Tag Archives: Tension

Thoughts on Removing Tension

23 Oct


When I first began Systema in 2005, I remember the first 10-12 months of classes and lessons, how every week I would come home with bruises all over me, as the tension was stripped from me, a gradual process, then after a year it became every 2 weeks occasionally every week, as I bruised less and less.


When I took my training break to travel, I used breathing every day in many different situations and retained the awareness of my body, if it was tense I had the ability to relax it without too much effort.


I did some push-ups and squats and maybe a few rolls almost every day, but only on a few occasions did I wrestle or fight with other people, my understanding of Systema stayed inside me and I was able to better every opponent I fought with, as a play fight/game, or in situations when I needed my mental sharpness -against people who were trying to rip me off or scare me, or other such things.(Systema/I prevailed, I think mostly due to my quite intense training previously, Mental and physical)


Anyway back to my point: I have been training more focused the last few weeks to prepare myself for harder training with Mikhail in Berlin in November and also at group classes which I start next week.

I have done lots of rolls and movements on the ground and it is a great way to soften my body, (the ground doesn’t lie) and I have found myself -as when I first started Systema- with quite a few bruises on my body, on my shoulders, thighs – places where the tension and fear has accumulated. My training now will address these areas and uncover more such places.


Removing tension is an interesting goal, as it can be done a number of ways, many are more permanent than others, but all are important in some way.

A few methods and examples with each:

Through the psyche/ spirit/deepening the awareness – using breath holds, breathing patterns, feeling the pulse,

Through the body – core exercises (pushes etc), exercise holds, breath walking, squat walking, ground movement, tensing/relaxing drills

Through partners – crowd fighting/movement, striking, massage, movement drills

Although as you can see all the drills and ideas are part of a whole, and for instance the body does not function without the psyche and without a body your mind can do nothing, everything affects each other and is interlinked.

(I remember this phenomenon from before, that maybe I would be training for a week or two and wouldn’t do much work on the ground, then suddenly the next class would be ground work, and I found that I was even better than before – without doing ground work!)


 This is cool thing in Systema where everything carries over to everything else, and to truly experience this why not go to a few classes?!


Have fun in your training 🙂

Walking – As a Diagnostic Tool

7 Oct


(This is a post from my older blog from 2007/2008. Enjoy 🙂

Walking as a diagnostic tool

One of the most common activities in our day is walking. It allows us to get from one place to another with minimum effort and can be sustained for long periods of time.

Walking can also be used as a diagnostic tool to determine the condition of your body or psyche.
To start with you need to become aware of your excessive physical tension:

Part 1
To feel this the first drill is to start walking and breathing calmly, in through the nose and out through the mouth.
After a short time exhale and hold. That’s it, hold your breath after the exhale, for as long as possible.

Now the important part of this exercise is to stay calm and feel what is happening inside of you.
Do you feel an uncomfortable pain in your stomach or chest, or is it somewhere else? The place where this feeling arises is where you have excessive tension.

Repeat this drill a few times and for a variation count your steps while holding your breath.
Try to hold your breath longer and longer each time.

Part 2
Next we will look for muscular or structural imbalances.
Start walking again and breath calmly.
Now try to notice a number of things about your walk:
– do you have a slight bounce or bee-bop
– do you sway from side to side or forwards and backwards
– does one leg tighten up excessively more than the other
– is your lower back or spine tense (a good drill to check this is put your hands on your lower back and feel how it tenses up when you walk and attempting to minimize that tension)
– are your feet facing forwards or are they pointing outwards like a duck
are you allowing your feet to strike the ground heel to toe, toe to heel or are you slapping them flatly down
– are you holding your shoulders up or keeping your arms stiff and not allowing them to move gently.
Try to feel as many things as you can about your walk.

Part 3 – with a partner

For the final drill we are going to train our walk to be as free and relaxed as possible. This one requires a partner.

1 – You start walking around fowards backwards, rotating etc and first the partner looks at you and tells you where he/she sees tension.

2 – After this they will walk beside you and massage any tense points they see. They can also pat, or slap the tense parts of your body so you become aware of the tension.

Do this drill for a while and you will find that your spine, hip and shoulders are a lot more free and mobile.

Have fun walking.