While in conversation with a good friend recently, discussing Pramek and it’s roots, he reminded me of the question posed by Jesus in to his disciples in Matthew 12:48, when Mary tried to gain acces to where Jesus was, and when told his mother wished to come in, He replied, ‘Who is my mother?’
I have struggled with this question, in relation to Pramek. Obviously not on the same level as the biblical story, but in the same principle. In many ways teachers sometimes create systems which are torn…torn between two worlds. In our case, the science and our experience in the styles and systems of Russia, with our unique development and experience in America and our expression of that science. Like the child of a divorce, I am often torn between the two.
Do I cringe when someone calls us by the name ‘systema’…because saying ‘systema’ is like saying ‘jeans’ when referring to someone’s Levi’s – there are a lot of brands and types of jeans, from carpenter to fashion, Carhart to Diesel. Do we nod and say yes, knowing we are not but feeling that historical tie to Russia each time the equilibrium seminar is taught.
Or do we look to our home-grown methods? Our striking methods, how we have developed a wedge, our teaching and pedagogical methods, or other subjects and see that we are vastly different from our Russian heritage. Asthetically similar while different, and in many ways diametrically opposed.
Anyone who has left a martial art in another nation or culture and struck out on their own has faced these questions. They find themselves in rooms with those who know their work with those styles, and then those who have no idea what that work was and they develop a torn teaching style…catering to each, trying to reach both sides, and in the end in many ways confusing both types of students. In some ways, I have been guilty of this. I was forced to look at this in the UK and Holland with our first international seminars and in the late hours of that new friend’s house, with perhaps a little too much whiskey and whirling smoke, a realization came to me:
We are never going back to Russia.
We have no choice but to move forward.
We either die as a hybrid grasping on to an ancestor we no longer know, or we develop into a new species.
Times have changed. I will never again study under the Kadochnikov school, the tutiledge of Zavgorodnij or Shvets, or step in front of Alexei or Arkadij as a student. The others I studied Russian style under, I will most likely never study with again. I will never attend another ROSS camp with instructors teaching sambo and breathing, or look to Retuinskih for answers to Cossack dance and how it developed movements for fighting. I have never known the Vasiliev or Ryabko systema so it would not be a place to look. And while I respect them all as teachers, inventors, giants or icons of the RMA world, I know and speak to their histories, and smile at their abilities – it’s not Pramek.
They are only a part…and candidly, not remotely close to as much of our development as our non-RMA influences.
K-Sys was an experiment…to bring Russian and American together in science and study. But, it gave birth to Pramek in the beginning to adapt the great methods of Russia to the American and Western experience. Over time, it has become it’s own animal. Thus, it has attracted people who would never go to a Russian style seminar, while attracting Russian style students who want to understand the physics and mechanics of what they do better. More and more I see our success in doing this when someone asks me not ‘What does Kadochnikov system say about ____?’ but by someone who says, ‘What is the Kadochnikov system?’
Seeing Pramek grow into it’s own, the answer has become simple: recognize reality and evolve with that reality. We pay homage to our history and lineage, but that is not us.
We are on our own now.
But not alone.
With every video, every seminar, this movement of science and education in survival grows stronger. Are we for everyone, no…but our science usually is. Some people don’t like our striking, but they love the science of equilibrium or our teaching methods. With every roll someone has never done, every bruise and cut, success and failure, great seminar or bad class – we either do this and do it with everything we have to develop something new in a great experiment, or we go back to Russia with our tail between our legs and find a demagogue.
I don’t tuck tail, bow my head, and beg. It’s not in my genetics.
Nor do I admit that there are things someone else knows that I…along with friends, students, and great researcher’s…can not figure out, systemize, or duplicate.
And so I say, with a heavy heart, but feather light shoulders, goodbye to that fleeting mistress who stole my heart and captured it for so long after we parted…the world of Russian style, it’s politics, it’s troubles and personalities, and my attachment to it.
We will never stop giving due credit to where part of Pramek came, but where we have come to and will go is our own path to develop.