Internal training in systema

Discussion in 'Russian Martial Arts' started by SilatFan, Apr 18, 2005.

  1. RachelK

    RachelK Purple Belt

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    Hi,
    I want to clarify that I'm a novice student of Systema. I have been training only for a year-and-a-half. I've never studied another martial art. Please keep that in mind as you read my earlier post. I don't think I'd even recognize internal or external work unless it was presented to me specifically as thus. My teacher told our class that Systema is an internal martial art. Considering that I'm one of the more experienced students in our class of mostly beginners, it's not implausible that we've never learned the internal aspects of Systema, just the external ones, whatever those may be. Then again, my teacher does not talk a great deal during class. He usually demonstrates, then answers any general questions, such as this one, at the end of class. But no-one has ever asked him this question. Since all practitioners have a unique approach, Systema may be an internal martial art to my teacher, but internal and external to another instructor.
    Despite my enthusiasm for Systema, I'm pretty new to it, and to martial arts in general. And so I can't compare it to another style that is purely external or purely internal or both or neither. So far, I haven't learned about external and internal Systema practice, but that's no barometer for what any other student of the System is learning. I trust my teacher's guidance in these matters and perhaps one day I will learn Systema "inside and out." But for now, I have more than enough to practice without worrying about which exercises fit into which categories. Maybe in ten or twenty years I will be able to identify the differences, but at this point, it's all the same to me.
    Respectfully,
    Rachel
     
  2. Arthur

    Arthur Blue Belt

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    That would be me, and I have a name. Its Arthur, just like my screen name.

    I quite specifically said "internal" and not "energy". Neither Mikhail nor my CIMA teacher ever refered to said exercises as "energy based". They each refered to them as "internal".

    EricH Said:
    :ultracool

    Masterfinger:
    Well... personally, I'd have to say I agree with everything you've said in this thread 100% But I think we are distinctly in the minority :idunno:

    Mscroggins said the following:
    On the contrary, in many cases it needs exactly the opposite. People need to have faith that the training and the movements and ideas will work. If someone suspends their belief in the material I hardly think they be particularly succesful at learning or employing it.

    That belief/faith can come blindly, through testing, through analysis, through getting the crap beaten out of you with it, through trust, or another means, but ultimately one has to have belief in the material.

    One of the teachers jobs is to get a student to begin trusting in the material so he CAN let go and just feel. Every student is unique and what one needs to be able to let go is often quite different from what another needs.

    You sure as heck need to keep from letting it get in the way. Sometimes a teachers use of metaphors about other arts, are specifically to help a student put some of those beliefs aside.

    What you find distracting is sort of irrelevent. A teachers job isn't about just you. Its about teaching everyone in a class and their may well be someone in class who finds everything you find usefull to be "distracting". You both deserve top be taught, IMO.

    I know plenty of analytical people, who are here to day because they used there art just fine.

    Just because someone can see, it doesn't mean they can't listen or taste or smell. There is a roll for all parts of the brain in learning. For each individual there is often a perfect balance. The student has the luxury of keying into what works for them, the teacher has the task of knowing how to convey information in every combination and balance his student base requires.

    Arthur
     
  3. Arthur

    Arthur Blue Belt

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    PS A few posts came in while I was typing mine... so I thought I'd throw on an addendum.

    Furtry Said:
    Furtry you may have been out of the room, but there was a serious of exercises that were more than pushups. The exercises revolved around what some other arts might call rooting exercises or Ground Force Vector training. Accepting pushes and directing the force into the ground to neutralize... neither yielding nor "resisting". Just "neutralizing".

    Rachel Said:
    I think thats a really fantastic point, and just wanted to say so.

    Arthur
    PS Perhaps one of the reasons people resort to using terms from other arts when speaking of Systema... is Systema's lack of terms for just about anything. Its very hard to have a conversation about something that doesn't allow terms, words or any other linguistic characteristic to anything about it. Just a thought.
     
  4. Furtry

    Furtry Green Belt

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    Arthur wrote;
    :lol: Maybe that was when I was getting ice for my fat lip. :lol:

    I know the exercise you're talking about, to me, it doesn't appear or seem to be one that I would call internal. But that is me.
    I also remember people trying to push Mikhail over and him blowing them backwards when they made contact. That can also be called internal, I guess, but it is explained as doing/generating a body wave.
    At any rate, no chi thingy involved nor mentioned when it was taught :).
     
  5. Arthur

    Arthur Blue Belt

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    I know. I never said qi thingy. I said "internal". Likewise, he specifically said "internal". That is my point and only point on the matter.

    Arthur
     
  6. mscroggins

    mscroggins Yellow Belt

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    This is almost the opposite of what I meant. I should have been clear earlier. Sorry.

    Say I decide to study CIMA. I find a teacher, and he agrees to teach me. In order to learn from him I need to suspend what I think I know about CIMA and about martial arts, movement, and physics in general and simply accept what he has to offer. I don't suspend my belief in his material, or throw out what I already know, but rather put aside I have previously learned so I can learn from him without prejudgments clouding my mind.
     
  7. Furtry

    Furtry Green Belt

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    Yap and those same preconceived notions are the largest hurdles for people to get over.
    The other day a nice guy from Buffalo NY drove in to train. I worked with him allot, mostly trying to get him to try it out with out the stances and set techniques. At the end of the session he walked in to the change room and thanked Vlad for the class and said; 'I tried to empty my cup, and it seems I went to the point that I forgot to allow my body to move.'
    Vlad looks at him, and says 'when you come here with an empty cup we fill it with vodka.'
    The look of confusion on his face was priceless :lol:!

    Arthur, then you and I agree about that thingy :ultracool .
     
  8. BoxANT

    BoxANT Guest

    nominated for quote of the year :partyon:
     
  9. Arthur

    Arthur Blue Belt

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    Actually, that may have been my point. ;-)


    Say I decide to study CIMA. I find a teacher, and he agrees to teach me. In order to learn from him I need to suspend what I think I know about CIMA.

    Perhaps, If what you know about CIMA is incorrect you should put it aside... but what if your understanding is perfect? Should you discard an acurate understanding, should you discard a competent understanding of the reality within witch you train... just to make observers happy and maintain the party line?

    To be honest previous statements would tend to lead me elsewhere.

    IMO, You are contradicting your self. You've placed extreme faith in whoever your instructor is.... and are ignoring the desicions and issues your instructor had to confront to assume a position to guide you. Well my opinion anyway.

    Arthur
     
  10. mscroggins

    mscroggins Yellow Belt

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    That is a bit of a straw man. You are ignoring the fact that people get to choose who they train with and can make judgments about the quality of their instructors. If you don't like your instructor, or you think training with him is harmful, there is no obligation to return, or even bother training in the first place. You are free to walk away, or not train, at any time.

    ???

    You are mistaken. I don't place extreme faith in an instructor. But, I do recognize that my state of mind, and attitude toward the instructor, make a difference in my ability to absorb information, and I don't see any point in working against myself. I assume the instructor is trying in good faith to instruct me to the best of their abilities, and I return that sentiment by accepting in good faith what they are teaching. If I have doubts about an instructor, or the material while training, that is my fault for not doing my homework beforehand.

    The proper place for doubt is before I decide to train with this instructor, or after the session is over. Analysis, as everyone seems to agree, is best done over a beer with Eric.
     
  11. Franc0

    Franc0 Purple Belt

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    If there is doubt before you decide to train, does that mean you don't train with that instructor at all? Or do you go in with no doubt, then train with the instructor, and leave with the doubt setting in afterwards? And no, not everyone agrees it's best done over a beer. There's a difference between analysis of the material learned, and doubt. Doubt is just one of the conclusions of analysis, which usually happens AS you watch the material being taught. It only takes someone with standard intelligence to walk out of a seminar or class and be able to decide that what they just saw is either crap or good stuff, without having to spend time dissecting (i.e. analyzing) it afterwards. IMO, analysis afterwards is done to better understand the movements taught (better know as practicing), or to simply perform them as intended( also known as practicing :rolleyes: ).
    When Eric, Arthur and I trained together we discussed (analyzed?) what we were doing AT THE TIME we were doing it, and spent our drinking time joking and laughing at Arthur for losing his wallet :uhyeah: . The only things said about what we trained with earlier as we drank was simply that it was good stuff we were doing, period. It's a simple human function to be able to immediately analyse something as you're learning it, especially for those with beyond average experience.
     
  12. mscroggins

    mscroggins Yellow Belt

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    This thread has wandered off into narrow definitions and taken some strange tangents, but let me return to my original point.

    Learning requires the willing suspension of belief (sometimes you hear the phrase disbelief). Training for anything is in some respects artificial (even training for typing uses artificial drills and exercises) IMO, you must adopt this zenish attitude of beginners mind to learn something new, and that means suspending your disbelief and accepting the material for what it is, not for what you think is lacking, or what it could be. Recognizing that you do not have perfect knowledge of the instructors intentions or means.

    I think this is the best way to put aside complacency and move forward. Learning requires a transaction, and as a student, this is my half of that transaction. I try to approach everything I need to learn with this attitude. I often fail, but I aim to put mysef in the most efficient mindset.

    Learning isn't always immediate and you can never be sure at the time exactly what you have learned. There is also a delayed effect that must be considered - another reason I try to simply soak it all up, and not burden myself with overthinking.

    With all of your experience your learning curve must be shorter, but for me, things take longer and I understand this and try to make it work to my advantage. So, I find the best instructor I can, then I take what they give and try simply to soak up all I can. If you believe this is the mark of a rank beginner, you are correct. I am a beginner at everything.
     
  13. erich

    erich Yellow Belt

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    two apologies:

    1. sorry for having dropped out of the discussion. I was away on vacation
    2. sorry for reviving this thread

    I think that we would all agree that though there is value in analysis and comparison there is greater value in movement and combative interaction.

    I believe that in the context of a formal lesson or a class where there is a clear and valuable teacher/student relationship the student should give themself over to the teacher. Learning is impaired if work is half-hearted because of doubt, paradigm conflict, or excessive analysis. This is what I believe Jason was getting at.

    To Arthur's point, it need not be a matter of putting excessive faith in your teacher. Trust but verify...

    The opportunity to debate, analyze, compare and physically challenge assumptions outside of the context of a formal class or a lesson then this can be an extremely valuable extension to formal training whether it is done in conjunction with, or completely removed from physical training.

    I have been very fortunate to engage in the above process with a number of people on this thread but I have to confess...

    I thought that the reason we did so much valuable & enjoyable analysis at Frank's studio in Vegas was that we were too hung over to move much.

    Now will somebody tell me exactly what qi is? :idunno:
     
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  14. jellyman

    jellyman Green Belt

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    I thnk systema is internal in the sense that it opens a dialogue between you and your body, the "body under mental control" to borrow a phrase from Tim Cartmell.

    But that's just my definition. As Arthur said, if you don't define these terms, it's all meaningless.

    As for qi/ki/prana/pneuma, those are all constructs of different cultures, Systema doesn't have these names. Is what we do the same thing? FWIW, I once asked a TJQ dude in Moscow what he thought, he thought it was a "whole different feeling" . Can't get more subjective than that! But it is a subjective question, IMO. I mean, go to any TCIMA board, and nothing gets the people riled like the definition of qi, or internal...
     
  15. BobP

    BobP Guest

    "FWIW, I once asked a TJQ dude in Moscow what he thought, he thought it was a "whole different feeling"

    That's interesting and very much my own take on it. A very different feeling indeed. In fact I was talking to an old TJQ buddy recently who has been moving "Systema-ward" and he said very much the same thing too. Very different feeling on a number of levels too.123
     

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