Why I Love My Students

By cflsystemabagua

This is a reprint from one of my facebook pages: Book Of Blessings (click to join)

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Blessings for Being Like the Guys at Central FL Systema School.
In the decade-plus that I have been teaching at my martial arts school, I have been interrupted by my wife Lisa a grand total of once.
 
Yesterday, when the phone rang in the middle of class, I knew it was something that needed attention.
 
Turned out she had 2 flat tires. Annoying, irritating but not serious by any mean. Nevertheless, the issue needed to be dealt as one would imagine. I stopped class, let everyone know the situation and that I would return ASAP.
 
In union, like a choir, every single person in class offered their assistance. Had I asked that we carry the car back to my home, I have no doubt that they would have done so.
 
This may sound old-fashion or odd, but I have never been so proud to be associated with a group of individuals in my entire life. The thoughtfulness, compassion, and willingness to extend oneself was incredibly kind and honorable.
 
To Carlos, Chris, Chris, Vasily, Mario, and Jason, you have my deepest gratitude.
 
As an aside, this was not the first time that individuals have offered assistance in times of (varying degrees of) need.
 
As is the case with everything, things change and people come and go. Our class sizes have gone down and up and everywhere in between. It is without a doubt that I say this: This is the best group of individuals I have ever been associated with and THE best group we have ever had at Central FL Systema. You consistently add honor to our school and your lives.
 
Some might say, “But it was just a flat tire. . . ” The truth is when people are that willing to help with the small, they will be there for larger issues. Trust does not have limitations.
 
To every one of you, you have my thanks and appreciation.
 
My natural tendencies point toward introversion. Being a part of a group – particularly this group – has been one of the greatest blessings in my life. I have learned a great deal and it has meant more to me than what it may appear or that I can express in words. Much more.
 
One big lesson – risk going outside the comfort zone and be a part of something that is bigger than self. It can become a deep, surprising source of fun, joy, happiness, learning, and support.
 
They may even fix a flat tire or 2.
 
May we be blessed with the thoughtfulness and willingness to assist others, just like the martial arts students at Central Florida Systema school.

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.

 

Birth of the Dragon Review

By cflsystemabagua

I went to see “Birth of the Dragon.” It was a little “risky” as the reviews were rather harsh. After seeing the movie, in my opinion, it was one of the very best I have ever seen.

The story is about the famous fight between a young Bruce Lee and Wong Jack Man. Most martial artists are aware of this famous fight, one shrouded in mystery. The mysteries involve the winner, the number of witnesses, overall purpose of other details.

The movie (director) does a great job of building the story and the suspense. It is not exactly a stretch to say portions are undoubtedly exaggerated or invented but overall, it is excellent.

A caveat here: Bruce Lee die-hard fans will probably hate it. Throughout most of the film, he is not exactly portrayed in the best light. He is seen as an enormously talented but immature fighter. It is only after the great fight with Wong did he take a quantum leap forward.

Again, I thought it was excellent. The messages were powerful and applicable to all who saw or will see the film. The fight choreography was entertaining and creative.

Even for us Systema loyalists, it is worth the viewing.