Wednesday, 27 May 2015

more legwork with Frank

had a great training session with Frank this morning. loved it. it looks we might be able to do a bit of training for the next few weeks, which is a rare treat. Frank was happy to go with my request to do more legwork, and we mostly started off our paired drills with pushes, and countering with legwork. at first it was simply countering with a simple hit (placement to start with rather than full force kick) of the foot or knee. then it was a two-hit combo from that same leg. next, it was one-two combo, from each leg. next, take-downs via legwork. then combination of all. then countering the counter (i.e. kaeshi waza). finally, finishing all above with pins using the legs. what a beaut~!

Frank also gave me a great tip about the feeling of "just walking into your opponent's space", with everything that he does. whether it's normal strikes, takedowns, or in this case, legwork--the feeling is the same... pretty much just walking comfortably and relaxed. this particular stood out for me when i doing the one-two combo with the legs. i noticed myself struggling for balance and precision, as i was hopping all over frentically, trying to get my balance. but once i got into the rhythm of just "kick, step, kick, step" ala a 'normal walk', it felt much easier. oh, i also learned some new variations of the pins. i seemed to have picked up the pins to the upper body/head already from last week, but i've noticed Frank pinning on the lower half of the body, which feels just as effective. session felt great. i know he doesn't read this blog (nor anyone else), but thanks Frank!!!

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

transmission of power--or lack therof

my session with Simon last night was pretty shit--or more specifically, i was pretty shit... sigh.

we pretty much only did two main things last night, which was aiki age from ryote dori, and a simple dai ikkyo from shomen uchi. however, the difference as usual was about working with aiki/IP, rather than focusing on the technique as such.

jeezus, it was so frustrating. i feel like i need a cheat sheet pinned on a wall, or on Simon's forehead, so i can read it as i go. the cheat sheet would go something like:-

  1. pull silk
  2. send intent through/forward 
  3. use hiriki/elbow power
  4. never retreat intent--but it might look like it's moving back as the body turns
  5. spiral power from the legs through entire body
  6. (when appropriate) send intent under uke
  7. bow/unbow
  8. align your hara
  9. don't tense up/muscle through!
  10. shoulders below elbows below wrists
  11. are you still pulling silk??
  12. use vertical power, not horizontal
  13. don't shift the contact points, move around it
  14. where the hell is your spiral goddammit!
  15. stop being so tense!!!
  16. WTF~~HAOLP!)*@#!@#!@#

anyways, asked Simon for one key tip, or thing to work on, and it is on my lack of power transmission. i.e. i need to somehow engage just enough (ala pulling silk) to allow the powers from qua/legs come through my arms/hands. what tends to happen is when i get stuck, i then tense up, and completely disengage that transmission. either that, i'm too relaxed and floppy to send jack shit nowhere.

Friday, 22 May 2015


wow, i don't think i have posted this much over a week for at least 10 years now. lol. good ol' xanga days. anyway, had another great learning experience last night. trained with Mark, another one of Andrea's earlier students.

i never saw Mark much over the last few years whilst i was training, but he's recently crawled out of the woodwork a bit, and last night i requested that he show me some Systema legwork, which i remembered being impressed with some years ago. as i have had very little experience with using the lower half of my body as part of my arsenal, it was a great tutorial. like most things in Systema, it was both same, and different, from everything else we learned.

as usual, lightness, relaxation, and mobility were the fundamental starting point. moving around lightly on one's feet--visualising strings pulling us here and there. then start incorporating weird angles and movements, particularly by utilising the hips. after that, practice placement of different parts of the foot on the fleshy bits of your partner. at first partner stands still, then later moves around slowly. the you start moving around yourself as well, again in weird positions etc. then rather than actively seek places to kick, move around until the opportunity comes up.

a quick segue, practice massaging with the feet, to develop sensitivity and mobility with the feet. feel deep into the partner's muscles by massaging. coming back to main progression, after getting comfortable with feet placement, start pushing or pecking lightly, whilst being conscious of the deep touch feeling. slowly start ramping up speed, and heaviness. eventually freeplay both sides.

Mark also had some good ideas about doing feet/leg practices with chains to develop strength and mobility.

nice. something to play with for the next few months.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015


i ain't gonna lie to you, i was deeply disappointed, albeit not quite shocked, when i heard that Mikhail Ryabko was unable to turn up for the highly anticipated seminar in Melbourne a couple of weekends ago. i've been very much looking forward to meeting him, and had thought my prayers were answered when he was scheduled to have a seminar here, so i didn't have to travel all the way to Mother Russia.

thus, when i was informed that the Zettler twins had been roped in to take the seminar instead, the consolation prize left a bit of sour taste in my mouth. in the midst of my self-pity, i was thinking about whether i should pull-out completely, and allocate the money to my 'save up for moscow travel' fund, or to just give a go anyway. after receiving some positive reviews from a couple of other guys who have trained with the twins before, i thought what the heck, stop whining and just do it.

May 2015 with the Zettler twins
phew, it was good that i did. whilst it seem liked lemons in comparison to meeting with the big boss himself, i must say that it turned out to be a pretty damned good lemonade! the twins demonstrated and led us through a very clean, and thorough progression of key fundamental work. there were great breathwork exercises, reinforcement of key drills, as well as some interesting ideas. their movements were also very similar--if not identical--to a lot of Vlad's moves, which was very interesting to see.

oh yeah... last but certainly not least, this seminar highlighted to me how healing the entire practice of systema can be. the massage component are certainly a fantastic part of the practice, but almost the entirety of the system is healing. i suppose the easiest way to explain this is to draw the similarities of  the now well-established credentials of tai chi and yoga practice.

all in all, i was very glad to have made it to the seminar. and did i mention that i actually like lemonade quite a bit? :)

the art of pinning

had a great session with Frank yesterday. Frank is my sempai in Systema so to speak. he was already an advanced student when i first started, so it is always a treat to get to train with him. we managed to squeeze in a training session between his busy hours, and it was fabulous. we started off with some slow push work, which started off fairly routinely, but after Frank shared with me his insight from the recent seminar with the Zettler twins, it gave me a whole new level to think about. specifically, Frank polished the idea of 'being comfortable' with each 'positive step', as finding the most optimum and comfortable/relaxed spot for a counter-/strike, rather than just randomly striking willy-nilly. this really required a lot of patience, sensitivity, and honesty with the self. trying to rush or "score points" is detrimental. certainly a much more subtle, and 'invisible' way of working.

Frank then kindly demonstrated and taught me the basics of pinning without pinning. awesome shit as usual. some tips for me to take home was finding spots/parts to step on, being mindful of which bits hurt via massage work, using the knees, shins, the between bits the arms, and legs, etc. Also learning to free myself up as the pinner, free to transition around as needed, but also free to get out of the situation easily and quickly if necessary. great seed for future experimentation and work. loving it. maybe i needn't start collecting stamps after all!

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

training notes 18/5/15

ok, i sucked big time last night. so my 'notes' aren't really very good, because things didn't work most times anyway. only literally at the last minute or two of the class did something click for me, but i didn't have time to work on that idea. maybe next class. anyways, as i got stuck most of the time, we didn't do very much last night.

  • warm-ups with standard pulling-silk exercise
  • reverse breathing exercise (ala Daito Ryu?)--i.e. inhale, visualising ki entering from palms and soles of feet, travelling through the bones into the dantien. then exhale, ki traveling around the bones out the opposite path. stick tongue on roof?
  • ushiro ryote dori start--dai ikkyo response. equal force from both hands, intent always forward and through uke. however, not physically pushing forward as such, but spiraling force--almost like crank of sorts on the lead arm. if done right, uke should feel lifted fairly easily, and irresistible.
  • ushiro ryote dori start--dai sankyo response. mere contraction of previous exercise. instead of controlling uke through pain compliance via the wrist, it should be the same spiraling feeling of control via the entire arm, although tori's hands are placed more closely together, around the uke's lead hand/wrist.
  • note to self: possibly try to connect same aiki-age feeling via normal ryote dori attack, and send up feeling via dai ikkyo movement.

struggle street

Last night's training with Simon was arguably one of my most frustrating experience. After an hour and a half of pushing and shoving to no avail, I was close to throwing in the towel. I thought to myself that maybe I should just stick to Systema as it was so much easier, and flowing.

Then I remembered my time at the recent Systema seminar with the Zettler twins, and how I came home covered with bruises, and a hoarse throat from my panting, and screams of pain. I recalled thinking whilst being battered that perhaps I should quit Systema and stick to Aikido, because it was so much easier, and flowing.

It then occurred to me that everything was so bloody hard, that I suck, and maybe I should start collecting stamps instead. =_='