Monthly Archives: October 2017

Just Like Vlad

By cflsystemabagua

On the surface, it sounds like the most extraordinary compliment one could receive in Systema. You move “just like Vlad.” To move just like the master is admirable, if not impossible.

It is also a trap. Giant one at that.

My wife sang professionally for 20 years from small venues to 18K at a Miami Heat game. If she has not seen or heard it all, she has seen or heard most of it. During one of our many conversations on the topic, she said something that really got my attention. “You know what the kiss of death is in music? ‘You sound just like so-and-so.'” 

Initially, I found that an odd statement until the explanation followed. You will never be as good as the person you sound like. Additionally, there already is one. We do not need another.

Same holds true for Systema. If you are not carving out your own niche using your own style and own personality, you are just parroting another. A cheap imitation of a master.

My teacher, from day one, constantly pushed the idea that you are unique and in order to be “successful” in this art, you have to make it your own.

Truer words have never been spoken.

When It All Comes Together

By cflsystemabagua

As anyone who has a school knows, teaching adults is a challenge. Between work schedules and family responsibility (and 101 other factors), getting people to come to class on regular basis is not always possible.

Then. . . . there are the nights when the stars align, the kids are away and the boss shuts down early and is off having a beer. . . and everyone shows up. It is moments like this when I just want to hit the pause button and soak it all in. It is such a good feeling.

Last night was close. With the exception of only a couple, we had a nice big group, complete with “returnees;” that is, people who I have not seen in a bit were finally back in action. And it was a pure treat.

Systema is a circular art, not just in many of the movements but in the way it is a structured. I spent decades in Japanese arts and they are so linear and pyramidal. There is the person on top of the pyramid and the trickle effect goes on down from there. Black belt to the lowly white belt.

While there is never any doubt who the leader(s) of System are, we still form a circle at the end of class or seminar. The unique thing about a circle is that there is no beginning or end, nor any degree of hierarchical levels. Each of us is just a piece in a beautiful ring.

Bows are replaced by hugs. Titles are absence but respect is not. The whole puzzle matters as much as the pieces.

It is nights like last night that remind me of what an incredible image the circle is and how great it is to be a part of this particular one.