Monday, December 6, 2010

Systema Japan Lesson - 1st December 2010 - Evasion and Strikes

1) Walking with breathing - 1 step/ 1 In-breath and 1 step/ 1 Out-breath. This went up to 10 steps/1 In-breath etc. and then down again.

2) Partner 1 (P1) walked slowly towards Partner 2 (P2). P2 naturally walked out of P1's path. It was important to inhale before the partner came and then exhale when you evaded them. P2 did this with good posture and simply stepped out of the way. P1 gradually started from a closer and closer position. This progressed onto P1 jogging at P2.

3) P1 rolled on P2 in a variety of different ways. For example they did front rolls, back rolls and spindling. Effort was made to make contact with the head. This drill was done to get both people used to contact and to promote breathing and relaxation.

4) In order to get the fists, and the person receiving, used to contact, we walked up and down with the fists on a prone body. This was done 5 times on the front and back. Both people had to breath to release tension and relax.  This was done more slowly so that the fists could find the right place and so they could give themselves a chance to relax everything except for the fist. This also helped the person getting fist walked on to observe themselves more.

5)  P1 did 10 squats on P2. One foot was on the chest and the other was on the stomach. These were done slowly.

6) We moved back to evading our partner, as in Exercise 2, but this time after we got out of the line of the person walking, we placed our fist in a correct position, stopped and while doing this slightly redirected them off their original path. It was important to do this very softly but with confidence. If you do this very hard, it puts a lot of tension into your partner thus making it more difficult to stop or redirect them. If you do it softly, so that, except for your fist, your whole body is relaxed, the person doesn't feel the tension or a threat and stays relaxed and almost redirects themselves.  This is something I felt when I went to Toronto. I walked towards Vladimir and he just lightly raised up his hand, placed the tensed fist against a place on my body and this was enough to redirect me. This is how I perceived this so it's not necessarily what Vladimir might say. If you get the chance, please ask Vladimir to do it to you. He demonstrated this principle to us by lightly holding our hand. I think he was saying that this is all you need to do the work but I'm not definitely sure.

7) This drill progressed onto pushing more deeply into the person thus changing their form more and pushing them further away. Again it was important not to do this with too much strength or tension because this goes into the partner and bounces back into you. As with  the previous drill, it was important to smoothly push through with just a tense fist. You're trying to keep the person as relaxed as possible.

8) We next moved onto evading like before but subtly striking. When doing this, emphasis was on keeping the partner as relaxed as possible and then at the very end when they felt safe and comfortable you struck. It was necessary not show them the strike, you hit from their blind points such as very close to the body. This is hard to describe. You basically take advantage of what they can't see. Because they are not expecting it, the strike goes in much deeper.  Mikhail Ryabko taught us some of these principles at the Systema Excellence Seminar. They are known as "Stealth Strikes".  Please buy this DVD so that you can get a better explanation of these principles and more:

9) In pairs again, the same exercise was performed but instead of P1 just walking at P2, they did a strike. First of all, as before, we evaded by naturally walking to the outside and then after softly redirected the strike by placing the fist on the attackers tricep. P1 gradually started from closer and closer away.

10) This progressed onto pushing smoothly through the partner again.

11) P2 performed sublte strikes again. One point to mention is that it's important to step out of the line of the attack but not to take all of your body with you. Leave the fist in the path of the attacker. P1's mind is drawn away by the bigger movement of P2 walking out of the way and then by P2 redirecting the attacking arm with the fist. This makes it even more difficult to notice the fist left in the way. Also make it difficult for P1 to see the "stealth" strike by using their striking arm as cover. It is difficult to see the strike because it is hidden by P1's own arm. This makes it more of a surprise and means that the strike has more of a deep effect even though it's not that powerful. This might be because the person isn't prepared for it. These are only my observations.This subject of "Stealth" Strikes is really interesting!

12) Next slow sparring. This wasn't about competing with each other. It was about each person paying attention to themselves, breathing, relaxing, keeping a natural posture and moving while walking. I got the students to hold their breath for as long as possible and then do burst breathing to recover while doing this. I did this about three times. I did this to get the students to pay more attention to themselves while having to also pay attention to their partner.

13) Everybody did ten slow pushups, squats, sit ups and leg raises.

14) Circle Up

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