A breath in between

Time is going by us all the time 🙂

To make ourselves more resilient and mobile at the same time, we can choose to take a simple breath in between to make things last longer.


Start doing pushups. Pause for one breath on the top position between each push up and gain more awareness and time in the plank. Pause in the middle or bottom (without touching the body to the ground) and you will gain more lasting power and stability within movement.

Start standing and transition between standing and laying down with your arms not touching the ground at all. Pause for one breath and relax what does not need tension first in the up and down moments (when you are standing and when you are laying down) and then pause twice in between these two positions and again take a full breath to relax what does need tension and you will be teaching yourself the delta of need and exists in a very wide arch of positions. It is also fun to transition between muscle and structure power. It saves energy and gives us more ability at the same time.

Start climbing a rope or doing pull ups. First pause in the low and high positions and allow the body to maintain only the needed tension to preserve the position and then twice in between. The learning will be more intense as if is a power movement but you will be able with time to transition some of the tension from the active parts of the arms back and shoulders to the body and maintain a lower level of activation with the same work done.

Keep breathing and see you in class 🙂

Wrestling with a butterfly

Wrestling with a butterfly

There is a chasm of difference between an edged contact and any other. The mechanical increase in pressure due to the edge geometry makes being tough and solid far less desirable compared to the art of footwork and general locomotion.

I would like to offer a few ideas for your future work to increase the value you place on gentleness and whole movement of the entire body. The reason for it is your prolonged wellbeing and hopefully increased ability and grace through life. The idea for this writing came from viewing sword work by the talented Natasha Kopylova (her videos have a graceful progression of body movement that channels to the limbs and tools and a free play of contact work without the pretense of toughness and resistance) coupled with my nature walks and many lessons from my students.

Movement within movement

Have your partner stand and move the mass from leg to leg. Progress to moving so the feet peel off the ground and turn in place slightly. Start prodding gently with a dry twig and have them combine two movements within one contact. The goal is to keep the twig from breaking and yourself from losing your movement. Achieving both goals will let you move both gently and with inner control.

Understanding of lines of movement

Take a stick and hold it by pressing lightly on both ends, each with one finger. Use only enough pressure to keep the stick in your grasp and start the work. Have your partner first stand and close both eyes. Move the stick through the body as your partner relaxes to allow the stick to pass through without creating resistance and breaking the pressure, which holds the stick in your hands. Achieving this will release within you r body smoother movement and you will feel more as one piece moving in harmony.

Throwing a bell

Find a little bell or a children toy that works the same and stand where there is no precious glass. Throw it in the air and instead of catching it when it descends, match its movement and add to it to bring it in a curve to another throw. The hidden meaning of this movement is to contact without resistance or manipulation. Imagine a blade edge meeting a blade edge as it is often seen in film. Will the blades survive such a meeting? Why not choose to join instead of obstruct.

Keeping the path open

Take a water bottle or a short stick and stand a few paces from your partner. Throw the object straight at your partner and start walking. When the stick comes flying your way, do the following. Keep breathing, move out of the path and make contact so you match the path of the stick and press it between your body and upper limbs. Keep moving and throw the stick back to your moving partner using your movement and breath. This drill is simple but will give you greater eye awareness and give you possibilities of matching and catching without sacrificing your freedom of movement. Value your freedom.

Keep safe by keeping in motion both within and outside. Let yourself be as graceful as you can be by learning from any teacher that comes your way, from the bird perching to the lady dancing with the sword.

When you let everyone teach you, you are open to many more lessons and here is a very nice one in grace and much more.

The title of wrestling with a butterfly is simple. If you can communicate and move in the world without harming the delicate and fragile, you are truly free and thus truly powerful.



Work on grace and the rest will follow

  1. Keep your breath continuous
  2. Start your movement from your breath and then the body
  3. Have and follow goals greater then the moment you are in
  4. Relax your eyes to see instead of seeking what you want to see
  5. Spread your awareness throughout your body
  6. Use just movement. Avoid tags such as attack and defense. It is all the same
  7. Techniques are keys to specific doors. Make the needed key using intuition
  8. Have faith in your faculties. No one is you but yourself

The sweet spot

The sweet spot.

Why do we work? To get a job done. That is the easy part.
What is the job is a more elusive thing I hope to help you define for yourself.
I was asked how to work for more vigilance and tranquility or awareness and inner calm.
My answer is very simple. Avoid looking for something and simply notice. Anything else will set you on an imbalanced track toward some goal outside what is in the words of an old movie “What is best in life”.
An example of walking wayward of your path is making the path the goal. This means that you want to become a good Judoka or a good shooter in the range and forget the true goal of any martial art, which is getting you home in one piece after you prevail what life brings your way so you can be a good father or mother to the next generation.
If I was a good Systema teacher who could show and teach technique in movement, I would be less than useless.
My goal in teaching is giving the students and myself as the student who happens to lead the class themselves. It is not the way which matters but the keeping true to your values and continuing to both let go of what is not needed and getting to know yourself better so you can add more to your life and to the lives of your loved ones.
Why hit each other in the face? To become tough so you can withstand pain and go on? We hit each other in the face to learn about ourselves and to learn to accept reality so we resist it less and less.
What is the job? An ongoing mission to grace, honesty, ingenuity and our true nature, released from any hold.

Drills to illustrate the point

Move from standing to laying down on your chest. Change what part of your body cannot touch the ground each time until you find something that creates an obstruction. Move around that obstruction and create new pathways.

Join a conversation each day and impose a rule that you must include the word <insert a word here> in every second sentence of the conversation.

Find something that makes you uncomfortable and seek to understand what exactly makes you uncomfortable in it. Do not seek to change. Change happens all the time anyway. Forcing it only hampers in your grace and enjoying your life to the fullest.