Systema Sydney Russian Martial Art

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Let Every Breath by Systema Master Vladimir Vasiliev with Scott Meredith, Ph.D.

Based on the teachings of Mikhail Ryabko


Secrets of the Russian Breath Masters. A groundbreaking new manual that reveals the Breathing Techniques of Russia’s traditional "SYSTEMA".

Born in the discipline of Russia’s ancient holy warriors and brought down to us today through the ranks of their military’s most elite modern special forces, these battle-tested principles and techniques are available to you for the first time. Whether you are looking to raise your athletic skills to the next level, or simply seeking to increase your potential and to enjoy life, Systema Breathing is guaranteed to uncover the endless reserve of energy, health and happiness.

This book presents step-by-step training drills given to you in a thorough and comprehensive way. You will learn the unique methodology of Systema breathing including the seven Systema breathing principles that provide the foundation for every physical activity of your daily life.

Easy reading full of entertaining stories and thought provoking ideas.

The most important book you will ever read.

125 pages



I strongly recommend you read this book,

Justin Ho
Principal Instructor
Systema Sydney Russian Martial Art
www.systemasydney.com

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Fighting in the Water (downloadable) by Systema Masters Vladimir Vasiliev and Konstantin Komarov

An instructional film by Vladimir Vasiliev and Konstantin Komarov, of Russia's Special Operations Units


Imagine being held under water while your lungs are pounded with the air-expelling strikes... picture yourself shoved face down to the bottom of the lake as the attacker tramples your back... what if a blade is emerging out of the water ready to slice your throat... This film will show you how to survive such dreadful adversities, and not just to survive - but to avoid panic, to stay in control and handle your opponent no matter how hopeless it gets.

Unprecedented in the martial arts training world, now you can see all this action IN THE WATER:

  • conditioning exercises, 
  • kicks & punches, 
  • escapes from holds, 
  • precision strikes & instant takedowns, 
  • rolls to evade drowning, 
  • knife disarmings, 
  • and the most challenging no-bottom fighting.


Learn:

  • specialized breath training drills to save your life and rescue others, 
  • maximize the reserves of your psyche, 
  • compress and expand your breath cycle & your internal time scale, 
  • push yourself beyond your physical limit without the stress to your nervous system, 
  • use water to conceal your actions, 
  • build a field sauna, 
  • see water not as a limitation to your moving and breathing, but as the perfect tool to work directly with your Fear, conquer your Panic, master Self-Control and add a new depth to your combat skill and to understanding yourself.


Includes live action training scenes from a Systema survival camp.

Also available in DVD format

61 min.
 


Enjoy!!!

Justin Ho
Principal Instructor
Systema Sydney Russian Martial Art

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Special Conditions by Systema Master Konstantin Komarov

In today’s martial arts, whatever happens outside of a training hall or dojo is considered “special conditions”. What we refer to as “special conditions” are just those factors limiting our normal movement and perception. Let’s focus on two of these: darkness and water.

Darkness has a tremendous impact on how we perceive our surroundings, while water changes our ability to move. We should get great mileage out of this in our training to help eliminate our stereotypical, “cookie-cutter” thinking.

Here are two useful yet simple exercises for working in “special conditions”.

Getting ready for work in the dark
Try the following sequence while it’s still light outside: Stand in a clearing in a park or woods. Mark your spot with an object such as a rock, stick, or a hat. Pick a tree about 10-15 paces away from you. Close your eyes and try to find the tree and get back to the starting spot.

If successful, pick another tree about 10-15 paces away from the first one. Then close your eyes and from the spot, go to the first, then the second tree and without opening your eyes get back exactly to the starting spot. If you complete the exercise comfortably after 2 or 3 trials, your special orientation is great. This means that the night will always be your ally.

Water and strikes
This exercise is best done with a partner. Pick 10-15 pebbles. Walk into the water until it’s up to your neck. Ask your partner to throw the pebbles into the water, one at a time, landing about 50-80 cm (1.5 – 2.5 ft) away from you. Your job is to catch the pebbles by hand in one move. Your arms and hands stay in the water. Try that and you will quickly get the meaning of shortest trajectory, relaxed body, muscle coordination, and quick reaction – everything required for the development of solid striking skills.

If you were able to catch at least 7 out of 10 pebbles, your strike is going to be unstoppable.

About the Author: Konstantin Komarov is a Major in the Special Service Police Force having worked in Russian Military Reconnaissance and holds a PhD in combat Psychology. He has been a Professional Bodyguard for Moscow's Elite, and is one of the master instructors at the Systema Camp held regularly in Canada.





Thankyou Konstantin,

Justin Ho
Principal Instructor
Systema Sydney Russian Martial Art
www.systemasydney.com

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Fundamentals of Knife Disarming (downloadable) by Systema Master Vladimir Vasiliev

Unarmed against the blade... be sure to prevail!



A top combat expert shows everything you need to know for cutting-edge self-defense.

Vladimir Vasiliev, a 10-year veteran of an elite Russian Special Operations Unit, reveals the ancient secrets of SYSTEMA. Benefit from the battle-proven skills of the professional close-quarter knife fighters.

Critics say this phenomenal instructor has written a new page in the history of martial arts.

Why such praise?

No patterns to practice Instinctive moves are the most devastating, so SYSTEMA develops your body’s natural capacity to defend itself in any situation. Vasiliev uncovers complete defense - from all positions, directions and types of knife strikes, slashes, grips and levels of body contact. Learn to overcome knife attacks even without the use of your arms and legs These are military moves that work, the real ones, subtle, quick, direct and deadly. Vasiliev then takes you far beyond technique by revealing movements that are the key to instant personal mastery You must conquer not just a sharp blade, but even greater threats: your own stiffness, vulnerability and fear Vasiliev’s unparalleled energy, power and skill are so inspiring that you absorb the moves just by watching the film. Ideal for beginners, indispensable for pros!

Also available in DVD format

1 hr. 8 min.





I hope this is of use to you,

Justin Ho
Principal Instructor
Systema Sydney Russian Martial Art
www.systemasydney.com

Monday, 9 February 2015

Deeper Connection by Michael J Gonzales, Systema instructor and U.S. Marine Corps veteran




From time to time, people ask where I first heard or learned about Systema. It’s an unusual story so I tried to avoid it. Now, as an instructor, I am grateful it even happened.

In the early 2009, I was assigned to a security detail in Japan, my employer at the time was an Israeli man that had lived and worked in Japan for over a decade. After work one day, he asked if I would like to train in the dojo that was in our building of occupancy. I agreed, and he went on to show me some grabs and escapes, ground movement and soft work. My brain was trying to understand what was happening, all while my body was experiencing something foreign and fascinating. I was hooked. So there I was: an American, in Japan, learning a Russian Martial Art, from an Israeli man. I can’t make that up. Thank you, Avry. Once I returned to my home state of Texas, I immediately searched the Internet for the closest Systema school; there was one an hour drive away, in Austin. So I showed up one day, a little eager, and a little nervous, not really knowing what to expect. Little did I know, I was about to embark on something so profound and life changing. That was over 5 years ago, I met Gene Smithson and started my training, and to this day, I get the same feeling every time I walk into his school.

So, what is Systema?

This is quite possibly, the hardest question to answer as a student and an instructor. Could it be that Systema is by far the most diverse, complete, and unique martial art in the world? I don’t know. As I continue my training the question gets harder and harder to answer. Shouldn’t it get easier to understand though?

No, it shouldn’t. That’s because each time you train Systema you begin to see “more”, taking you even further down the rabbit hole. When I say, “you see more”, I mean you see more of everything, more possibilities, more options, more entrances, more exits. However, if not careful, this positive skill and knowledge can also initiate growth of ego. This is where the balance of Systema comes in. You also start to see more of your limitations, weaknesses, and bad habits. This is can both frustrate and/or motivate depending on the individual in training. So a balance needs to come into play, to humbly accept what you are not good at, and at the same time not letting your ego get bigger when you become better at something that others are struggling with. Easier said than done, right? Well, that’s all part of your growth as a student of Systema.

In a weird way, one of the best ways to progress at Systema, is to stop trying to progress at Systema! To clean yourself of everything, and I mean everything. Walking into class with no expectations, no thoughts, no preconceived ideas, and no agenda.

This is can be a challenge for many, especially in today’s world. We live in a time where we are the most connected we have ever been (social media, Internet, instant messaging, email, smart phones) but at the same time, we are the most DISCONNECTED we have ever been. We as humans have lost connection with the outdoors, with our families, with our peers, but worst of all… we have lost connection with ourselves.

For example, last year Dr. Emma Seppala, a Stanford Psychologist, gave a speech to employees at Facebook HQ where she stated, “The urge to check social media and Facebook has now surpassed the desire for sex and addictive substance like cigarettes”. Powerful statement if you think about. Research shows that our desire for social connection is one of our strongest needs in life. This social connection is also considered a strong predictor of physical health, psychological health, recovery from disease, and even life longevity. Sound familiar? Most of my students that I have taught or personally trained in Systema have approached me at one time and said, “I started training because I wanted to learn how to fight, now I train because of a much deeper connection”.

This connection is not only with their training partners, but also with their spouses, their children, co-workers and most importantly, themselves. This is something we will never achieve through social media or the Internet, and it cannot be replicated.

When I wake in the morning, I struggle with the desire to reach over and check my phone. This has become a problem for me in the past year. I would wake up, and without hesitation, reach for my smartphone to check my notifications. Now, I have slowly progressed to leaving the phone in a different room while sleeping (whatever it is can wait for the next day). Here is where I started to implement my Systema, from Let Every Breath, pg. 55 “Starting your day”. Vladimir articulates that the body over time can suffer when it’s trying to adapt to “cold starts”. He says that the way the body handles the transition from rest to activity is paramount, so it’s best if we do not rush ourselves and try to begin the first moments of our day rapidly. A better way to begin your day is by slowly waking, remain in the laying position and begin with a breath based warm-up routine. This routine has helped my body and me tremendously. It has also helped me to reconnect to myself. If you have not read Let Every Breath, do yourself a favor and get it.

In these modern times, we are completely surrounded by outside influences, and they are starting to affect our mind, body and soul. The good news is, we all have something much more powerful and special within us, and there is a “System” that can guide and help you find it. It’s up to you determine when that starts.

All the best to you and your training!


About Author:
Michael J Gonzales is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, the founder and chief instructor of San Antonio Systema and is currently pursuing his Bachelors in Psychology at the University of Incarnate Word. He can be reached at: michael@sanantoniosystema.com

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Are you really training? by Systema Master Vladimir Vasiliev

Have you ever noticed this about yourself?

Your partner does an unfair move towards you, for example, he responds to your light strike with a hard and painful one. And then you get angry.

Or your partner is a bit arrogant or slow to learn, and you get irritated.

Then again, your moves work very well, and it makes you proud of yourself.

Or someone praises you and vanity starts to creep in.

I see this happening every class. In this case, your real training time might be only a few minutes out of the entire session.

Technique is relatively easy to learn; you can break it down into parts and grasp it. It is specific and with some practice - you have got it. The focus of Systema is different - you need to understand yourself. What does that mean? Watch constantly what is it that interferes with your calm, objective and continuous movement.

Uncontrolled emotions are detrimental to effective work. These feelings come in a subtle way and unnoticeably begin to dominate and eat away at your strength. We must be vigilant. Step one is to be aware of these weaknesses; step two is to try to overcome them through breathing, understanding, changing the attitudes and the movements. Then we gain true strength and skill.

At that point where you feel angry, annoyed, resentful or self-important - you are not longer perfecting your movement or breathing or doing other tasks, instead you are dealing with a petty conflict. If you succumb to your emotions you can be easily controlled and manipulated. While taken by emotions, you can no longer have clear judgment and swift decision making - and that is destructive for your training and for your life.

I recommend, throughout the entire class for you to try and identify what are your limitations that prevent good work. Whether you are learning or teaching, always observe your emotional condition. As soon as your emotions are unstable - you are not really working any more.

When we come to class - we come to train, that is the foundation. You might be disappointed in yourself or something in class could be disagreeable. No matter what happens in a session, it should all serve its useful purpose.

The work of recognizing and facing our pride and weakness is much more difficult than polishing techniques, but it is much more profound. As we know, memorized techniques often let you down in real unrehearsed confrontations, for example, if your arm is broken or if you are in a confined space. Whereas, if you can control your emotions and study movement, you will be capable of solving any problem in a multitude of ways. I know from experience that such work is extremely rewarding, it creates true skill and allows us to survive and succeed.


About the Author: Born in Russia, Vladimir received intense training from the top Special Operations Units instructors and is the top student of Mikhail Ryabko. Vladimir's work spans across 10 years of extensive service with the Special Operations Unit. He also served as trainer for elite units, SWAT teams, and bodyguards. Vladimir moved to Canada, and in 1993 founded the first school of Russian Martial Art outside Russia - Systema Headquarters. He has since personally trained and certified well over 300 qualified Russian Martial Art instructors and schools worldwide, and has provided an Award-Winning instructional film collection.



Thanks again for your guidance Vladimir,

Justin Ho
Principal Instructor
Systema Sydney Russian Martial Art
www.systemasydney.com

Saturday, 31 January 2015

Multiple Attackers (downloadable) by Systema Master Vladimir Vasiliev

Surrounded. Confronted with multiple attackers. You need to be ready physically and psychologically. 




  • Vladimir Vasiliev prepares you with dynamic drill sets: 
  • Four-opponent warm up, stretch, body control and redirection 
  • Find psychological restrictions in yourself and your partners 
  • Escape from the holds of 4 attackers standing and on the ground 
  • Use of one opponent to escape and control others Push and strike against attackers on the move 
  • Work unarmed against 2 knife-wielding attackers 
  • Face the challenge of knife attacks when every person in the crowd is armed 

Enjoy the demos, study the drills, capture the knowledge and learn to prevail. 44 min. 





I hope you enjoy it,

Justin Ho
Principal Instructor
Systema Sydney Russian Martial Art






Saturday, 24 January 2015

Systema Manual by Major Komarov

Practical and Fundamental Training Guide



Major Konstantin Komarov is a PhD in Combat Psychology, a commander and pedagogue to military professionals, a highly experienced bodyguard, a mentor to troubled youth and a trainer to numerous Systema practitioners around the world. Konstantin is one of the most knowledgeable and thorough instructors of our time.

In this book, Major Komarov skillfully presents each key Systema concept through: - Clear explanations - Step-by-step practice programs - Remarkable personal life chronicles

Superbly informative and captivating, a true Systema operators manual.


Table of Contents 

Introduction
Chapter 1
Unique Features of Systema. Methodology for Studying Systema:
Basic Level 1-3
• What is Systema and what separates it from many other martial arts and sports?
• What are the criteria by which one can tell if someone is learning/using Systema?
• How and in what order is it preferable to learn Systema?
• The basic stage of learning Systema
Step 1: Breathing
Step 2: Positions on the ground
Step 3: Sitting positions
Step 4: Standing positions
Step 5: Walking
Step 6: Walking in difficult conditions
Step 7: Moving
Step 8: Dynamic work
• grappling
• strikes
• legwork
• working with objects (weapons)
Step 9: Tactical work
• attack122
• defense
• team work
• free work
Recommendations
Chapter 2 Psychological Systema work
• What I mean by "psyche"
• How the psyche works
• Options for developing the psyche
• Systema methods of psychological work
• Breathing basics for working with the psyche
• Learning to work with attention and body sensitivity
• Learning the basis of psychological training
• Detecting stress of the psyche and addressing it in its early stage
• Studying fear
• The inner "state" and continuity
• Working with peaks of agitation in the psyche and emotions
• Conclusions and recommendations
Chapter 3 Fundamental Systema skills
• Systema knowledge, abilities, and skills
• Basic Systema skills, their importance, and role in the training methodology
• How to develop Systema skills
Chapter 4 Building and strengthening the body
• What is a well-developed body?
• Speed, strength, stamina, flexibility, and agility: important qualities of a well-developed body
• Strengthening our body systems, which ones, and how
• Systema for kids
Chapter 5 Perfecting Systema skills
• The stage of perfecting Systema skills
• Mistakes in learning Systema
• The sequence for correcting mistakes
Conclusion
• How to master Systema
• How to work with instructional video content
• How to train without a partner
• Final words


I thoroughly recommend you get your gads on a copy of this amazing book. It will completely change how you look at, and how you train or teach Systema!!!!!

Justin Ho
Principal Instructor
Systema Sydney Russian Martial Art


Saturday, 17 January 2015

Systema Master Vladimir Vasiliev in Black Belt Magazine

The Russian Martial Art is regarded as one of the most effective fighting systems on the planet, and its popularity is largely due to the efforts of Vladimir Vasiliev! 
by Robert W. Young



Spend 20 years in a field you're passionate about—when this issue of Black Belt hits the newsstand, I'll have edited articles for two decades—and it's easy to conclude you've seen and heard it all. It's a fair assumption, but it's a dead giveaway that the person doing the assuming has never been face to face with Vladimir Vasiliev.

The day of the photo shoot that yielded the images you see here will go down in my mental history, for it marked the first time I ever had an exchange like this:

Me: ‘Could you show us the first systema defense you want to demonstrate? That was perfect! Can you do it again for the camera?’
 Vasiliev: ‘No.’
 Me (my eyes bugged out and my jaw no doubt hanging slack): ‘You can't?’ He shook his head, then explained that in systema, everything a practitioner does is predicated on the actions and position of the opponent. If said opponent feeds the systema stylist a slightly different attack or even the same attack from a different angle, the response will be different—sometimes radically.

The Russian summed up his position in perfect-though-accented English: ‘I can't promise to do it again exactly the same way.’

At first, I thought it might be a touch of subconscious posturing, the kind you occasionally get from men at the top of their food chain—which is where Vasiliev has been since 1993, the year he set up shop in Toronto and founded the first systema facility outside Russia. But then, as the day wore on, the pieces fell into place. I saw plenty of evidence that what Vasiliev had explained was an essential component of his fighting philosophy. Before the session ended, I was a believer. The way the Russian and one of his instructors, Los Angeles-based British expat Martin Wheeler, who three days earlier headlined a systema ground-fighting photo shoot, had responded to every attack they faced was completely dependent on the nuances of the attacks.

That's not to say systema asks students to memorize thousands of moves for every conceivable situation, thus leaving them vulnerable to the much-talked-about mental logjam. No, Vasiliev and Wheeler seemed to respond with attacks and defenses that fit the situation—there's no other way to describe it. Nothing fancy, just the perfect choice for a given moment. When you think about it, that's the best any of us can expect from ourselves in a fight.

MYSTERY DEMYSTIFIED

Training to facilitate the optimal response to an attack makes total sense, especially when you consider the environment in which systema was fine- tuned to function. Its primary practitioners in modern times—spies, undercover operatives, high-level military personnel and the like—couldn't adopt an obvious stance before or during an attack, and they couldn't blast out a kiai in combat. Either could alert an enemy as to what was coming, and either could send a message that makes onlookers think, ‘Hey, that man's a trained killer, even with his bare hands. Let's get him!’ All that isn't to say systema owes its existence solely to Soviet science of the Cold War era. The moves that make it up are believed to date back more than a millennium. ‘Russian warriors acquired a style that combined strong spirit with extremely innovative and versatile tactics that were practical, deadly and effective against any type of enemy under any circumstances,’ Vasiliev writes on his website. ‘The style was natural and free while having no strict rules, rigid structure or limitations (except for moral ones). All tactics were based on instinctive reactions, individual strengths and characteristics, specifically designed for fast learning.’

Systema is big on deleting tension from the self-defense equation. ‘You should use your movements to remove excess tension,’ Vasiliev said. ‘This way,you are always ready and free for your next action.’

Versatile, natural, no strict rules, instinctive reaction, no tension—after the photo shoot, I'd agree with all those descriptors. Apparently, Black Belt contributing editor Floyd Burk is way ahead of me on this one: Two years ago when we asked some of the movers and shakers of the industry to list their top 10 arts for self-defense, Burk replied with this: ‘Most people who observe this Russian fighting style will appreciate the spontaneity with which practitioners can fend off armed and unarmed attacks. It's practical and effective without the nonessentials.’

That's what I was going to say.

LOOKS SHOULD BE DECEIVING

Systema places great importance on your starting stance in a self-defense situation. ‘It has to be a natural and straight body position,’ Vasiliev said. ‘As simple as it seems, it is essential [to pose] no threat to the opponent. Your actions will be unexpected, inconspicuous and a lot more effective. ‘There are times when deliberately unusual and less-natural body positions are needed in confrontations, but these would be assumed for tactical and strategic reasons to manipulate your opponent into the behavior you need.’

How are you supposed to know which position is best for a given adversary and assume it in time? The oft-repeated attribute known as situational awareness, Vasiliev said. ‘In systema, we have many exercises to specifically develop awareness of your opponent and your distance from him. You should feel comfortable to act, and there should be no excessive tension.’

I asked Vasiliev to demonstrate how that natural stance works. He stood there, seemingly unprepared for what was about to come his way. The opponent closed the gap and initiated his attack. Vasiliev's response entailed kicking him in the thigh—which dropped him like a sack of potatoes—and landing a punch to the back of the neck on the way down.

‘You kick his quadriceps not to damage the leg but to debilitate the muscle so it can no longer hold up the person,’ Vasiliev said. ‘The kick is not hard, but it's precise so that even in light shoes or bare feet, it will be effective.

‘As with all systema strikes, you must hit unexpectedly so the attacker is shocked but not in pain or anger. Pain and anger can cause him to strike and punch needlessly. If you hit properly, he will be off-balance and will fall onto you. This is very convenient for your further control. You now have a choice of finishing moves—again, not to injure him but to disorient him.’

Another way systema exploits the power of deception was revealed in a self-defense sequence in which Vasiliev dispatched a man who was about to uncork a haymaker. ‘The opponent prepares for the strike—there is no need for you to change your position yet,’ he said. ‘While he approaches, take a small step to the right; this should be done exactly with his movement so he will not see it. Raise your right arm—be sure to choose a trajectory he won't see from his viewpoint. Keep your shoulders down so he won't be able to tell what your intentions are and adjust his strike accordingly.’

BACKUP PLAN

That ability to move in a way the opponent doesn't detect enables systema practitioners to intercept attacks before they reach maximum power, and that's one of the smartest ways to fight. Reviewing a sequence of photos after the shoot, Vasiliev elaborated: ‘As the opponent prepares to kick here, you make a small step to the side during his movement. Do not wait for his full kick; as soon as his knee is up, he has collected himself and is concentrating on the forming kick. He is vulnerable; it is a good moment to hit. ‘Hit the muscles not to destroy them but to debilitate them and switch them off temporarily. This way, the leg is no longer functioning to support the body. An accurate hit causes the leg to give. He will no longer be able to kick or strike with his hand.’

The goal, Vasiliev teaches, is to gain control of the assailant using economy of motion and unpredictable techniques. If that fails, however, you'll likely need to be able to take a punch before you can implement a backup plan—which is precisely why systema training devotes so much time to staying functional while you're taking enemy fire.

‘No matter how good you are, you will get hit,’ Vasiliev said. ‘Maybe it's because you didn't see the strike. Maybe it's because you moved into its path. Maybe it's because it was more powerful than you anticipated.’

In a previous interview published in Black Belt, he explained his rationale using an incident he's seen replayed ad infinitum in his schools: ‘A new student joins in. We begin a mass-attack drill, where everyone comes to the center of the gym and is hitting in all directions. Right away, the new guy gets punched on the head, turns to see who did it and gets ready to hit him back. At that moment, he receives a punch from the other side, and, with anger building, he turns to that side, his fist ready to fly in that direction. And then he is hit again from the opposite side. Finally, he realizes that ‘punch for punch' doesn't work in a mass attack, so he exhales and starts punching those who are close by and not those who hit him.

‘Unfortunately, most of us have an almost automatic response: When a strike touches us, we immediately go to retaliate. This is caused by pride. Systema training for taking punches deals directly with this pride.’

The only way to minimize the effect, whether immediate or long term, incurred from a blow is through another unexpected facet of systema, he said. ‘With proper breathing, it's difficult to sustain an injury. And if trauma does happen, the damage is a lot less severe than it would have been otherwise.’

The reason stems from the nature of a strike, which he described as a sudden force or impact that increases inner pressure in the recipient. ‘It's a quick transfer of tension from person to person,’ he said. ‘The tension comes not only from the physical impact but also from your perception of threat and pain.’

Let's say you're moments from getting gut-punched. The fear you feel as you see the incoming fist causes tension, and that tension creates more fear. The resulting fear manufactures even more tension and so on. Breathing, Vasiliev said, is the way to stop that from escalating.

Breathe right and the impact will be dissipated, the tension won't build and there will be minimal bruising, he tells his students. ‘Even a powerful punch will bring no damage physically or psychologically. Breathing helps eliminate the tension and thus removes the pain and negative feelings.’

How it works: ‘Keep your mouth lightly closed so air can move freely in through the nose and out through the mouth,’ Vasiliev said. At the moment of impact, allow the air to exit your mouth. Tensing up and holding your breath when you're about to be hit is the worst thing you can do, he said, because the pressure that comes with a punch or kick will have nowhere to go—which is why it damages tissue.

That's why systema teaches practitioners to take short breaths when the heat is on. A series of short inhalations and exhalations decreases the likelihood that you'll be caught in the middle of one long inhale or exhale, and it enables you to keep your torso in a more defensible condition. ‘If you only breathe with the top part of your lungs, your stomach muscles will remain slightly contracted even after a punch and the punch will remain on the surface,’ Vasiliev said previously. ‘This type of breathing allows you to take a series of punches while staying mobile.’

Learning to do this in a fight, of course, takes plenty of practice under a qualified instructor. If nothing else, my 20 years at Black Belt has taught me that when it comes to self-defense, a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing without proper guidance.

And that's precisely why I walked out of the Vladimir Vasiliev photo shoot with one thought: How far away is the nearest systema school?

THE MAN BEHIND THE MARTIAL ART

"I have had the privilege to train under many great martial artists over the decades—men who have honed their skills through determination, rigorous training and full-contact experience. To describe Vladimir Vasiliev as simply the best one of them does him a disservice. His movement, his physical ability, the deep internal relaxation he has cultivated—all are attributes associated with a true legend. But the road he has taken to get there is not one many could have traveled. As a highly decorated member of the Russian special-operations group known as the Spetznaz, Vasiliev trained under such men as Col. Mikhail Ryabko, founder of systema. While doing that, Vasiliev experienced things that would be difficult to justify even within our highest-level military units—of course, in actual combat. Despite those brutal hardships, he is the most gentle of men. He's humble, sincere and filled with a genuine desire to share his amazing art as if it were a gift. The systema he teaches is profound and unique, as much a map of the human condition as a martial art. If I were to say Vladimir Vasiliev is simply the most decent human being I have ever met, I think that would be the most accurate description. His martial art, if you have been lucky enough to experience it, is purely an expression of that."

–Martin Wheeler

About the author: Robert W. Young is the executive editor of Black Belt. For more information about systema, visit russianmartialart.com

About Vladimir Vasiliev:
Born in Russia, Vladimir received intense training from the top Special Operations Units instructors and is the top student of Mikhail Ryabko. Vladimir's work spans across 10 years of extensive service with the Special Operations Unit. He also served as trainer for elite units, SWAT teams, and bodyguards. Vladimir moved to Canada, and in 1993 founded the first school of Russian Martial Art outside Russia - Systema Headquarters. He has since personally trained and certified well over 300 qualified Russian Martial Art instructors and schools worldwide, and has provided an Award-Winning instructional film collection.




Thankyou for your guidance Vladimir,


Justin Ho
Principal Instructor
Systema Sydney Russian Martial Art
www.systemasydney.com

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Beat the Odds (downloadable) by Systema Master Vladimir Vasiliev



You face an attacker... Then another appears at your side... Now you hear a noise from behind... This is the brutal reality of small group attacks - by 2 or 3 cruel assailants. This is THE threat scenario that most martial arts do not teach, do not want you wondering about, and do not want to admit it even exists. Because it looks like the toughest of all.

There is only One Way Out: Study to overcome the most ruthless threat you will ever face directly from the professional who has faced it himself and survived it all: world-renowned master of Systema - Vladimir Vasiliev of Russian Special Operations Unit.

Learn what it takes to break the attacks, deliver and avoid multiple strikes, kicks, grabs, timing, distance, preemptive moves, single blows to multiple targets, redirecting and lightening-fast short work, disarming knives and sticks, indoors and outside, as well as the previously unrevealed mechanism: Transformation of Strikes.

Thugs do not take chances - they make sure the odds are always in their favor. YOUR only chance is to turn the tables and When the Odds are Against You - Beat Them Down!

50 min.


Enjoy,

Justin Ho
Principal Instructor
Systema Sydney Russian Martial Art


Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Dynamic Joint Breaks (downloadable) by Vladimir Vasiliev


Fierce attack... Split-second of instant destruction... Dynamic Joint Breaks..!

Vladimir Vasiliev of the Russian Special Operations Unit, renowned co-founder of SYSTEMA Russian Martial Art, reveals the professional methods of Dynamic Joint and Limb Destruction.

These proven tactics emerge from no-second-chance life and death encounters. Impacting both upper and lower limbs... always done on the move... Calm, subtle, precise, they permanently eliminate your opponent's desire and capacity to do any harm.

With step-by-step instruction and real time demonstrations, this film is so easy to follow, learn and even teach to others!

Vasiliev uncovers the three training elements you need to gain control and prevail. He presents a limitless variety of impeccable techniques along with smooth and effortless movements. See how he utilizes only his body position and intelligent force while his opponents fall broken in body and spirit.

Learn what it takes to create advantage when there are no conventional options left.

Own the hidden power taught in Dynamic Joint Breaks!

1 hour 20 min.



Enjoy,

Justin Ho
Principal Instructor
Systema Sydney Russian Martial Art
www.systemasydney.com

Saturday, 16 August 2014

How Many Punches? by Systema Master Vladimir Vasiliev

Students often ask me how can you see what the attacker is planning to do in a fight. How many punches is he about to throw? How aggressive will he be? And how can one prepare?

Here is an exercise by Mikhail Ryabko that I really like.

Two partners stand across from each other, at least 5 meters apart (15-20 feet) Both approach and without stopping deliver one punch to each other The punches can be to the chest, stomach, sides or arms (apply pushes only if it is to the face area) Return to the original positions and come at each other now with two punches each Next, approach and exchange 3 punches each, then 4, 5, etc. As many as you like, but make sure the punches are solid and precise without damage

It is important to keep moving, walk around each other if needed during punches, do not pause or stop This exercise is an excellent preparation for fighting. It allows you to see how different are your partners' movements, choice of distance and mind-set when he is planning to deliver 1 punch as opposed to 2, 5, 10 or more. In this drill, you are the attacker as well as the recipient. You are able to observe how you move, how you choose the distance and analyze your own determination and thinking.

You can examine and test in action both sides of the confrontation, physically and psychologically. This develops awareness, the skill of simultaneously taking and delivering attacks, and builds strong spirit.

About the Author: Born in Russia, Vladimir received intense training from the top Special Operations Units instructors and is the top student of Mikhail Ryabko. Vladimir's work spans across 10 years of extensive service with the Special Operations Unit. He also served as trainer for elite units, SWAT teams, and bodyguards. Vladimir moved to Canada, and in 1993 founded the first school of Russian Martial Art outside Russia - Systema Headquarters. He has since personally trained and certified well over 300 qualified Russian Martial Art instructors and schools worldwide, and has provided an Award-Winning instructional film collection.



Thanks again Vlad,

Justin Ho
Principal Instructor
Systema Sydney Russian Martial Art
www.systemasydney.com

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Defense in Confined Space by Vladimir Vasiliev now available as a Digital Download




DEFENSE IN CONFINED SPACE HAS BEEN ADDED TO THE SYSTEMA DOWNLOADABLE COLLECTION.

Learn from Vladimir Vasiliev’s how to defend yourself in an office or very tight space! Small office or against the wall - there is a way out, and you are shown exactly how, along with nice practice drills. From dealing with threatening gestures while sitting at your desk to outright aggression from holds, punches, kicks or knives, this film covers it all. Standing or sitting in confined space is no longer a liability; anyone can apply these concepts for self defines.




Hope you enjoy this,


Justin Ho
Principal Instructor
Systema Sydney Russian Martial Art
www.systemasydney.com

Friday, 8 August 2014

Martial Essence by Systema Instructor Vincent Paladino

Paris in spring – an inviting and inspirational place to train! It turned out to be the perfect place for Vladimir Vasiliev's “Fighting on the Move” seminar, hosted by Systema France in May this year.

The seminar's title caused me to think about Napoleon's battles of Russia and the defending army's strategy and tactics. It was fighting on the move in a very clever form.

Vladimir's teaching was also very clever. He demonstrated and taught the advantages of maintaining mobility and the use of strikes to change the opponent's attitude. We learned that it is possible to hit an opponent with the intention of helping him to lose his aggression and his desire to fight. In training at this point, we explored our own feelings and responses to aggression. He then went deeper, instructing on the fine points of perception and tension making the students aware of how the shapes they see and the movements they perceive affect their level of tension and attitude. These explorations led to the next phase, which was practicing continuous fluid movement while under the pressure of attack. Utilizing this movement allows the defender to redirect and even gain strength from the attacker's power. This is where the magic of the weekend began to unfold, for it was clear at this point that Systema holds forth teachings of ancient knowledge and wisdom. Systema teaches lessons about human nature developed over centuries of training and combat.

Following the second day of instruction, a couple of us were discussing what we had learned. I commented about the interesting theme of training one's movement to respond to shape, rather than to a specific attack. Looking around, I noticed the distinct difference in my approach to the round objects as opposed to square objects. Round objects made me feel more comfortable and relaxed than did square ones. In fact, I found that cubes made me feel “blocked”. I did some research on this and found that it is a well-studied topic in psychology, and the findings of the research are utilized in industrial art and design. There are psycho-physical reactions to shapes occurring in the mind that have been in development since the dawn of humankind. Recognizing the various levels and subtle types of fear, anxiety and tension which occur during self-defense situations is a crucial step toward the deeper levels of our martial arts practice. Understanding the way we react to the shape of an object or “empty” space is valuable in directing our training. From a practical perspective, consider that when an attacker postures in front of you, moves toward you, looks piercingly at you, or hits you, he is attempting to transfer tension and fear to you. Why should that be so? Because tension decreases mobility and increases rigidity, which makes you easier to hit and easier to break.

Vladimir focused on exercises that develop awareness and the type of movement that keeps the body relaxed while executing a powerful attack. He had us practice moving toward, away and around each other, while remaining aware of the changes these movements engendered in our minds. This level of knowledge and practice flows from an art that imparts the wisdom of ages. It points the practitioner toward developing self-defense skills rooted in the very nature of a human being. It is self-defense based on understanding and refining basic human reactions and abilities.

Through the practice of martial arts, one person can absorb the lessons of ten thousand people.

We are always taught to be “aware of our surroundings” in martial arts training. This seminar provided a glimpse of the insight available to a trainee who decides to go as deeply as possible into such awareness, studying the impact created by shape and movement. At the seminar we were asked: do we feel anger, fear or tension when being attacked? If yes, and it was almost always yes to at least one of those feelings. We trained in methods of avoiding and even transforming these emotional reactions, creating fluid movement toward safe space. This is true martial arts training; going beyond the physical technique. It is training of the mind and, through the breath, training of the spirit.

In your own training, please consider that living a happy and fulfilling life is the ultimate goal. Surviving attacks is just one aspect of martial arts practice. The true essence of martial arts is the development of a humble spirit that loves and enjoys life, an irrepressible self that won't be defeated. This path is one where all the actions and events that make one feel safe, threatened, relaxed, or tense are studied. The strongest will to win comes from loving life.

About the Author: Vincent Paladino is certified to teach Systema by Vladimir Vasiliev. He has been training since 2005 and is offering Systema training in the area of Bergen County, New Jersey and can be contacted at: vincentcpaladino@gmail.com




Thankyou Vince,

Justin Ho
Principal Instructor
Systema Sydney Russian Martial Art
www.systemasydney.com


Monday, 4 August 2014

Interview with MMA Fighter and Systema Student

This is a great review from an MMA Fighter and Systema Student named Petro Sonos Petrakis. He provides a unique and very educational perspective on Systema.




Thankyou Petros,

Justin Ho
Principal Instructor
Systema Sydney Russian Martial Art
www.systemasydney.com

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Experiential vs Intellectual by Systema Instructor Jamie Robson

Training with my teacher, Vladimir Vasiliev, and Systema founder, Mikhail Ryabko, is a unique method of education. It is unique because of the way information is transmitted and subsequently received.

 These two masters share Systema in manner that is best described as osmosis. While there can be a great benefit to watching videos, there is no comparison with actual, physical, and direct experience. When you feed (attack/initiate) Mikhail or Vladimir, there is a process of kinesthetic discovery where one is immediately aware of their own tension and yet, equally enlightened to the natural means of relaxation and simultaneous escape.

In many ways, this proprioceptive manner of teaching, where partner work and contact are prioritized, is superior to other means of education, such as through language or reading.

I recently chatted with friends about a similar subject and we agreed there would sometimes be benefit in training without any verbal explanations. So that the only form of communication and education is through vision and touch, promoting a kinesthetic exchange of skills.

It is this unique and special talent that Mikhail and Vladimir will both apply in their teaching to help the participants with their training at this year’s Legends of Systema in the UK.

About the Author: Jamie Robson is the founder/instructor of Jamie Robson Academy; he is the first instructor in Scotland to be fully certified by Vladimir Vasiliev. Jamie has many years of martial arts experience and work with British Forces, Scottish Police and S.O.C.A. www.JamieRobson.com









Thankyou Jamie,

Justin Ho
Principal  Instructor
Systema Sydney Russian Martial Art
www.systemasydney.com

Monday, 14 April 2014

Train & Teach Systema (DVD) a Guide by Valentin Talanov


Valentin Talanov, one of the top fighting, health and sport specialists in the world, resides in Russia, training with Mikhail Ryabko since 1982. He is an amply experienced street fighter, winner of tournaments, KS master of boxing and trainer of international class teams and athletes.

Filmed at the famous Systema Camp in Canada and produced by Vladimir Vasiliev, this video guide includes: - the foundation of breathwork
- core and resistance exercises
- strikes preparation and delivery
- offensive and defensive leg work
- fighting on the ground
- holds and escapes
- knife disarming and attacks
- stick defense

You will learn how to start, proceed and excel in studying Systema. You will be amazed by the unique, diverse and profound drills and demos. You will be inspired by how energetic, positive and strong Valentin is.

This real master instructor gives you results – substantial and powerful – in a very short time, producing healthy people and excellent fighters.

Running time 2 hrs 25 mins

)

Available for purchase at the Systema HQ online store:


Enjoy,

Justin Ho
Principal Instructor
Systema Sydney Russian Martial Art
www.systemasydney.com

Monday, 7 April 2014

Break Through Tension by Systema Master Vladimir Vasiliev

We all know that breathing is our best tool to eliminate tension. We have done numerous great drills at Systema classes and seminars. Many of these exercises are outlined in the book Let Every Breath and DVD on Systema Breathing: http://www.russianmartialart.com/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=23&products_id=88

I would like to share a very useful drill with you. Mikhail Ryabko and I recently used this drill during our training sessions in Moscow.
You will enjoy it, as it gives you AN ACCELERATED WAY to clean out your tension.

- Begin by lying on your back relaxed, and exhale.
- Inhale smoothly and fully.
- Hold your breath on the full inhale as long as you possibly can.
- While you are holding the breath, relax each level of your body
- back of the head, neck, shoulders, solar plexus, abdominal area, hips, and legs. Also, check through the areas of tension your may have in your body related to your previous injuries or diseases and try to relax them.
- When you can not hold your breath any longer, begin to do "Burst Breathing" (as described in detail in Let Every Breath on page 69) in a dynamic and intense way, gradually slowing down until you restore your breathing and heart rate down to the normal resting level. Your will know that your tension has reduced and you have restored yourself when you achieve a natural and free inhale and exhale.

- Take one full breath, and then exhale completely. Now hold your breath as long as you possibly can on the exhale. Repeat the same sequence of removing tension and Burst Breathing restoration.

This Break Through Tension drill allows you to achieve two results:
- find and work though your areas of tension
- learn to restore yourself from stress and sharp physical strain without any compromise of functioning

This drill is an excellent preparation tool for striking, wrestling and any physical activity that involves holding your breath.

A WORD OF CAUTION TO NEW PRACTITIONERS, this exercise may bring an unwanted result of over-exciting your nervous system. However, once you have practiced some fundamentals breathing drills (as described in detail in the Core Work chapters of Let Every Breath pages 59 through 84), you will be comfortable and safe with the above described breathing exercise.

About the Author:
Born in Russia, Vladimir received intense training from the top Special Operations Units instructors and is the top student of Mikhail Ryabko. Vladimir's work spans across 10 years of extensive service with the Special Operations Unit. He also served as trainer for elite units, SWAT teams, and bodyguards. Vladimir moved to Canada, and in 1993 founded the first school of Russian Martial Art outside Russia - Systema Headquarters. He has since personally trained and certified well over 300 qualified Russian Martial Art instructors and schools worldwide, and has provided an Award-Winning instructional film collection.





Thankyou for your guidance Vladimir,


Justin Ho
Principal Instructor
Systema Sydney Russian Martial Art
www.systemasydney.com

Monday, 31 March 2014

Systema Breathing DVD by Vladimir Vasiliev



Learn the secrets of the Russian Breath Masters through the comprehensive course of breath training drills. Easy movements, exceptional breathing tactics and truly profound underlying principles create an ideal exercise progression.

If you are an athlete - SYSTEMA BREATHING is your ultimate tool to vastly advance performance! If you are seeking to enhance your life - this is your best way to uncover the infinite new reserves of energy, power, health, and happiness.

SYSTEMA BREATHING is specifically filmed to supplement the book LET EVERY BREATH... as well as Systema training sessions and seminars.

Available in English and French.

1 hour 10 min.

)

Available for purchase at Systema Headquarters online store:


Enjoy,


Justin Ho
Principal Instructor
Systema Sydney Russian Martial Art
www.systemasydney.com














Sunday, 23 March 2014

Weaponising Natural Movement with Systema Sydney

The following is footage from our Monday night Class in Surry Hill. The theme of the class is WEAPONISING NATURAL MOVEMENT, which we will explore over 6 video clips detailing our work.

I hope this is of use.

Part 1: Familiarising the Body with Different Attacks


Part 2: Accessing Natural Movement



Part 3: "Surfing" Your Body's Need to Survive


Part 4: Working from Physical Contact


Part 5: Feeling and Working from the Push Before it has Made Physical Contact


Part 6: Working Offensively


In Conclusion,
Before you can weaponise natural movement you first must be able to access natural movement. But REAL natural movement. This is what your body will do instinctively to keep itself intact, with minimal interference from your conscious mind. The opposite of this is contrived movement which stems from excess fear and tension. Natural movement is not so much something that you do, as much as it is something that you give permission to occur.

Once you have acquired natural movement as an ATTRIBUTE, progress to developing it as a SKILL, then APPLY it proactively.


Best of luck,

Justin Ho
Principal Instructor
Systema Sydney Russian Martial Art
www.systemasydney.com 



Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Kids in Systema Part 2 by Major Konstantin Komarov

Continued from the previous newsletter: http://systemasydneytrainingresources.blogspot.com.au/2014/03/kids-in-systema.html

…You shouldn’t focus too much on stationary work. It’s much better to encourage constant movement; crawling, rolls, walking, or running. It’s not worth relying on strength; rather work through relaxation and mobility.

Classes with kids should also include practice with your eyes closed – training for sensitivity, hearing, a sense of direction, memory, the ability to make decisions in complex situations, etc. Kids love working with their eyes closed and do it easily – think of the popular Russian game “zhmurki” (“blind man's buff”), in which one blindfolded person is “it” and tries to catch 3 to 10 other participants in a limited space.

It’s always helpful to provide as much physical contact as possible using a variety of games.

The beginning of the class should focus on physically challenging activities involving a lot of movement, followed by work to slow and calm the class, such as slow push-ups or squats, in a game format. All of this is intended to shed surplus energy, allowing you to spend a productive 30-40 minutes working on your chosen topic for the class. At the very end, you should conclude with an entertaining activity or game to leave off on a high note. The most important thing is to avoid formalizing the classes or using rigid constraints. Improvise more. Let the kids release the tensions and fly free – they have more than enough constraints already at school and at home.

As an example, here is helpful game I often use when working with kids 9 years or older at the conclusion of classes called “the elephant.” The game is played in groups of eight kids or more.

Divide the group into two equal teams. In the middle of the room, draw or mark a circle about four meters (12’) in diameter. You can mark it by drawing on the floor with chalk, or by laying out a rope. One of the teams designates one or two “guards,” and the rest are “elephants.” The elephants stand in the middle of the circle, put their arms around each other’s shoulders, and lean their heads in. The goal for the team outside the circle is to jump onto any of their opponents’ backs (including the guard’s). If a guard has someone on his back and leaves the circle, the person on his back has to get off. The guard’s goal is to tag the opposing team on their leg below the knee before they can climb onto the “elephants”. All the while, at least one of the guard’s feet must be in the circle at all times. There’s no limit to how long you can stay on top of someone, but the fun part of this game is trying to get on top of the opposing team as many times as possible. As soon as one team member gets tagged, the teams switch.

This game is very fun and involves a lot of movement. After 2-3 rotations I pause the game, point out players’ mistakes and give some advice, then let the game continue. 10 minutes is usually more than enough for the group to cheer up while getting a fairly intensive workout.

Working with kids is fascinating but at the same time requires pretty intense control. To grab and keep the kids’ attention, it’s necessary to maintain a fast pace of the class and a positive attitude. Still, you forget the taxing nature of the work when you see the sparkling eyes and the happiness of the children! Then you realize that you have made a contribution, however small, to a proper childhood and upbringing for them. At Systema HQ school in Toronto, Youth classes are held regularly for ages 8 to 16. Some Systema schools around the world offer instruction for younger age groups as well. I will discuss and practice methods of working with kids of various ages in more depth at the upcoming Full Immersion Systema Camp 2014. Teaching Systema to Youth will be one of the topics presented to Systema instructors and will be optional for all the other Camp participants.

Good luck to everyone, I hope to see you soon!

Yours respectfully,
K. Komarov

About the Author: 
Konstantin Komarov is a Major in the Russian Special Service Police Force, professional bodyguard for Moscow's elite and a PhD in combat psychology. He will be coming to Toronto from Russia in August 2014 as one of the master instructors at the Full Immersion Systema Camp 2014





Thankyou again for your insights Konstantin,

Justin Ho
Principal Instructor
Systema Sydney Russian Martial Art
www.systemasydney.com

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Kids in Systema Part 1 by Major Konstantin Komarov

Teaching Systema to Youth will be covered in the upcoming Full Immersion Systema Camp 2014. This will be presented to Systema instructors and will be optional for all the other Camp participants. Here is an introductory article from Major Komarov for this topic of great interest:

Kids in Systema by Konstantin Komarov translated by Dmitry Trufanov

I spent a good part of my childhood playing with my friends in our apartment building’s courtyard. The courtyard was very spacious, and my friends from neighboring buildings would come play with us. There used to be a courtyard in every building, but ours was the biggest—about the size of two soccer fields. We also had many other places to play: basements and attics, construction sites and gardens, the grounds of nearby factories and warehouses, and all kinds of nooks and crannies hidden from the eyes of adults.

We had a variety of games to play. We’d often play war – all my friends had various war toys: wooden machine guns, swords, bows, and pistols. We reenacted different wars because we’d read and heard a lot about them, because we lived among living veterans and witnesses of this horrible war and that horrible war… our battle swept across the courtyard, basements, attics, construction sites, and gardens. Sometimes we’d put together shooting/exploding devices of all kinds, using matches, aluminum shavings, permanganate, saltpeter, and gunpowder from old bullets and shells (my home city had seen some very intense battles, so we found these old war relics often).

We spent more time playing courtyard games than we did organized sport games (like soccer, hockey, or tennis). Not only did we invent our own courtyard games, we also “inherited” them from older kids. Practically all of our games involved lots of moving around. It was boring to sit in one place without moving, even for a short time. Since those times in my courtyard, I have held a firm belief that kids absolutely must play physically. There are too many serious things for kids to do these days, and vastly lacking play time. And it only gets worse with time.

I was still “playing” in my courtyard when I turned 16; it was just that the games changed as we grew. Bicycles were replaced by motorcycles; we competed on the horizontal bar instead of playing tag; did boxing and weightlifting in the school’s basement instead of going down the slides. The crux of the games has not changed though. Playing means high-energy interaction with peers and we frequently did just that.

When kids start practicing Systema, there’s a fundamental difference between how one should approach working with kids vs. adults. Systema for an adult is typically a question of personal safety and a confidence builder. These are not yet important for the young kids. They don’t care about the end result as much as they enjoy the training process itself. Of course, that changes with teenagers, and goal-setting starts to play an important role.

If we were to divide kids and youth groups by age, we would do it roughly like this: - Up to 7 years old – start training in small groups including parents, using games that require a lot of movement, or work individually. - 7-13 years old (the core kids class) – active, mobile, developmental games, specialized exercises, and a lot of wrestling. Traditionally, for the Russian youths at this age, games, running, and wrestling were the main types of exercise. - 14-16 years old – introduce the basics of Systema, using specialized exercises, wrestling, and strikes. At this age you can already put the kids in some of the adult classes, but until then it’s better to keep the groups separated. - 16+ year-olds can participate in adult classes with no differentiation.

A few points on the core kid’s group aged 7 to 13. Playing games is very important for this age. Only through games and by considering the unique traits of this age group can we balance class productivity and the kids’ precious attention.

The goal of your classes for this age group should be the discovery and development of important physical and psychological traits and the cultivation of basic skills. For example: - Harmonious body development, correct body form; - Natural movement, ability to control the body, and overall coordination; - Correct breathing; - Moving without unnecessary tension, ability to relax as needed; - Control of emotions and psyche; - Ability to fall smoothly and safely, overcoming pain; - Sensing and understanding distance; - Interacting productively with a partner; - And the list goes on and on...

All of these things can be taught through simple games and exercises, both individual and with a partner / group. A large part of this work should hinge on interaction rather than competition, sensing rather than understanding. It is difficult for kids to grasp abstract concepts, but they are good at feeling things. Take advantage of this trait.

It’s helpful to do much falling, working on the floor, crawling, especially from under a partner, pushing, wrestling, and, in general, work with a lot of physical interaction. This teaches sensitivity to your partner, providing the right amount of effort and general body awareness. Don’t be afraid of these types of work: it’s not injury-prone. Kids fall more softly and more naturally than adults. The goal is not to teach kids classical acrobatics or prescribed ways of falling, but to achieve free, easy, and safe transitions from the ground and back up again, removing fear of falls from the body and psyche. Prescribed moves or structures will make kids stiffer. Give them freedom, let them do exercises to the best of their ability, and eventually, with small suggestions and corrections, they will be doing it right.

You shouldn’t focus too much on stationary work. It’s much better to encourage constant movement; crawling, rolls, walking, or running. It’s not worth relying on strength; rather work through relaxation and mobility.

Classes should also include practice with your eyes closed – training for sensitivity, hearing, a sense of direction, memory, the ability to make decisions in complex situations, etc. Kids love working with their eyes closed and do it easily – think of the popular Russian game “zhmurki” (“blind man's buff”), in which one blindfolded person is “it” and tries to catch 3 to 10 other participants in a limited space.

It’s always helpful to provide as much physical contact as possible using a variety of games. The beginning of the class should focus on physically challenging activities involving a lot of movement, followed by work to slow and calm the class, such as slow push-ups or squats, in a game format. All of this is intended to shed surplus energy, allowing you to spend a productive 30-40 minutes working on your chosen topic for the class. At the very end, you should conclude with an entertaining activity or game to leave off on a high note. The most important thing is to avoid formalizing the classes or using rigid constraints. Improvise more. Let the kids release the tensions and fly free – they have more than enough constraints already at school and at home.

As an example, here is helpful game I often use when working with kids 9 years or older at the conclusion of classes called “the elephant.” The game is played in groups of eight kids or more.

Divide the group into two equal teams. In the middle of the room, draw or mark a circle about four meters (12’) in diameter. You can mark it by drawing on the floor with chalk, or by laying out a rope. One of the teams designates one or two “guards,” and the rest are “elephants.” The elephants stand in the middle of the circle, put their arms around each other’s shoulders, and lean their heads in. The goal for the team outside the circle is to jump onto any of their opponents’ backs (including the guard’s). If a guard has someone on his back and leaves the circle, the person on his back has to get off. The guard’s goal is to tag the opposing team on their leg below the knee before they can climb onto the “elephants”. All the while, at least one of the guard’s feet must be in the circle at all times. There’s no limit to how long you can stay on top of someone, but the fun part of this game is trying to get on top of the opposing team as many times as possible. As soon as one team member gets tagged, the teams switch.

This game is very fun and involves a lot of movement. After 2-3 rotations I pause the game, point out players’ mistakes and give some advice, then let the game continue. 10 minutes is usually more than enough for the group to cheer up while getting a fairly intensive workout.

Working with kids is fascinating but at the same time requires pretty intense control. To grab and keep the kids’ attention, it’s necessary to maintain a fast pace of the class and a positive attitude. Still, you forget the taxing nature of the work when you see the sparkling eyes and the happiness of the children! Then you realize that you have made a contribution, however small, to a proper childhood and upbringing for them.

At Systema HQ school in Toronto, Youth classes are held regularly for ages 8 to 16. Some Systema schools around the world offer instruction for younger age groups as well. I will discuss and practice methods of working with kids of various ages in more depth at the upcoming Full Immersion Systema Camp 2014. Good luck to everyone, I hope to see you soon!


About the Author:


Konstantin Komarov is a Major in the Special Service Police Force having worked in Russian Military Reconnaissance and holds a PhD in combat Psychology. He has been a Professional Bodyguard for Moscow's Elite, and is one of the master instructors at the Systema Camp held regularly in Canada.



Thank you Konstantin,

Justin Ho
Principal Instructor
Systema Sydney Russian Martial Art
www.systemasydney.com

Sunday, 23 February 2014

From Many Threats to Many Tear by John-Paul Gagliano

It was my first day back in Vancouver after visiting the Toronto HQ for a dose of excellent training, I felt clear and recharged. Being as I had been away from home for a few weeks, I needed to run some errands and headed out to talk a brisk walk to my destinations.

I was walking peacefully on East Broadway (Vancouver) when a man carrying a large "boom-box" was strutting down the street with his music blaring. Noticing the noise first, I turned to look where this was coming from. Many others in proximity were looking, probably wondering the same thing I was "who is this person that is creating such a nuisance?" The man was headed my way, step by step he was heavily planting one foot in front of the other. Even from a distance his demeanor was loudly telling everyone around him "get outta my way!” As he became closer I stopped to pretend to look at a furniture store to allow him to pass in front of me on the sidewalk, as I felt it would be safer to walk behind him than in the path he was carving proudly down the street...

All it took was one look at him, then he suddenly started spouting off challenges and threats to fight. He claimed that it was his "turf" and that his brothers were ready to back him up. I simply stated that I don't like his music, and it's as simple as that. There were a few more words exchanged, and I made sure to not let fear take over my thinking, breathing, or body; knowing that this man was like a predator, seeking out whom he might devour.

After he was satisfied with his attempt to be intimidating, he walked ahead, continuing the same direction. After I had felt he was far enough out of my personal space, I started to walk in the same direction to carry on with my errands. It wasn't long until he looked back, and was struck with fear... he believed that I was following him, in a sense, calling his bluff! Quickly at the next corner, he turns right and was waiting for me to reach him.

As soon as I got to the corner, he had put his boom-box on the ground and started challenging me again to fight with him. At this moment I was able to recognize that I wasn't the one who was reacting to feelings of fear. I softly closed the space between us, put my hand on his shoulder told him something very honestly. I said "I didn't say I don't like you, I said I don't like your music".

At this moment, the whole situation was turned upside down... he began to cry and shout about his family problems, lack of financial stability, and even more details about the dynamic between him and his wife. It was as though suddenly the hard and tough front was destroyed, exposing a soft, vulnerable, and sensitive person underneath.

When I put my hand on his shoulder, I was trying to close the distance between us to give myself an advantage of more control if there was going to be a physical complication... little did I realize that a relaxed hand being placed on him without fear is what would trigger a cathartic therapy session on the East Broadway sidewalk.

Thankfully, I was able to console him briefly, also mentioning that he needs not challenge people who are also his neighbors (being as we apparently live in the same area of the city). I was both relieved and even more surprised by the outcome of the event. To me it demonstrates the power of a calm state, clear thinking, and noticing the presence of fear in a confrontation.

By no means will I ever plan to resolve any future situations the same way, except to keep one factor consistent - breathe, and notice what is happening inside, and honor those feelings. So next time you encounter an aggressive person, remember that it comes from fear, and a lack of love in a person's life, certainly nothing personal. I am ever thankful for our Systema training, that we are not just training our bodies, but also our minds and our spirits alike.

About the Author:
J.P. Gagliano has been training and teaching Systema since 2007. John-Paul has done training with both Vladimir Vasiliev in Toronto and Mikhail Ryabko in Moscow, he currently resides in BC, Canada and is a certified instructor at Systema Vancouver Martial Arts.
www.SystemaVancouver.com







Thanks J.P.

Justin Ho
Principal Instructor
Systema Sydney Russian Martial Art
www.systemasydney.com

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Got OODA? Or is it Something Entirely Different? by Systema Instructor Sonny Puzikas

Observations (no pun intended) through participation and while teaching over the years have led me to somewhat of a strange conclusion...

Is most of the training even conducive to let that illusive process often called OODA work? To function as intended? To be true cycle of observing reality, orienting in real time, making decision to act in most appropriate way based on information present and then, finally- act...


And what I observed has somewhat surprised me.

Through training that is focused on specific solutions of the problems faced- most often very narrow and limited field of "view" is being cultivated. Narrow field of view that is also focusing (and I use that term loosely, as such "focus" will result in blurry picture at best) on given problem through a prism of preconditioned and yet again- very limited- "orientation" tools, which are all geared in reverse direction to justify the preconditioned, trained, premeditated action.

In essence- a lot of modern training methodologies create fighters/operators who are- for the lack of better term- goal oriented with specific action being that goal- often ignoring what can be observed, thus excluding the "orienting" in current situation, with decision being made to chase the action that is not the best, nor optimal, nor efficient in current situation...

Action- especially conditioned habitual action- should not be the ultimate goal of Boyd's loop. The two O's are the most crucial components. Yet- aren't they excluded from this new "loop"? By the virtue of a fighter "looking" for an opportunity to execute specific action, in the process he is missing so much- mainly the reality in real time. Where targets, opportunities abound... Call it CPHA cycle... Chasing premeditated habitual action... 

About the Author: 
Sonny is a highly skilled operator gaining his experience from the special purpose unit (Spetsnaz) in USSR MVD. Sonny entered military service in late 1980’s and after the basic training was chosen for service in special purpose unit of Soviet MVD (Ministry of Internal Affairs). The reality of violence was exposed from a very different perspective with many revelations and learning experiences coming not only from very intense and brutal training regiment, but also from operational deployments to central Asia and Caucasus regions with his Spetsnaz unit, as well as work in some correctional institutions in Siberia and Far East. Extensive interaction with personnel from special purpose units from KGB, GRU and other entities provided opportunities to learn and polish new skills in areas of armed and unarmed combat, tactics and field craft, fighting methods based on native Russian combat arts. After the military service Sonny traveled extensively throughout Russia and Middle East providing protective services.  Because of unique combination of skills and experience, Sonny became very highly sought after authority in the areas of rifle fighting skills, unarmed combat and field craft. He was featured in numerous publications, TV programs and a recent Discovery Channel special. For more information visit:
http://www.gospelofviolence.com/
https://www.facebook.com/DallasCombatLab


As always thank you for your insights Sonny,

Justin Ho
Principal Instructor
Systema Sydney Russian Martial Art
www.systemasydney.com



Sunday, 9 February 2014

Instructor David Quaile Seminar in Hamilton New Zealand

Veteran Australian Systema instructor David Quaile will be conducting a System seminar in Hamilton on 12 & 13 April 2013. This event will be hosted by Systema Waikato.


David Quaile (left) is Australia’s longest serving Systema Instructor under Vladimir Vasiliev and Mikhail Ryabko (Right). Having Studied with Vladimir Vasiliev since the mid 90′s, David has always acted as a pioneer of Systema in both Australia and New Zealand giving seminars to training groups and clubs interested in studying the System. David has also had the opportunity to travel to Moscow Russia, to train directly with Systema Master Mikhail Ryabko.

David is also a retired Operative from the Australian Military. With his extensive real life combat experience in some of the harshest circumstances and environments that a person would have to survive, he has a thorough and intimate knowledge of how understanding of Systema can help an individual maintain him or herself in such situations.

An amazing and genuinely good natured human being with a wealth of knowledge and experience, David Quaile is highly skilled practitioner and teacher of Systema, and for a long time has been one of the best kept secrets of this art that you will find on our shores.

For more information on this seminar or to book you place contact:

If you are interested in finding out what a seminar is about feel free to read the following review on one of Dave's seminars in Sydney in July of 2012.

Thanks to Dan Miles and Les Hayes for arranging this :)

See you in NZ,

Justin Ho
Principal Instructor
Systema Sydney Russian Martial Art