to me and left me with greater confidence and trust in myself.

The thoughts that you shared throughout the weekend about using mindset, awareness, and intense presence to displace ego and therefore act from a perspective of observation are the same that I’ve arrived at independently in my own practices of rock climbing, historical fencing, art making, and human connection. I guess I’ve come to call it ‘creativity’. They are practices that I’ve developed and articulated only to myself in order to experiment with as a path to increase performance and/or connectiveness. My stubbornness to do things my own way in life has led me here, but because of the intrinsic associated isolation I often feel doubt about this path. Hearing you (as someone with more experience) discuss these ideas has also left me feeling a much greater confidence in this work and is incredibly affirming. So, thank you for that.

On my 15 hour drive home I had much time to coalesce and process. And although there's still a lot that needs to be done I was left with the question I’ve been trying to figure out that I want to ask you:

Have you come against paradox in your practice(s); and if so, how do you navigate or come to terms with it and not allow it to become a barrier to your growth? Can you use it to your advantage?

Thanks for your time, and I hope to cross paths with you again.


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