Today in Systema class we worked on moving from a grab, and using the incoming movement to inspire the movements that we made in response to the incoming one.
I have been very deliberate in the choice of the words in the previous sentence in order to try and convey something that is not easy to convey in words but is remarkably simple once you capture it: We are all in this together.
When someone moves towards you, whether you are conscious of it or not, your body starts reacting, this may be simple actions such as shifting your body weight from one foot to another, increasing your heartbeat, angling you away, bringing up a hand, or innumerable other movements or internal operations.
Now back to the grab, as the hand comes towards your wrist, a natural reaction is to move the wrist back – away from the incoming grab, as with all things in life, and Systema in this case specifically, there are subtleties that come into play. Move away too fast and the opponent will sense this and react possibly changing his attack, move too slowly and the opponent will likely grab you and be in control of you, but move away at the same speed as the incoming grab and the opponent will have nothing to react to and you both end up riding the wave of the incoming movement – the only difference is you are aware of what is happening – and he hopefully is not.
Even in this there are layers of subtleties, it is not enough to just move away at the same speed, you have to be able to move without tension. Tension along with discrepancies in speed / distance will alert the opponent that his plans are going awry and this is to be avoided – we’re all in this together.
Ultimately, your natural body reactions will maintain the appropriate distance and speed, where this starts to break down is when our need to control (driven from the ego / conscious mind) interferes with our natural movements. Too often we get in our own way, we ‘try’ forgetting Yodas sage advice that we should do or do not – there is no try. We over think and over complicate, we are reluctant to experience and do, afraid of it not working or feeling silly or looking silly.
All these thoughts produce tension and impede our own movements as well as alerting our opponent.
Ultimately then, it comes down to trust, trusting that your body knows what to do, trusting that you are capable, and trusting that Systema is an incredibly effective way to educate your body and free your mind. And after all, we are all in this together.