6 More Lessons from the Pool

Last time I talked about how similar swimming was to good Systema training.  Now I have a New Perspective to add. I got the book, I watched the DVD and I played around with the ideas but I was missing one crucial element in my training. So I recently took my own advice, advice that I give to ALL Systema students and knowledge-seekers in general.

#1: I found an expert, not just some guy swimming or hanging around the pool.  (Well, Dr. Karla found the expert for me).

The lesson here?  Be careful from whom you take advice. Find someone qualified, not just the guy you are working with.

#2: Not only did I find an expert, I set up a series of private swimming lessons with him.

I set up a series so the lessons would build upon each other.  More important, I set up a series because I’m aware that you don’t internalize all the teaching in one lesson.  You have to hear, see and feel it several times for the lessons to sink in.

#3: I went into the first lesson telling him where I was, what I knew (or thought I knew), what my goals were and how I learned best.

We ran a thorough mental and physical inventory before even getting in the water.  I told him I didn’t come to swim, but to learn HOW to swim better and was open to whatever program he decided would get me to that goal.

What I DIDN’T do was tell him all I knew about swimming, how I knew this method or that, or training with so-and-so.  I made it clear I was there to learn whatever he was going to teach.  It’s all too common in Systema for new students to come in and want to tell/show you all they know or learned somewhere else with little regard for what you are teaching them.  The most recent time this happened in my school–3 weeks ago.

#4: I hung my ego on a chair at the edge of the pool and put myself under the scrutiny of his professional eye.

Here’s a tip for you about “it feels right.” I hear people in Systema often going on about how it feels.  The thing is, when you are moving inefficiently your body adapts and the movements can feel right, even though they are wrong.  This is where the professional eye comes in.  He could see what I wasn’t doing right no matter how right it felt to me.

Here’s another tip.  Whenever you train your body to move in a new way it will feel uncomfortable because it is NEW.  Sitting up straight when you’ve slouched your entire life feels “wrong,” but intellectually we know it’s right.

#5: I listened to his advice, tried it out, got more feedback and continued to make the corrections he suggested.

I can tell you that in one lesson my stroke improved as did my breathing.  This is the value of an expert with years of experience.

#6: I have follow-up lessons planned so my improvements STICK. Learning isn’t just a one-shot, one-day, one-weekend type of training wherein I could fall back into bad habits or even create new bad habits.

If you are a Systema student without a home, a school to attend regularly, try taping your workouts so you can see yourself a bit more objectively.  I guarantee you’lle see things you would never have noticed otherwise.

So there you have it, 6 Lessons from the pool that, if you follow, will help your Systema as much as it’s helped my swimming.

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