Episodes

  • This week, an uplifting and inspiring chat with UK-based Systema Instructor Matt Hill. Matt is a former British Army Paratrooper Captain, and founder of the Matt Hill Systema Academy, based in Wiltshire (western England). An accomplished leader, teacher, and crisis management expert, Matt has a calming demeanour, an adventurous spirit, and a tireless dedication to training and living Systema. Here, we talk about:

    How he pivoted to meet new training needs during the pandemicHis incredible 2019 expedition to the jungles of Borneo (and forthcoming trip to Guatemala)Lessons learned from nature and indigenous guidesHis new online Systema Academy

    Mentioned in this episode:

    Matt's books and e-books centered on Systema Health and Living (highly recommended)Free downloadable breathwork here.The all-new, on-demand Matt Hill Systema Academy Online
  • Well here we are - we made it to the end of 2020 - some of us limping to the finish, but across the line, nonetheless. Among all the challenges and problems we faced this year, I was grateful for the enjoyable and thought-provoking conversations that the Systema For Life podcast provided, and grateful for the opportunity to slow down, think more deeply, and reach out to guests I otherwise may never have considered. This year, we had a wider range of guests and topics on the show, ranging from the collected wisdom of expert Systema Instructors like Vladimir Vasiliev and Emmanuel Manolakakis, to the musings of scientists and academics on fields relating to Systema practice. We had doctors, historians, philosophers, one professor of indigenous knowledge, and - entirely coincidentally -two former British Commandos. All waxing lyrical on what it means to breathe, move, think, train, stay healthy, stay prepared, and thrive in an uncertain world. I hope you enjoy this selection of conversations from the last 12 months of podcasts, and that it might inspire you to go back and listen to any that you may have missed, or perhaps mine some of these episodes for hidden gems of wisdom. This selection includes:

    Tyson Yonkaporta on the necessity of understanding violenceEmmanuel Manolakakis on finding renewed creativity and focus through solo trainingJoe Gehr on threat and risk assessment during the pandemicAlberto Nacif on concrete lifestyle measures you can take to ensure robust healthVladimir and Valerie Vasiliev on not waiting for superheroes to rescue youOnce again, I’d like to thank all our listeners for staying with us, and especially our supporters and patrons, who have kept the podcast afloat through the last year, and continue to do so with monthly donations via Patreon or PayPal. If you have enjoyed the show this year, you can spare a few bucks each month, and you would like to help to ensure its survival of the show into 2021, please visit ncsystema.com/support today, and become a Systema For Life supporter today.
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  • Merry Christmas, to all who celebrate it!This week, an energetic conversation with Rafe Kelley - martial artist, movement expert, natural parkour pioneer, and founder of Evolve.Move.Play. Rafe is legendary in natural movement circles, and seemed a great person to banter with about aspects of movement development, exercise, and play. Here, we touch upon:

    Rafe's path from anthropology to gymnastics and parkourThe connection between movement, meaning, and well-beingThe limits of machine metaphors, as applied to human bodiesThe value of constraint-based teaching and learningWhy efficiency is more important than novelty in training

    ...and a great deal more. Hope you enjoy this chat as much as we did.

    Find out more about Rafe's work - and start your own explorations of natural parkour - at https://courses.evolvemoveplay.com/foundations

  • This week, a profound exploration of abstract strategy - and specfically Colonel John Boyd's OODA loop concept - with former Commando and professional technology strategist Ben Ford. If you are interested in any aspect of good decision-making under pressure, this is one you won't want to miss.Boyd's OODA (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act) loop, is a powerful concept that describes how individuals and groups (and even entire armies or organizations) make and optimize decisions. Boyd, a US military fighter pilot, developed the concept over many decades of research, reflection, and practical experience. Ben Ford has studied Boyd's theory and its implciations extensively, drawing on threads from mathematics, evolutionary biology, manufacturing, and military command structures to provide a deeper context for his work.

    the origins and central concept of the OODA loopusing OODA in combat to disorientate and destroy decision-making structureshow expectation shapes observation (and leads to dangerous biases)implicit guidance as applied to everything from martial arts and military combat to motorcycles and manufacturing Many thanks to Ben for such a fascinating and powerful discussion. Find out more about John Boyd and the OODA loop in his biography, Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War Find out more about Ben's work at https://commando.dev, or follow him on Twitter at @commandodev
  • This week, an enlightening chinwag with author, coach, body language expert, and former Royal Marines Commando Terry Vaughn.Terry has a wealth of experience in personal protection, and is passionate about of the value of situational awareness for all. His D.I.R.T. (Dangerous Individual Recognition Training) program puts a laser focus on how to develop it. Here, we discuss:how the motivation to learn and practice comes from adverse experiencesthe necessity of relaxation in scanning for threatsunderstanding the enemy: shock, ambush, and surpriseknowledge and training as the antidote to paranoiaFind out more about Terry's speaking events and training courses at tvempowers.com

  • This week, we embark on a wild, meandering convergence of modern and ancient thought, with author, academic, and custodian of indigenous wisdom Tyson Yunkaporta. A member of the Apalech Clan and a senior lecturer in Indigenous Knowledge at Deakin University, Melbourne, Tyson bridges the modern and ancient worlds in his work, and brings a radical perspective to things most of us take for granted. His book Sand Talk: How Indigenous Thinking Can Save the World is unlike anything I have ever read - mixing imagery, storytelling, academic criticism, and ancient principles of thought to create an exhilarating, mind-expanding experience. You may want to read it before this conversation. Or listen, read, and listen again. Though from an entirely background, Tyson is fascinated by Systema and immediately recognized its power when he first saw a video clip of Mikhail Ryabko 10 years ago. What results is a truly joyful exchange of ideas, where humour and curiosity converge on fundamental truths of being. Somewhere in there, we touch upon:

    The limits of reductionist logic and scienceFoundational myths around violenceSystema as a practice of distributed consciousnessThe domestication of humankind - and how to reverse it

    A warning: like the book, this conversation was non-linear, cyclic, and highly unusual - arriving at meaning tangentially, and only after considerable wandering. Hang in there, and you may find some gems. If not - no worries :)

  • This week, an engaging and enjoyable chat with Systema practitioner, wellness coach, and podcaster Howard Jacobson. Here, we get into a range of topics relating to coping with the ongoing constraints of the Covid-19 pandemic, as we face the sixth month of life in its shadow. Themes include:

    The dangers of avoiding discomfortMitgating stress and anger through exercise (and how that can easily backfire)Finding acceptance and context in your daily interactionsThe primacy of relationship in conversation

    Recorded outdoors at the beautiful Eno River near Durham North Carolina, this episode features an extended breathwork and awareness exercise (starting at around 15:00-minute mark) for resetting your mental and emotional state.

    Mentioned in this episode:ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy)Sand Talk: How indigenous Thinking Can Save the World, by Tyson Yonkapurta

  • This week we talk with James Somerville - Toronto-based Systema student, academic, and author of Meditations on a Russian Martial Art. James has a PhD in History from Queens University, and wrote his thesis on the dictum Know Thyself, as popularized during the Italian Renaissance era. As such, the book presents an interesting - if somehwat critical - take on the origins, practice, and historical context of Systema. Here, we discuss several core themes from the book, including:

    What motivated him to write the bookSystema as a modern military art (vs an ancient / medieval one)Martial arts as performance artsThe mixed implications of Systema philosophy

    You may not agree with everything the James has to say here, or in the book itself. But at the very least, it is a thought-provoking account of his very personal quest to understand and contextualize the art.

  • This week, a light-hearted conversation with Arizona-based Systema Instructor and world-class cybersecurity expert Jeff Shearer. A warm, generous, and fiercely intellgent guy, Jeff trained with us for many years at NC SYSTEMA, before moving out west and starting his own Systema group near Phoenix, AZ. Here, we discuss:

    What drew him to Systema practice and teachingSystema and cybersecurity - similarities and differencesAchieving a dynamic balance in work, relationships, and understanding the selfMentioned in this episode:The Three Marriages, by David Whyte
  • This week, a deep dive into human psychology and cognition, with author and esteemed psychologist Barbara Tversky. Professor Tversky an Emirita Professor of Psychology at Stanford and Columbia Univeristies, and is one of the world's foremost authorities on memory, spatial thinking, creativity, and embodied cognition - all highly relevant themes in Systema practice. Her book - Mind in Motion: How Action Shapes Thought - posits that spatial thinking is the foundation of all thought, and that how we sense and perceive the world shapes our thought patterns, emotions, and decisions. Her depth of knoweldge on this subject is staggering, and we were barely able to scratch the surface in this extended, 90-minute discussion. But for unabashed brain/movement/cognition nerds, this is well worth the time. Here, we touch upon:

    How our actions mould our perceptions of the worldwhy spatial thinking and gestures precede language and wordswhy people cannot help but mimic and coordinate actionshow wrestling and complex movement improves math and science scores in kidsLearn more about Barbara Tversky and her reserach here.Mind in Motion, on Amazon books
  • This week, a frank and friendly chat with verteran martial artist and founder of Tampa Systema, Kenny Gonzalez.Before finding Systema, Kenny was a former military police officer, Army Tae Kwon Do champion, and expert instructor in both American Kenpo and Filipino Kali. He now lives, teaches, and hosts seminars in coastal, Florida. Here, he we talk about:His personal journey, from streetfights to SystemaMeeting the masters - Vladimir Vasiliev and Mikhail RyabkoThe primacy of a strong foundation in training and fightingAdapting to Covid, and keeping his training aliveFind out more about training with Kenny at tampasystema.com. Mentioned in this episode:Sign up for the 4-day Defining Moment Seminar with Martin Wheeler (Sarasota, FL, Dec 3-6) here.

  • This week, an intense, mind-expanding discussion with renowned author and scientist John Vervaeke.

    John is the Director of Cognitive Science at the University of Toronto, and an enthusiastic student and teacher of movement, meditation and T'ai Chi. Bridging the gap between cognitive science, cognitive psychology, and ancient philosophy, his academic work covers a wide range of topics. But he is most interested in how people create meaning and make sense of the world. Here, we talk about:

    The current "crisis of meaning" in the Western world - and some of its causesThe perennial problems: self-deception, and finding true wisdomHow movement and mindfulness work together to transform the selfWhy martial arts - such as t'ai chi and Systema - provide unique insights into thought, structure, and action

    This epsiode is light on the "martial", but heavy on the "psyche", and of interest to anyone who seeks answers through training. For more information on John Vervaeke's books and lectures, follow him on Facebook here

    Also mentioned in this episode:

    Dia Logos Series: Voices with Vervaeke https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLND1JCRq8Vuh8TPRarb1FpwP7FSaUILC9Awakening from the Meaning Crisis:https://m.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLND1JCRq8Vuh3f0P5qjrSdb5eC1ZfZwWJDaily Meditation with John Vervaekehttps://youtu.be/AdL9Yd0lB_k
  • This week, an unusual and enligthening diversion into ancient philosophies of life, health, and mind - comparing and constrasting the approaches of Systema and traditional yoga. Our guide, Systema Instructor, Yoga Instructor, and founder of Jiyu Movement Pasquale Antonio. Pas joined the ranks of NC SYSTEMA Instructors at the beginning of 2020, and his angles on Breathwork and Systema classes have made him an instant hit. Here, we explore:

    Modern vs traditional approaches to trainingTension, attitude, and authenticity in Yoga and SystemaUnifying concepts: 4 pillars, 8 limbsThe essential role of these philosophies in today's "knee jerk" society

    I found this discussion fascinating and uplifting. I trust you will, too.Pasquale Antonio is currently running online martial arts classes for kids via Outschool. Click here for details and signup.Find out more about Pas at www.jiyu.us

  • This week, a challenging conversation with wellness coach and podcast regular Howard Jacobson, host of the Plant Yourself podcast and co-founder of WellStartHealth.com. Here, we address the relative roles of guilt, shame, resposibility, and inner strength in navigating the complexities of current wordl events. Along the way, we wade into:

    What COVID, Climate Change and anti-racism arguments have in commonThe neurobiology of shame Competing motivations in social behaviourCultivating empathy and compassion over conflictI hope you get value from this discussion, regardless of your position on the issues at hand.Check out Howie's healthy exploits at plantyourself.com and wellstarthealth.com.
  • This week, a deep dive into aspects of internal training, with Toronto-based Systema Instructor and founder of Gaian Heart, Jamie Lippiatt. Jamie is a personal student of Vladimir Vasiliev and Emmanuel Manolakaki, and teaches regularly at Systema HQ in Toronto. He has also made several extended trips to Moscow to train with the inimitable Mikhail Ryabko and his instructors there.An accomplished martial artist even before coming to Systema, Jamie is a past member of the Canadian National Judo Team, a 2x Canadian Brazilian Jiu Jitsu champion, a 4x Toronto Wrestling Champion, and certified Israeli Special Forces 707 Krav Maga Instructor. Here, we discuss his path into Systema, and some of the deeper insights he has gained along the way. Including:

    Searching for unifying principles within the martial artsUnderstanding tension as a psychological phenomenonThe concepts of pressure, weight, and body unityThe dangers of creating a "box" for yourself in trainingThe essential goal: freedom from the self

    A rich and varied discussion, and one serious trainees won't want to miss. Jamie is currently offering a series of three workshops on Breathing, Movement, and Application through Gaian heart online. For details, visit http://gaianheart.com and subscribe to their event newsletter.

  • This week, a insightful and practical dicsussion with Systema Instructor, IDF Officer, and Personal Security Professional Joe Gehr. His second time on the podcast, Joe returns here to talk about maintaining health, personal safety, and a sense of calmness during in light of current world events. A mulitfaceted chat, ranging through:

    Filtering noise and uncertaintyCultivating stillness and awarenessClarifying your purpose in trainingHow to conduct Personal Risk Assessments for your home, work, and travel destinations

    Train at Joe's academy - or seek advice on personal and group security - at https://www.technontactical.com/

    Joe is currently raising money for veterans with PTSD via SEALFIT and the Courage Foundation. Sponsor him online here:Also mentioned in this episode:Warrior BreathingUnbeatable Mind, by Mark DevineStaring Down the Wolf, by Mark Devine

  • This week - a frank, hard-hitting, helpful discussion with Rafael Mattei - co-founding Instructor at Systema Puerto Rico, and a Federal Law Enforcement Agent with some serious experience facing bad guys in the field. Rafi is a prolific martial artist and a good friend to NC SYSTEMA, having taught workshops on groundfighting, weapons tactics and more.

    Here, we talk about:

    His path into martial arts, from Goju Ryu Karate and Muay Thai to BJJ and SystemaTesting it all for efficacy in the "fight lab", and then again in the fieldThe critical importance of self-regulation before, during, and after life-or-death situationsAdvice for staying calm and prepared in the current global environment

    Many thanks to Rafi for his time and insights. Getting serious value from these discussions? Please support the podcast at www.ncsystema.com/support

  • This week, we're once again joined by health and wellness expert Howard Jacbson, host of the profilic Plant Yourself podcast and co-founder of WellStartHealth.com.

    Here, against the uncertain backdrop of COVID-19 and the slow shift back toward to everyday life, we chat about:

    the emotional drivers of binging, slobbing, and giving upthe psychology of starting and restarting good habitswhy your ultimate goals are less important than your daily behaviourscutting yourself some slack (but not too much)Hoping this proves useful to you all in the weeks and months ahead. If you're enjoying these conversations, please remember to support the podcast at ncsystema.com/support.Take care, all.
  • This week, we catch up with Systema Instructor, Medical Director, and Lifestyle Medicine specicalist Alberto Nacif, with thoughts on staying happy, healthy and sane during the COVID-19 lockdown. A relentlessly uplifting guy, Alberto offers his views and advice on:

    making sense of the current situation opportunities to recalibrate amidst the crisisnutrition and immunity managing your news and information diettaking the time to listen to your loved oneshow basic Systema practices can help you stay healthy and calmMany thanks to Alberto for his generous dose of positivity!
  • This week, in the midst of the global COVID-19 shutdown, we talk with Senior Systema Instructor, Founder of FightClub Toronto, and all-round great bloke Emmanuel Manolakakis. An uplifting conversation that vacillates between honest, tough-love advice and finding diamonds of positivity in the undeniable rough.Along the way, we discuss:

    differing emotional responses to the reality of the pandemicwhy the emphasis of your training must (and should) change right nowthe benefits of enforced creativity and motivationconcrete advice for students and Instructors during the weeks and months aheadonline and physical resources for solo training

    Mentioned in this episode:Weekly workshops with Vladimir Vasiliev at Systema HQ
Daily classes and specialized mental training with Emmanuel at FightclubStay safe, strong and healthy, my friends.