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Systema Seminar Review 2020

Understanding Body Weight

In his January, 2020 Systema Seminar in Durham, NC, Emmanuel Manolakakis presented a unique approach toward understanding the four pillars or Systema; study body weight. I, for one, thought this was brilliant.

Body weight has to be one of the most basic elements of self, yet I had no idea what my body weight felt like. I only had a cognitive understanding of what it was. It turns out even a cognitive understanding of body weight is confusing to many. Nature, June 24, 2019, published that about 15% under guess their own body weight, except for those who are modestly overweight – they under guess 44% of the time.

So, it should not be a surprise that many of us have even more trouble understanding what our own body weight actually feels like. Talk about a hole in brainstem development. This one is gaping.

Emmanuel led us through two days of drills intended to help understand and study the impact of our own body weight upon ourselves and training partners. By definition, each of these drills challenged our brainstem, the seat of such understanding.

What is also exciting is that in order to do these exercises you have to relax your body, breath, study structure, and move. By simply focusing on body weight you are also working on the four pillars. What’s more, it is done without thinking. The brain is clearly less useful than the brainstem when learning about your own body weight.

Naturally, there are some cognitive tools that help as well. For example, on average, the human arm is about 6.5% of total body weight. So, if you weight 75KG (165 pounds), that means your arm weighs about 11 pounds. Roughly the equivalent of three baseball bats or a plastic gallon jug filled 85% of the way with sand.

Knowing the cognitive comparators helps, but focusing on weight while performing Systema drills goes a lot further. That teaches your body to understand.

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