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Systema Massage and Performance

Relaxation and focus are key elements of any martial art, particularly Systema. Vladimir Vasiliev and Michael Ryabko’s method of teaching calls for each training session to end with traditional Systema massage. It's a critical aspect of training because it not only helps you to wind down after a tiring session; it also helps you build up your ability to control stress while getting in sync with your partner and your body.

Anyone who has ever had a Systema massage will tell you that the first session is not particularly relaxing. The pressure applied by your partner triggers the instinct to panic. It's critical to fight this instinct. People who are first learning martial arts often feel the urge to panic when their partner’s arms or legs are coming towards them. To become skilled in Systema, the urge to panic must be resisted. If you're going to respond quickly and skillfully, you need to focus your mind on your body not your emotions. By learning to focus your energy and training your body to stay relaxed through Systema massage, you gain the skills critical to physical training.  


It's important to remember that Systema is about much more than fighting and self-defense. Systema aims to strengthen the entire person, not just the body. Your goal is to increase your physical awareness and enhance your control over your body. A typical massage outside of Systema does not teach you much about self-control or awareness. It simply feels good and relaxes you. Systema massage will ultimately have a relaxing affect but only after you’re able to allow yourself to relax. By stretching your comfort zone, you learn how to control your stress. Systema massage forces you to focus on your body and intentionally relax it. While other types of massage will automatically soothe you into a relaxed state, Systema insists that you create that relaxed state through mental focus. The ability to relaxing through difficult times is an invaluable life skill that benefits your health significantly while also helping your physical performance. 

Once you become well accustomed to the Systema massage methods, you’ll find yourself leaving refreshed and invigorated. Its focus on detecting hidden, inner tension will help your posture and relax your body. The special tools used in Systema massage, such as the wooden rods, were developed to redistribute the stress in your body to create a deeper sense of relaxation. Massages are considered the ideal ending to a session because they allow you to walk away stronger, more energized, more relaxed, and ready for the next session. 

Don’t make the mistake of walking into your first session thinking that the massage will be the soothing end to your training. While it ultimately will relax you, its key purpose is to aid in your physical and mental development. Systema massage was established as a core aspect of the program because it feeds into the central mission: “poznaj sebya” (discover yourself).

For more information on the Systema Health System and the Science of Systema check out the Combat Lab shop.