Our Amazing 2012

2012 has certainly been a huge year for us here at Central Florida Systema school. October was our 4th anniversary and this year, we accomplished more than ever before. Here are some of the highlights, a few low-lights and plans for 2013:

** We continue to grow as a school. Our overall enrollment increased by just over 23% and regular attendance was increased by 48% compared to 2011. We are more than half way toward our Ultimate Goal.

** We have a great time at Vladimir Vasiliev‘s seminar in Tampa. Our school was very well represented and Vlad noticed and mentioned that I have a “great group.” (He called that one correctly.) Not surprisingly, the seminar went over extremely well. People are still talking about how much they enjoyed it.

** Speaking of Vlad, we had the pleasure of having both he and Valerie in my home via Skype during our “Book Release” party in September. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience and the 30+ people who came, all left with smiles.

** This of course leads into the fact that CFL Systema school published our first book. Entitled, Taking Strikes: Lessons Learned in Systema,” we have sold a pleasantly surprising number of copies here, Puerto Rico and some countries in S. America. More importantly, for many it was well outside the comfort zone. . . and they did it anyway. Martial arts lessons come in many forms, some in the form of banging away on keyboards.

** Our seminars with David Merrell continued this year. They are always some of the best training we could possibly receive.

** We also had some guest instructors this year such as Jude Ferguson Sensei. Very interesting when different styles are presented. A number of students had not experienced this martial art.

** I introduced escrima sticks into our Systema training. They are a different way of learning the same types of Systema Big 4 basics – breathing, movement, structure and relaxation.

** Our seminars at Bob Elder Senseis dojo were also a big hit. Each was unique and helped to expand our knowledge of Systema. It also gave us an opportunity to train more intensely. Look for more in 2013.

** Another one of our successes this year was the release of our school’s first video clip. It has now received over 24,050 views on YouTube! Yes, that number is 24,050. Incredible.

** On smaller notes, our CFL Systema Facebook page received over 100 followers and we had more than 25 reviews on local review sites such as Local Yellow Pages and  Yelp. Happy to say, regarding the 2 later, we received 5 of 5 stars on 24 of 25 reviews. (The other was 4 of 5.)

** We continue to receive tremendous support from the local community and are slowly but surely, expanding our reputation state-wide. Thank you to all who have been such loyal and strong supporters, particularly Bob Elder Sensei.

Even when things were challenging, we managed to rise above and move forward. . . .

** During the middle portion of the year, I felt very stagnant in my training. Progress was basically nil and I found it frustrating. Thanks to conversations with my teacher, David Merrell and Systema Instructor, Marc Bresee, they kindly shared their own experiences and offered great support and suggestions. It was shortly there after that things took off and I felt back on track and moving in the right direction.

It really is an honor to have such valued friends, particularly ones who are willing to lend a helping hand.

** When an instructor and aikido school choose to be very disrespectful, we came together and rose above this. We recognize that honor, loyalty and integrity matter and are not willing to comprise these. We rather do our best to live by these martial qualities and lead by example. Perhaps one day, they will find the courage to make amends. In the mean time,  we are rising above and moving forward.

But the best part of it all. . . .

** With a lot of the ups and a few of the downs, my most enjoyable part of this year is how much our school bonded. We are large and growing and each member is a valued part of our circle.

** In addition, I considered myself friends with Marc and Kenny Gonzalez. After having had the opportunity to train and interact with them more so this year than ever, I feel our friendship has grown. Trustworthy friends matter and for this, I am most appreciative.

** I also have had the pleasure of befriending Alex and Ivan from the Berkoot school. It is my honor.

** Our friends at Miami Systema (Joe Gehr) continue to be the leaders in Florida for exciting seminars. We are very thankful for these opportunities and their efforts.

** I continue to LOVE training in W. Palm and am very grateful for David and Rick Merrell. Both have treated me very well over the years, going out of their way to help in any way possible.

Now, for 2013. . . . .

** February is going to be a BIG month for us. On the 16th of Feb., CFL Systema will be hosting our largest seminar to date. Entitled, “Strike Zone Mastery,” it will feature the use of acupuncture points, applied kinesiology and healing zones for both combat and health purposes.

** Sometime this year, our school will also be featured in the West Orange Times newspaper.

** We will be offering Saturday classes starting in Feb.

. . . and MUCH, MUCH more to come.

As you can see, it has been an outstanding year. We extended ourselves in unique ways beyond the training floor, realizing that Systema is a way of life, not just an art we train in a few hours a week. How we treat others matters as much as learning knife work or kick defense.

I have always ENcouraged everyone to bring their daily problems on the training floor. Problems are stuck energy and once we get the energy moving in class, it will move in your body, followed by your external world. This is just one of the many life lessons that Systema has to offer to those willing to receive.

So as we are about 6 weeks away from the close of the year, I want to extend my deepest thanks to all of my students, friends, teachers and to everyone I mentioned above and to everyone who crossed my path. My life is better because you are in it.

To all of my Systema Brothers and Sisters, our doors at CFL Systema are always open to everyone. We continue to expand on something every special here. We would love to have you a part of it.

2013. . . .HERE WE COME!