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systema and paleo

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created December 16, 2010 at 2:39 AM

I'm just curious if anyone on this forum has tried Systema (Russian Martial Art). There are a lot of overlaps with paleo/primal lifestyle, including:

-advocation of cold water bathing, fasting, necessity of relaxation, fostering natural relaxed movement etc. -they discourage weight lifting, but instead use bodyweight and partner exercises to foster coordination and dynamic strength (i.e. doing a situp while getting punched in the face slowly and having another partner lay across you, doing squats while getting pushed from all directions by multiple partners) -AWESOME sense of camraderie and a FUN training attitude (lots of laughing, not taking anything too seriously, even/especially when some of the drills get pretty hardcore) -become super accustomed to and comfortable with close human contact/touch

Anyway, I was just wondering if: 1. people here have heard of it 2. people here have tried it 3. if so, what were your impressions/experiences? 4. any long term practitioners?

full disclosure: I used to train and loved it. Otherwise not affiliated with any instructors. Don't train anymore in order to experiment with some other physical systems (including partner dance). Also I'm broke :)

If your curious youtube clips of vladimir vasiliev or martin wheeler.

710a2d86803b176778ce7db770944bb7

(626)

on December 17, 2010
at 04:33 PM

yea very good point Scott. Going into a structured activity setting for 2 hours a few times a week is very different from having pretty much EVERY aspect of your movement-experience be dictated by a highly irregular environment. I'm interested in systema, movnat, parkour and feldenkrais specifically because they train a sort of freedom of movement (systema for example has no kata, forms, or 'moves'--basically they train you to relax and move creatively under a bunch of improvised situations). But yea, definitely not trying to sleep-eat-breathe some sort of artificial paleo identity

5841391284e7af8c495c54bd90d3a795

(2764)

on December 17, 2010
at 06:48 AM

Good points. I certainly think the physical aspects of martial arts have some overlap with the sort of physical demands made on people in the paleolithic era - probably a pale echo of those demands, actually. I'm just not sure that something as systematic as systema, Aikido, etc. would be very similar to common activities back then. I'm not trying to be "paleo" when I practice.

Ac1e55cf06c2180f4008ff01953d10dd

(3524)

on December 17, 2010
at 04:28 AM

great post ecb!

710a2d86803b176778ce7db770944bb7

(626)

on December 16, 2010
at 04:37 PM

I think being comfortable with human contact and expanding one's physical comfort zone in our highly touch averse culture is very paleo. One of the craziest discoveries in my training that receiving strikes properly actually felt good and helped me relax. In systema (and I think alot of russian traditions) receiving hits and strikes is a type of massage, when done properly (i.e. proper relaxation and good breathing).

710a2d86803b176778ce7db770944bb7

(626)

on December 16, 2010
at 04:23 PM

Think the branch hitting in sauna's etc.

710a2d86803b176778ce7db770944bb7

(626)

on December 16, 2010
at 04:22 PM

Scott, Thank you for your reply! See below for my thoughts (too long for the comment box).

710a2d86803b176778ce7db770944bb7

(626)

on December 16, 2010
at 04:22 PM

I think being comfortable with human contact and expanding one's physical comfort zone in our highly touch averse culture is very paleo. One of the craziest discoveries in my training that receiving strikes properly actually felt _good_ and helped me relax. In systema (and I think alot of russian traditions) receiving hits and strikes is a type of massage, when done properly (i.e. proper relaxation and good breathing).

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3 Answers

3
710a2d86803b176778ce7db770944bb7

(626)

on December 16, 2010
at 04:32 PM

I was originally typing this as a reply to ScottMGS, but it sort of dovetailed into something that might merit an independent post.

I disagree slightly with Scott. I think our modern, industrialized lifestyle has created significant changes both in how we eat and how we move. Namely, by drastically reducing the ammount and types of movement we engage in. Beginning with agriculture, which introduced a highly regulated/limited system of movements that were repeated for long stretches of time and without significant variance based on environmental factors (think stalking prey over uneven terrain or gathering herbs etc. in a forest versus hoeing an even patch of field for multiple hours a day). Obviously things have declined pretty considerably since then, where the limited if at least vigorous movements of agricultural work have mostly been replaced by sedentary activity with most of the activity centered in the hands and fingers (i.e. typing!)

Anyway, so the paleo challenge in the physical level, I think, becomes: 1. how does one simulate/replicate the benefits of naturalistic (i.e. varied, random, efficient, ergonomic and healthy/fun) movement in an environment that doesn't necessitate or encourage this type of movement--in fact an environment that actively discourages it (i.e. see NYC banning parkour in public parks) 1a. to be skeptical, is this even important for health/wellbeing? I think so, but have no evidence besides the anecdotal. 2. how does one integrate naturalistic movement into every day life?

Relative to these concerns, weight lifting* (which I engage in, see my other post under this name) seems to be a fairly unnatural pursuit. I say this because it does nothing to engender creative or free movement in the practitioner, simply repetitive motions under high-loads to stimulate muscle growth and insulin sensitivity without concern for increasing the ability to relax, respond to complex physical stimuli, etc. Further, it definitely helps you look awesome and increase strength/muscle mass in a super short time span BUT there is the question of strength 'quality'/functionality. I had a ton of experiences in martial arts of being overpowered by people much 'smaller' than me and also of overpowering jacked up weight lifter types with randomized/erratic movements.

I think Sisson is right on with his advocacy of play, dance etc.

I guess this might be more of a question of 'natural' movement systems that work for you guys/your opinion on the whole thing.

Obviously there is parkour, movnat (which, frankly, seems like a more codified version of systema), climbing, barefoot hiking, feldenkrais, dance. For me systema was a great method of cultivating freedom of movement.** Any other methods and strategies for cultivating this? Is weight lifting necessary? Can one get basically the same benefits from randomized body weight exercises?

*by weight lifting I am referring to high-load methods like BBS, strong lifts, the 5x5 program etc., but, by association any program which uses repetitive motions **this is tricky to define, but I guess for me this means the ability to creatively and efficiently respond to demands on my movement (moving neatly through a crowded area, lifting stuff efficiently, being able to transition between all sorts of positions--sitting, standing, lying down--with ease). Basically gracefulness.

Ac1e55cf06c2180f4008ff01953d10dd

(3524)

on December 17, 2010
at 04:28 AM

great post ecb!

710a2d86803b176778ce7db770944bb7

(626)

on December 17, 2010
at 04:33 PM

yea very good point Scott. Going into a structured activity setting for 2 hours a few times a week is very different from having pretty much EVERY aspect of your movement-experience be dictated by a highly irregular environment. I'm interested in systema, movnat, parkour and feldenkrais specifically because they train a sort of freedom of movement (systema for example has no kata, forms, or 'moves'--basically they train you to relax and move creatively under a bunch of improvised situations). But yea, definitely not trying to sleep-eat-breathe some sort of artificial paleo identity

5841391284e7af8c495c54bd90d3a795

(2764)

on December 17, 2010
at 06:48 AM

Good points. I certainly think the physical aspects of martial arts have some overlap with the sort of physical demands made on people in the paleolithic era - probably a pale echo of those demands, actually. I'm just not sure that something as systematic as systema, Aikido, etc. would be very similar to common activities back then. I'm not trying to be "paleo" when I practice.

0
5841391284e7af8c495c54bd90d3a795

(2764)

on December 16, 2010
at 06:40 AM

I practice Aikido but I can't really see a martial art as being related to paleo dieting or lifestyle. It meets a lot of my physical needs and is a great community so it might meet the primal play aspect.

710a2d86803b176778ce7db770944bb7

(626)

on December 16, 2010
at 04:22 PM

Scott, Thank you for your reply! See below for my thoughts (too long for the comment box).

0
62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on December 16, 2010
at 05:54 AM

Getting punched in the face slowly? Is that paleo? I sure hope not!

710a2d86803b176778ce7db770944bb7

(626)

on December 16, 2010
at 04:37 PM

I think being comfortable with human contact and expanding one's physical comfort zone in our highly touch averse culture is very paleo. One of the craziest discoveries in my training that receiving strikes properly actually felt good and helped me relax. In systema (and I think alot of russian traditions) receiving hits and strikes is a type of massage, when done properly (i.e. proper relaxation and good breathing).

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