In this class, Andy taught us Knife Work applied to the ground. I realized even more the importance of movement when a knife is coming at you with more speed. If you are static, you are an easier target, but if you move, you are more difficult to catch. Breathing, as normal, was essential to enable you to pay attention and keep moving.
1) We went through the body rotating and moving the joints in a variety of ways. We did an interesting exercise where we rotated our shoulders backwards three times inhaling and three times forward exhaling. We also did this for elbow and straight arm elbow rotations.
2) 1) Pushups x 5 - inhale and hold breath
2) Pushups x 5 - exhale and hold breath
3) Push Ups - do as many as needed to recover while doing burst breathing
4) Leg Raises x 5 - inhale and hold breath
5) Leg Raises x 5 - exhale and hold breath
6) Leg Raises - do as many as needed to recover while doing burst breathing
3) We duck walked but instead of using small steps, we extended the leg therefore creating a stretch and we turned our leading foot over in a variety of ways. For example, we turned our foot inwards and outwards. This then lead us to shifting our weight over to the leading leg while still trying to keep our front foot in it's turned over position. This was done to promote tendon strength and increase our range of movement while in this extreme position. Andy said that the inspiration for this drill and the following drill was attributed to Kwan Lee's "Strength and Flexibility" DVD.
4) In pairs, Partner 1 (P1) was on their knees but not sitting on their calves. Partner 2 (P2) then massaged their calves. Emphasis was placed on finding the tension in this area, gradually working deeper and deeper in order to relax the tense place. A variety of methods were used to do this, such as the: flat of the foot, heel, side of the foot, knife butt and whip. The person receiving the massage had to use burst breathing to deal with and reduce the pain that might've occurred. When doing this, it was important not to use strength to do the massage but to patiently and gradually go deeper into the place of tension. When this place was found , the evidence was the fact that your partner started to burst breath. You allowed them time to deal with this pain and relax their muscular and mental tension.
5) We did the same as the above massage but instead of being on the calves, we massaged the thighs. This was done by gradually stepping on and putting your full weight on the partner. From there, the same principles as the above exercise were used.
6) In pairs, P1 sat on the floor and did a Pike Stretch. This is when they have their legs straight out,lean forward and touch their toes. However, they just relaxed forward and used only their bodyweight, not strength, to create the stretch. All the body was relaxed. P1 then inhaled, exhaled, held their breath for as long as they could and then did burst breathing to recover. While P1 was doing this, P2 lightly struck the back muscles in order to relax them and get rid of excess tension. This again was a massage.
7) P1 then got a knife and slowly stabbed P2. P2 had to feel the direction of the knife, move so that the flat of the knife was on the body and disarm them. This was done lying down on the ground.
8) We did the same thing but it was pointed out to move the body part being stabbed first while moving the body as a whole unit. Andy said that Maxim Franz, Senior Instructor at Systema Headquarters in Canada, said that "Inside a big movement, there's a small movement".
9) Lying on our backs, P1 slowly stabbed P2. Andy said that exhaling can create space for you to escape from the knife. This was the same work as the above but we did it with more patience, awareness and just enough movement to put you in a safe position.
10) Same work but in groups of three. P1 lay down while P2 and P3 slowly stabbed them. It was important for P1 and P2 to give a clear direction to the stab. P1, in order to feel, allowed the knives to go deeper. P1 then moved and disarmed both people. It was important to try and move so that the flat of the blades were against the body and not to make it obvious what you were going to do. You had to work under the radar. This was very interesting and deep work.
11) Next, in pairs, we practised evading the knife on the ground． This was done at a bit of a faster speed and the goal was to escape from the knife totally while maintaining a connection with your partner.
12) This drill then moved on to disarming the person with the knife using strikes and a variety of movements to do this. For example, we affected different joints thus increasing the tension in the partner and breaking their form.
13)Next three people with whips went around the group, as they were stabbing and disarming each other, and whipped them lightly. This was an excellent method of getting people to become more aware of their surroundings and, of course, to motivate them to move more. Breath, relaxation and movement were a necessity in this drill. If we got hit, burst breathing helped to reduce the pain. But the great thing about this training is that even though you might be hurt, you still have to evade the knife.
14) In groups of five, P1 put their fists on P2's and P3's open hands and put their toes on P4's and P5' open hands. P2, P3, P4 and P5 were on their knees and supporting P1 who was off the ground in a push up position. P1 then had to do ten push ups while their partners changed the levels of the fists and feet. This was a really fun but tough drill because the muscles were having to deal with working at different angles all the time. It was important to use the feet too and to try and hook them into P4 and P5's hands and pull them in.It was almost like running but in a push up position.
15) Circle Up