I have hesitated quite a bit before telling this story. Several noble persons around me have encouraged me to do so saying it could inspire other Systema practitioners, so I have decided to finally share it with you.
I have been training in Systema for several years now and I consider myself as a beginner. I’m 52 years old and I work in human resources. So basically, I have no experience in military or security business whatsoever and very few opportunities to be confronted with life threatening situations.
Early September 2014, after work, I went on a hike in the evening with my better half to relax. Well at least that was the initial plan! We were on top of a cliff in the forest and the place was very nice. I stepped first on a narrow rocky slope on my left, just to see… after three or four steps, the rocky slope “gave up” right under my feet and went straight downhill taking me down with it. A mountain expert explained to me later that due to the heavy rains of the previous days, I experienced firsthand an avalanche of (little) rocks (pebbles). Weird sensation to be on top of that, that’s for sure!
I fell down off a cliff that was 25 meters high and the last 5 meters drop was vertical. In the fall that, all things being considered, took a certain time, my body took control of the situation right away. Every time it hit rocks, the ground, logs, branches, my body exhaled. I was burst breathing all the way down and, in the meantime, trying to grab something I could hold to and keep my legs pointing forward towards the coming ground. I remember being relatively calm about the event as it was happening to me. Then my head hit something, making me almost pass out and two seconds later I was in the air for the final landing. My head was spinning heavily but I managed to stay conscious and make it stop with burst breathing. Being able to tell my loved one I was alive was a priority for me, I simply had to stay awake!
While I was laying down, all crooked up at the bottom of the gorge, I scanned my body and realized I could feel each portion of it. My spine had not been broken! It felt like all my ribs had been broken on my right side though and breathing was scarce and painful. My training kicked in here again and I started to breathe the same way when a few people lay on top of you while laying down. It was the same impression and still…when Mickael Ryabko laid on top of me during a seminar in Denmark a few years back, I think I was even more scared!!
After a while, rescue came, got me out of there via helicopter and the outcome was: a ripped kidney, three broken ribs with one completely dislocated, a pierced lung with internal bleeding, a broken scapula, a swollen liver, partially torn up ligaments in the leg and hand, a head concussion and several other minor injuries. In my fall, if my head had hit the ground, I would be dead and if my spine had hit it, I would be paralyzed, maybe completely.
I really feel to have been protected that evening. I also have the impression that I had already experienced every sensations of the fall in my Systema training classes although to a much lesser degree of intensity but still…it helped me a great deal to remain calm during the event…
During my stay at the hospitals and rehab centers, several doctors and nurses have been puzzled by the way my body was recovering (I was doing breath work whole day since I didn’t have many other things to do) and they asked me : “what do you do for a living?”. I replied I was working in human resources and they replied (always the same): “It’s not that, what about sport?” I replied I was doing a bit of body conditioning and they replied “It’s not that, do you do something else”. And I told them...
That “something else” is Systema ! Often have I told myself “imagine what they would say if they’d see someone with far more advanced capabilities than myself !?” As I wrote in the beginning of the article, I’m no military, police or confronted with real threat situations on a daily basis. What I just would like to share with you is the capability Systema has to help in extreme and serious situations, to not panic and keep control of our breathing, keep our head cold and analyze the situation, to recuperate faster… For me it all became clear that Systema is an art of life! So special thanks and gratitude to those who have contributed to save my life through their teachings: especially Vladimir and Vincent. And also a great thanks to those (angels, Divine and people) who have helped and support me through this journey and especially to my better half Martine! May Systema keep helping us for a long time to make this world a better place!