A Systema Principle.
By Trevor Jovan Robinson
Giving “permission” is the easy part (but not always) that’s working on your Ego, that’s a mental choice, what you are giving Permission to do is the real work and that’s not so easy sometimes, Because you have given permission you have in effect given up your ego, your personally trained protection (the job of the ego is protect our status-quo, our confidence in what we think we know and believe, like a shield to our vulnerabilities)
A few years ago I was having a conversation with my now departed NLP Teacher/friend Harold Milnthorp. Harold told me that in all the many years that he had been a therapist (psychologist, Hypnotist and NLP trainer) one thing stood out and that was you could never CURE a person completely,
That is (in his words) “a person is like an onion, you can get rid of what ales him (really that is only ever another symptom), Only to find that you uncover something deeper” he then went on to tell me that as a therapist one had to decide when enough was enough! And send them away telling them that they are now cured, as a martial artist (or for the want of a better word a Human being) enough is never enough! And so we continue to work on our weaknesses (and our presupposed strengths because they can be weak as well!) continuously throughout our martial life or I should say “We must work on them, as that is the whole point! of Training”
Many if not all! People come to the Systema, or Martial arts thinking that the training is about learning how to fight when in fact it is about learning how to live;
I’ve said for a long time that it is! Actually therapy!, yes you learn to fight but for far different reasons! and motivations than the ones you had originally, and if you learn well, When the time comes you may find that you don’t need to Fight at all!
In fact when you came to learn the system at first you gave “Permission” to be shown your own Weaknesses in combat, you gave teachers and training partners “Permission” to see you! But this is the thing! How many of those onion skins were you prepared peel away? each one is protecting something deeper (a fear an anxiety or Illness) and When you get to your personal limit and become anxious the “ego” comes to your aid to protect you once again, where is the “bottom of the permission” for you, When the layers go down to your very soul!
There are reasons we have an Ego to protect our layers, It Preserves our sanity our integrity as well as our vulnerabilities, Even if these are built on error, Well it’s kept you alive through all your life’s ups and downs up to now otherwise you would not be reading this now!
So even if you are not perfect yet- you’ve done well up to now!
But there are risks (dangers) in giving Permission and I’m talking about getting Physically injured for example some time ago I was sparing with a student and although I could beat him easily this would be pointless for me and not training for him, so at one point I let him take me down to the ground (to see what he came up with?) we ended up with ourselves sat down very close facing each other with my right foot trapped under his upper left leg, He began to apply a Sombo type lock to my left ankle, to release the pressure from the Lock I moved forward and into a kneeling position on my right knee, forgetting that my right foot was trapped!
That’s when a tendon made the sound of a shoelace snapping in my right foot! I quickly put a wrist lock on him and he tapped out (ego to the rescue!), I then looked after my foot It was all my Error of cause but it could have been worse, after some Massage and physiotherapy it’s now fine, I gave Him permission but then made an error, I’ve learnt from it but did I need to go there? I can cross the road very well without getting knocked over, but I find no need to see if I can do it Blind-folded! get my drift?
Vlad said “you give sufficient trust to the partner such that he or she can try deep work”
So be careful that you’re training partner is sensitive to what is going on for your safety that’s just my advice.
Vladimir Vasiliev has said,
Real skill has to grow from the absolute bottom of the permission. You give up everything and you re-build from there. Anything less is a false foundation.”
Remember what I said about the Onion skins where is the “bottom of the permission” for you, When the layers go down to your very soul!
Here is my superficial understanding of this”bottom of the permission”
A very deep concept:
To train from the “bottom of permission” means that we must always strive to train without ego and un-impeded by fear such that we allow ourselves to experience and learn from uncomfortable things. This is much easier said than done because both fear and ego affect us on subconscious levels in insidious ways.
So how to do it? I don’t know, but I think it is a long process of continuous improvement (Kaizen!) from learning to thrive under difficult circumstances. It is helpful to keep the following simple training tips in mind.
1. Don’t compete — You only lose if you don’t learn. If you are intent on victory you will play your strengths and limit growth.
2. Give yourself to the exercise — Don’t avoid what makes you uncomfortable or seems strange. Growth comes from experiencing and accepting fear, pain, humiliation, exhaustion, discomfort and loss.
3. Breathe –
Breath is what enables you to overcome your weaknesses to find the next set of weaknesses.
Finally, I believe that to really find the deepest bottom of permission requires faith born of painful experience.
God bless you.
Trevor Jovan Robinson
Adversity is the diamond dust that heaven polishes its jewels with!