Women, Systema and Body Armor

Periodically at the school we teach a Full-Force Women’s Self-Defense Course.  One of the elements of this course is that we have guys in protective body armor attack the women as full speed and strength.  For those who have never been attacked this can be a traumatic experience.  This is where Systema comes in.

I have taught this course before I trained in Systema myself and have since changed much of the course.  One very noticeable addition has been teaching proper breathing.  Before Systema we did not focus on breathing to control the fear response or to recover from the stress of the assault.  It was more of “here it comes, deal with it.”

Last Saturday’s class was enlightening to see how teaching breathing helped the women keep their wits about them, still be able to think while they fought and normalize themselves after the assaults.  Breathing helped shift the focus from reinforcing the stress responses and the damage it does to the body to minimizing the deleterious effects of repeated stress on the body.

Besides the breathing, we now teach many of the Systema movement and escape drills to the women, including mass attack work.  It is amazing to see women who practice the natural movements for less than one hour apply them immediately to move and escape while under a full-speed, full-power attack.
I have seen other courses that include an armored attacker who is basically a human punching bag, i.e. he justs yells and stands there, waiting to be hit.  The women Saturday were fighting all-out against a fully interactive, larger attacker and they performed admirably.

As to the incessant question, “Does Systema work at full speed”?  Even after one day with brand-new women learning it the answer is, as we all know, a resounding YES.

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