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Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Close Quarter Combat Part One

Just finished editing our newest DVD - part one in a series of two, preparation work for close quarter fighting. Exercises, movement drills, developing flow and strike placement - vital knowledge for surviving the January sales!

We are also doing a pre-order deal for Parts 1 and 2!

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

MERRY CHRISTMAS! 2010 and beyond

I'd like to thank everyone whos helped  make 2010 a great year for training! The groups have come on leaps and bounds and we've covered a lot of interesting work this year.

In terms of workshops we've covered form and structure, knife defence, groundfighting, body language and awareness and  stretching. The regular classes have covered all the usual work which in itself is as varied and interesting as ever!

Training highlights for me include Martin Wheeler's visit to London. Martin is a great instructor and you always know it will be a good session! Another highlight was this year's Leicester training camp - some truly unique training, challenging on so many levels and beautifully organised and conducted by Ed, Rory and the rest of the crew

We've had some new faces through the door this year and I'd like to welcome you all! We have had people move away too - Steve "Bulldog" Williams, our very own shin-kicking backsword-wielding granite- jawed man of steel - is now in Somerset, home of cider! For those who are overseas at the moment I hope you are keeping safe and will soon be back with your families.

There has been a lot of interesting feedback from the regulars this year and this really helps in shaping the training sessions. It's been encouraging to see people make a suggestion during a drill which can then lead the group off on a whole new tangent. This is of prime importance to me as it shows that, even beyond any physical skill improvements, people are thinking, analysing and engaging in the process. As an instructor this is so much more rewarding than standing in front of rows of people who copy your moves or teaching through some artificial syllabus. At the same time it's also a challenge to keep the training fresh, relevant and realistic and I look forward to meeting that challenge in 2011

As Ed often says, we don't know what we are training for. By that he means if you are a boxer, you train for a boxing match. A soldier trains for whatever duties he is tasked to carry out. None of us is can see the future so in that respect we are training for the "unknown". This might be seen as a difficulty but in fact I think it is liberating. It means we aren't working under the confines of rulesets or an  SOP but are free to explore any avenue. By the same token I think this approach - which as far as I can see is unique to Systema - totally encourages innovation, creativity and freedom of expression. This is important from a psychological point of view too and of course goes hand-in-hand with the whole "we are all students" ethos. In fact to a large extent I see my role almost entirely as a signpost, either to training methods or to people better qualified to teach than I am. In that sense I owe everything to Mikhail, Vladimir and all the other good people I have trained with over the years.

In the wider "martial arts community"  2010 has been a bit of a non-descript year I think. It is interesting, though, to observe subtle changes over the industry - for example there are a lot more people teaching "defence in cars" or "working in a confined space" and one can only wonder where they draw their inspiration from. It is also interesting to see the numerous questions on forums about fear control, fluid movement, integrating ground work etc etc which often tempt me to write JDS....Just Do Systema! But of course not everything is for everyone and despite the growing evidence to the contrary people do get taken in by some of the "misunderstandings" about what we do
It is disappointing though  to see that even with the huge amount of information now available (not like when I was a boy!) people coming into martial arts still seem to  search for one of three types:

"Qualified Guy" with a string of black belts, hall of fame inductee, 15 times world champion, list of certificates that no normal wall could display and face on every magazine cover

"The Guru" - a zen-like Monk figure with mysterious powers, wrapped in a blend of Eastern philosophies and Western consumerism

"The Tough Guy" - either some kind of street hard-man bouncer or a heavily-muscled steely-eyed ex Spec Forces type, who can teach you to end a fight in 6 seconds or kill a man with a mobile phone

There are plenty who's marketing strategy revolves around  playing  up to such stereotypes and why not - it's a free world (well actually it can work out quite expensive if you don't read the small print). Of course the media - even the mainstream martial arts media - does nothing to dispel the myths.

The reality is that teachers can come in all shapes and sizes and sometimes when you least expect them. There are of course 100s of good instructors out there who are honest about their abilities, don't inflate or invent their CVs and want only the best for their students. Overall I don't feel they are very well served by the "industry" who are more interested in mutual back-slapping and self-promotion than anything else (there goes my invite to next years "big event!)

So what does 2011 hold in store? On the DVD front the first release  will be a (probably) two disk set on close quarter work. Part 1 is being edited now and will hopefully be ready at the start of January.

In terms of regular class training - more of the same, plus! There were a some good suggestions at the last session, so I'll take those on board, plus of course any specific areas that anyone wants to cover. I'm talking to an old pal of mine who currently does a lot of work with behaviourial patterns,  so that may be the subject of a workhsop in the future. Hopefully there will be at least one training weekend this year and I also plan on getting the group out and about to train at a couple of different locations. There may also be the possibility of a training trip to Toronto (if Heathrow ever opens again!)

In closing I'd like to again thank everyone who's attended the classes and workshops this year,  my teachers, friends and colleagues and everyone who has helped make this such an enjoyable year - most of all my wife who let's me out every Saturday morning to play for a couple of hours!

Merry Christmas and a peaceful, healthy and happy New Year to you all

God Bless


Sunday, 5 December 2010

December 2010 Workshop

A big thanks to everyone who made the workshop yesterday - good to see people from all the different groups coming together and training with such good spirit!

For those who couldn't make it - the work centered around close-range fighting, so the drills were based around close contact with other people, developing short range strikes, takedowns, etc. We had fun with some different exercises and though time beat us as always (perhaps we will run through the remaining drills next session) we got plenty of work in. The highlight for me was seeing how intense the guys worked in the three man fight drill  - without protective gear, yet thanks to good control and good self-protections skills there were no injuries. I'll be reviewing the video footage and if it's good will edit up for a DVD release. In the meantime here's a few pics

Thanks again