Systema Instructor in Need! Jan 2013

February 26, 2013 by  
“My name is Gene. I was shot up pretty good a couple of months ago and now, I have become a walker.

I walked before of course but not like now.

Over the past weeks, I have been trying to recover and to prepare my body and mind for one more surgery in my treatment plan. Walking has easily been the featured exercise in my recovery and preparation for that last big hurdle.

People ask me a lot about my breathing patterns and what works for different types of pain and different types of training. I can say that I have a great amount of experience in this area! But what I want to convey most is this.

To understand and apply breathing practices you have to Listen to your body and mind. All of the breathing practices provide benefit, but in application, you need to listen and adjust your breathing to what best helps your body. Breath sufficiency! Appropriate breath!
This is a really simple concept and as in all things in Systema, it requires us to look within and study ourselves.
So I began by saying I have become a walker. Why? Breath and walking are so entwined as to be inseparable. As I walk, breath work allows me to study myself. Am I tense? Relaxed? Fearful? Arrogant? Who am I and what do I need? The breath is a diagnostic tool. It tells me where I hold tension and if I have too much. The breath is also remedial. It moves and gives me pain-free fluidity on some occasions as well! I want to mention something else about walking and breathing, an effect that you can study and work on.
Physical therapists call it guarding. After trauma, our muscles may tense to protect an injured area. This "guarding" is caused by fear... we might call it unnecessary tension, it may be caused by a physical trauma or by a psychological one or a combination of these.
When I walk, I am alert to this guarding and I fight against it with breathwork and mobility exercises, also I try to strengthen the muscles that help pull things into a healthy relaxed posture or form. Guarding is not benign. It holds us in a fearful, unhealthy shape and rapidly fixes us into that sad condition, making it painful and difficult to recover to our natural healthy state.
When you find an area that the breath won't move though, it is a real opportunity. Gently (in my case) move that area and breathe into that area and wash the tension or fear out of the tissue. In this way we are cleaning ourselves and working on ourselves.

I was shot in my left arm, my right hand, my right thigh and my lower abdomen...when I walk I have to very deliberately and consciously work hard to not guard. I want a structure that is healthy and free to respond joyfully to life!A structure that is formed and informed by movement.
I think we have all suffered traumas of some sort. Walking and breathing are powerful tools to expose and repair the damage we have endured.
A quick story. One day I was out walking and I went too far. Pain began to come in waves and I became fearful. Suddenly Pain hit with such intensity that I immediately went down to my knees. I was passing out and I was nauseated from the pain. I feared that if I vomited I would tear the staples out of my stomach. Without thought the light burst breathing kicked in and quickly the nausea faded, I was left with blurred vision and immediately the breath changed and smoothed out until I was able to see clearly and stand up. For me this was no drill. It was some terrific fight played out in the most unlikely of places. On my knees, literally, in the gutter of an American suburban neighborhood street, Systema breathing practices proved AGAIN that when you REALLY need your martial art, Systema is there for you.”
Gene Smithson
Certified Systema Instructor

Donations to Gene in any amount are very much appreciated and can be sent through any one of the following ways.

1. PayPal:
The account is called Gene's Trust. The email address associated with the account is:

2. Bank Transfer or Wire Transfer:
The Trust account is with Citibank and the website for the bank is

The name of the account is Gene Edward Smithson 2012 Trust.
for Wire Transfer within the U.S.:
The name of the account: Gene Edward Smithson 2012 Trust
The address of the bank: 3508 S. Lamar Blvd. Ste. 100 Austin, Texas 78704

Routing # : 113193532
Account # : 9792935002

for International Wire Transfers:
The name of the account: Gene Edward Smithson 2012 Trust
The address of the bank: 3508 S. Lamar Blvd. Ste. 100 Austin, Texas 78704, USA

Account #: 9792935002
The Bic Code/SWIFT: CITI US 33

Wires are generally sent the same business day if processed before 6 p.m. ET.
Wire transfers can be a one-time event or you can set up recurring wires in advance. You can also save and reuse wire information and see all past and future wires.

3. Check or Money Order

Should be payable to: Gene Edward Smithson 2012 Trust.

and mailed to Gene's physical address at:

Gene Smithson

803 Lambeth Ln.

Austin TX, 78748