An Introduction to Systema Breathing (video)

Berkshire Healthcare NHS Trust are running an initiative aimed at improving staff wellbeing. I produced this video, which introduces some Systema breathing as part of this initiative.

It introduces some of the key principles of Systema & Systema breathing, guiding you through a series of breathing patterns that you can practice to help you relax & reduce tension in your body & mind.


5 Years of Systema Reading

November 2019 marks the 5th year of Systema Reading. We are marking the occasion in a couple of ways.

Firstly, we will be offering free trial classes to beginners throughout November. This will be followed  with a celebratory seminar on the last day of the month.

Free Trial Classes

If you’re a beginner you can enjoy your first trial lesson for free. After that you can still purchase a further 2 trial lessons in the usual way before deciding to become a member of the club.

5th Anniversary Seminar

We are also holding a celebratory seminar on the 30th of November.

I will be joined by Rob Hodgkinson from Systema Mid Wessex for a day of  Systema training to celebrate this occasion. The day is open to everyone regardless of experience – yes, even if you’ve never trained Systema before – you’re all very welcome.

The seminar will be held at Coley Park Community Centre, 140 Wensley Road, Reading, RG1 6DW (map below)

We start at 9:45am and finish at 3:00pm. Registration from 9:15am.

The costs for the day is £20, if purchased in advance or £25 on the day.
There is a further £5 discount for members of Systema Reading & Systema Mid Wessex.

Advanced payments are no longer available.

What is Systema?

Naturally, people are always asking me this & it’s hard to answer in a few short sentences. You could say Systema is a way of being – a state.

At its core, Systema is about understanding how you manage yourself & your interactions with others. A system that can be applied to anything challenging or stressful that you face in your life:

  • Public speaking, job interviews or dates
  • Sports & competitions
  • Parenting & relationships
  • Defending yourself & your loved ones

In Systema, we start by cultivating good health. We use breathing, movement, exercise & even massage to build a body that’s relaxed, versatile & strong and a mind that’s calm, clear & present.

We then look to test & fortify this mind/body state by progressively working in more & more challenging scenarios. Combat situations dealing with strikes, kicks, groundwork, weapons or multiple opponents.

On the surface Systema is a martial art, but through training these four principles – breath, relaxation, movement, structure – we develop a more refined operating system. Who wouldn’t want that?

The best way to learn about Systema is to try it – watching a travel show isn’t the same as going on holiday!

I teach on Mondays & Wednesday and I’m offering a free trial lesson to anyone coming along & mentioning this blog post.

Hope to see you soon


Forming the fist for Systema strikes

This short video explains how to form the fist for your Systema strikes.

In it I look at forming the fist rather than clenching it, to maintain the correct alignment & reduce the risk of causing damage during striking.

I also look at how we can reduce tension in the forearm which develops strikes that are relaxed, fast & heavy.

If you’re interested in learning more about Systema strikes then you’re very welcome to come along to one of our Systema Classes.

You can also purchase Strikes: Soul Meets Body by Vladimir Vasiliev by using this affiliate link.

Systema saved my life

Slipping by Maurizio Carpani from the Noun Project

It’s no exaggeration to say that Systema saved my life last night.

We were crossing a road on our way back from watching the football (England knocking Columbia out of the World Cup – on penalties).

We were climbing over a low wall with raised bedding that acts as the central reservation (yes I know, not a safe place to cross but we’d had one or two ales – did I mentioned England won on penalties!)

As I stepped down off the wall, I turned my ankle & started to fall. As I fell I saw a car coming towards me &, while going to the ground, was able to align myself into the kerb – narrowly missing a facefull of car.

Had I simply sprawled into the road, I would have been hit. Had I rolled, I again would have ended up in the road & been hit.

Instinctively applying the Systema principles allowed me fall in a calm & relaxed way, into the safest place that kept me from being seriously injured or worse.

Funnily enough we’d been studying falling at the club the night before & we’d been saying what an important life skill falling is. I’m now utterly convinced of that – thank you Systema.

Free to be your natural best

Systema – The System

Systema is Russian for the system. Yes, it refers to the set of principles that we use in our practice. The methodology we follow when training, but it also relates to you as a system – a complex set of parts working together as an interconnected whole.

Systema frees you

The system that is Systema, liberates the system that is you.

The aim in Systema is to return you to your natural state. One that is calm, relaxed & free.

Rediscovering the freedom of movement you felt as a child: uninhibited, spontaneous, energetic, healthy & fun.

You aren’t asked to replicate the movements of anyone else (no katas or techniques to mimic here). Instead a rediscovery of your own unique way of moving.

Along the way you’ll discover a versatility that helps you become powerful, capable & in control.

Come along & experience it for yourself. New Health classes start Wednesday 3rd January.

Self-massage with balls (video)

A short video showing the use of balls for self-massage, an effective way to release tension from the body.

In the video, I introduce the simple principles involved & demonstrate some of the ways you can use the balls to massage the upper body while working against a wall.


You can purchase the types of ball I use in the video using these affiliate links. Below are links to the 3 sizes I use: size 1, 3 & 5. A size 1 ball is about 13cm in diameter, a size 3 is around 18cm & a size 5 is about 22cm. As I mention in the video the smaller the ball the more focused the massage.


Video of outdoor class

It was far too nice to be inside last Monday so we took advantage of the good weather & went outside to train.

This short video clip shows the class working on some progressions that involved striking with different body parts.

Systema demo video

Here’s a brief video compilation of clips from the Systema demos we did at this year’s “It’s Your Life” event.

The event was held at Rivemead Leisure complex in Reading back in November.

We had a stand at the event & did a couple of short demos too. I was helped in the demos by one of my club members, Jason Schofield.

Systema Twins Seminar Videos

Just a quick post to share a couple of videos from the Systema Twins seminar that was held in Wiltshire last month.

I was fortunate enough to used in a few demos & the videos below show Brendon Zettler demonstrating some work on me.

Systema work against strikes

Systema work against grabs