THE SYSTEMA CLASS
People tend to have an idea of what a typical martial arts class is about:
Students will all be wearing an Oriental style uniform
Students stand in rows and follow the movement of the instructor
The instructor must be bowed to and called Sensei or Sifu
There are different grades in the class
Students learn sets of movements, called forms or kata, consisting of a range of stances and techniques
Students practice the applications of the movements in routines
Freestyle sparring may be practiced, involving anything from non to full contact.
Students have to break wood or bricks as part of the grading
These are some of the typical views that people haveabout martial arts training. To a greater or lesser degree they will apply to most schools
HOW ABOUT THE SYSTEMA CLASS?
Systema comes from a Russian / European background. This means that are many differences from the approach of Oriental styles such as Karate or Kung Fu.
The most immediate difference that people will notice is that there is no bowing and very little formality in the class. Training is usually done in a circle or a group rather than in lines. The teacher has no special title and there is no foreign terminology. Classes tend to be relaxed in attitude, although focused in intent.The second major difference is that there is no training in form or kata. Aside from some of the exercises all training is done either with a partner or in groups of three or more. Our philosophy is that rather than practicing one particular technique, which is then applied into a situation, you are put into the situation and see what movements you can develop out of it. On the face of it this may sound daunting -
This approach also means that there is no "syllabus" as such. You are not expected to learn certain moves in order to progress or to go through gradings. How do we measure progression? You will measure it yourself, by finding certain things easier, by becoming more efficient and effective in your movements, by becoming a fitter and healthier person.
The third difference is that all training is carried out at full contact. Once again, this sounds extremely daunting to the beginners -
At this initial skill acquistion phase most of the training is failry slow, to facilitate the learning process. Of course, as skills develop training becomes more intense, with more speed and resistance added in.
The fourth difference is that there are no sporting aspects to the System. This means that there are no forbidden targets or methods. The aim is to survive an incident by whatever means possible, with evasion being the priority in most cases of course. This does not mean we look down on competition -
The fifth difference is that the instructor will spend very little time "correcting" your technique to look the same as his. In fact one of the bedrock principles is to encourage creativity and free-
The sixth difference is that as a general rule, every class is different. By this we mean that there is no progression of techniques from simple to advanced, there is just less efficient and more efficient. It also means that you will be exposed to a wide range of training methods and exercises over a relatively short space of time. This may sound confusing initially, but the important thing to remember is that our aim is to train principles -
The seventh difference is that at the end of class, the whole group sits together and everyone gets a turn to pass comments on the class. This allows any questions to be asked and answered and we often found brings out insights that can be shared with the whole group. It also gives the instructor some feedback for future reference.
Of course there are things that Systema has in common with other arts -
WHAT DO WE TEACH?
Our syllabus covers a broad range of training. For newcomers, the important initial steps are in learning to fall and roll correctly, working with correct posture, breathing and movements and learning to cope with punches, kicks, grabs and holds. From this base the training can spread into many areas. All our methods are underpinned by specialized heath and fitness exercises developed by the Russian military.
On a general self defence level we teach response to attacks from all types of attack -
We also teach more specialised methods for law enforcement personnel, other professionals, or those with an interest in these aspects. These include restraint and control, close protection, weapon skills and so on.
by Robert Poyton