Snakes and Systema

snakeFunny how virtually any moment, can be a Systema moment.

Being around snakes is as much a part of Florida and the sunshine and oranges. Comes with the territory.

This morning, one fell on my head. No kidding. Right on the big ole’ pumpkin, then to my feet. A pygmy rattlesnake (probably), no less. Kind of funny now. Not so funny 15 minutes after waking on a beautiful, warm morning.

I was going out to my porch to do some Tai Qi and felt a light “clunk” on the top of my head, then at my feet. Looking down, I was startled to see the snake now inside my home. Fortunately, I was able to get the reptile out the door and get my heart rate to about 300 bpm, both with surprisingly little effort. Truth be told, it scared the tar out of me. I do not have a phobic reaction to snakes. . . except when they fall on my head.

After the initial turmoil, I thought it best to kill the creature. Poisonous and too close to my home and loved ones were not a compatible match. Fortunately, I first decided to be calm and breathe, Systema style.

A few more minutes went by, and I grabbed my Bo (Japanese weapon that looks like a long pole). Initially, I thought of a quick slice with my katana (razor sharp sword) would do the trick,  but wanted some distance.

I went back out on the porch and saw the snake. Now calm, its appearance somehow seemed much different. What was initially a threat was now just a long, thin creature who was probably terrified and just trying to get back home. A couple of quick, gentle flicks of the Bo and the snake was safely back in the woods, doing whatever it is that snakes do all day.

When startled, I wanted to kill it. When calm, that same thought was repulsive. Breathing and getting to a state of calm make the difference between a great choice and one that I would have regretted 3 minutes from now.

As mentioned, the whole thing is kind of funny now but the message has really stuck. You can always find ways of training in Systema, even if you are no where near your school.

Even if a snake falls on your head.

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