Reflections of the Knife Master Class Seminar at Systema HQ
Category : FC Connect
This past weekend I attended the Knife Master Class Seminar at Systema HQ. It was a great event and there was a lot of information to process. As I study and train in Systema I keep seeing the same ideas and philosophies appear over and over again but each time going deeper and with more detail than I had previously seen and understood. For me it’s always fascinating to see that through studying Systema from one perspective (e.g., strikes, guns, knives, working outdoors) we are also Studying all of the other components of Systema in their entirety. It is impossible to understand Systema from one perspective apart from its whole.
Attending seminars also fills me with a great sense of gratitude. We are so privileged to be training here in Toronto with so many great people in two world renowned schools, Fight-Club and Headquarters. Meeting people who have travelled from all over the world to train here is very humbling and always makes me reflect on how lucky we are to have you as an instructor and access to Vladimir. This is a very special time. Thank you.
Here are a few notes I took from the seminar. Some are quotes from Vlad that are loosely paraphrased and some are my own insights.
Knife Master Class Seminar at Systema Headquarters
Jan. 21-22. 2017
– A confrontation with a knife is an honest conversation between you and your opponent about life and death, your life and death, and theirs
– When training always return to the basics, how you reacted to a threat
– When your body closes or gets smaller when faced with a threat this is because of tension, the goal is to open ourselves up
– Opening the body = eliminating tension, closing the body = fear and creating tension
– A knife is a tool of power and the effects that it has on our psyche is rooted in our history
– Be in control of the knife, do not let the knife be in control of you
– When working with a knife or against one keep your fingers and grip relaxed enough to maintain your body’s mobility. If your grip creates tension in your body and psyche it will be harder for you to adapt to the situation and ultimately survive. This is true of any Systema drill or exercise (e.g., wrestling, take downs).
– A knife (or any weapon) is an extension of your body
– There are two types of fighting, 1) to eliminate your opponent 2) to break through to them
-To prepare for knife work you need to access and ‘tune into’ your body and psyches’ survival mode, like a radio station. To achieve this we had our partners give us one good stab with the knife to help our psyches and bodies access the reactivity necessary for this type of work. The body and psyche need to be warmed up for knife work.
– It is important to work with a partner that you trust and if you can’t find one at least find someone whose face you like
– There are three distances for knife attacks, 1) when the knife is in contact with your body, 2) when the knife is coming from a distance and 3) when the person is moving towards you with a knife. Become comfortable working with all three of these distances
– I cannot overemphasize the importance of ‘stepping’ properly and being tension free, this type of movement is crucial to defending against a knife attack and is a building block of Systema in general
-Stepping lightly and moving tension free can be practiced all of the time in our everyday lives, when we walk, when we get out of bed, when we get dressed. Constantly ask yourself when you are doing these things, “Do I feel relaxed?” “Am I doing this as efficiently as possible?”
– We are constantly trying to monitor our own internal states but as we progress in Systema the awareness has to be for our partners’ internal state and intensions
-A drill for developing awareness of our partners’ intensions is for one partner to hold out the knife in a firm but relaxed grip. The second partner places their hand on the wrist of the partner with the knife but in a very relaxed grip, almost more of a touch. As the partner with the knife moves (backwards, forwards), the partner without the knife has to ‘stay with them’ moving as they do with a relaxed grip on their wrist. This develops sensitivity towards your partner.
– Another drill for developing sensitivity towards your partner and the knife as an extension of your body is for each partner to hold out their knives and just have the tips or ends of the blades touching. As each partner moves (their feet and position of the knife) they have to stay with one another concentrating and extending their awareness to the tips of their knives. This will help develop awareness of the knife as a natural extension of your body.