Tag Archives: spirit

The Warrior’s Path, Systema Part 2

The Background on my experience and reasons for learning about Systema in Part 1

The Background, on Joe and Systema.

First, a little bit about Systema, from the ever popular Wikipedia.

Systema (Система, literally meaning The System) is a Russian martial art. Training includes, but is not limited to: hand-to-hand combat, grappling, knife fighting, and firearms training. Training involves drills and sparring without set kata. In Systema, the body has to be free of tensions, filled with endurance, flexibility, effortless movement, and explosive potential; the “spirit” or psychological state has to be calm, free of anger, irritation, fear, self-pity, delusion, and pride.

Systema focuses on breathing, relaxation, and fluidity of movement, as well as utilizing an attacker’s momentum against him and controlling the six body levers (elbows, neck, knees, waist, ankles, and shoulders) through pressure point application, striking, and weapon applications.

From Systema St. Louis:

Our training philosophy is not to be confused with any traditional fighting arts and/or combat sports fighting systems. We are not in the business of taking years to teach a client how to incapacitate or eliminate even the most basic fighter, but rather months, comparable to the time a special ops soldier has to prepare for an operation.

There are just too many aspects of traditional fighting arts and sports-based fighting systems that are life-threateningly impractical and inefficient for the street and actual brutal violence.

Okay, so we’re good on what Systema’s purpose is? It is not about fighting for sport, it is not about scoring points. It’s about surviving, it’s about respect for life, even that of your attacker. This is something you might not be aware of, in the 1960s and 1970s if you were attacked and handed over your wallet or car keys, there was a 65-70% chance they would take the money and go away. Now, the odds are flipped in that if you hand over your wallet or your car keys there is a 65-70% chance they will assault you anyway. There is a huge lack of consideration for life these days. And that nugget my friends, came straight from a St. Louis police detective I know. A good guy, a warrior, you should get to know him. Let me see what I can do about that. He’s a United States Marine, State Department Diplomatic Security, St. Louis Police Department, and also owner of Systema St. Louis, who travels to teach and lecture. I think he has a pretty cool dog too.

I didn’t ask him, but I’m guessing he once in a while sleeps and eats. He will tell you that you don’t let fear dictate the outcome. What? You had in mind more detail than that? Well, I’m your girl, pick me, let me see what I can find out.

S: How did you come to be in the Marines? Was this a goal growing up, did you always feel the need to protect people?

Joe: I come from a family of proudly serving in the military. My Grandfather was in WWII, in the first wave to storm the beaches that had to clear the mess, and my father proudly served his country in the Marines in Viet Nam in the early 1960s. After his time in Viet Nam he continued to serve his country by training the young men going over, teaching them the valuable skills they would need to come home, alive.

It seems preserving life runs in the Mayberry family genes.

After the military, my Dad became a welder. I was blessed when I was still young by being able to spend a lot of time with Dad.

It sounds like a Dad he admired, was proud of and was close to. I can relate to that, I felt the same about mine.

S: So, you were that kid on the playground always protecting the kid that was getting picked on?

Joe: Yes.

S: You were stationed in Israel at the Embassy for three years. You really don’t speak ANY Hebrew? You just forgot? I admitted my astonishment, I’m always trying to learn more Hebrew and get better at it. LIVING there for three years? I’d have been eating that up with my falafel and Israeli salad.

Joe: Well, I might remember a few words, I knew a little back then.

S: Did you ever feel you were in danger while you were there?

Joe: Yes, I did. But I learned to deal with it in a way so that it didn’t affect me negatively. I was there in the late 1980s and it was about protecting good from evil. I saw first hand that if nothing opposes evil it will absolutely succeed. I saw it, up close and personal. While I was in Israel I got to know some Israelis and I had the opportunity to train with the IDF who use Krav Maga. I trained 6 days a week with them, including in the desert. That was real Krav Maga, not Krav Maga for sport or fitness.

Sheila provided links

Chronology of Terrorist Attacks in Israel Part III: 1978-1985

Chronology of Terrorist Attacks in Israel Part IV: 1986-1992

S: So after you were out of the Marine Corp and back in the states, what did you do?

Joe: The State Department, in Diplomat Security. You got to see more of the world while protecting people and their secrets. You might be standing in the hall by a doorway for 8-12 hours at a time. And while you were standing at that doorway, you are protecting whomever is behind that door. It was after the wall came down, and we began to see people down the hall who had been behind the wall. The Russians began showing up in front of doors in the hall as well. When you’re in those hallways for 8-12 hours you begin to talk to each other. You talk about common interests, things you both know.

(I figured this meant horses of course, apparently, to my shock, no).

Joe: We began talking about martial arts, I had been involved in the martial arts since 1974, long before my Krav Maga education. We discussed each others forms of martial arts and that’s when I began hearing about Vladimir Vasiliev. That would have been around 1994, 1995. Shortly after that I got out of the service. I was very interested in what I had heard about Vladimir, but I couldn’t find anything about him really. Then I picked up a copy of Black Belt magazine and in the back there was an ad for his school in Toronto. I called and talked to Valerie, his wife, and made an appointment to go. The first class with him was very humbling. He just mopped the floor with me. I have been in martial arts since 1974, trained with the IDF and he mopped the floor with me. It was a turning point. And I learned don’t forget the past, utilize it. Begin to think conceptual. There will always be chaos, and your best advantage is to be prepared. My role as an instructor is to help someone develop a useful, workable response to the chaos.

S: How good of shape do people have to be in to learn and do Systema? This had been one of my fears when I went to the first class, that I wouldn’t be in good enough shape.

Joe: Nobody has to be “fit” to be able to defend themselves. When I came back to the US after several years I saw Krav Maga really take off. It had turned into a fitness ploy. It had gone from being military training into martial arts fitness. It was attractive to those not in shape that wanted to learn to be safe. I really didn’t like that fad. They were telling people that if they weren’t in shape they couldn’t defend themselves. They made levels and added a fitness routine giving an illusion. It’s a sport now and not practical. I’m telling you no matter your age and shape you have a G-d given right to live, and to defend yourself.

S: When Scott (Van Kirk) worked with me he taught me about my “Systema happy place”. This involved keeping my energy low and a very neutral demeanor. It’s kind of what you use when working with horses, but does this just come with time and effort?

Joe: Energy, that happy place, has got to be professional to work. It’s about it becoming an ingrained, routine. Like when you get up of a morning, you go to the bathroom, brush your teeth, have some coffee. You can do these things calmly, without great thought and a minimum of effort, it just flows. When you are working Systema it needs to be 100% professional for it to become a smooth pattern with an economy of motion and thought, so much that it almost happens without awareness. Our subconscious takes over with the awareness of patterns. Systema strives to become the smooth pattern of economy of thought and a large part of instincts. The concepts of usage are universal.

S: What do you think is the biggest impediment to that is?

Joe: Internally people have fear. They don’t see their own possibilities. They allow their limitations to stop them. With conceptual martial arts it’s all within the person. If they realize what fears hold them back, they are free to do what they want.

Part 3 will pick up with more on the warrior mindset. Stay tuned, same bat time, same bat channel.

Early weapons of opportunity training, but no cape required.

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinteresttumblrmail

The Warrior’s Path, Systema Part 1

Let me give you a hypothetical situation. Let’s say for example you were going to a foreign country. A foreign country, so you are not allowed to carry concealed, can’t carry your beautiful TZP Custom Kershaw folding knife , but a knife quite possibly could be used against you. In fact, there was a epidemic of people being attacked in that county, often by women and children. A tactical pen is a possibility. Maybe. What do you do? What do YOU do?

The answer to this will likely be different for everyone. For me, this was not a hypothetical situation last spring. It was exactly what I was facing, and I was feeling very vulnerable about the whole thing. I hate that feeling, vulnerable is rotten. I also hate inadequate, it’s right up there too, as is ancient. When I was younger I had perhaps capabilities I no longer have. So, what do you do? What do you do?

I think G-d stepped in on this one. A post by a buddy from the Second amendment arena, Scott Van Kirk, showed up in my Facebook time line. It was about a class that was coming up, a class on knife fighting, blade work if you will. I thought, hmm, perhaps? I asked when and where? The class was going to be close enough I could drive there, but it would be too late to help with the trip. The conversation came off Facebook and became emails. Scott talked to his instructor Joe, and explained the situation, he asked if Joe thought there was anything he could do to help me out. Scott said Joe told him to teach me, that Scott was certainly capable of helping me. So this good man offered to come help to help me learn enough to perhaps keep me alive should such a thing happen. There were a few things we talked about, there were considerations. One is I wasn’t traveling alone, the same girlfriend I had been in Israel with the last two years and I were traveling together again. And yes, I believe something I would try, was to ensure both of our safety. He also had a very honest talk with me about if this happens. Meaning if I’m attacked, I’m going to get cut, I’m going to get hurt, and I’m going to lose blood and quite possibly, likely will not look the same again. Sobering, very sobering thoughts. He stressed my goal, my objective is to live, to survive. That’s it. I will have scars? Ok, scars are tattoos with more interesting stories, but I am to come back, and come back in one piece (pretty much) and alive. And then we worked on tactics and techniques. With knives, pens, magazines (printed) and what I would call a kick pad. I finished up with some bruises and feeling awesome. Not bullet proof, not like I was Chuck Norris, but at least I had a few operating options. Bless that man, bless that man!!

Fast forward to fall of last year.

The blade work class was offered again, and it was in a place I considered close enough to drive. I bought a ticket. I had a lot of concerns.  I was too old perhaps, and my physical condition was certainly not what it had been when I was younger. But I was still game, I still wanted to give myself that chance, so ticket it would be. Besides, it gave me a chance to deliver to my erstwhile mentor the only thing he had requested besides me returning alive. A nice big fat magazine that I was going to carry in my purse with me everywhere.

And that is how I came to meet Joe, Joe Mayberry. Joe is the instructor of the blade work class and Scott’s instructor.

Class was unlike about anything I expected. I found I was perfectly capable of doing the things we were taught, if unable to do them perfectly. Yet. We learned about how to move in such as way as to be less likely to be perceived as a threat while sensing others that may be a threat to us. Fabulous class, I soaked up what I was given like a little sponge.

After class I got up my courage and asked Mr. Mayberry if he would consider doing a interview with me for The Zelman Partisans, because this system was so different from anything I had been exposed to. He listened, asked a couple of questions and then agreed.

And then there were riots in various and sundry cities around the U.S. that weekend. Honest to goodness, some people have no consideration! I had an interview scheduled and they riot. How rude! My interview went down the tubes and for various reasons didn’t get rescheduled.

Fast forward to late winter of this year. There is another class, a yummy class on “Weapons of Opportunity”. Who wouldn’t want to take that class? I did, very much. It was coming to a location close enough for me to drive, so ticket it was.

Another wonderful class. Everyone in class is amazingly nice! The other students I work with are wonderful. I perhaps have a slightly skewed view of people. For example, a comment I made to a girl friend after the class was “oh, and then this one super nice guy Lon, taught me how to do a sleeper hold to neutralize someone unless I needed to do more!” And then “I accidentally stabbed this one really nice guy in the web of his hand because I let my adrenaline get out too high. But he was really nice about it. Luckily he didn’t bleed, much, a lot”. I later apologized to Karel about that. He was very, very gracious about it. And one nice young man, Alex, taught me that there is likelihood that someone with a tattoo will be protective of that area. Hmm, good to know!

The other women I trained with were awesome, as we poked, prodded and stabbed each other with various weapons and learned what did and didn’t work well. They generously shared knowledge of things they knew with great kindness, many of these women I think train in Systema on a regular basis. Throughout the whole class we had Scott “Buzzkill the safety squirrel” circulating making sure we had safety goggles on, and utilized safe practices. Yes, as we stabbed and tried to attack each other. He and Mr. Mayberry moved amongst us offering advice and ways to improve. We were all trying our best to duplicate the damage Mr. Mayberry had demonstrated inflicting on his willing victim, his son Joseph. Tough kid!

Do you have a cellphone, a comb, car keys or better yet a Mayberry key? You have a weapon.

I tell you these stories so you know I’m not just telling you about something I read, but something I am experiencing, a path, a whole path. It encompasses more than just a method of self defense, although that certainly is a huge component. But the path is Systema, the Russian martial art of self defense, and a philosophy of living.

I survived class, again. This time with a slightly ripped shirt, some blood on it, mostly mine I think, and elated. I again asked Joe, who kindly remembered me, for a interview. He again agreed if I would give him a riot free weekend. We got the riot free weekend, and I got my interview.

Ready to meet Joe? Because there is a whole lot covered in the first book by author and teacher Joe Mayberry.

Systema Warrior Guidebook

Yep, it’s available on Amazon.com

The Systema Warrior Guidebook: A Systema Guide to Life

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinteresttumblrmail

Cutting Calves

So in this weeks Torah teaching Mishpatim, I learned a lot of things when I listened to this weeks Temple Talk radio show. This is probably no news to those more learned than I, and that probably doesn’t take much. But here’s what really struck me.

After the Ten Commandments are given, G-d asks one thing. That an alter be built for him out of earth. Because Adam rishon, Adam the first man, was made out of earth. The alter represents man, made of earth, because man was made of earth. And then it talks about the sacrifices of animals. Now here is where my thinking got a big wake up call. I’m human, human foibles, and faults there is no denying. I’ve never easily understood why innocent animals had to die because I made a mess of things. So the next part really was a light bulb for me.

Man had been making alters to G-d since Adam. Cain and Abel הֶבֶל ,קַיִןQayin, Heḇel. Noach נח also made an alter. All these people, and this is not the whole list, made alters to G-d before Mt. Sinai, הר סיני, Har Sinai. What G-d was saying after he gave them the commandments, and the instructions on how to live good lives in a community was not some new thing. The people had already been building alters and sacrificing animals. Not because G-d had told them to, but because it was their attempt to reach up to G-d, their attempts to reach out to him. And it pleased him and basically he was saying “That thing ya’ll do? Yeah, I like that, you’re reaching up to me. Keep on doin’ that”. WOW. I’ve read that so many times, so many times and I’ve never put that together! I need to hear someone kind of put the pieces in place for me. It was there all along, and I just never thought of it like that.

Now, hang on to the saddle horn, the calf is fixin’ to cut to the right.

Not only in the movie, but in the topic. But it all fits together like the horse and rider.

How did the horse know the calf was going to cut to the right? It is part training and part instinct. The horse is reading the calf. You thought the rider was simply using the reins? Look how loose they are. Now I will be honest, I like cutting, it is as much fun as it looks to be. But it’s not my first choice of sport. But oh yes, it is a LOT of fun. You use your legs, but your horse is your partner, and they certainly do read the calf. As well as using their G-d given, man honed instincts. What can interfere with that? A rider holding too tightly too the reins, not a loose enough relaxed body, a rider who wants to micro-manage. A situation of not using the things already there, just waiting to be utilized. Horse, rider, calf and instinct. The calf’s to go back to the herd, and the horse and riders to cut it away from the herd.

Now, hang on to the horn, the calf is fixin’ to cut to the left.

It is the same with us. IF we have the chance to have someone lay out things we knew, but in a different way.

I was blessed recently by being able to attend a class. A class on weapons of opportunity. Let’s say you are in a situation where you are disarmed by law, or a bad person. You have to go to the hospital, or a doctor’s office. Yes, you can carry concealed. But if you have to don a gown and go for an x-ray, you have a problem. Or any other situation you care to come up with where you are attacked. What do you have on hand you could use to defend yourself? Can you think of anything? You probably have your car keys, a credit card? A comb? You probably wish you had a Mayberry key, if you know what that is. Could you defend yourself with a can of peas? Do you have the instinct to see a potential threat? Are they honed, have you trained yourself what to look for? Do you know the things that can interfere with your instincts? What part does fear play in dealing with these situations? Fear is always bad, right? No.

Does spirituality enter into the equation?

I heard a story recently in this class. The teacher related going to the store with his kids, he was looking at kitchen implements, like for a spatula. He was standing there regarding the choices and his son commented, “Dad is figuring out how to kill someone with that spatula”. And he was. It’s not about killing, it’s about being aware. It’s about being aware that if you needed to, you would have things available you could use to defend yourself and others you care about, and how you would go about that. What would you do if a bad person was holding someone you cared about by the neck with a knife to their throat? Could you intervene? Would you?

Curious? GOOD! Stay tuned because I plan to shed some light on these questions and the person who teaches the class, along with a whole lot more about an amazing system of defense. If we can have a riot free weekend!

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinteresttumblrmail