All of the students of Systema Japan have been very fortunate recently due to Andy Cefai, and other Systema Japan Instructors, Instructors - in-Training and students, going to Russia recently. Andy was kind enough to share some of what he learned in Russia with us on Saturday.The two main points of the lesson was how to restore yourself after putting yourself in a stressful state and connection work.
Andy started off the lesson by getting everybody to walk using triangle breathing. We did this by breathing out for one step, breathing in for one step and holding our breath, on the in-breath, for on step. We did this up to 15 steps and back down again.
Next, again while walking, we had to hold our breath, on the in-breath, for half a circuit with our arms raised to the front. This was done to increase the tension in our bodies while holding the breath, thus making it a more intense experience. After that, for one circuit, with our arms relaxed by our sides, we recovered from the breath hold. When doing this, we had to pay attention to our heart beat, pulse, breath and blood pressure. Before we starting the breath hold again, it was important to return to you normal state. We then did the same work 1 circuit (2 circuits to recover), 1 circuit and a half (3 circuits to recober) and then 2 circuits. This was very interesting and challenging work. It really made you look at yourself ina psychological and physical way.
In the same vein, but this time with press ups, we held our breath on the in-breath and did one pressup. After we recovered completely, we did two pressups on held in-breath. we did this up to 15 pressups. You really notice theintsity of the work increase at about ten push ups because tension has increased more in your body due to the number of press ups performed and the fact that you are holding your breath, while moving the body, for a longer period of time. After recovering from this drill, I really felt a deep relaxation. This kind of work makes it easier to notice subtle tensions in your body.
Working with a partner, one student pushed the other, who was standing still, around the body, in order to soften and make the student more sensitive to the force and direction of the push. The person receiving the pushes had to make sure that they weren't disconnected from the push. They had to move in time with the push, and the feeling of the push shpuld have felt quite light because of the connection made with the push.
While moving around, one partner, as in the previous drill, slowly pushed their partner on a variety of points on the body. The partner receiving the push had to redirect the partner down to the ground. It was necessary to connect with the movementof the push, relax and move in a smooth way, so as not to tell the partner what you're doing.If the connection wasn' kept, it was very hard to redirect the partner. You had to receive the movement, take it over and then redirect the movement. This was also done in a slightly faster fashion.
We next, at a slightly slower speed and still doing the same work, used our hands to stay connected to the partner and take them down to the ground. It was important not to grab the partner's hands and body, therefore causing noticeable resistance and increasing tension in both partners, but to lightly lay them on the body parts.
The last drill of the day involved the use of the whip. Working in pairs again, one person tried to strike the person with the whip. The person with the whip had to maintain the correct distance, therefore keeping a connection with their partner's movement, and with the whip, touch or lightly hit the attacker's fists with the tip of the whip. The action involved keeping the whip fairly low down, towards the waist, and using the wrist, flicking the whip from left to right so that it would make contact with the fists. As usual, it was important to just use the wrist and the weight of the whip to do the work. It was also necessary to keep in time with the partner's movment. If this wasn't done, it was normally too late to react and you would also hit the partner on a different part of the body with a lower part of the whip. By doing this drill, you could really see how it relates to striking and moving and also working against a knife.