Sergei O Workshop thoughts



We had Sergei over from Moscow last week (he's one of Mikhail's top guys and a Spets vet.). One of the lads who attended one of the days wrote the following:

Sergei Ozhreliev UK Workshop
Sunday May 12th 2002
Sergei Ozhreliev UK Workshop Sunday May 12th 2002
The venue for the seminar was Hills Road tennis
centre, Cambridge. Let the fun begin! Looking round
the Sports hall for Sergei trying to pick him out
from the crowd. I had never seen him before and was
amazed when he turned out to one of the smallest men
in the hall. A valuable lesson in "never judge a book
by it's cover" I think. Sergei started the day with
some gentle breathing exercises to help us relax,
followed by squats and press-ups first breathing in on
the way up then vice versa, and then gentle running
round the hall whilst controlling our breathing. This
was a very useful way of learning to overcome the
feeling of being out of breath, taking one breath
in/out with each footstep, then two, three, four etc.
until finally running a full circuit of the hall
without breathing. Sergei explained, well Jason did!(
full marks for the translation skills mate) how using
this breathing method quickly restores you natural
breathing during or immediately after intense
exercise. Sergei then made us drop forward to ground
as quickly as we could, into a press up type position
as we hit the deck, OUCH! Again correct breathing made
all the difference, and now, breathing out as I hit
the floor seemed to take all the pressure off my
body., and allowed me to drop faster with less chance
of injury.
The next exercise was rolling, around the room we went
left shoulder first, then right. Personally I found
this really difficult as I was a rolling "virgin" so
to speak, and what a place to learn. No mats, hard
floor and surrounded by people which made it look like
falling off a log. I think I managed to bruise just
about every protruding part of my body. When the
exercise finished I was quietly relieved, until Sergei
then demonstrated rolling with his hands in his
pockets, followed by the famous words "try it". (Yes I
did just say with his hands in his pockets!) Needless
to say I didn't do very well. Relaxation is the key to
Systema, and something that I find very difficult, I
currently train in an external Martial art, which is
based around a firm stance and strong upper body.
Systema is very different in it's principles to most
traditional Martial arts, you learn to keep the body
moving freely and never fixate on one area of the
attacker, and always stay loose and relaxed. Sergei
quickly demonstrated to me, (I ended up on the floor
in a milli-second) how using strenth to break away
from a wrist lock, causes more pain than just going
with it. By letting my arm go loose I found not only
did it hurt less, but with thought and quick movement
I was possible to break away from him. Do you think he
was being polite? I think so, but it was still a
vaulable lesson to me proving strenth is not
important, but being relaxed is. This was even more
apparent when defending yourself against two peolple
at once. Sergei demostrated this with two of the
bigger lads training with us and manipulated them to
the point where they were bumping into each other,
falling in each others way. It was almost comical,
especially with Sergei looking at his watch whist
defending himself. I would like to say at this point,
I mean no disrespect or critism to the two lads,
Sergei is just an true expert in the System. He then
showed a few techniques used by the Russian Police,
which stem from the Russian Martial art of Sombo,
these were particularly usefull to those of us which
were interested in the Security applications of the
system, enabling us to safely restrain and search with
minimum fuss. We finshed the first part of the day by
tightly gathering round Sergei then closing our eyes
and walking forwards throwing puches, as you can
imagine nearly fifty people all facing the centre of a
circle walking and punching, it was kaos but
absolutely brilliant kaos.

Part two of the day took place upstairs in the Viewing
Gallery, a much smaller room than the sports hall,
this meant that there was very limited space to train
in. Sergei started us off in pairs, with one person up
against the wall. We learnt how usefull "disraction"
is when trying to escape from a hold or choke. One
technique which amazed me was how a simple flick on
the throat just above the adams apple causes such a
big reaction, as did the pulling and twisting of my
sideburns. We worked on escaping from throat grabs,
and being pinned up against the wall. Limited space
training help me a great deal as the option to move
about in the heat of the moment is gone, causing me to
take quick decisive action without all the ducking &
diving im so used to from Sparing. Sergei also taught
us simple AND WORKABLE takedowns, which were
suprisingly quick to learn and very effective. From
the front, from the side with your arm round them in a
friendly way, and alsofrom behind. At one point we
worked sitting next to each other on the floor. I
began to understand Systema is a quite sneaky art
where anything that works goes.

We finished the training with body conditioning,
probably the only time in life where you actually tell
people to punch you harder. It's suprising how hard
you can be hit with breath control. I was hitting
Steve VERY HARD, the kind of stomach punches that have
most people doubled up and he kept saying "go on,
harder" . It was quite anoying!
We ended the session sitting in the usual circle and
talking about the days events. Everybody feeling
inspired and more keen than ever to learn more about
the System.
As a relative newcomer to Systema I found it both
interesting and easy to learn. If had a pound for
every time I've said "that's so simple" I could have
paid for the seminar. The principles were taught, the
rest was up to us. Sergei explained that everyone
works and reacts differently, anything that gets you
safely in control or out of danger, works. The
seminars are open to everyone and over half the group
were total strangers to me. It's good to train with as
many different people as you can, for the same reason.
Unlike the rigid forms of traditional Martial arts
there are no stances or forms etc. I strongly
reccomend training in the System to anyone who is
interested in Self-defence or Martial arts.
I can honestly say I've learnt more practical Self
defence in the three months I've been training in
Systema, than in the many years spent studying
traditional Shotokan and Tae Kwon-Do. It has helped my
reactions, awareness and avoidence skills.
The atmosphere was joviel all day and gave me the
chance to meet and train with some really good people
which I'm sure I'll see again, All in all I had a
great day.
Chris Boyens
Thank you for sharing it with us. It was a great to read.
It sounds like you had a good time, and that everyone gained a lot of knowledge and experience at the seminar. Keep posting.

Ok everyone, start sharing your experiences now!

Haven't had any yet :(

My instructor is going to Russia to train from May 31 to June 8 so I hope to hear all about that :)

Rob, does Chris still train with you guys?

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