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Anyone who has trained with Mikhail or Vladimir knows the importance of understanding / using breathing during our work. Indeed the breathing methods of Systema underpin every aspect of the training - and beyond that every aspect of our lives. There are already some great books and films out detailing breathing basics and how they are linked with exercise, massage and movement. This new release however shows specifically the role of breathing in understanding and controlling fear. As Vladimir states in the film – we all feel fear. It is how we deal with it that is important.
It is interesting how Vladimir breaks these fears down into different types:
- imaginary fears, such as “what if this happens” or of some situation that may arise
- real fears when something does happen , for example a confrontation
- contact and pain
- weapons fear
This film shows how breathing can control our response to each type of fear (rather than just lock-up and create some kind of stress and tension in the muscles and the mind). This work is supported by the basic method of tense / relax with the breathing, which is also covered in extra depth in this film. I call this work “basic” by which I mean it is something that should be practiced regularly. It does not mean that the work is easy – we can forget this when watching a room full of people laying on the floor breathing! In fact one thing that struck me watching this film is that all the work is “simple”. It is not about elaborate movements , archaic terms or intricate work. The drills are very simple and direct. But while it is simple to take a breath and hold it, it is not so simple to hold it for a long time with no tension, or to be able to work it under pressure – that is where the growth begins!
A lot of the drills here are solo , ideal for the person who cannot attend a class. Plus of course it gives us all something we can work on almost constantly. The partner drills are also invaluable – they mostly work around dealing with pain and aggression, with some nice scope for acting from your “attacker”! We can never simulate true reality, but the drills here show the way we can take our regular breath work into a live environment.
Just one more thing – this work needs to be done! It needs to be experienced. It is always a pleasure to watch Vladimir work but this film is unusual in that there is very little “action” (though we get Vladimir’s trademark good humour of course!). So watch it once through – then go back over the exercises and practice them. You will find the advice and information given is invaluable and profound..... the more you look the deeper it gets!
You can order the DVD or download Breathing & Fear here