Learning from a Master, Just Not the Way You Think

By cflsystemabagua

Masters of any art have so much to teach. That is the great value of being in martial arts for decades. They share their knowledge and teach us some amazing means to hone our skills.

Sometimes, they teach even without teaching.

Case in point.

I was recently a part of an absolutely outstanding martial arts seminar. In fact, it was one of the most enjoy ones I have ever participated in, in my now 34 years of training.

Two “masters” from one of the hard styles came to train. They stayed for the first section and then unannounced, left in the middle of the second one. Might as well. Their participation could be at best described as minimal.

One student walked up to me and noted what he perceived as rudeness and asked if I was upset. I thought about it for a bit, checked in with my emotional self and truthfully replied, “Absolutely not.” Truth be told, the whole energy improved when they left. After all, few things are more distracting than seeing people who do not want to be there.

A few hours later, I became most grateful for this experience. In the seminar, I learned some fantastic movements with the bo and the tanbos. Now, thanks to them, I (re-) learned the value of openness and the “deadly 4 words.”

When you are open to receiving, the Universe pours gifts into your life in an unlimited fashion. You have countless opportunities to learn things that are new, making your life so much better in the process. Best of all, you taste just how sweet freedom is, unencumbered by self-limiting beliefs and self-imposed expectations. The sky is the limit. . . at least initially. Then, you can go beyond.

Or not.

Some are closed, imprisoned by their history and chained to the “deadly 4 words” — I ALREADY KNOW THAT. 

When the doors are shut, nothing can come in. A person can bring you a wheelbarrow full of gold coins and they would be shunned.

Such was the case here. Newness was seen as a threat. Alternative ways were not what they were used to and thus, “wrong” no matter how much more effective they truly were.

I am most thankful for this lesson. It is one that I have bumped up many times, experienced many times and (hopefully) have finally learned. Though it is a bit sad for these 2 gentlemen, each of us is on our own path.

Contrast that with Peter Carbone Sensei. Carbone Sensei is at the master level, given his skills, history, rank etc. I have rarely seen an individual so thrilled and eager to discuss Systema. His comments were insightful, unique and ended with the “Let’s continue this discussion. I have to think more about what you did. Very, very interesting.”

Masters come in all shapes and sizes. Be sure to find one whose is is still a student too.

Okinawan/Russian Seminar: HUGE Success!

By cflsystemabagua

Sometimes, when expectations are high, the actual event does not live up to said expectations.

Then there are times when it actually exceeds it. Such was the case on Saturday.

Peter Carbone Sensei along with yours truly put on a combination of Okinawan/Russian teaching featuring the bo and tanbo, along with the art of Systema. For those used to doing only one, eyes were opened and smiles resulted.

Systema people were introduced to traditional Okinawan weapons, complete with specific drills and a specific system. On the flip side, those who study the Okinawan arts were exposed to the freedom and flow, minus memorized techniques that are characteristics of this great art. Each “tasted” newness and were the better for it.

It was an honor to be a part of this great event and we are already planning additional events in places throughout the country. For this opportunity and for his friendship, I am forever grateful


ON A SPECIAL NOTEs:  Kudos to CarlosAnn, Jason (Dela), RJ, Chris, Peter and Mario. You all brought much respect and honor to yourselves and our school yesterday at the seminar. Outstanding job!

It is a great pleasure to be a part of all of this with such wonderful people.

One of my favorite martial arts teachers, Peter Carbone Sensei and yours truly. it was an honor to teach a seminar with him and a joy to train together.

It is a greater honor to call him friend.

How To Take Your Training To A New Level

By cflsystemabagua

If I asked a group, “How can you improve your skills?” a list of common answers would ensue.

  • Train more
  • Take more seminars
  • Train more
  • Work harder
  • Find a new and/or different teacher
  • Get a couple of training partners
  • Train more
  • Study some videos
  • Train more

There are a probably a handful of other equally useful tips, all of which have value to one degree or another. Most surround the topic of “more training” which at the end of the day, really is the best suggestion of all.

Best for sure. Add one more to the list.

Want to improve your skills – add pressure.

Systema may be largely about relaxation and minimization of and precise use of effort. Truth. Yet learning of any sorts can accelerate when pressure is added.

Case in point.

This Saturday, Peter Carbone Sensei will be one of the teachers at the Okinawan/Russian Martial Arts seminar in Winter Garden, FL. He is an off-the-charts master. A “top 1-percenter” in the world of martial arts. People from around the globe come to train with him. He goes to Okinawa to teach Okinawans THEIR weapons. Yes. . . . that good.

Want to take a guess who the other instructor is?!

It is an honor to be included as the co-presenter. In fact, it is one of the biggest honors I have experienced in my now 34th year in martial arts. And a hell of a lot of pressure. At the top of the list is the pressure to perform on par with the master.

As such, I have undertaken a massive amount of preparation and training to be as ready as possible for this special occasion. In the process, my skill level has taken a nice leap forward on that Eternal Road of Training.

There is another aspect to this. Some who has more experience, talent, skills and history than yours truly is treating me like an equal. As such, I find myself, albeit uncomfortably, acting like one. Not in an egotistical fashion but as a teacher who is responsible for the safety of all attendees. As someone who has a burning desire to share a wealth of information from this incredible art that most people have not heard of. Most of all, to help each person find within themselves “the master” – the great part of them that exits beyond the self-imposed, self-limiting beliefs. In other words, I want to do for them what Carbone Sensei is doing for me.

Want to take the proverbial “quantum leap” with your training? And life? Find a near-impossible situation and throw yourself, dead smack in the middle of it, without any safety net.

I do not know how the seminar will go. What I do know is that many favorable things have come from this – overcoming fear, practicing courage, learning to prepare thoroughly and oh yes, getting a little better at the art that I love.

One more step along the path.


Why I Love My Students

By cflsystemabagua

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



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.
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