Systema Class Notes – Tuesday, 08 Jan 2013

Theme for this cycle: Moving and Striking with a Weapon
Area of Focus: Breathing 

Class Objective(s):

  1. This month’s theme is moving and striking with a weapon – it could just as easily be called moving and striking and then moving and striking some more.  We’re adding in the weapon for a couple of reasons:
    1. First, most people will deploy some type of weapon in a self-defense situation
    2. Second, once deployed, they will then “invest” all of their work into that weapon – when they should still be considering their entire body and environment in that light.
    3. Third, as we progress through the month, we will be working on deploying the weapon in the midst of either the initial attack or the counter-attack
  2. During today’s class, we’re going to work with a person attacking you, and you moving and countering, even in the face of them responding to your counteroffensive.

Breathing Exercises – spend time sync’ing effort and breathing:

  1. Pushups
    1. Some regular pushups first
    2. Do push ups with everything as tense as possible – 5 breathing as necessary
    3. Then do push ups with minimal tension and just breathe exhale out inhale up and vice versa
  2. Squats
    1. regular squats
    2. squats with everything as tense as possible – breathing as necessary
    3. squat all the way to flat and then back up
      1. the breathing on this is critical
  3. Leg lifts – we haven’t done these in a while
    1. Do some regular
    2. Do 5 as tense as possible – breathing as necessary
    3. Do the full motion as loosely as possible – breathe the legs up and over and then breathe them over and down

Joint Mobility Exercises – for the work we’re doing, we need to free the shoulders and hips:

  1. Hips
    1. Partner
      1. raise the legs up (together) against downward pressure – lower them against upward pressure
      2. Raise and lower them individually in the same manner
  2. Shoulder
    1. Partner
      1. Raise and lower the arms (together) against downward/upward pressure
  3. Both – We didn’t get to these
    1. one line – face down – arms to legs
      1. arms push the legs in, legs push the arms out
      2. switch
    2. one line – face up – arms to legs
      1. same thing
      2. switch

Work Specific Strengthening Exercises:

  1. At the moment, I have nothing for this section – I already covered this in breathing exercises and joint mobility

Drills – in order to strike or use a weapon, we need to be able to move and we move by breathing:

  1. Waving off pushes
    1. shoulders
      1. One pushes the shoulders – the other “waves” it off – doesn’t step back and move the feet excessively
      2. breathe out with the push, breathe in to restore form
    2. hips
      1. one pushes the hips – the other “waves” it off  – same restriction on moving the feet
      2. breathe out with the push and breathe in to restore form
    3. body
      1. same drill – find a place to move – with the body a small step can be necessary (actually that’s true for any of these) – the wave is more efficient and relaxed – that’s why we aspire to it.
  2. Knives in hand
    1. same pushing drills, but as you wave it off, you STEP and put the knife on your attacker
      1. NOTE – it’s very important to emphasize the STEP – otherwise they’ll root in one spot, and by reaching and flailing.
    2. after a couple of rotations, let the attacker move away from the knife – at that point, the original “defender” will put a fist on the attacker
  3. Repeat 2.2 only start by putting the fist on the attacker, and when they move, put the knife on them
  4. Go back to 1 – only instead of pushes, wave off a strike – these are short strikes – we’re not trying to go deep – we’re working on being punched and responding
  5. Repeat of 2, only with strikes
  6. Repeat of 3, only with strikes

Self Defense Applications:

  1. For once, this is very straightforward self-defense work.  An attacker starts by pushing or punching you and you evade, and punch/stab/slash until no longer an issue.


  1. We’ve started the breathe/relax to enable moving/attacking
  2. We worked on waving off an initial attack – the body has to defend itself
  3. We turned the wave into a counterattack by continuing to move the body and allow that to drive the arms and the hands
  4. We used both hands – including a weapon and an empty hand – in concert to finish the attacker

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