Discovering Your Own Path, Trusting the Journey

I once heard a story, although I am not sure where it came from, about a piano student who asked a master the likes of Beethoven or Mozart to teach him to write a symphony. The master began writing symphonies from an early age, but straight away he understood the student was not ready for symphonies. He gave his new student basic scales.

Frustrated, the student replied, “But sir, I want to learn to compose symphonies! You were composing symphonies from the time you were young.” To which the master replied, “Yes, but I never had to ask how.”

The master clearly displays signs of genius, but that does not undervalue the message:
“Masters don’t follow in the footsteps of great men, they seek mastery and find it through natural progression, creation, and imagination.”


Every person is unique, so they will learn and develop uniquely as well. The attempt to imitate another person 1 to 1 will ultimately fail. Your own self-discovery will open up new possibilities only you could find, you will take advantage of your talents, and reach your goal faster.

In Systema, you will learn to create. Would you rather a teacher gave you fish or taught you to fish? Would you rather learn a technique or learn to develop techniques out of the moment that could never be duplicated?


Every child must drink milk before they eat apples, but they do not need to ask when they may eat apples or how. From the time a child goes from milk to solids the mouth changes, eventually teeth develop, and by the time they eat apples they know they can.

A good teacher will point you in the right direction, that is all they need to do. There is no need to worry about how to take the next step forward, or any subsequent step. When you are ready for the next step, you will already know how to deal with it, and you will take it without a seconds thought. As long as you are constantly moving forward in the right direction, you will reach the end…mastery.

Mikhail Ryabko / ‘Faith is the most important’

One comment that really sticks out in this interview with Founder Mikhail Ryabko is his response to learning difficult concepts. Mikhail states, “You start with the visual, the exterior thing, and then you continue on to the internal work. This is how you start Systema.” This is an intuitive approach. Children also start to learn by imitation, then they internalize the behavior or movements, and only much later do they understand “why”.

stealth photography


What exactly do we mean by ‘the new school’?

It’s inner work, something you cannot see with the eye.  It’s not the shape of the body – its the reason, the process of how muscle works.  To know it, to understand it… this is what we mean by the inner school.

So have these internal aspects always been a part of Systema?

Yes.  Its always been one thing.  For example there is Aikido in Japan.  And it was split into two halves – and they exported it, but only one half of it.  And so, there is something always missing in Aikido.

Does this idea of the ‘new school’ mean a departure from the original form of Systema?

No, Systema is not changing.  Its about reaffirming the fundamentals.

For a lot of beginners, certainly for me, grasping some of these concepts can be very difficult.  Is there a way that…

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