Systema Seminar

Interpreting in a Systema seminar/bridging two worlds

“-Are you scared?
-No.
-So why do you move like you’re scared?”
This little snatch of conversation took place two weeks ago between Manny and a student. Of course, it didn’t go exactly as shown here, because all the students spoke French, so someone was charged with doing the translating. I was this person, and I really enjoyed the experience.
I have been training in Systema for about three years now and have participated in a few seminars – though always as a student. Being the translator gave me a very different perspective of everything that was happening during the seminar. Yes, everything – for during the weekend, I was not paying attention to myself or my partner, or to the people directly around me, or to the instructor, but to everybody. I was somewhere between the students and the teacher, between two worlds… bridging two worlds.
Fortunately, everyone was very kind and supportive, which helped me going. Overall, the energy was very positive. Participants were very attentive and it was clear that they wanted to learn as much as they could from Manny. He patiently took the group to a place where they could really express their -martial- creativity all while having fun. You should have seen the smiles on their faces 🙂 But it was also serious when needed! Serious but relaxed.
Being close to Manny, I could appreciate everything he said to students when helping them with a problem. Sometimes he would say just a few practical words or use a metaphor or an analogy to make a point. If he felt the student was not quite close to understanding he would rather show him physically, make him feel it. He always seemed to find what to do or say to help the student.
On a more general level, he also gave some of his insights and reflexions on training which are already helping me and my partners during class. For example, he reminded us that it matters most to understand an exercise than to master it. What also was very instructive was his concept of the process of Systema, which he thoroughly exposed to us during the seminar. If you’re curious about it, and I think you should, you can hear about it in his podcast. I feel that different aspects of this process already have an impact on my Systema, namely how I apply work on my partners or even how I perceive the exercises that we do.
To put it in a nutshell, attending a seminar from the translator’s perspective was a tremendous experience. I feel that I learnt enormously without having done a single exercise, and having helped my partners gain as much as they could from Manny was very satisfying too. Everything I saw and heard and felt in this seminar, from both the participants and Emmanuel, made me ever more certain that Systema can bring a lot of good to people, and most importantly, it can make them change.
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