Fighting Fear with Systema After Domestic Violence
But I'm not here to talk about all the great things about Systema as a martial art. I'm here to talk a bout how much it has helped in my healing after domestic violence and added to my confidence as a woman in general. I was violently attacked by my partner in 2010. He had choked me unconscious twice and stabbed me in the head and hand with a large kitchen knife approximately 9 inches long. And as a reference, he was 6'1" 270lbs (I was 5'4" 130lbs). After that attack, I feared men for a period of time and had panic attacks and nightmares. But in just my second class of Systema, my instructor put a makeshift knife in my hand and soon after did movements as if he was stabbing me, this without him knowing the domestic violence I had gone through. When the knives first came into the open, it felt like my heart stopped for a second and then skipped a beat. I didn't know what to expect. I didn't know how I would react. But I let it all happen naturally without resistance. I can't tell you how proud, empowered, and more brave I felt after that class. It was like that was what I was missing as part of my healing. It was another puzzle piece amongst many but a large, vital piece to in order for the whole puzzle to be complete. In one of the classes that followed, I had two men attack me with knives for at least two minutes with my eyes closed standing upright.
If you have a fear, I encourage you to take it head on. It's easy to hide behind fear but what good does that do? I believe in becoming more open with yourself so that you can become more open with others. One thing I must say that should be duly noted, is that these men that teach Systema are humble, respectful individuals. I would never want to be the one trying to rob any of them on the street (you know it will be a wrap) and these are guys who have trained in the Russian military, have been given the name "World's Deadliest Warrior", and have intimidating frames, but their humbleness is striking. I thank them for the wonderful work they bring to thousands of people around the world.
It would be awesome to see more women in Systema but I understand that not many want to hit or be struck, especially without protective gear. The large disproportion of males to females can also be nerve-wracking for some ladies. But as a female, who will your attacker likely be? Most likely a male. Systema class offers the perfect environment to practice self-defense skills on men and yes, they are serious about the art and are respectful towards me as a woman. Systema is extremely practical and focuses on relaxation through proper breathing and deflecting opponents rather than getting hyped and pumped and fists up ready to fight anyone and anything. There is a beauty to Systema that is not found in any other martial art and it has helped me in two months than what professional counselling has done for me in four.