It is often said that without internal awareness and control one cannot learn Systema. Konstantin Komarov goes so far to say “There are practically no techniques in Systema; rather only the state and potential of the psyche and the body. If you are learning techniques you are likely not learning Systema” (Komarov, 15). For the sake of understanding Komarov’s position on martial arts methodology, consider the first passage in Morihei Ueshiba’s book, The Art of Peace, which reads “The Art of Peace begins with you. Work on yourself and your appointed task in the Art of Peace…you are here for no other purpose than to realize your inner divinity and manifest your inner enlightenment” (Stevens, 3). Great masters have often taught that success in martial arts comes from within; not from wrote technique.
This two part intensive course will include mastering the principles of breathing, using breath to power through muscle fatigue, removing stress, managing fear and tension, and lastly, developing a calm and precise psyche. None of this work is easy as it requires intense physical exertion and the willingness to allow Systema to become your character.
As always, class is safe and slow for beginners and experienced martial artists alike. Students are taught and expected to work safely with their partners. The spirit of fun is paramount.
We recommend the following study materials for this unit::
Breath for Internal Control by Vladimir Vasiliev
Let Every Breath… by Vladimir Vasiliev and Scott Meredith
You may also access detailed commentary on the Principles of Breath on this site.
Daily Homework:: Spend 10 to 15 minutes on each exercise daily.
Pyramid Breathing with basic exercises
Start by relaxing, then when you are ready, hold the breath on an exhale and do one squat. Come back up to standing position and recover with burst breathing. Next hold the breath on exhale and do two squats…three…four…up to fifteen, or as long as you can hold the breath.
Do not rush this exercise, relax, and work unhurriedly. The goal is not to finish the exercise, it is to relax and do work under pressure. Repeat this exercise with push-ups and leg-lifts.
Practice falling to the floor both forwards and backwards. Turn your attention inwards, when do you feel panic? Where does it start and how does it spread? When do you feel tension? Once you have a good understanding of yourself, try to exhale the moment you feel panic or tension. If the panic or tension starts in your chest, exhale out of the chest with your intention (use your imagination and visualize the breath leaving your chest.)
Stretch with breathing
While lying or standing, relax and breath in through the nose and out through the mouth. Inhale slowly and tense up the body starting with the head all the way down to the feet. Feel every muscle tense up in a wave-like motion down to the feet. Go slow. When the entire body is tense, pause and exhale as you relax the body from head to feet. Now inhale and tense the feet all the way up to the head, pause when every muscle is tense, then exhale and relax the feet all the way up to the head. You must time your inhales and exhales with the rate that you tense up or relax your body. Next practice rapid inhales and exhales. Inhale and tense the whole body at once, exhale and relax the whole body at once. Exhaling through the mouth will help disperse tension quickly.
While lying flat on your back, relax and focus your attention on your pulse. Start with your chest, then try to find the pulse in your neck or face. Spend no more than a minute or two developing the sensitivity to feel your pulse in one area and then move to the next. When you are ready, feel the pulse in your hands, abdomen, thighs, and feet.