by Major Konstantin Komarov

What is most important in any art? For an artist, musician, or poet, it’s inspiration: the state of the soul, which can hardly be expressed in words. Yet, without it there is no art, only craft.

So, what is the key to martial arts? Is it strength? Agility? Stamina? Perhaps, the knowledge of secret techniques? I do not think so. To illustrate it, let me share an observation.

Quite recently, I was lucky enough to work with a team of personal bodyguards protecting a high-ranked official. These guys were crème-de-la-crème, “the elite”. All were athletes, 220+ lbs of weight, masters of various martial arts, former international champions. Among them was this one guy – without any titles or medals, a simple farm boy, who looked much smaller than the rest of them. It was a mystery to me how he ended up on the team.

During the course of the training however, he proved himself to be the strongest, most effective and dangerous warrior. When I say warrior I don’t mean the star of sparring, but real combat-like training: fast, harsh, painful and scary… The kind of training conditions we had to create for the team, because initially everyone was overconfident and had illusions of their “super-powers”.

For instance, one very basic drill was to lead a VIP through a “violent crowd”. People in the crowd focused not just on grabbing or hitting the VIP, but on playing with the bodyguards’ emotions: bring their psyche off balance, get them angry, offended, or frightened. Since the “crowd” knew the trainees’ hot buttons very well, the work was often very brutal, bordering nervous breakdowns and deep “psychological scars”.

During this process, the illusions disappeared and everything became clear. The athletes’ psyche gave up under serious stress. In near extreme situations they tended to lose self-control and either lurched at the threat source or got into varying degrees of “stupor”. No physical or special skills could help them: their bodies stiffened with muscular tension and their movements became rigid, awkward, jerky, imprecise and inadequate for the task.

Yet the farm boy controlled his psyche surprisingly well. Despite his modest, compared to others, size and physical skills, he successfully came out of the toughest situations. When I asked him “What’s your background?” – He honestly responded: “Did house chores and farm work since I was a kid. Also enjoyed going with the guys to the dancing hall at the neighboring village to fight with the locals…”

So, what is the key, bottom-line factor in a martial art? Apparently it’s none of the physical parameters, but something else, which enables the application of the physical abilities and skills in any situation. This something is psyche; more precisely, the STATE of psyche enabling the optimal work of the body (including muscles and brain): relaxed, fluid, effective, and spontaneous (i.e. faster than thought). This optimal STATE (“the zone”) allows calming down the conscious mind and freeing the body; creating a natural response to any situation.

THE STATE is the foundation on which the building of martial art stands. It must be human, not animal / creature state. Then THE STATE – expressed as the freed and prepared body – is easier to use as a foundation for building the additional skills: movement, defense, strikes, wrestling, shooting, etc.

Of course, one can reach THE STATE in a roundabout way, starting with the body, through completing specific tasks and learning physical skills. This however is a long path with questionable results.

Often times when people study techniques and patterns, build muscles, learn various “secrets of the art”, they are simply trying to suppress their internal fear in an attempt to unconsciously gain confidence and serenity: THE STATE. This wandering in the darkness of ignorance, not knowing what they are really looking for, creates a dangerous illusion, which in turn is quickly destroyed by the harsh, real-life experiences.

The body does not win battles, but the spirit does. This piece of ancient wisdom talks about the spiritual man being positioned above the man of flesh. Reaching THE STATE is the first step of connecting with THE SPIRIT, which is the powerful and invincible core of MAN.

But how does one take this first step? What is THE STATE? How to find, feel, and maintain it? How to permanently reside there, not just during the battle, but in day-to-day life (which is often way more important)?

These paramount questions are what we’ll all attempt to figure out together during the upcoming Summit of Masters Camp.

Together, because a man properly develops and lives only through love and only among people.
Together, because a road of a thousand miles begins with a single step; but to show it, one has to know it.
Together, because SYSTEMA is much more than an art of fighting: it’s an ART OF LIVING.

So, welcome to LIVING!

Wishing everyone happiness, love, and best of luck!
See you in summer at the Summit of Masters Camp!


K. Komarov (Summit of Masters instructor)

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