Systema Goal Setting For The New Year and Beyond
It is Boxing day afternoon and in the few hours I have between my drive back from visiting family and going back out the door to attend a conditioning and Brazilian Jiujitsu session I would take a little time to discuss goal setting.
With New Years Eve only a few days away many of us start thinking about New Years resolutions and how you can change your lives for the better in the very near future. Anyone who knows me well will know that I believe that goal setting is not the sole preserve of this time of year and is something we should do all year round, but how do we structure our goal setting to get the most out of it?
A Good Goal is a ‘SMART’ Goal
The acronym SMART is used by goal setters to make sure that they get the most out of the process. To help you make SMART goals for your Systema training I would like you to take time to set out some goals in this format.
S Specific - Our goals need to be specific and this is a challenge in a martial art such as Systema where there are no clear boundaries. Take Brazilian Jiujitsu as an example it is possible to set specific goals such as learning how to perform a specific technique or certain competitive results you intend on getting. Systema is not so defined as there are no specific techniques and the only person you are competing against is yourself.
So how do I set specific goals in my own Systema training?
The answer is simple. Firstly I decide on what information I want to learn. This is often based on various Systema principles I have heard about, but could also be a list of people I want to train with. Another thing I do is allocate a certain amount of time per week to training a specific topic. This is therefore a very specific task.
M Measurable - If we cannot measure our goal how do we know we have achieved it? Goals such as have you trained with a certain person or spent a certain amount of time on a topic per week are simple yes or no answer questions and very good for goal setting. In the Systema we are often too tempted to make very unclear goals such as I will be more relaxed!
More relaxed than what? How relaxed is relaxed and under what circumstances? As you can see having being relaxed as a goal in unmeasurable and therefore not a good one to use.
A Achievable - Too many people have unrealistic goals in their Systema training Often this is because what they aspire to does not match the time and effort they are prepared to invest in the project. As an example if you decide you want to be able to perform certain low acrobatic movements smoothly are you prepared to invest an how per day for a couple of weeks to practice or if you have decided to improve your health by loosing 10kg of weight are you prepared to stop eating the foods that made you fat in the first place. Because if you are not the goal will not be achievable.
R Realistic - There is a very real opportunity in martial arts to set unrealistic goals. One is trying to be as good at something as another person who has far more time a resources at hand to achieve your goal. Often we can want to be able to walk before we can run and this is never more the case than with aspiring instructors. Instead of setting the goal as being an instructor it would be far more realistic to set a series of goals based on knowledge and experiences you need to make that goal feasible. In effect if we break the larger goal down into smaller steps it becomes a realistic proposition and doesn’t overcome you with its enormity.
T Timescale - All goals need timescales. At what point should they be achieved by and how will I know this is the case? Otherwise we can simply drift along without a sense of purpose. In Systema Kadochnikova Structure Breaking Principles they have a principle called the Question Mark. One definition for this principle is that it is an accumilation and the ‘.’ at the bottom of the ? shape is the point where all the forces are brought together to achieve the goal. Applying the principle to life is no different.
A good example was when I went to Yalta to study with Alexander Maksimtsov. This was a massive investment in time, money and effort that I made so that I could learn as much as possible about Systema Structure Breaking and to pass the level 2 certification test. You could say that it was my moment of question mark. Not only did it take all of my efforts to get me to the seminar, but once there I took every moment to train and work on improving my Systema.
Without a clear time frame to complete goals it is as if we do not know where to put the ‘.’ on the page and we no longer have a question mark and simply a wiggly line. When planning some goals for the coming years Systema remember to know at what points you want to have completed your goals by so that you can review them and set new goals if appropriate.
To learn more about Systema training and what Systema principles you can concentrte on over the coming months check out the ebook, ‘The biomechanics of Structure Breaking in Russian Martial Arts.’