Question to Mikhail: In your opinion, what makes stick a good weapon in Systema Stick Training?

Reply: I like it because it is easy to get for training and easy to find in most situations outdoors and indoors. Also, a stick is not classified as a dangerous weapon; anyone is allowed to have one. In a confrontation, stick allows you to keep your opponent at a distance and it works well against a knife. In addition to that, I like the fact that stick training prepares you very well for working with a sword.

Question: In your Stick Seminars you show such a multitude of exercises and drills. Why is it necessary to have so many?

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Reply: Systema stick training exercises build the foundation for solid stick application. Endurance and mobility lay within our tendons more so than within the muscles. Thus we need to enhance our tendons with these specialized drills. We are not able to work effectively with any weapon or any partner unless we have strength in every part of the range and every position of the body. We also ought to maximize our general physical ability and that is why we combine any weapons work with breath training.

Most of the drills we covered in the Stick Seminars are so clear and comfortable to do that people can start practicing them at any age.

Question: At what age did you start training with a stick?

Reply: I was exposed to some weapons training since an early age of four. It rarely happens in our modern world, but I was fortunate to use the weapons (such as a stick) as tools for physical labor. There is a great benefit to practical use of weapons at the age when you are not very strong. You learn to hold and handle things properly, efficiently. I was taught that every weapon and tool we use has its own identity and is to be treated with respect and control.

Question: How can one develop subtle and precise stick strikes?

Reply: This is an important goal that we work on in class. In brief, you use the wrist motions without the use of the entire arm.

Question: One of the things you suggest at the seminars is An Instant Warm Up with a Stick that warms up the body in 1 minute. How is it different from just running or jumping for 1 minute?

Reply: Traditional warm ups create superficial effect on the muscles. These specialized Stick drills produce a deep internal effect.

Question: At the recent seminar in New York you tied up your opponent with the stick. Can you tell us what was it that you actually did?

Reply: If you watch this episode closely, well before he ended up on the floor and stuck to his stick, I put his wrist in such a position that his joint perception was altered. The wrist was in such an uncomfortable position that he could not feel it. Then I did the same with his shoulder by slightly bringing it out of the socket. He was not hurt at all, but because of these altered joint perceptions he just was not able to move the muscles.

Question: Do you see any limitations in Systema stick training and application?

Reply: There is one big limitation or obstacle. And that is our personal laziness. If we overcome that the possibilities are amazing.

This article was published on April 16, 2008.