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Systema Seminar Reflections - 2nd

Updated: Feb 14, 2023

I feel continually blessed to be able to train with such amazing people and instructors in my martial arts pursuits. This past weekend, 2.5 days was spent in a Systema seminar with Emmanuel (Manny). I’ve almost walked away from martial arts training much more than once and somehow I keep sticking with it. I study for a lot of reasons and those reasons keep changing with time. Right now, I study in part because it feels like it’s become apart of my spiritual practice like doing tai chi or meditation, but lately, I feel like I’m healing myself, or it’s healing me. I can’t tell any more… These deep places that come from deep hurts keep being touched unexpectedly by this particular art and the people teaching this art. I’m not sure I could stop now or that it would even be wise to stop at this point, like something has been set in motion that wants to complete itself. It’s a strange feeling really and not something that lends itself easy to words.

At the last school I was at for a good length of time, in New Zealand, I was told (commanded) to not bring my emotions to the class. What I could bring to that school was my intensity and focus, but without the full depth of me showing up, that training was at times two dimensional, and I found myself contorting who I was at my core, despite incredible deep learnings. Having emotions wasn't always safe and there was no way of knowing what emotions would be safe and when.

In North Carolina, there was a drill that touched on a lot of people’s tender places, not just my own. When asked to practice a dumping power type punch movement into another, and to do it with love, or with the same intension as giving another a hug, something in me, incredibly tender was touched. Could love, and something that looks violent to an outside pair of eyes, in actuality really be so loving and kind? Could defending oneself or hitting another really be done with so much care and concern for another, but with absolute power? It’s one thing to talk about and think about and entirely different to do, and to feel. I cried because my brain was being rewired and maybe because a part of my body knew it was safe to let down the armor of “it wasn’t ok to cry in class and look soft/vulnerable”. Part of the reason the tears came is I’ve always had trouble with strikes even at my old school partly because, I’ve told myself over the years, “I’m first and foremost healer," but in honestly, I just haven’t wanted to hurt anyone, even consensually in martial arts training, as much as I’ve felt hurt over the years by different people’s actions.

After my tears, I left for a while and sat with nature, my go to place, when I feel uncomfortable. When I felt ready to come back to the seminar, I was, to my surprise, witness to many others in their ‘soft, tearing up places’ and one man in particular caught my eye. He was in full blown tears being held up by another calm and present man. Other men were coming by from time to time to check on this guy, giving an encouraging pat or hug. The instructor was simply, “Welcome to my world, people are always crying in my classes!"

Being witness to all of this was affirming I’m in the right place and it's safe to feel the feels (especially if full grown burly guys were allowed too)!, not to mention so incredibly beautiful to see men supporting men in a warriors environment through such soft and tender stuff. It was a gift to bear witness to, these men supporting each other and women too, all of us together as we collectively were healing, learning, and growing in our own tiny place on planet Earth, during one fleeting moment in time. Also, I feel pretty confident the world would be a much better place for all if we all did this kind of deep internal work and were so lovingly supported through it as those of us in training this past weekend got to experience.

I’m so grateful for all the tears and the absolute joy and fun had, along with the deep learnings. Many more laughs and smiles were had than tears! This photo with the instructor at the end of the seminar sums it all up, cheesy smile and all!

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