Monday, January 10, 2011

Andy Cefai - Systema Japan Lesson - Saturday 8th January 2011 - Striking & Movement and Wrestling & Striking.

1) Walking/ running with breathing - 1 step/ 1 In-breath and 1 step/ 1 Out-breath and 2 steps/ 1 In-breath and 2 steps/ 1 Out-breath etc. I think we did the walking part up to 6 and then went back down to 4 when we started running. We went up to about 6 and then it merged with the next drill.

2) With a partner, we walked around to the counts of 2, 3, 4 and 6 as above. Partner 1 (P1) pushed Partner 2 (P2) while keeping to the same breath/step ratio. It was important to move continuously while observing your breath and pushing. This was a challenge to do because doing one thing took your attention away from the other elements we had to do. It was very interesting work.

3) P1 and P2 then pushed each other to the same step/breath ratio as above (3, 4 & 6). Again, focus was on constant movement. Your partner's push lead to your push and so on.

4) We then moved throughout the body circling the various joints and stretching ourselves in our own way. It was important to use breathing throughout all of this. For example, you breathed out when moving the body part into the stretched position and then inhaled when returning it to the beginning position. This was the same as the principle taught in Valentin Talanov's excellent DVD - Breathwork and Combat.

For this DVD, go to:

5) From a standing position with our feet shoulder width's apart, we lowered our upper bodies down for 20 seconds and then up for 20 seconds. Throughout this, we did burst breathing to reduce tension.

6) Kneeling down with our fists and arms in a comfortable position, elbows bent at 90 degrees and fist facing forward, we practised tensing our fists and arms. It was important to hold the arms up in such a manner where there isn't really any tension in the shoulders or arms. We tensed our arms to 100 percent of our ability, then 50 and lastly 25. It was said by Adam and Brandon Zettler, when they were in Osaka, that we need 25 percent tension in our fists when making contact with a strike. This drill was done to give us an idea of how much tension we actually need in our fists.

7) Laying flat on our fronts, resting on our fists, we raised our upper bodies up for 20 seconds and then down for 20 seconds. During this, we kept 25 percent tension in our fists. While doing this, we kept our legs, hips, stomach and back as relaxed as possible and only used our arms to push up from the fists. And, of course, we used burst breathing to reduce tension and increase our oxygen supply.

8)  Push Up - ten seconds repetition (10 seconds in each direction). We did this three times. Each time we did it we had a different percent of tension in our fists. These were: 1) 100% 2) 50% 3) 25 %. This was a really excellent drill that tested your patience, breathing and attention because it was very difficult to continue having the same amount of tension in the fist during the movement.

9) We then did a leg raise up to 90 degrees, then lowered them down to the left and back again, then the right side and up and lastly completed the leg raise so that you touched your toes behind your head and returned back to the starting position. We did ten repetitions of this movement. I found that I benefited most by doing this exercise slowly and with patience, while paying attention to my breathing and the tension in my body. My back felt incredibly relaxed after this.

10)  In pairs, P1 was on their knees but not sitting on their calves. 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 and side of the foot. 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.

11) P1 then lay down and P2 did the same work but on their calves, hamstrings, back and arms. Andy showed us a new massage technique where you use your heel and put it in an area on the side of the buttocks, where the hip joint connects. Instead of pushing into the partner, you pushed straight down or to the outside of the partner. It's very difficult to describe the actual position of where you push but try to search around the area and ask your partner which place is having the most benefit. A lot of tension gets stored in this area. Andy said that Daniel Ryabko showed him this technique.

12) P1 then turned over and sat up with their upper body at 90 degrees and back straight. P2 then massaged, with the feet, P2's calves and thighs in the same way as the previous exercise.

13) P1 lay on the bottom and P2 stayed on top of them in a push up position (on palms). P1 moved around how they like and P2 had to stay on top.

14) P1, instead of just moving around on the ground, started on the ground, stood up and then went back down while P2 maintained a push up position on them. It was important to breath, stay relaxed and keep your form.

15) P1 then started in the standing up position, with P2 hanging on them, went down and then stood back up again with constant pressure being put on by P2. Breath, relaxation and form were essential.

16) Push Ups - 20 repetitions. Squats - 10 repetitions. Leg Raises - 5 repetitions.

17) P1 lay down and tried to do a sit up while P2 pushed their tension points to prevent them getting up. P2 could do this by using their hands, elbows and shoulders.

18) P1 did the same thing but this time P2 could strike the tension areas. The depth of strike depended on the partner's level. P1's objective was to get to the top but to not rush. P1 had to learn to receive the strike but not go down straight away. They needed to use the strike to help them get a little higher each time. For example, if you received a strike on the left part of the chest, this gave you the energy and direction to move a little up on the right.

19) P2 lay on top of P1. P1 tried to escape from the bottom while P2 had to remain in a top position. Andy gave the idea of body surfing to stay on top.

20) P2, again, tried to stay on top while P1 tried to escape but this time struck from the top position.

21) P1 then struck from the bottom while P2 tried to remain on top.

22) P2 then got in the mount position on top of P1. P2 struck P1 slowly and P1 escaped in a variety of ways. This included doing arm locks, foot locks, reversing the position by using strikes and the hips, grabbing the scapular, ears and nose. We discovered for ourselves what we could do from this position.

23) P1 walked around the training area while P2 pushed them. While doing this, both kept a step/breath ratio of 2 steps to 1 breath. At first, we walked around normally, then half speed, so that we could pay more attention to whether we were doing it correctly, and lastly normally again.

24)  Instead of P2 pushing, as in the last drill, they practised striking while moving. During the above and this drill, it was important to keep a connection with your partner and strike as you step; not stop, strike and then step.

25) P1 stood in a relaxed position while P2 struck them in different parts, in order to reduce tension in these areas and relax the whole person. The areas which were struck were: the shoulder muscles (trapezius), biceps, triceps, chest and the muscle on the shoulder blades. We also struck the forearm. First, the relaxation of the arm was checked by picking it up and dropping it. If it was relaxed, it dropped without any tension. If not, the arm would just remain in the same position. We next held the partner's wrist up lightly and then used a relaxed strike to the top of the forearm just below the elbow. When making impact, you let go of the wrist, allowing it to relax and drop to the waist. We also struck the end of the shoulder, so the energy from the strike could go down the arm and finish in the hand. If you wanted to keep the energy, you kept your fist closed, if not, you opened and relaxed your hand by kind of shaking it.

26) Push Up, Squats and Leg Raises - 15 repetitions.

27) Circle Up

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