The End Circle at the close of Systema class yields some insightful one-liners from students.
The above quote, “I know Systema works because I am doing it wrong,” is a paraphrase of a comment routinely given by student Andrew Walton.
It is one of my favorite quotes and here is how it originated.
I would demonstrate a certain principle and show some work followed by the class practicing, typical Systema class.
Andrew liked to have me do the work to him because he is a very physical learner. Once he felt it he would understand it and then continue to practice.
As sure as day Andrew wouldn’t be able to make anything work on his partner and get frustrated.
As class went on he would invariably do the work exactly as he explained and demonstrated and he would send his partner flying to the ground.
I like Andrew’s observation because it makes a profound distinction in training.
One, he watched me do the work successfully on someone, seeing how it is done.
Two, he would see me do the work successfully on his partner, so he knew it would work on his partner.
Up to this point Andrew could think that people are “just letting me do the work.”
But then, three, he would feel me successfully do the work on him so there is no doubt that Systema works on him.
Here is the distinction.
Andrew sees and feels the work done correctly so he knows I can do it.
Now it is only a question of whether he could.
As Andrew looked as his own training he realized that there was nothing different about his training partner.
I could do the work on him, Andrew failed to do the the work, then, with some practice, Andrew also had a degree of success.
All that changed was how Andrew himself did the work.
When he began to breathe, relax, keep Form and move everything started working for him.
These are the basic Systema principles and when he violated them nothing worked for him–he was doing it wrong.
Whenever he corrected himself and applied the Systema principles everything worked.
Hence his conclusion, Systema works because he was doing it wrong.
It doesn’t get any clearer than that.