Systema Class Notes – Thursday, 24 Jan 2013

I post this unmodified since I want to use it as an example of how Systema classes can change.  Once we started with the basic disarming work, Brad kept us working on that, and we didn’t get back to the mass attack work.  This is a perfect case of a plan that was good, but inspection/observation by a much higher-level instructor allowed for a change that made us all better.  In the drills: 1, 2, and 5 were what we covered, but the material presented was, unfortunately, missed for those of you who weren’t there.  We will be reviewing it this week (29 and 31 Jan).


Theme for this cycle: Moving and Striking with a Weapon
Area of Focus: Integration: Mass attack – deploying knives – disarming/avoiding the knife when it comes out
We didn’t get back to mass attack – we spent the entire class in 1 on 1 groups working on disarming/retention 

Class Objective(s):

  1. At the end of class, you should be relatively familiar with the mechanics of disarming/retaining a knife while in the midst of melee
  2. At the end of class, as attackers you should understand moving out of the way, striking and disarming the person who draws the knife in the middle of a fight

Breathing Exercises:

  1. 20 push-ups
  2. 20 squats
  3. 20 sit-ups

Joint Mobility Exercises:

  1. Circle up – everyone gets a short stick – each person grabs the stick to their left (one big circle) – start jabbing/moving the people on either side of you – don’t walk around – don’t lock your shoulders
  2. Same thing – half squat
  3. Same thing – full squat

Work Specific Strengthening Exercises:

  1. Nothing specific tonight


  1. 1 on 1 – Start with knife disarms – alternate back and forth – when I disarm my attacker I immediately switch roles to attacking – this will get us out of the habit of handing the knife back to our attacker after a disarm.  Do this with 2 different partners (this is back and forth)
  2. 1 on 1 – as one person draws the knife and attacks, the other moves/strikes/disarms and then conceals the knife in order to draw and start over – Do this with 2 different partners (this is back and forth)
  3. Split the class in half – didn’t do this
    1. one person in the middle with the knife – as people strike, he should be moving, countering and drawing the knife.  Once he deploys the knife, and starts using it, someone should disarm it while he works to retain it (all the while moving/stabbing/slicing/striking).  Once he’s disarmed, the person with the knife conceals it and is now the target.
      1. Do this one in 1-2 minute intervals with comments/ideas/shuffling groups in between
    2. Give everyone except the person in the middle a knife – they need to move and strike – on clap/shout they need to disarm one of their attackers thereby promoting a new person to the center
      1. Do this in 1-2 minute intervals
  4. Go back to 1 on 1 – didn’t do this
    1. As you’re attacked – respond – you may or may not draw your knife – if you do, your attacker may disarm it
    2. Speed pyramid would be good
  5. We did make the switch to retention in the last 15 minutes or so – the person with the knife doing what’s necessary to retain good form with their knife hand and keep attacking – was a very good class.

Self Defense Applications:

  1. Point out the crowd work is useful in “non-violent (i.e. attacks)” crowds – think mosh pits, panicked crowds, pushy crowds, etc – self defense means protecting you and yours in all situations.


  1. This week we added mass attack to the theme of moving and striking with weapons.  Mass attack/crowd work is one of the things that differentiates Systema from other arts.  We’ve focused on the knife as the weapon, but the principles of deploying/disarming/retaining/striking/moving are universal – they work whether your weapon is a gun, shovel, stick, chain, machete, etc.
  2. This is the end of integration week.  Next week is review and validation.  We’ll increase the speed (like turning up the volume) and test what we’ve worked on this cycle.  This (more so than any other time) is when you should bring your questions.

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