A Year in Systema

A Year in Systema
a story by Carlos Guzman, instructor at Systema Orlando

    My job requirements limited my teaching and training times. As an instructor under Vladimir Vasiliev, I wanted to make sure I kept up with my training and committed to visiting headquarters regularly. But the question was… how to do it? Well, I found a way. I started to take on work assignments nationwide. On each assignment, I checked whether a Systema school or seminar was within the area at that time. I made sure training was on my schedule, no matter how many hours I had to drive. It proved to be a life changing success. I took my Systema nationwide.
    I was either at a seminar or visiting a Systema school almost every month of the year. It started in January visiting Vladimir at Toronto headquarters. Then back for a training week with Vladimir and Emmanuel Manolakakis in March where I took the family along for Spring break vacation. Bringing the family along and introducing my kids to Systema was one of the highlights of the year. I had the unique opportunity to participate in the Systema Camp in August, Martin Wheeler’s Master class in September and finally met Mikhail Ryabko in November. Big events that luckily for me, I was working nearby to attend. Throughout the years, I had the opportunity to train with other senior instructors: Max Franz, Systema twins Brendan and Adam Zettler, Frank Arias, Kwan Lee and Daniil Ryabko. Some, I had the pleasure to train with more than once in different events or classes. I had the honor to train with other instructors from other schools across the nation and worldwide. It was an amazing opportunity to visit the schools in Missouri, Kentucky, Maine, and Seattle and throughout Florida.
    Every school I went to was open to anyone. There was no exclusivity, no membership required. I found that each school had their own variety of drills, their unique style that made the classes fun and informative. There was a significant correspondence with the class style seen in headquarters. Principles were well presented in every session. I’m sure Vladimir would be proud of his instructors.
    Neither students nor instructors had inflated egos. Everyone I met made me feel welcome and open to share experiences. No one eyed me like an outsider ready to test my skills or to judge my Systema. Everyone was focused on doing their own Systema.
    What I found truly valuable was practising with people I’ve never trained before. This added realistic approach to my training. I didn’t get comfortable knowing how my partner moved and striking inattentively like I unconsciously would with a familiar partner. The unpredictably added to the realism of the art. It moved me outside of my comfort zone to be more aware of my surroundings and feel my partner’s movement.
    The rest of the time, when I am not training, I am living Systema. From the time I wake up, throughout the day and the time I go to bed, I consciously breathe, relax, keep good posture and move with purpose. Words of my instructors and feedback from other students come to mind like subconscious cues to correct my posture when I am standing, to check my breathing when I am going up the stairs at work, to maintain relaxation when I face stress and to move properly wherever I go.
    The best of this whole experience is the people I meet along the way. I made new friends from all over the world at seminars and classes, staying connected online. When we see each other again, it feels like we’ve known each other for a long time.
Some people ask me, how I do it? My reply is “where there’s a will, there’s a way”. Otherwise, you’ll make excuses. I found that it was better to sign up for a seminar than to be concerned whether I can afford it or not. Signing up sealed my commitment to attend; the means to afford it and other details materialized as the day got closer. What’s more, I was able to bring the family along in some of my trips and that created the perfect harmony and balance that I was looking for.
    I am grateful for this ongoing experience. It has lifted any limitations I had in all the quadrants of my life mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. It opened innumerable possibilities for the future.
    There is something valuable when you go outside and experience the limitless possibilities with those living Systema.

Hope to train with you soon!

Carlos Guzman, Systema Orlando