At the high-recommendation of my cousin’s partner (and a close friend) I attended a class of the Russian Martial art, Systema.
Systema means “The System” in Russian – originating from 10th century orthodox warriors (according to their literature) the martial practice itself is practical, relaxed, and fierce.
The classes themselves were very hands on. There were about 30 of us all using partners and pairs of 3 to practice different techniques at varying skill levels. I quickly felt comfortable in the environment and had lots of fun.
That’s not to say it was easy. Knuckle pushups, wrist tension exercises and jogging were just the warm up. At one point I had two gigantic Russian men holding each of my arms and the goal was simply to “escape”. I got punched in the face a few times (not hard), socked in my chest as I was told to keep my shoulders relaxed.
Frankly, I’d prefer something at this intensity as opposed to the other extreme of a cushy, do-nothing basket weave martial arts class. This was real grappling – and it was interesting to get a stress-inoculation from getting a rear naked choke, or just taking a hit to the face in a controlled environment.
I’m not at the point where I can decide if I want to pursue it seriously. I still want to try Judo. But at least I did the November goal, and that makes it worth it!