New to Systema? Read This..

15 Feb

The last couple of weeks some new people have been along to the regular classes at Systema Scheveningen, and I’ve had a good opportunity to watch the different emotions they experience: frustration trying to understand something, wonder when something works, physical pain which they are not used to and fun when they are in a flow state with another person.

All of these myriad of emotions combined with a huge amount of new sensory data, is a lot to take in on the first lesson. We’ve all been there.

When I train with Michael I still feel the same, as a beginner taking his first class again. I like to feel that, because it means I still have a lot to learn and with that challenge comes fun.

Advice to new Systema-ists – Breath, enjoy and smile!

Patterns, Forms and Kata – The Russian Perspective

8 Feb

When i walked into the sports hall last week, there was a guy there giving a tai-chi lesson. I watched them for a while, standing in lines and rows, waving their arms in flowery motions in the air.

I begin to ask myself a question I’d thought about a few times: Do they really think this will help them develop into fighters? disregarding the social element, if it’s just for health or fitness, they could save themselves some cash and just stay at home and do it…

This goes for all types of patterns or kata, any way people spins it, it is still punching, kicking and slapping the air. This has nothing to do with the reality of combat. The main reason is obviously because you do not physically touch another person.

My thought is; instead of spending 30-40% of your time (typical for most common martial arts) practising movements in the air, do it with a real person, that moves, reacts and gives you feedback. This itself on every level, is healthier and most importantly, keeps your mind based in reality.

On the other side of the coin is people who spar all the time, this is ok, but if you do this for a while, you’ll quickly realise you will get injured frequently. The other downside to sparring all the time is that, typically when people move fast and without thought,  they repeat exactly the same things every time and do not learn.

Systema offers a different option, a way that prepares the person physically and psychologically. With both fast and slow work, from every angle, position and dimension, punches, kicks, wrestling and most importantly of all – a lot of body contact.

This work combined with special exercises and softwork, which are designed to improve body control, sensitivity and relaxation, means that after a while you can train longer, harder and faster, without damaging each other and in a way that drastically increases your level of skill – extremely quickly.

New Systema Youtube channel! New Video: Chair work

1 Jan

Happy new year guys!

I have a fairly new Youtube channel, that i set up a few months ago.

Check it out and let me know what you think:

Newest Video:

(Next post will be: Working from a chair – the whys and hows)

How to Develop Systema-Style Softness

30 Dec

A common question people ask in Systema is; how do i become soft?

First it is good to understand, what is softness? At a basic level it is relaxation combined with sensitivity.

How do we develop this?

The answer again is time. Although i’ve found that daily practice of the following Systema exercises speeds up the process:

Walking: Systema-style, so with breathing patterns and full body relaxation, for a full  and in depth description see: Let Every Breath… Secrets of the Russian Breath Masters

Rolling: With breathing, relaxes your body and psyche. Most importantly rolling is extremely good for relaxing the spine, which determines how you will move.

Pushups, Leg Raises, Squats – These exercises work on the main core muscle groups, and with repeated practice you learn to relax the unnecessary muscles and use only the needed. This strengthen’s the right groups of muscles in a balanced and even way. With breathing you also learn how to move without tension, in the main planes of movement.

Getting this feeling of relaxation and softness is key and maintaining it is also important!

Let me know in the comments how you keep yourself relaxed and soft.

Happy New Year to you all!

Holiday Greetings

20 Dec

Hi Guys,

Thank you for your support this year, you have now made this site one of the most popular Systema websites in the world!

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

All the Best for 2014!