I came across systema almost by accident. I say almost because I’m a firm believer in everything happens for a reason and we are here, meeting the people we are supposed to meet at any given time. So I should say, I was introduced to systema by a friend and very skilled instructor of the art, Glen Robertson. He gave me a ‘book in progress’ about it and I sat on my flight to the states last year and read it front to back and it left me wanting to know more. To say I was intrigued would be an understatement, so, on my return, I found a local class, run by Rob Hodgkinson. That was four months ago.
What can I say about it? Firstly, if you’ve never come across it, it would be hard to explain in terms that could do it justice. It is, unlike most martial arts, elegant, almost spiritual. It’s not about physical strength or ability, but learning; learning to breathe, to relax and most importantly, to know yourself.
It teaches us to understand our fears and conquer them, by showing us that the only barriers are the ones we place for ourselves. It teaches us to relax in spite of those fears, to overcome them whilst maintaining posture and form. It strengthens, not just physically but mentally and emotionally and can only be described as beautiful.
I am taught by a gentle giant of a man, Rob, whose quiet teaching approach instils confidence where you think you have none, encourages you to continue when all you want to do is quit and creates a feeling of accomplishment even in the smallest of achievements.
I attend each class, every week, excited and yet a little nervous because of my barriers and leave, both relaxed and invigorated but also astounded that, once more, I’ve taken another step to understanding myself better, whether that be what I can actually achieve when I remember to breathe or what exactly my barriers are. I have my instructor to thank for that.
Systema is truly about ‘knowing thy self’, about breathing, something we all think we do properly but when taught correctly, realise just how amazing true breaths can be and how amazing their affect on the body can be.
Anyone wishing to take on a martial art should try this and I cannot recommend it highly enough…..”