NEW: Plant Yourself merch designed by my daughter, Yael Zivan.

PYP 066: Glenn Murphy on Systema, Subverting Fight or Flight, and Remaining Human No Matter What

glenn-murphyIn addition to being a bestselling science author, musician, and tiger-handler (really!), Glenn Murphy is an instructor of one of the most powerful, esoteric, and valuable martial arts ever developed: Systema.


I first heard about Systema about 10 years ago, watched some Youtube videos of Systema master Vladimir Vasiliev, and promptly decided that the whole thing was a hoax. There was just no way Vasiliev could be strolling through a crowd of attackers and take them down without breaking a sweat. (See below for an example.)

Then I met Glenn, who teaches Systema in North Carolina. About 3 seconds into our first class, I was convinced.

My 15 year old son and I have been studying with Glenn for about six months now, and the practice has changed our lives.

In this interview, which unfortunately sounds like it was conducted in an echo chamber (thanks, Chapel Hill library study room C, with your glass walls), Glenn helps me unpack the wholistic nature of Systema, and its ability to strengthen and heal body, mind, and spirit.

We discuss:

  • the profound differences between Systema and other martial arts
  • the single most important element of Systema (that anyone can practice anywhere, anytime)
  • the problem with “psyching ourselves up” to go into battle (whether literally, or in dealing with everyday stressors)
  • “that's easy for him to say” – how to bring meditative awareness into the hard parts of life
  • why we slouch and shrink as we age – and what this has to do with chronic fear
  • the importance of knowing ourselves before we can respond effectively to our environment
  • the modern fear of contact and how to overcome it for our neurological well-being
  • the primacy of deep massage as a modality for healing and growing
  • and much more…

Enjoy, please share, and leave your comments below!

Links – Glenn's System school in the Triangle region of North Carolina

YouTube player – Toronto-based center of Systema training in North America – find accredited teachers, buy DVDs and books, and find out about workshops and seminars – Glenn's author site

2005 clip of Vladimir Vasiliev demonstrating work with multiple attackers

YouTube player

Looking for Transformational Change?

You know how when you discovered plant-based eating, you basically went, “Holy shit, how come the entire healthcare system isn't totally embracing this as one of the most powerful keys to disease prevention and reversal!”?

That's how I feel now about a psychological approach to transformational change called “Memory Reconsolidation.” Few psychologists have heard about it, and when they do hear the radical transformations it can bring about in a very short time, they're often skeptical to the point of disbelief.

But I've added Memory Reconsolidation work to my own coaching, and can attest to its amazing efficacy. So much so, my team and I are studying with the best clinicians and teachers in the world, with the goal of introducing it into our health coaching training.

If you're interested in experiencing the magic of memory reconsolidation coaching with me or a member of my team trained in the process, click the link below to open the form in a new browser tab. Someone will get back to you within 3 business days.

Yes, I'm interested in Memory Reconsolidation Coaching.

You CAN Change Other People!

Well, that's what Peter Bregman and I claim in our provocative book of that title.

What we really mean is, you can help the people around you make behavioral changes in their own best interests. If you think you're powerless to help people change, it's because you've been going about it the wrong way.

Discover our straightforward, replicable process here: You Can Change Other People.

Audiobook: Use the Weight to Lose the Weight

Listen to Josh LaJaunie and me narrate our latest audiobook, about how to start moving when you're obese.

It's $10, and Josh and I split it evenly ๐Ÿ™‚

Tip Jar

This podcast is not underwritten by advertising, so I can experience complete editorial autonomy without worrying about pissing off the person paying the bills. Instead, I pay the bills, with your help. It's free for those who can't afford to pay, and supported by those who can. You can contribute to the growth and improvement of the podcast by clicking the “Support on Patreon” or “Donate” buttons on the right to help out.


The Plant Yourself Podcast theme music, “Dance of Peace (Sabali Don),” is generously provided by Will Ridenour, a kora player from North Carolina who has trained with top Senegalese musicians.

It can be found on his first CD, titled Will Ridenour.

You can learn about Will, listen to more tracks, and buy music on his website,


Thanks to Plant Yourself podcast patrons – Kim Harrison – Lynn McLellan – Brittany Porter – Dominic Marro – Barbara Whitney – Tammy Black – Amy Good – Amanda Hatherly – Mary Jane Wheeler – Ellen Kennelly – Melissa Cobb – Rachel Behrens – Tina Scharf – Tina Ahern – Jen Vilkinofsky – David Byczek – Michele X – Elspeth Feldman – Leah Stolar – Allan Kristensen – Colleen Peck – Michele Landry – Jozina – Sara Durkacs – Kelly Cameron – Janet Selby – Claire Adams – Tom Fronczak – Jeannette Benham – Gila Lacerte – David Donohue – Blair Seibert – Doron Avizov – Gio and Carolyn Argentati – Jodi Friesner – Mischa Rosen – Michael Worobiec – AvIvA Lael – Alicia Lemus – Val Linnemann – Nick Harper – Bandana Chawla – Molly Levine – The Inscrutable Harry R – Susan Laverty the Panda Vegan – Craig Covic – Adam Scharf – Karen Bury – Heather Morgan – Nigel Davies – Marian Blum – Teresa Kopel – Julian Watkins – Brid O'Connell – Shannon Herschman – Linda Ayotte – Holm Hedegaard – Isa Tousignant – Connie Haneline – Erin Greer – Alicia Davis – Heather O'Connor – Carollynne Jensen – Sheri Orlekoski of Plant Powered for Health – Karen Smith – Scott Mirani – Karen and Joe Crabtree – Kirby Burton – Theresa Carrell – Kevin Macaulay – Elizabeth Rothschild – Ann Jesse – Sheryl Dwyer – Jenny Hazelton – Peter W Evans – Dennis Bird – Darby Kelly – Lori Fanney – Linnea Lundquist – Emily Iaconelli – Levi Wallach – Rosamonde McAtee – Dan Pokorney – Stephen Leinin – Patty DeMartino – Mike and Donna Kartz – Deanne Bishop – Bilberry Elf – Marjorie Lewis – Tricia Adams – Nancy Sheldon – Lindsey Bashore – Gunn Marit Hagen – Tracey Gulledge – Lara Hedin – Meg from Mamasezz – Stacey Stokes – Ben Savage – Michael K – David Hughes -Coni Rodgers – Claire England – Sally Robertson – Parham Ganchi – Amy Dailey – Brian Tourville – Mark Jeffrey Johnson – Josie Dempsey – Caryn Schmitt – Pamela Hayden – Emily Perryman – Allison Corbett – Richard Stone – Lauren Vaught of Edible Musings – Erin Hastey – Sean Owens – Sagar Naik – Erika Piedra – Danielle Roberts – Michael Leuchten – Sarah Johnson – Katharine Floyd – Meryl Fury – for your generous support of the podcast.


This post may contain amazon affiliate links. I may receive compensation from your actions on such links. It don't cost you a dime, tho.

4 comments on “PYP 066: Glenn Murphy on Systema, Subverting Fight or Flight, and Remaining Human No Matter What

  1. Rosemary Guy says:

    As someone who has taught tai chi for ages, I’m reaaly excited by this podcast and how well some of these ideas are expressed. I’ve always loved using massage in my classes too but since I’ve taught older people have incorporated this in different ways. I’ll review how I do this after listening to this wonderful podcast

    1. Howard says:

      Thanks, Rosemary. Your tai chi classes sound wonderful – are they in NZ?

      1. Rosemary Guy says:

        Yes I amt thinking of coming to North America……Toronto, in your spring. There is a handsome man who’d like me to come now. I’d like to do some mixed workshops……some delicious WFPB food and education, some mind body things including tai chi. Could be fun

  2. Thank You says:

    Howard, Thank You for another information packed podcast. Keep them coming ๐Ÿ™‚

    Thank You

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *