A step in,
A step out.
Move from what you cannot feel.
Many people who start doing Systema begin to realize that our entire methodology is different. How incredibly difficult would it be to begin utilizing something you have never been aware of? How do you begin?
I would like to bring your attention to a curious study done on monkeys. This study had scientists wiring up monkeys’ brains to a device which could read their brain signals. At the same time, these monkeys were also given access to a robotic arm which they could control using a joystick. After they were successfully taught to operate the robotic arm to give themselves treats, the scientists restricted the monkeys’ hands which meant that these monkeys had to attempt to reach for the treats with little more than their brain power controlling the robotic arm. And they managed to do exactly that. Basically, the monkeys were able to augment their bodies with another arm. (https://www.nature.com/news/2008/080528/full/news.2008.861.html)
In the field of medical robotics, this could present amputees with a chance to regain the utility of a lost limb or in other fields one could gain the utility of an external system through the retraining of the brain.
Think about the implications this has on your own training for a moment – maybe you aren’t looking to acquire a new arm or leg but maybe you are trying to find and acquire a broader, more holistic use of your existing body. How should we go about discovering the existence of something we don’t feel?
Go to a push up position. Make sure you find a level which you can comfortably clear – do you need to go on your knees? That’s fine. Need to push off from a wall? No problem. I will start from the wall push. This drill can be done both by yourself or with the help of a partner pushing gently on your back.
Now just as you are about to push yourself off, feel the small tensions that rise up in your body (if you are unable to catch the changes in your body, try doing this drill which could help you find a baseline for what to feel). With some breathing and small movements of the tension, try to see if you can transfer the tension in those body parts into a place of your body where you cannot feel it. Once you do that, continue the push up and see if you can get up more comfortably than before. This might take a couple attempts to do so give yourself some time. Eventually you want to be able to do all this micro adjustments the moment you start the movement and without any pause in your push up.
As Ray says about this drill, we need to be extremely honest with ourselves so that we can be sure that we are having good form and movement or else we are just using unnecessary strength.
If you made it this far, you might want to check out the bonus “flip side” to this drill here: https://youtu.be/bjnl2-uHqFw