Home Special Skills Wrestling

Systema class on June 30, 2011


Ex 1: Running and then walking with the focus on maintaining constant speed and moving by relaxation.

Start running at a comfortable speed; one step on inhale and one on exhale; do not change the pace. After about a minute, stretch your breathing to two steps per inhale / exhale and accelerate so you run as fast as you can with relaxation (do not accelerate further if you feel you have to change your posture or if tension appears). Continue running a the same fast pace and stretch your breathing to three, etc., up to six steps per inhale/exhale, one minute each. In a similar fashion, shorten your breathing down to two steps and then decelerate to normal comfortable pace at one step.

Drop down to walking and repeat the same breathing sequence with normal and fast walking.

Ex 2: Walk down and up the wall on your fists in a push-up position.


Ex 1: Split in pairs. #1 takes #2's arm at the wrist with a hand and manipulates the arm to move #2 around and bring him down. For example, #1 can

  • Raise the arm up above #2's head and push it back to tilt #2 over and make him fall over backward.
  • Pull the arm forward and when #2 follows, change direction – e.g., pull down and toward yourself.
  • Squat and pull the arm down forcing the defender to bend forward and then raise it up behind his back so #2 is forced to roll forward (the arm has to remain straight as it is swung up to maintain the lever and momentum)
  • Work against wrists (e.g., bend the wrist sideways to make #2 move in that direction).

Note: It is best to start with making #2 move continuously by manipulating his arm. Avoid sharp moves or tension when taking #2 down - if you cannot take him down slowly, without force or tension, you are not doing it right.

Ex 2: Work against elbows (#1 grabs, #2 works against the elbow).

Key principles to keep in mind:

  • When working against elbows (or generally, joints), the defender needs to remember to release legs so they don't make him stuck. Otherwise, the defender will have to lean with the body and apply force to make the attacker move.
  • Keep your body very straight and move it as a whole unit (including legs, hips, upper body and head).
  • Work on your sensitivity - feel opponent's body, his posture and direction, as well as tension.
  • After you place your hands and position your body for work, do not readjust – work right away from this position even if you feel like shifting around a bit to get more comfortable.

Methods of work:

  • Pushing the elbow inward with a "V" formed by your thumb and point finger
  • Raising or lowering your arm straight with inward rotation
  • Squatting with straight body against knee grabs

Common scenarios:

  • #1 faces #2 and extends an arm to grab him by the neck. #2 allows #1 to place the hand and starts working as soon as it touches. first off, #2 feels the entire #1's body through his arm and adjusts his position just a little to take #1's body out of its initial comfortable position or even off balance. #2's neck should remain relaxed and posture straight; #2 should not oppose #1 but rather move just a little  "within" his move. This adjustment makes #1's body ready to move where #2 wants it to go.
  • From this position, #1 can either apply light pressure to the elbow of the grabbing arm with the "V" of his hand or raise his matching arm straight up while rotating it inward so it brushes against #1's elbow and thereby forces the elbow to move.
  • Similarly, if #1 grabs #1's body so that his arm passes under #2's arm, all of the above applies except #2 lowers his arm straight down toward #1's legs or groin with inward rotation so it brushes against #1's elbow. The grabbing arm ends up levered between #2's body it's holding on to and the rotating arm which applies inward pressure to the elbow as it goes down. This forces #1 to move wherever #2 directs. #2's descending arm can work against #1's knee or groin to briefly shock or disorient him (this works great against strong and determined opponents).

Ex 3: Controlling or leading a person through his forearm / elbow. Hold opponent's forearm with your hands, rotate it inward and lift it up so it bends at the elbow; point the elbow up and raise it above the shoulder level of the opponent. This way, the pain created by the rotation and uncomfortable for the defender position of the elbow forces his body to "hang" on the elbow and the attacker is free to lead the attacked in this position anywhere he wishes. Same works when two people grab a person from both sides.

Ex 4: Work against a knife stab or stomach punch.

As a strike or stab comes in toward the stomach, #2 steps back with the opposite leg, leans on the attacking arm from above and holds it with a hand from underneath so the arm rests flat against his chest and stomach (if this was a stab, #2 can deflect it inward with a hand first). From this position, #2 continues by making a step forward with the same leg to go under the attacking arm - rotate around the arm under the armpit. The only way this can work is if #2's body is straight and rotates snugly around the arm as the axis. As #2 comes out behind #1's back, he maintains the upper body's straight posture and pulls on the attacking arm so it is levered against his stomach forcing #1's body to bend forward. Once #1's body is bent, #2 hits opponent's shoulder with his own to break. Here, #2 can use either shoulder to work against the opponent.

Ex 5: Free grab-escape with both partners working against elbows and joints.

Ex 6: Massage.


Work with partner on top - Nov 1, 2010

Today's class naturally complements the previous class on falling. Very nice progression and I had a hard time telling when the warm-up stopped and practice exercises started.


Ex 1: Go face down on the floor and lift your legs and hands up in the air. Breathe and feel all of your body. Keep this awareness and start slowly rotate onto your back without touching the floor with the limbs. When starting to rotate, stretch your arms, body or legs out and then slowly let the rest of the body catch up. When on the stomach, continue the rotation to go on the back, etc. Try to move and breathe continuously and do not rush.

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