Yes You Can Watch, But Get on the Mat!
Before I became a Systema Instructor I was like most people new to the art. I had years of both previous training and previous notions of what martial arts are supposed to look like.
Luckily for me, the particular training-history I had along with my own insights allowed me to appreciate Systema. Other people who see Systema for the first time are not so fortunate.
Here are 3 reasons you need to take a class to begin to understand Systema.
#1 Sitting there watching people do breathing exercises and calisthenics is boring. The students doing the exercises are challenging their bodies, creating a feeling of power and raising their energy.
You cannot relate to this while sitting there.
#2 You may not see what you are expecting to see in class.
Each class is unique, with a different area of focus, and is taught for those specific students who are there that day.
If you are not in the class then the work may not address your particular concerns.
Something as simple as you wanted to see groundwork while the class is doing stand-up work and dismissing the whole art when that class just chose to focus on stand-up.
#3 Systema creates lots of “head-scratching moments” for people who watch it.
A guy came to class once and we were doing some simple, subtle takedown work.
I demonstrated and then had him try it with Brian.
This guy followed my direction and Brian was losing his balance and falling down.
So he asked me, “is he just falling down or am I making him?”
I told him to let Brian try it on him.
So he attacked Brian and, as he was falling with that what-the-heck-is-happening look in his eye, I smiled and said to him,”are you just falling down?”
He got it and laughed right back. Because he had it done to him and felt the effectiveness he kept training.
To someone sitting on the other side of the glass watching this may look rather odd, but feeling is believing.
So watch and see if you want, but get on the mat and feel it before you make any judgement–that is a true eye-opening, and sometimes eye-closing, experience.