Rick Merrell continues to amaze me. Even after monthly training for 8 years, I am still in awe of him. Not just his skills. Those are obvious. It is the way he goes about dealing with life issues via Systema.
Rick has 2 artificial hips, needs a knee replacement and recently found out he has a stress fracture in his femur.
So this past Saturday. . . . . he was out on the mats, banging around and teaching Systema. What else would you expect?!
A few years ago, I had my own version of this, albeit on a much smaller scale. During a training session, I tore my hamstring muscle. It was very painful and restrictive in terms of moving.
It took 3 months to be able to touch my knee caps. It took a year to be able to touch my ankle.
The one thing that stood out was that even after the muscle was healed completely, I was still leery of re-injuring it. In fact, I was scared.
It took me a while to realize that the fear was irrational. It was not a fear of re-injury. I had rehabbed it, strengthen it and today, I truthfully do not know which leg was injured. What I experienced was fear of fear.
I had built a story in my head that featured fear, re-injury, being unable to walk yet alone train properly and a few other nightmarish scenes in my imaginary drama. It was not real. I knew that the great Creator of my body built in a mechanism whereby it heals itself. I was also very fortunate to know of health providers who shared their information and had enough personal experience with patients to know what to do. And did it which worked beautifully.
My leg was healed long before my fear was.
Once I recognized that the “injury” was in my head, I decided to deal with the fear and the fear of the fear in true Systema fashion. I started taking strikes. Many, many, many strikes. Why? Because at least some time, it was a scary thing to do. Some people were tremendously skilled and disturbingly strong. Taking strikes scared me and in the process, I slowly found my courage.
Fear no longer had its grip on my psyche or my hamstring for that matter. Though there were and still are times when I feel apprehensive when taking strikes from certain people, I do it anyway.
Why? Because it is not about the strikes. It is about learning how to overcome fear, not just in Systema, but in our lives.
I have seen people quit Systema (and other martial arts) after injuries. They think that avoiding will somehow prevent. In a few instances, maybe. In most instances, no. Fear is like a shadow and the more it is exposed to the Light of Truth, the deeper the shadow grows and the more it follows you. At some point, you deal with it or you end up living a life of fear and regret.
The body is meant to move and the spirit is meant to soar. Fear, the Great Illusionist, will always try to stop this natural instinct. It is up to us to clear the path and live the life we were meant to experience.