Seminar A Big Success

This past Saturday’s Stick Defense seminar was a major success. I would like to thank everyone who participated in the 6 hour training. It is a real honor to be associated with individuals who exhibit such class, cooperation and friendship. I cannot thank you enough.

It was quite the day, from David Merrell receiving his Hall of Fame award to Izzy receiving his own version; that is, a nice welt on the top of his head. (Mental note: If stick is coming at head, move, roll, block or parry. Do not use skull to defend.) Despite an occasional misadventure and more than occasional bruising and misstep(s), a good time was had by all. Mother Nature could not have been more cooperative – 85 and sunny, with a cool breeze which seemed to remind us how great it is to live here.

Personally, this one was an eye opener. I had not training with sticks (jo) in the Systema way much at all. Most of my prior training was from the world of aikido and karate. What a difference an art makes.

The Japanese arts feature the stick (jo) in a much different fashion. The movements are all pre-determined in kata form individually or as a 2-person form. The movements, even the gripping and hand position of many strikes, are much different. “Twirling” which is common in the choreographed moves of kata, is not recommended in Systema. It is considered (rightfully so), wasted movement.

The movement is very flowing and uninhibited. If you are doing technique or predetermined movement, something needs to be adjusted.  I had to smile at some point when the “light finally flickered” at least  — the same principles and movements with the stick are the same principles and movements without. The stick is simply an extension of the hand/arm.

I found myself “unlearning” hand position and foot movement more than acquiring new ones. It reminded me of one of the saying from the old martial arts masters – “The older you get, the more you realize less is more.” The implication for personal aspects of this statement are many and varied.

In my prior training in martial arts, weapons were my least favorite aspect of training. With Systema, they (stick, knife) have become one of my favorites.

Once again, I am very, very thankful to all of you who participated and at least one of you (Carlos) who was there in Spirit. You made this a most memorable day!

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