When I first started my Systema journey, I remember coming across ideas and concepts such as “natural movement”, “freedom of movement” or “developing instinctual movement”.
At the time I treated these concepts predominantly as buzz words, interesting buzzwords.
It has taken a great deal of time and effort to better understand the depth of these concepts and how paramount they are to our work.
Achieving free, natural movement is one of the main tenets of our methodology, as such closer examination is warranted.
At first sight, it appears that natural movement may be as simple as how one moves or reacts under any given circumstance, relaxed or stressful.
Think back to your early stages of Systema training, or watch anyone new in a class and observe the quality of their movement. While some new students may do well during their first class (kind of a pre-neurological re-wiring beginners’ luck), most show signs of agitation, excitement or distress, resulting in disorganized, inefficient, edgy, sharp and not-so-pretty movements.
One could argue that these movements are “natural” to that person.
By the same token, it may be worth questioning, without judgment, the “chaotic” nature of a students’ movement.
Is there something wrong with this individual? Probably not. Most of us develop chaotic quality to our movement because of tensions and fears. These attributes, when put under duress become the governing force beneath our (re)actions. And it shows in the movement.
With even a little bit of Systema training, movements start “making more sense”, they flow better, feel better, look better – and frankly are far more efficient and powerful.
When the practitioner becomes more relaxed, his/her movements become “more natural”.
The chaotic nature makes room for more harmony. And again, the movements show it.
Achieving natural movement is not an end goal on its own – it is part of the process, yet it must be recognized that it is an acquired quality that requires much training.
Through proper breathwork and on-going training, students calm down and regain control of internal systems, while simultaneously freeing the body of tension, removing fears, and further developing timing, co-ordination and other attributes that help move towards a more Natural Way of moving.
The reason why proficient Systema practitioners move alike has little to do with mimicry – it is simply that once a level of freedom is achieved, and movements are “naturalized”, only bio-mechanics limit our movement. And given that most of us are built similarly, once freed, we tend move the same way.
Another reason to move towards freer and more natural movement is best illustrated by Mikhail Ryabko’s famous statement that “good movement brings joy”.
As such, Systema training will not only make you a better fighter, but a healthier and more fulfilled Warrior, ready for the challenges of our 21st century world.
Here is a great 2-person drill and some tips to help you develop a more natural movement.
– Have a partner stand 6 feet behind you.
– Make sure your arms are along you sides. Do not make a fist.
– Stay as relaxed as possible.
– An audio queue from your partner indicates an “attack” or a move from him towards you.
– Turn around and simply place your hands on your partner. Nothing more. Do not engage in a “fight” or escalade into anything that would build tension.
– Both partners drop arms, breath and relax.
– Switch and repeat.
For the purpose of studying natural movement, it is imperative to avoid building tension during the drill. Take the time to process between switches and remind your partner to start with their arms along their sides.
Work at different speeds but stay mindful of your partner’s level of comfort so as not to create excessive tension.
Remember, this is not a fight! It is a drill.
About the Author:
Vali Majd is a certified Systema instructor under Vladimir Vasiliev, training and teaching Systema since 1996 in Denman Island, BC, Canada.
He is also working towards completing his Firefighter Certification and holds Responder award of the year 2010.
Vali is hosting a Systema Winter Intensive Course on February 7-11th, 2011 at Pacific Coast Systema School.
For details and registration for this indoor and outdoor training event please check: http://www.PacificCoastSystema.com