Alexander Maksimtsov Systema Seminar 9th November 2012
On the evening of Friday the 9th November 2012 I met up with Alexander Maksimtsov, the head of the Ukrainian Federation of Russian Martial Art in Holland Park, London for the first part of a three day, Systema Kadochnikova seminar. As most will know this is not my first exposure to Alexander and his teaching methods and all the other students there had at least a small amount of knowledge of his version of Systema.
The lesson quickly kicked off with a series of Systema exercises and drills designed to promote relaxation and create a reference condition. For those that have not heard of this term it is a point in time you can imagine back to where your body was in the best condition physically and mentally for action or everyday life.
To understand how this works take a moment to think of a time when you were really excited and your pulse raced. Imagine how it felt, what you could see and the sounds and smells you experienced. Now scan your body and notice how your pulse seems elevated and you have a feeling of excitement. The same can be achieved by thinking back to a reference point that Alexander helps you create during most lessons.
Next we moved on to a series of drills that had one partner learning to relax upon contact with a kick or strike that hits us without being seen and how to perform back fall when we are unable to prepare for it. This involved being pushed or lightly struck on painful points and moving with the vector of force until tripped by your training partner. We then used the Systema back somersault from Systema Low Acrobatics to move safely to the ground.
I found it interesting how over time the body became more pliable and able to mould around the point of contact and how if the depth of the strike was sufficient the centre of mass started to move. One important point was that he taught us not to react to unnecessary pressure. The reason for this is a lot of our initial movements were exaggerated. Our partner would hardly brush our bodies and yet we would leap away from it at a faster pace.
To achieve this he had us working with our eyes closed and only moving when the pressure of the push was sufficient to move us. He also had our partners clap at us, brush past us lightly and quickly and on these occasions the goal was to not move.
After 3 hours of training we finished training by taking a moment to notice the changes in the way our bodies felt. This is important because without doing this you do not really anchor those sensations and the physical changes that are their causes to each other in your consciousness.
Having said our goodbyes we headed our separate ways and I stopped at a fantastic Lebanese cafe for a bite to eat and to make my notes. This is an essential part of the learning process. Alexander rightly points out that if you write down what you have done you can retain the vast proportion of the information, but if you do not you may only retain 20% of what you were taught. Therefore this is going to be something I encourage my students to do after our regular classes to improve the rate they absorb information.
In my next article I will write about the second day’s Systema Kadochnikova training and discuss some very interesting drills relating to striking in real situations.
If you want more information about Systema Drills or a scientific approach to structure breaking please look at our two Systema ebooks.