CFL Systema Featured Member: Chris Harrington

CAM01571My name is Chris Harrington.  I was born at St. Margaret’s Hospital in East Chicago, Indiana and grew up in Munster, Indiana where we had hot summers and bitterly cold winters.  I attended Indiana University (IU) in Bloomington, Indiana for several years but later moved to Florida and earned my B.S. and M.S. in Biology from the University of Central Florida.  I have worked as an Environmental Consultant at Breedlove, Dennis, and Associates, Inc. (BDA) for the past ten years.  BDA primarily helps landowners, commercial and residential developers, and business owners obtain local state, and federal permit authorizations to proceed with their land development goals in building sustainable communities.
I am fairly limited in my martial arts experience.  I dabbled in Tae Kwon Do while attending IU, but never really continued on from that point.  Before that, I wrestled all 4 years of high school and always had a high interest in learning more about grappling and the martial arts.  I found Systema while searching for a good martial art for my daughters to learn.  I asked the advice of a friend and accomplished Aikido black belt, Duff Swan.  I told Duff that I wanted something real for the girls, that I did not really care about how many belts they could earn, and that I surely did not want a “black belt mill” for them.  He gave me a few names and places, but the last one was the most interesting.  He told me “I know a guy who teaches Systema in Winter Garden”.  Of course I said, “What the heck is that?”  Duff told me he did not know much about it, but he knew David and that this training would be excellent.  He said it is Russian martial arts, and “they have weird but extremely effective punches.”  This further intrigued me and David was the first one I called.
David, of course, told me that Systema is not for young kids, and that teenagers needed to be at least 16-18 years old.  So I tried a class about a year ago and was hooked instantly. I am still fairly new in learning the art of Systema, but it continues to filter into many areas of my life.  Breathing, removing stress and tension from the body, awareness of your surroundings, and natural movement has all helped improve me in everyday situations.  And in the end I did find an authentic place for my girls to train and learn the art of Tang Soo Do, but I will be asking them to come join me in Systema when they get bigger and stronger and can deal with the take downs, locks, and weird, brutal strikes!
David’s Thoughts:  Chris has become one of the quiet, strong leaders in our schools. His skills have dramatically increased due to the hard work and dedication he has shown, particularly this past year. It is very impressive to see this.
Chris has been an ideal fit as well. His easy going manner and dedication have set the bar for others.  Over time, I can see Chris reaching Instructor status. He has all of the physical skills, the open mind and the heart of a martial artist. He is the type of person that will add to Systema as a whole, the way he has added to our schools.
On a personal level, it is very admirable to see how Chris treats his family. Family comes first and his actions back this. Undoubtedly there are times when he would like to come to a Saturday seminar, but parenthood is the priority. Some people talk about this while living a life that is counter to the words. Chris on the other hand, backs up his words with actions. Honorable actions.
It is truly a pleasure to have Chris a strong part of our Circle, and even more of a pleasure to call him friend.