Feel Tension and Control It

I have mentioned before the two primary ways to “feel” tension in yourself. The first is the physical contraction of muscle and tendon. The second is mental and physical discomfort. Both are equally illusive because they require internal sensitivity and a willingness to confront weakness. Mark Zamarin, Systema Utah instructor, says that people become accustomed to tension and remain tense even when they feel relaxed. The goal is ultimately control. Can you shut tension on and off where you need it and when you need it? Or does your opponent control your tension? Do confrontations send you into a state of frustration, panic, fear, or anger? These are obstacles to comfort. No one can feel comfortable and frustrated simultaneously! Here are a few quotes that may help understand our tension and how we can remove obstacles to our personal comfort.

“The more you discover yourself, the more tension you see in yourself.”
-Konstantin Komarov

“Nothing you do should require any more physical “effort” than it takes to merely move your body through empty space without a training partner or opponent.”
-Scott Meredith, about Soke’s presentation of Jutaijutsu

“There are only two states from which you can respond to any situation. You can respond from love (and focus on honoring, edifying and validating the other person) or you can respond from fear (and focus on what you need). Every other response or emotion fits into these two categories.”
-Kimberly Giles

“For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. For every force applied, there is an equal force applied back. The ‘world’, the universe, maya only exists because of resistance to it: you push against it, it pushes back. The only way to freedom is surrender. You stop pushing, asserting yourself, and illusion stops pushing back, asserting itself. Stop pushing, putting energy into the system, and there is no energy in the system to push back. Stop telling the story, and without that constant input of energy the story collapses.”
-David Carse

2 Ways to Take an Enemy Down and Keep Them Down

I will not give you the advice you want, and many of you will see this as sidestepping what you really wanted to hear, but I want to share with you what I believe are the two most effective and least appreciated techniques for self-defense. Both apply to a myriad of situations–whether we are talking about ignoring intimidation or moving softly and subtly with an aggressive opponent, whether we are talking about showing empathy towards those who despise us or breaking an opponent’s desire to attack further. Enjoy!

Show Love and Compassion

“Heaven arms with compassion those whom it
would not see destroyed.”
-Taoist Scripture

“In the face of the great superiority of
another person there is no means of safety
but love.”

“To ‘love our enemy’ is impossible, because
the moment we love him, he is no longer our
-Thich Nhat Hanh

“When you begin to see that your enemy is
suffering, that is the beginning of
-Thich Nhat Hanh

Refuse to Take Part

“[Your opponent] needs someone to fight to
carry on fighting…”
-Martin Wheeler, brackets added for

“That’s what happens when you are angry at
people, you make them part of your life.”
-Garrison Keillor

“Remove yourself not just from the line of
attack, but from line of opponent’s
-Vladimir Vasiliev

Martin Wheeler Really Knows How to Multi-Task

As you probably know, Systema highly values relaxation and offers a variety of drills that challenge the mind and body to calm down and work through tension.

Perhaps no one impresses quite like Martin Wheeler who has demonstrated multiple amusing feats of relaxation, such as removing a pretty form fitting t-shirt with just teeth, movement, and the floor in Vladimir VAsiliev’s “Clothing as a Weapon.” In this video, Martin Wheeler controls a knife attacker as he moves with hands gripped behind his back–as if that wasn’t enough, he also attempts to get his locked hands to the front of his body. See the video here.

That kind of relaxation doesn’t come cheap!

You can find more details about Martin Wheeler at wheelersystema.com
Martin Wheeler will join us at Reliance Martial Arts October 24th and 25th for a two-day seminar on groundfighting and knifework.