How Far We’ve Come

Class Notes: Multiple Opponents

By lbeacon, at Systema SLC

Looking back, over the past few months we have studied the core principles of Systema.  We learned to recognize tension and how to release it.  We practiced strikes with “springy” fists and a relaxed body; we practiced receiving strikes comfortably.  We explored basics of grappling and ground work.  We studied with weapons: sticks, knives, guns.  And then we tried to do it all at once, with multiple opponents.

When we train one on one, our intellect has time to process what is happening and respond to it.  This is great for learning new principles or delving deeper into familiar ones.  But it is difficult to really test ourselves against a single partner without drastically increasing the speed and force of our movements.  To develop trust in our bodies and see where residual tension may be hiding, we need another approach.

Training with multiple opponents allows us to test ourselves and the things we have learned without increasing the intensity of our sparring.  It is a safe way to push our limits and locate our weaknesses.  This is because we are constantly acting and the situation is fluid, but no single opponent is particularly menacing.  By periodically returning to group work, we can examine how far we have come.  Other martial arts may utilize exams or tests to mark a student’s ability, we allow group work to mark our own.

“Systema can be thought of as a selfish art, do your work and let your opponents do theirs.”

– Mark Zamarin

Examples of stick and knife work with multiple opponents can be found here.


Mark Zamarin 7/11/15

Mark Zamarin, certified Systema instructor from Park City, will join us on July 11 for class. Mark is a skilled instructor and we are blessed that he is willing to come down to work with our students. You can read about him in his bio here.


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The best place to begin exploring movement and body mechanics is the ground. On the ground, your body is open to new possibilities and you will discover things about yourself that you were not aware of. With practice, what you learn on the ground will open up new possibilities in standing positions as well. There is a degree of flexibility and strength conditioning involved, but for the most part, you are expected to explore your personal range and movement. In this set you will learn the principles of ground movement, to relax underneath an opponent, methods to stay on top of an opponent, and moving with a partner. You will learn how to transition from ground to standing positions, to fall from Standing and sitting positions, to take down standing opponents from the floor, and how to deal with grabs, holds, and strikes from the ground. Continue reading

Internal Work Intensive

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. Continue reading