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Training the Legs in Systema

Updated: Apr 11

Systema Russian martial art focusing on self-defense, health, and personal development. It encompasses various techniques, including strikes, grappling, joint locks, and weapons training. In Systema, leg work, like in many martial arts, plays a crucial role in both offense and defense. Here's an overview of how leg work is utilized in Systema:

Systema places a significant emphasis on natural movement and fluid footwork. Practitioners are taught to move efficiently and effectively, using footwork to maintain balance, evade attacks, and create opportunities for offense. This includes various stepping patterns, pivots, and shifting stances to control distance and angles.

While Systema training is not primarily known for its kicking techniques like some other martial arts (e.g., Taekwondo or Muay Thai), it still incorporates kicks as part of its arsenal. Kicks in Systema are often delivered with fluidity and economy of motion, focusing on targets such as the legs, knees, groin, or abdomen. Depending on the situation, kicks can be used for both offensive and defensive purposes.

Alongside kicks, Systema practitioners are trained in various leg strikes, including knee strikes, shin strikes, and stomping techniques. These strikes are versatile and can be executed from different ranges, allowing practitioners to target vulnerable areas on an opponent's body or to disrupt their balance and movement.

Systema classes emphasize the ability to defend against leg attacks effectively. This includes techniques for blocking, parrying, and evading kicks and strikes directed at the legs. Practitioners are taught to use footwork and body movement to minimize the impact of incoming attacks while simultaneously countering or escaping from dangerous situations.

While Systema martial arts classes is not primarily a ground-fighting martial art like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, it does include training in ground techniques. Leg work is crucial in ground-based scenarios, where practitioners may need to use their legs for leverage, control, or submission holds while grappling with an opponent on the ground.

Overall, leg work in Systema encompasses a range of techniques and strategies aimed at enhancing both offensive and defensive capabilities, as well as promoting fluid movement, balance, and adaptability in combat situations.

Training the Legs in Systema

The 10 best Martial Arts stretches encompass all the main muscles used, and also focusing on areas that may be prone to injury. 

The standing hamstring stretch focuses on mobilizing the back of your thigh, which acts as a stabilizer for your knee.

  1. Start by standing on your with both feet with your left foot six inches in front of your right. The left heel should be on the floor with the toes flexed up.

  2. Then, hinge at the hips while slightly bending your right knee. Your spine should be parallel to the ground while the left leg is completely straight

  3. Hold for 30 seconds

  4. Switch sides and repeat

Martial arts, like kickboxing has unpredictable movement patterns, making it especially important to stretch in a multitude of directions. Side lunges affect the inner and outer hip and aid lateral movement.

Here are the steps:

  1. Start standing in a wide base, with your feet wider than shoulder width. 

  2. To begin, bend your right knee and hip for depth and horizontally, while maintaining an elongated straight left leg.

  3. Return to starting position, then lunge laterally to the opposite side, repeating this sequence 10x each side. 

  4. Remember, you should feel a nice pull into the groin of the elongated leg. If not, make a wider stance. 

Front lunges are a sagittal plane movement, which differ from side lunges, which are a frontal plane movement. With a different plane of motion, front lunges will affect different muscle groups. In this case, front lunges target more quadricep, hamstring, and glute max recruitment.

Here are the steps:

  1. Start standing with your feet shoulder width apart. 

  2. When ready, keep your spine upright and shoulders back and take a moderate step forward with your right leg.

  3. As you step forward, drop your right hip and bend your right knee to complete the lunge.

  4. Then, step back to the starting position and switch your lead leg.

  5. Repeat 10x each side

Many abdominal and spinal stretches involve extension and rotation. But, improving lateral flexion with side bends can increase flexibility in the obliques and lateral hip.

Here are the steps:

  1. While standing upright with your arms at each side, start to reach your right hand down your side body towards the outside of your right foot. 

  2. At the same time, bump your hips to the left to increase the range of motion. Make sure you are bending to the side (laterally), and not forward or rotation. 

  3. Repeat on the opposite side. 

Stretching your Anterior Tibialis muscle with shin stretches will help prevent dreaded shin splints and mobilize your knee, foot, and ankle for improved range of motion.

Here are the steps:

  1. Start standing with your right foot about 6-12 inches behind your left.

  2. Then, flip your right foot so the sole of your foot is facing up and the top of your foot (shoelace side) is making contact with the ground

  3. When ready, make light squats with evenly distributed body weight. You should feel a stretch on the top of your foot through your shin.

  4. Repeat 10x each leg. 

Throwing punches in martial arts involves repetitive shoulder flexion and protraction (your arms in front of you or above your head). So in order to counterbalance the shoulder flexion, use the assisted reverse chest stretch to extend your shoulders while stretching your triceps and forearms!

Here are the steps:

  1. Start by standing about 6-12 inches in front of a table.

  2. Then, grab the edge of the table with each hand and start to lower your body towards the ground. You should feel a nice stretch in the biceps, chest, and shoulders.  

With all the intensity of training for martial arts, including stretches for muscle repair and improving back flexibility is important. Including Child’s Pose before or after your workout will help accelerate your recovery. 

Here are the steps:

  1. Start on all fours on your From all fours, bring your knees slightly wider than hips, nearly mat distance apart. 

  2. Keeping big toes to touch, push your bum towards your feet. 

  3. Keeping your hips back, begin to lower your chest, head and shoulders to the mat. 

  4. Then, forehead releases to the mat and arms stretched long forward.

  5. Let elbows soften and hold 5 breaths. 

Don’t be alarmed, even if you can’t perform a full split, the positioning of your hips can be an effective stretch for the legs. 

Here are the steps:

  1. Start in a low lunge position with the right knee down and left leg up on a towel

  2. Place both hands on your hips and keep your front left foot flexed so the heel is on the ground and toes are pointed up. Your right back toes should be untucked so the top of the foot is resting on the ground.

  3. Begin to slide your front left foot forward, using the towel to help you glide.

  4. Once you feel a deep stretch in the front leg hamstring and back leg hip flexors, stop and hold this position.

For effective combat training, whether that is martial arts or boxing, core stiffness helps create tension to encourage stability. However, this makes stretches like the reclined spinal twist more important, in order to emphasize flexibility in the spine to stay balanced
Here are the steps:

  1. Lay on your back and hug your right knee into your chest. Let your right arm extend wide out to the right. 

  2. Using your left hand, guide the right leg up and across the body to the left.

  3. Now, let your knee fall to the left. Bottom leg stays straight. Release your left arm to the left and if comfortable, bring your gaze to the right. 

  4. Hold for 5 breaths. Repeat on the other side  

A strong upper body also indicates a flexible upper body. Using arm swings as a dynamic stretch encourages mobility in your shoulders, chest, and lats to keep healthy when aggressive arm motions in martial arts.

Here are the steps:

  1. Start standing with your arms by your sides.

  2. When ready, raise your arms in front of you and start to make big circles going clockwise with your arms. 

  3. With control, pretend like you’re touching every digit on the clock (12,1,2,etc.) 

  4. Repeat clockwise 5x through, then switch directions and perform the arm circles counterclockwise. 

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