And here is what happened. It took place on a summer evening in a park near a nightclub. My friends and I were running across the park to see a movie. My shoelace came undone and I had to stop for a moment. And then I saw that an old man was walking along a side alley (he seemed like an old man to me at the time, now I think he was not more than 60). He was skinny and small, his back very straight and his hair all gray. Just taking a walk, hands behind his back. Light jacket and cloth-cap on, a war medal ribbon on the jacket. You could see the man was just relaxing in the park. All of a sudden, two big ugly thugs, half-drunk walked up to him. Sleeveless shirts on, full of tattoos and gold rings, typical repeat offenders with a long record. They blocked the old man's path and told him: "hey oldie, let's have your light".
I got very scared for the old man. I was thinking that now they would hurt a war veteran, ignoring his age and his medals, he did not even measure up to their shoulder level. But I could see the man was not concerned at all, he came right up to the muggers, looked up at them very closely and said: "Guys, didn't your mother ever teach you to respect the elders?" Suddenly he raised his right hand so quickly that I could not even see what happened. Then I saw one of the thugs grasping at his own throat with both hands, his mouth wide open and falling down onto his knees. The old man then moved his left hand and the other mugger bent in half holding onto his groin and moaning. The old man stood there for a while observing the situation and then said quietly but very clearly: "if I come across you one more time I will kill you both". Next he placed his hands behind his back again and continued his walk.
It was highly unusual that these two did not even rush after the old man. They recuperated only a few minutes later, and distressed, made their way out of the park. This surprised me as well, because the 'tradition' was for the one beaten up in a fight to shout and threaten, especially if one was a criminal. Those would never get humbled, but would always go to the end. I ran down the alley to take a closer look at the old man, but I could not find him.
I caught up to my friends and they were also impressed with the story. We could not explain it at the time. This was different from all the skills we knew, all the scraps we saw and experienced, all the street and knife fights. What was different first and foremost was the total calmness and confidence in the actions of the old man. As if he was just opening a bottle of beer.
Years later, when I was analyzing the incident, I got reconfirmed in the understanding that the key in a confrontation is the psychological condition. But how does one overcome the natural fear? I could not understand it then. This fight was for many years a great and unattainable example for me. The effectiveness, simplicity and utilizing the situation to such an extent is only possible given full calmness, confidence and control over fear. It was all there. I saw it with my own eyes. This was my first encounter with true mastery, and my first realization that the skill lives not in the body but in the psyche, in the spirit. Such a person can be killed, but cannot be defeated.
The basis of any confrontation is timing, precision and simplicity. And the foundation of this trio is calm and even psyche, clean and steady spirit. How does one attain that? There are many ways - through the body to the psyche, or the other way around and then back; or straight to the spirit. Each person chooses his own way. But in order to choose one, you should learn what they are, try them and test yourself. This will be a part of our training program when we meet in August 2006. Each of the instructors will present a variety of ways. Each of the participants will 'choose the sword to fit his hand', and get a chance to test and understand oneself.
About the Author:
Konstantin Komarov is a Major in the Special Service Police Force having worked in Russian Military Reconnaissance and holds a PhD in combat Psychology. He has been a Professional Bodyguard for Moscow's Elite, and is one of the master instructors at the Systema Camp held regularly in Canada.
Systema Sydney Russian Martial Art