The practice of Systema for me is a personal pursuit of humility and faith. I’m not looking to be better than someone else or even improve my physical performance. I am trying to build up my own capacity to know and trust myself, especially in stressful situations. My pursuit leads me to exercises with a particular mood or attitude and naturally, health and physical performance increase as I get the opportunity to chip away at my fear.
2. What turning points have you encountered on your movement journey?
I have encountered many turning points that have been the result of asking what most people are wondering out there, “What is Systema?”
In chronological order they go something like this… Mike Gonzalez of Systema San Antonio took me through a personal introduction and I was surprised by how relaxed, confident and resilient he was. Together, we advocated the mantra “Breathe, Move, Relax” at Roots by painting it on the walls in huge letters and repeating it endlessly to anyone that would listen. Meanwhile Mike and Gene Smithson from Austin Systema were introducing me to dousing. I had done cold water training before, but this was different. I took it up as a practice and poured 2, 5 gallon buckets on my head every morning and evening for a couple years without fail. I’m so grateful to finally be taught how to take a proper bath. During this time I also traveled to Headquarters in Toronto and became an instructor in training. Recently, I was able to travel back to Toronto to train and meet Vladamir. Everyone I have met and trained with has taught me a bit about Systema, these have all been turning points for me. However, seeing someone teach there own art gives a unique perspective and a sense of being directly connected to something resulting in many profound changes.
3. What role has injury played in cultivating your current niche?
I am learning to accept injury as a natural course of nature while still finding the strongest avenue to balance freedom with preparation. Injury can give us so much gratitude. It can also give so much meaning to our bodies.Embracing this fact and choosing to be responsible for it help me to find that strongest avenue. I am able to do a lot of injury prep while I still have fun. I try not to forget the ability to heal should take precedence over the ability to protect. It’s the same as saying, “It is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all.”
4. Do you consider yourself a teacher? Why or why not?
Of course, we are all teachers and students. When I say something to you, I am also saying it to myself and the same for yourself. The context changes the meaning, but the message is the same.
5. What has been your experience with physical education, both in the schooling system and sought out knowledge/ know-how elsewhere?
Any schooling system has limitations, so it is very important to seek knowledge elsewhere. Knowledge elsewhere has provided me with a unique perspective on the original teachings I received in school, from youth programs and my parents. I am grateful for all because without the unique perspective I would have a very biased and limited practice and without the original teachings I would be lost. We are an amalgamation of all the teachings we have received and is true to say that the kind of power one has rests on the kind of knowledge one has.
6. How do you involve your mind/ emotions into your physical routines?
I was taught by my personal mentor a way of dealing with 4 elements that comprise a human, the physical, the mental, the emotional and the spiritual. Emotions are felt personally and therefore personally one gets to decide what to do with them. One of the greatest challenges is to express the emotions and to use the power that comes with them in a healthy and responsible way. Timing and forbearance are crucial in developing the capacity for this type of expression. One of the greatest challenges of the mind is to cultivate the proper internal dialog. Discipline and dealing with one’s own fears bring about internal silence and a mental dialog that boosts the spirit.
7. What are your personal aspirations regarding movement? How do you hope to find purpose and use in the skills you have built?
My greatest aspiration in movement is to empty myself out as much as possible while allowing for the greatest expression of my spirit possible. I don’t want worries, past traumas or fear to get in the way of that. I’m working my way back to how it was when I was very young so I can go beyond that. This time, with all the experience and I knowledge I have as an adult having lived a full life of adventure.
The great thing about my practice is that I get the immediate joy and benefit of improved health and functionality now while at the same time I know I am doing what is best for the future.
8. How can people find/ contact you? Do you have a site or social media handle to share?
I’m out in Oregon! By the trees!
I also post on instagram (@rootsfitness_portland) and facebook.