Systema – Working with Weight

The Psychological Effect of Working with Weight

Working with weight highlighted some interesting psychological effects.

For example, one student remarked to me after the seminar that working with weight allowed him to remain more calm. Work with muscular effort can lead to rushing; as soon as you see a way to work against your partner, you can try to force your ideas into reality with your muscles. However, work with weight depends on the rhythm and feel of your partner, and you therefore need to wait for the right opening; like a jazz musician who needs to time their entry into the song with the rest of the band. For some students, this may change the anxiety of deciding “what” to do, to a more patient and relaxed wait for “when” to do.


Emmanuel also showed me how I would often allow some of my partner’s weight to ‘fall’ onto me before I then pushed the weight back to my partner. It was as if I used my body as a glove to catch a partner advancing towards me and store the weight like a spring before giving it back. This approach can work sometimes, but he showed me the value of putting my weight on my partner immediately, rather than trying to catch it first. Putting weight on my partner in this fashion was different than my usual way of working, and more efficient. I felt like I was giving a serious no-nonsense message: “No, I’m not giving you an inch”. It also provided a sense of personal confidence Systema style. This gave me an interesting frame of reference for not being accommodating when I want to take a decisive and deliberate stand in other areas of my life. ~ by Mark Fan

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