Training Philosophy & Approach to Movement Training

Jiyu is not a method- it is an intention.  In Japanese it means 'Freedom, Autonomy & Independence' and my favorite 'Anything Goes'! 

The intent is to discover freedom, creativity, & effortlessness in your movement, to be free of restrictions, with an emphasis on optimizing health and performance in every aspect of your life.  Instead of trying to copy someone else’s movement preferences, we work on developing our own through principle-based study in additional to technical skill-based training. The result is more effortless, natural movement, and surgical application of practical skills.

We study and incorporate all aspects of health, fitness &  movement disciplines to create a more individualized and adaptable approach: 

Science-based Fitness Training, Neurological Research, Martial Arts & Self-Defense, Combat Psychology, Classical Yoga, Yoga Philosophy, Dance, Parkour, Kettlebell & Weight Training, Diet, Life Coaching, Behavior Modification, etc.

Function Creates the Form, Not the Other Way Around

The Core Principles of Jiyu include: 

Self-inquiry & Education

An interest in yourself and how you relate to a changing environment is a necessity.  Through training we must examine ourselves, our strength and our weakness and accept absolute truths.  Instead of just 'exercising' we must be educated on what it is we are doing , why, and make thoughtful observations on the effect of the training.   Training is approached in a scientific way, where we set up exercises and scenarios, make observations, and adjust our training accordingly.  It must always have a functional and practical application to our daily lives.  Taking pride in the process and not the outcome is essential.  Humility is essential for real growth.  Training is not something that you set aside time to do at a gym- it something you are doing every moment of your life.  What are you training for?

Life Balance

If we focus on first balancing and healing ourselves we will be more proficient at everything we do and get more beneficial and unexpected results.  If we let desire for specific results guide our actions, we will not necessarily be balanced, and make us even more unbalanced. For example a goal of losing belly fat quickly may lead a person to doing lots of so called 'cardio' and 'fasting'.  Neither action is 'wrong', but this may leave them exhausted, malnourished, moody, and still not help them achieve their goal.  Their mood and concentration may suffer and other, more important aspects of their life may suffer. Then the person returns to old habits which might bring the belly fat back!  If the focus is on the entire health of the person reaching our goals in a productive way is a lot more likely.  Overall Health & Wellness must always be the first priority: diet, sleep, movement, energy levels, stress levels, sleep, occupation, family, friends etc. will have more long-term benefits than an aesthetic goal.  If you live, eat, and move better, you will look better too!

Systema Pillars

The four general principles of Systema are: Breathing, Relaxation, Structure, and Movement.  These principles are the main inspiration for the JIYU approach to principle-based movement training.

Breathing is essential for physical and mental health, endurance, work capacity, study, and meditation.  Yoga & Systema both teach that 'Breath is the bridge between Mind & Body'.

Relaxation.  While one line of muscles tense, another relaxes in order to support the movement.  Relaxation can be seen as minimizing any unecessary tension in the body and mind. 

Structure is studying the functional organization of the body in every orientation. The structure of our body must follow the function.

Movement is the action as the result of the previous three pillars.


In Jiyu we do not focus on aesthetics of movements.  Truly aesthetically pleasing movement is the result of a healthy, capable body moving with minimal effort.  We spend most of our time not trying to add to our movement, but rather edit out everything we don't need first. Patterns that are useless and unhealthy block us from being able to learn and grow. Once we begin to cut away the excess, adding new, useful skills is much easier.  The nervous system is not bogged down by bad habits, is more sensitive and can better adjust to the demands we place on it.

Appropriate and Individualized Approach

Unfortunately many times what we want is not what we really need. Our culture has raised us thinking that 'We can do anything if we put our mind to it.'  While this sentiment may seem inspirational, it is not true, and not the healthiest approach.  If it was true, anyone could be a professional athlete and anyone could beat cancer. This approach can be very damaging for the body and the psyche.  More accurately we should say ‘We can study and improve ourselves in any area if we approach it appropriately and consistently.’

Further, going to Yoga, martial arts, or fitness classes based on a cookie cutter methodology can be very unhealthy for most people.  Many classes are designed around the teacher's preferences and will only be appropriate to a small percentage of people.  What is appropriate for the teacher isn't necessarily appropriate for you.  Many people have suffered injuries at the hands of lousy teachers who were bogged down by pedagogy and myth.  Training choices must be approached differently for each individual.  The teacher must be there for the student, not the other way around.