The Path

Disclaimer: The following are my opinions and information. Any errors are mine alone, Joe had nothing to do with it, except for the graphics I stol borro appropri , um, asked nicely if I could use.

So why did I do this series? Because as I get older I realize I am not exactly as ten foot tall and bulletproof as I thought I was in my 20s. Honestly in my 20s and 30s people were different. I think there was more respect for life, liberty and property. When I was growing up the sight on hundreds of people pouring on to a highway with the purpose of shutting down traffic and terrorizing drivers was not called a “peaceful protest”. It was called what it was, a riot. People flooding through a town burning the shops of people who had worked hard all their lives to build their business, attacking police, firefighters and people of a different color was not called a “peaceful protest calling for justice”, it was called a riot. The Governor would not have sided with a criminal over the police without having a clue about the facts. And no one race was elevated over another, ALL lives were to matter, we were humans, part of mankind. Did all people subscribe to that philosophy? No, but that is what I think the majority of us wanted and worked towards. I remember the riots of the 60s, my Dad went down into the city to get his Mom out of downtown Riotsville. I was a little kid, and I was scared to death till he got home with Ma (my grandma). The media did not portray this as a peaceful protest, nor did they glorify the burning and looting.

I’m a lot older now, but I still have my Mom and an Aunt I like to do things with, I have sisters and we like to do things when we can get together. I like to go visit places where I know I will be disarmed and there are attacks on even people that are armed. That was how I got started in this, covered in The Warrior’s Path, Systema Part 1. Actually, you don’t even have to leave your neighborhood. It’s not so much that I would choose a knife for my primary defensive weapon, but if someone came at me, or someone I love, I’d dearly like to know I’ve taken at least some steps to have some kind of operating options as what I can and should do.

These articles all refer to the U.S.

NEW TERROR TACTIC: ISIS orders Western jihadis to become SERIAL KILLERS to spread fear

ISIS Forum Urges ‘Lone Wolf’ Attacks in US

ISIS Calls for Random Knife Attacks in Alleys, Forests, Beaches, ‘Quiet Neighborhoods’

After the bladework class, and the weapons of opportunity class I realized the martial arts training I had done in the past might not possibly help me all that much. Sigh, and I really liked Katas.

Knife vs. Kata?

I was under no illusion that I was Chuck Norris, or that I would have a handy pair of Sai or Kamas right there. Not to mention that was so long ago, who knows if I’d be able to remember anything.

Attending the classes did spark how I think about things though. I need to train my mind to look at a can of peas differently, along with kitchen implements. Not for competition or points, for life, to live. For my life, and the lives of those I’m responsible for.

It’s part of the “Warrior mindset”. I do what I need to do to take care of those I’m responsible for, without emotion, as a professional. The skills I need should become a part of me, as automatic as making coffee and driving. Yes, I need to pay attention, I need to be aware of everything that is going on around me, I need to be aware of things that seem out of place. But if I am hyper-focused on these things it leaves little resources to allocate to other things. Do you have to give full attention to putting your foot on the brake or the clutch? If you do, will you see that car coming into your lane without signaling? That’s my point.

What about breathing? Yep, it’s a good idea for all of us, it definitely prolongs life. Trust me, I’m an expert, those that don’t will not be around for long. But remember seeing people on TV, or in real life,  how women breath when they are having a child? They change their breathing pattern. One of the things I learned in Systema is that if we change our breathing pattern it can help us cope with fear and pain. There is a certain way to do it. I observed that in the last class. I didn’t understand exactly why Joe’s son Joseph would breath the way he did during demonstrations. I mean I’m sure what Joe was doing didn’t feel good, but the way Joseph was breathing was very purposeful. There are instructions in the book about Systema breathing and now I have the DVD on breathing and fear. I also have one on knives. I know, I’m a strange girl, my idea of popcorn and a movie could be a little different from some folks. The DVDs are done by Vladimer Vasiliev and available from his online store. They also have downloads. This isn’t like trying to learn Karate from a book like in the Karate kid, Mr. Miyagi. This is actually from the DVD.

Fear, fear can be deadly. And really it can have such an impact on our lives. Not just in life threatening situations either. From The Systema Warrior Guidebook,

3. Fear is always about loss; loss of life, loss of wealth, loss of security, loss of comfort, etc.  The fear of loss is directly proportionate to the intensity of the attachment you have.  Dissect your fear or worry down to what you fear will be lost and ask yourself, “If this fear came true, what is the worst thing that can happen?”  Often you will find that your worst-case scenario is a long shot and your fear can be easily overcome with the right plan of action.

4. Fear is present only when there is a desire.  Fear arises only when there is conflict between what we want and what we think “might” happen.  We build up expectations around life and come up with a concrete picture of how our lives “should” turn out.  This inflexibility forms a strong foundation for fear.  If we are open to new possibilities and a new vision of safety, comfort and success, we can be courageous.  When we flow with life, fears dissolve.  When you find yourself wracked with fear, ask yourself, “Why should I resist this?”  You may find the strength to let go and flow.

But is fear always wrong? No, for me it’s why I wear a helmet when I ride, buckle up in my car and stay out of places that I know probably aren’t safe. I’m not saying things can’t happen even in “safe” places, they can. But if Roosters bar & grill is known to be frequented by members of MS-13, I’m not a-goin’. I don’t need french fries that much.

Fear is like injury

Defeat the Fear, courage from G-d

The Philosophy of Violence, I haven’t been able to watch all of this one yet, but the part I saw is very good.

But the book and Systema are about life, with a instructions for dousing (brrrrrr) harmonizing your life, and fasting which does a lot more than I realized! Joe talks about Humility and becoming human and this is something I myself need to work on. Theres a recipe for meditsina, along with how and why, and a chapter on Russian penicillin, and if you’re so inclined, a bit on vodka.

Now you understand what I mean when I say there is way more to this than a book about how to block a punch?

I think most readers of The Zelman Partisans intrinsically have a martial mindset, we tend to be the warriors. But we are human, we age, we sustain injuries and things that used to work well for us may not work so well anymore. I recently read a column about The Psychology of Previous Investment it talked about how people buy guns that don’t really work that well for them and the things they go through trying to make it work for them. Rather than just admit that they made a mistake and that something will not work for them, they continue to throw money and try to force it to work. It will not work. So as warriors, rather than keep trying to force things that should work, could work, used to work, why not add some tools to our bag and perhaps get something better? Why not learn new practical ways of doing something, or doing something new and become even more effective because now we have more resources? We all want to be the best we can for ourselves and those we care about, be they human bipeds, or furry or feathered friends.

The Systema Warrior foundation is to me, chesed חסד kindness, or loving kindness, part of Tikun Olam, repairing the world. It is a good and noble thing, and I thought perhaps others would want to learn about it, as I did.

Whether we pick up a gun, a can of peas or a tactical pen (they do so come in hot pink) our mindset is going to be the same. And in our mindset and our breathing and our movements, we need to be the best we can. Because we are warriors, and we take every advantage.

I have an autographed copy of the book, it says “To Sheila, Always fight the good fight! G-d Bless, Joe Mayberry”. And we ARE warriors, all of us at TZP are warriors, we are all fighting the good fight, the righteous fight, in whatever way we are blessed with ability. My hope was to bring us all some insight and tools a bit off our usual path, because as warriors? We want to be our best.

I want to thank Joe for the generous gift of his time (and graphics), to thank the other students in class who knew a lot more about what we were doing and trained with me anyway. I want to thank Scott “Buzzkill the safety squirrel” Van Kirk, for introducing me to Systema, Joe and my Systema “Happy Place”. Scott told me he was passing it on, and now, I am too.

May G-d bless us all as we fight our good fights.

Fight like a warrior, live like a warrior


5 thoughts on “The Path”

  1. I want to thank you Sheila for this series of articles and for introducing me to Systema. I have just purchased Joe Mayberry’s book ‘The Systema Warrior Guidebook’ and Vladimir Vasiliev’s ‘Strikes, Soul Meets Body’. So far I am pleased with what I’ve read and the youtube videos I’ve seen. I also like their code of conduct maxims: Strength, Courage and Humility, and their motto “Know Yourself”. Again thank you.

  2. Sheila,
    You have blessed so many of us who have seen this series, as has Joe and those who work with him blessed everyone he helps. I have seen many times where the Bible refers to fasting and prayer. People of today’s church so often miss the importance of the fasting part. The fasting doesn’t mean just to refrain from eating. It is more of a spiritual separation of yourself from your physical self. You also set aside your day to day worries, work stresses, and really, anything that might stand in the way of your fervent prayers and attention toward G-d. I think that you get what I mean, from this abbreviated explanation. Sheila, I of course have not read the book yet, but I encourage you to understand that humility is not the same thing as hiding from the truth. You can be a very humble person, while at the same time understanding that you possess attributes that are desirable and good. It all comes down to what I am sure we both know, attitude. I met some amazing people over the last year or so. I recall a fairly well off woman that my wife and I met at Christmas, to give her some gifts for a family that she was collecting for. She had two more stops, I think, before she delivered them to the family for their kids to open the next morning. She was quite able to simply buy all the things that we were donating herself, and give them to the family, but instead, she chose to take one of her daughters out on a snowy Christmas eve, to 3 or 4 stops, and then drive out of her way to drop the gifts off. She did this to allow others to share in the ability to be able to help others. To me, that was someone humbling themselves, choosing to step out of the spotlight, and to share it with others. I totally get your thoughts on if you think that someplace is unsafe, you simply don’t go there. Same thing with me. I try to carry my gun whenever I am legally allowed. Not because I think I need to based on where I go, but just like the spare tire in the trunk. If I have a place to go where I really think I need to take a gun, I simply won’t go there. If it is imperative that I go there, say a government office in a bad part of town, I make every attempt to take care of it either over the phone, internet, or through the mail. I only go there as an absolute last resort, and only during peak traffic hours, etc. This has only happened once. Growing up when I did, being born in 1960, people had fights with fists, sometimes rocks, etc. I had a knife pulled on me once, at a school dance, of all places. As a junior, I saw a senior who was a real jerk picking on a girl. I went there, and told him to either stop, or I would hurt him. I don’t think that was the exact language I used, it was a long time ago. He stopped, but his younger brother, one year younger than me, came over and pulled out a pocket knife and threatened to kill me. I didn’t want to have a problem there, but offered to meet him the next day and settle it. I showed up, he did not. As an aside, the older brother and one of his buddies, about 4 years later, were arrested and got life in prison for the rape and murder of an 80 year old woman, in our small town of 1000. I had forgotten about that, but it brings back memories that will keep me awake tonight. I leave you with a verse from the book of Deuteronomy. Moses was dying. He was speaking to the people of Israel, telling them that he would not go with them to the land that G-d had promised them. This is perhaps one of the most inspiring quotes from the Old Testaments I have found, and think of it often. Deuteronomy 31:6
    Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.

  3. Thank you both! To me, this whole series has been kind of a G-d thing. I knew it was off our beaten path, but I felt very strongly I needed to do this series. And, since we were unable to do it last fall, apparently now was the time.

    It was a blessing for me to get to interview Joe. He’s a pretty amazing guy, and I learned some things too, some about myself, some about him, some about martial arts and some about life.

    Dchamp, I’m thinking the things that resonated so strongly with you are core to those like us. I hope you enjoy learning from the lessons as much as I do.

    Pigpen, your comments are a blessing, including the timing. I’ve added the verse from Deuteronomy, it means words. דְּבָרִים
    to a little document I have in my phone. It has some verses that are meaningful for me. But when I read it I thought how is that not there? It is now. Timing. Bless you.

    1. Sheila, You are the one who continues to bless me, and many others. I often feel intrusive when I post Bible verses here, since I know that perhaps some might not relate to the New Testament as well as others. I trust that they can overlook that. It is just that the older I get, the more I find that the Bible fits into my day to day life, in a way that I didn’t understand as a young man. I guess that is why I had long ago determined that a young man had no business being a Pastor. Be well, and be strong.

  4. “Fight like a warrior, live like a warrior” +1

    Easy said but hard done. Strength is important, the older you get the harder it seems you have to work at it but what good is strength without courage and how can you have courage without the right attitude.

    To me it is a life style and I find it effecting every aspect of my life; in how I think, act and even feel. It has made me a better person, my main regret it not finding this before, the big thing is accepting things for what they are and working to improve what you can.

    I will be watching the videos and reading some books it’s appears.

    Thank you Shelia, you are a good person which is well reflected in your postings.

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