This is the first part of day 2. Part 2 to come soon.
On a very hot and humid day, the participants gathered to enjoy another great day with Daniel Ryabko. The areas to be covered were: Ground Work and Defense against Knives.
To start off the day, Daniel, in order to get everybody accustomed to moving on the ground, had everybody circle the training hall, which was pretty big, by doing a variety of different ground movements. The participants were asked to lie on their stomachs and crawl forwards on their elbows, as you would in the army. We then turned over and did the same thing. We also used only our shoulders to move forwards, backwards and sideways; this was done on the front, back and sides. On the front, back and sides, we only used our legs to propel ourselves forwards and backwards. We did front and back rolls and moved forward, backwards and sideways using our hips only. This was done by moving the hips on the ground or by jumping off the ground. After this, we turned over, and with our upper bodies and legs off the floor, we moved in different directions. We also did Duck Walking, grabbed our ankles and moved forwards and backwards on our fronts and many other movements of this nature. It was important to use the breath to make the movement easier, to do it with as little tension as possible and also to find the most efficient way to do it. I cannot honestly remember how many times we went around the gym but it sure got us used to moving on the ground. And, of course, due to the humidity, the sweat on the ground made it much easier to move!
After this great warm up, everybody was relaxed, calm, and even though a little tired, ready to get on with the next work. The first exercise that Daniel showed was moving a partner, who was completely relaxed on the ground, by manipulating their limbs. He emphasized that it was important not move them by inflicting pain on them but by finding the natural structure that will enable you turn them over. This isn’t exactly what he said but rather what I observed and felt. He would search for the correct tension that would put natural tension into the limb making it easier to be used as lever, in order to move them. At no time, was there a grimace on the participant’s face; they were relaxed and comfortable at all times. Daniel also used the natural elasticity the body naturally has, to move the partner around. For example, he would push the knee to their chest and with the natural spring that occurs from releasing the knee, he turned them over. Daniel made this look very easy but in actuality, it was extremely difficult to do. He was even able to make people stand up and sit down using the same principles as described above. This was very interesting work.
Next, Daniel got his partner to lay on top of him in a relaxed way and demonstrated how to get out from underneath. He did this simply and with great ease and pointed out that it was important not just to use your hands to escape but to use your hands and body in tandem. When seeing this, Daniel seemed to use his hands to lever the head, shoulders, hips and legs, thus creating a bit of space to allow his body to move and slide out. However, everything was working together and he especially wasn’t using strength to get out but was rather feeling the direction of least resistance and moving in that direction. When feeling it, he just did enough to put tension into me and to change my form, making it slightly uncomfortable for me. By this time, he had already escaped with his body. It was very subtle movement that was relaxed and non-confrontational.
After this, Daniel showed us how to control somebody while being on top. The person on the bottom had to try to escape, slowly, and Daniel would feel with his body where his partner’s tension was and using his body affect that tension area. This was very subtle work. As an observer, you just saw the person trying to escape not moving much and getting more and more tired. As a participant, you were really able to feel the work. When you tried to move, Daniel would just put enough tension into the mainly tensed area, which was the power source for the movement, therefore completely eliminating the movement. Gradually, it felt like you had less and less room to move, and in the end, prevented you from really breathing. It’s important to point out though, that at no time did I feel like Daniel was using any strength to control me, just precise and effective use of his body weight and movement. This was very impressive work and I recommend anybody who has the chance, to ask Daniel to show some of this work.
Daniel then got us to do some wrestling “but not too much”. The person on the top had to stay in control, using what was shown above, and the person on the bottom had to escape. Daniel said to “first, work with your body a little”, to not only use your hands to control and that the action of not forgetting about the body “will you give you the hold”. He told us that after you have escaped and are in control, in order to affect the person, you should “remember the hands, legs, elbows” and that “everything should be working”. It was explained that it was important to “feel the partner” and not to “panic”.
Next, Daniel got a participant to try and grab and control him and he used only his legs to prevent this from happening. He said to “try and control their body” and that “your legs need to be everywhere”. Daniel, while doing this, looked like he was relaxing on the beach, and with simple advice, such as “move your legs and control”, he made you believe that it must be easy to do. The reality, of course, is very different. Daniel even though looking very relaxed was always in control of their movement, even before the person had engaged. The thing that amazed me was how relaxed he makes his partners. He somehow seems to calm them down. What also was obvious was that he didn’t seem to have any desire to work, he just worked, and nothing was done in a hurry. It almost looked like he was playing.
We were then shown how to work against foot and leg locks. Daniel asked his partner to put a lock on his foot but to “do it slowly”. Daniel said to “save your leg and then after move” and “escape and work”. He would go with the movement of the lock, releasing the tension enough to be able to work. It didn’t matter what kind of lock was put on. He said to “relax the leg enough to work” and to “move the body”. By doing this, he was free and ready to affect the person. He did this by pushing or kicking their supporting leg, directly affecting the person’s hold with his feet or by redirecting the direction of the hold, thus making them go off balance and fall down. At all times though, he “saved” his leg first and then worked or worked while saving his leg.