Systema Sydney Russian Martial Art

Sunday, 30 June 2013

What is Short Work? by Systema Masters Mikhail Ryabko and Vladimir Vasiliev

Practical and real for confrontations, Short Work is one of the most appealing and challenging in Systema application. It is not to be confused with work at close distance, in fact it has very little to do with distance. To clarify, we recently asked Systema founders to define Short Work. This is what they said.

Mikhail Ryabko: 
It includes movements of minimal quantity and amplitude yet of top precision and power. Short work is the opposite of moving around a lot, waving, long, broad, fidgety and redundant movements. Instead, movements are concise and calm, contact with the target is instantaneous, with pin-point accuracy and great strength. Short work usually seems subtle to the observers and comes unexpected to the attacker. The physical effort to apply short work should be minimal, while the efforts to achieve this level of skill are significant. Systema practitioners gain this skill though learning to control their physical and psychological tension, correct body placement, dynamic breath patterns, developing power-filled fists, freedom of movement, tactical diversity and other key Systema features.

Vladimir Vasiliev: 
More specifically, Short Work is the result of the opponents’ tension and your relaxation. In a confrontation, your attacker is either tense and you need to see where or you can force him to tense up wherever you need him to. Then you bounce your strikes and movements off his tension. This allows you to deliver multiple strikes all in one movement. For example, you deliver a punch and your arm does not stop or pause upon contact, it does not return back towards your body but continues to travel and deliver more strikes in various directions. There is great benefit in learning Short Work, for it allows you to defend from multiple opponents. It enables you to do multifunctional work – defense, offense, redirection and stopping of attacks. The more tension the opponent has the faster your short work can be. But this does not mean that punches are quick and light, in Short Work the punches are heavy and strong. Proper Short Work is precision in any direction, where for instance, you can tense up a part of your arm or move it regardless of the position and tension in the rest of your body. It is extremely hard for the opponent to defend against Short Work. It has a devastating effect on a tense body. The only way to handle Short Work is to eliminate tension.

Very interesting to study and very useful for any confrontation, Short Work is truly a sign of mastery.

The following is a clip of Vladimir Vasiliev demonstrating shortwork at Systema HQ:

Justin Ho
Principal Instructor
Systema Sydney Russian Martial Art

Monday, 24 June 2013

Systema in Blitz Martial Arts Magazine: Technique Workshop July 2013

This July we are featured in Blitz Martial Arts Magazine in their Technique Workshop: Defence against a shoulder grab and punch:

Justin Ho
Principal Instructor
Systema Sydney Russian Martial Art

The Seven Principles of Systema Breathing

The following principles are taken from the book Let Every Breath, a comprehensive guide on Systema Breathing Practices by Vladimir Vasiliev with Scott Meredith.

  1. Pathway - Inhale through nose, exhale through mouth.
  2. Leading - Let breath slightly lead physical action in time.
  3. Sufficiency - Take as much breath as you need at the moment, for the action, no more and no less.
  4. Continuity - Keep breathing, without interruption or breath holding, no matter what you are doing unless doing a special breath hold training.
  5. Pendulum - Let every breath cycle complete itself and reverse naturally, just like a pendulum swings and reverses naturally without interference. Allow and experience the reversal pause at the end of each cycle.
  6. Independence - No specific type of action is invariantly tied to any particular phase of breath cycle (For example, you should be able to punch or roll as well on inhale as exhale).
  7. No Tension - Keep your muscles and your body overall relaxed.

Click to purchase at Systema Headquarters online store
Let Every Breath is 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.

This Book can be purchased at the online store of Systema Headquarters Toronto. See the following link:

I Strongly recommend it,

Justin Ho
Principal Instructor
Systema Sydney Russian Martial Art

Friday, 21 June 2013

Systema - The Go Warrior Documentary on the Discovery Channel

Here is an oldy but a goody. The complete Go Warrior documentary on Systema. If you haven't see this, check it out


 Hope you enjoyed it :)

Justin Ho
Principal Instructor
Systema Sydney Russian Martial Art

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Systema in Blitz Martial Arts Magazine: Interview with Daniil Ryabko

During Daniil Ryabko's time with us this last March 2013, we were able to help get him in touch with Blitz Martial Arts Magazine. Check out the interview, 5 Minutes with Daniil Ryabko.

Daniil will be returning again for Seminars in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane this November 2013. For more information check in at:

Justin Ho
Principal Instructor
Systema Sydney Russian Martial Art

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Women and Systema by Systema Instructor Kaizen Taki


I’ve been involved with training and teaching in Systema for more then a decade now. Over the years I have seen this practice literally change and save lives.

Systema offers a way to cleanse and strengthen a human being on all levels. It can provide some of the most rewarding experiences you will ever have and help build the strongest and most open relationships.

For many of us, Systema is defined by how it has changed our lives. Because Systema is based on the fundamentals of human experience, it is defined by our lives. In other words, to practice Systema is to live it. As such, Systema is about living out the full range of human experience. This also means that Systema manifests itself differently in each practitioner. Systema is, then, meant to evolve as its practitioners evolve in number and grow in the diversity of their backgrounds and contexts.


Systema has been introduced to the world by its military applications for the Spetsnaz. Unfortunately, for some, the images of camouflage, guns, and knives have defined Systema. However, any serious student of Systema knows that Systema reaches a much more profound depth of humanity than its military image. Quality Instructors will say that the combative application aspects of Systema only make up about 10% of the practice. There is no doubt that Systema has very relevant combat applications, but the practice of Systema encompasses much more. It’s time the other 90% becomes accessible to a wider audience. The combative 10% is a critical and necessary part of the whole, but it needs to be emphasized in its proper proportion to the rest of the work. Systema is about living out the full human experience.


Because the combat culture has been the dominant image, the culture of Systema has remained male-centered. This has made Systema understandably unapproachable to most women. This is extremely unfortunate, especially considering in my experience, women often excel at the practice of Systema.

Many of the core attributes of Systema training are often naturally displayed and picked up by women faster than men. Some of the problems that interfere with quality work in a male dominant training environment are either significantly reduced or simply don’t happen with greater female participation. A female presence brings not only balance to the training environment, but can provide a good example for many core attributes in Systema.

For instance, I’ve repeatedly seen women open up and listen to their intuition quicker then most men. They are often more willing to trust their feelings and listen to their internal state. This is one of the most important aspects in our training. The lack of sensitivity, awareness, and intuition is often the limiting factor for much of the work done in training, and for daily life applications.

In my experience women will display more patience, honesty, and humility when it comes to their personal limitations, and current internal state. All of these things are critical to excelling in Systema practice.

I’ve also seen how empowering Systema can be for women. As with all participants, training helps build confidence and remove the controlling grip that fear has on us. Becoming comfortable with who we are, both our strengths and weaknesses, helps us embrace our humanity, allowing for humility and compassion towards others.


For all these reasons and more, I think it’s time we create a culture that focuses on opening up the 90% of Systema that often goes unseen by the public. The training environment needs to be accessible to a wider audience. Especially to women.

Systema is about living and all that life encompasses. Violence and death are part of the process of life, of course, but it’s not the only thing. We should not be spending the majority of our time fighting life, we should be living it.

Our goal with the women’s classes and workshops is to do just that. Ultimately, a good training environment should be accessible by everyone, regardless of gender, age, or physical limitations. We are cultivating our environment so that every class is accessible to all participants.

If Systema training is about discovering, nurturing, and maintaining our humanity under all types of situations, then there needs to be a much greater presence of women in Systema. Humanity is equal parts male and female. A balanced psyche needs both expressions to be whole and complete.

I, for one, look forward to the lessons we can all learn from having a greater female presence in Systema culture. Some of the best feedback I’ve received about training and teaching has come from women participants and for that I am grateful. Thank you.

Kaizen Taki | Redmond School |

About the Author:

Kaizen is a Certified Instructor of Systema Russian Martial Arts under Vladimir Vasiliev. He has been a dedicated student of Martial Arts since 1987. Kaizen has specialized in the Breathing, Psychological, and Health aspects of Systema since 2002. For more information visit

Thankyou Kaizen,

Justin Ho
Principal Instructor
Systema Sydney Russian Martial

Monday, 10 June 2013

KNIFE IN A FIGHT - Systema real body & mind training by Scott Meredith

One day many years ago, a good friend of mine who worked for years as a corrections officer with the most dangerous inmates in a notoriously rough facility, and who knew of my interest in esoteric martial arts, took me aside with a smile and offered to give me "a lesson in how the real world works".

He then demonstrated on me physically a dozen different prison knife killings that he had either observed or cleaned up after. The setup, the attack, the follow-through. Though he was a cheerful guy and it was all done with a smile, it was one of the most horrifying experiences of my life because I had no idea what was happening in any of the attacks. They came out of nowhere, I saw nothing, and all I felt was the total BAD INTENTIONS as his pseudo-blade (just a stick, because to him we were just playing around) impacted me over and over within less than a second.
These attacks were so incredibly sneaky in setup, yet so natural in action that, cheesy as it may sound, I hesitate even to write them up in case somebody picks up on it and does it to somebody for real. From that moment to now, I have had nothing but absolute fear and loathing on the subject of real world knife attacks.

But so what? After all, he was a corrections pro demonstrating a very specialized situation, right? Shank attacks at close quarters in a crowded, more or less locked down venue. No relevance to your life, as you aren't in prison and don't plan on going. But what I took away from it was that people who really know what they're doing, in prison or not, would go at you exactly as he'd shown. So now we get to KNIFE IN A FIGHT (I'll abbreviate it 'KIF' in this article), a new Russian Martial Art training video by Systema master instructor Vladimir Vasiliev.

I've watched many knife defense videos and done lots of edged weapon related training. But nobody hit my hot button, from my experience above, until in the introduction section of KIF, I heard Vladimir say:

"If you see a knife in his hand, lots of people have suggestions - to run away, grab, do something like that. Perfect, that's good - but sometimes the problem is that you didn't see the knife. Then it's already too late. When people start to stab you, it will be too late to run - or maybe you can, but not too far. You need to understand both how the knife came into his hand, and why you didn't see it."

Though I couldn't have articulated it so technically, that's a perfect statement of my feelings after undergoing the demonstration described in my opening. KIF is geared to the most realistic, most difficult, most frightening, most professional scenario. Why couldn't I see the attack? Why was I utterly unable to react?

KIF contains dozens of exercises clearly described, thoroughly and awesomely demonstrated, that will lead the viewer to an understanding of this horrifying topic that is far deeper than any other teaching material I've seen. Everything is laser-focused on how to develop the acute sensitivity that is your first and last defense and really your only salvation in a knife attack carried out with serious intent.

Vladimir's body effortlessly expresses that quality of extreme sensitivity in every one of the demo segments, but rather than hot-dog to impress (though it does), Vladimir always treats the demonstrations as his real-time teaching platform. He makes his crucial training commentary in the action context of unscripted movement. So the core integrated elements of this extremely fast, close, secretive, and subtle work (both attack and defense must be jointly understood to master the topic) are separately teased out for isolated inspection, and then reassembled in later drills.

Systema overall is an integrated method of full body/mind training and KIF reflects that. In my past Systema education, I've done some similar knife defense work in Toronto and Moscow sessions, but always in the broader context of Systema movement and combative principles in general. The beauty of KIF is that all the relevant work is collected in a seamlessly focused whole for the first time. I could go on and on listing the many dozens of KIF's training exercises, but that would miss the forest for the trees. You need to hear Vlad's real time commentary as he simultaneously presents the drills and demonstrates the work. It all adds up to the greatest contribution to the scariest topic in all martial arts, and I'm not kidding - experiencing a knife attack by a committed street-wise attacker is in fact THE scariest scenario that martial arts purports to deal with. KIF is the first program that really delivers. I have no doubt that KIF will end up actually saving people's lives who would otherwise die in such attacks.

About the Author: 

Scott Meredith, the writer of Let Every Breath, is a certified instructor of SYSTEMA under Vladimir Vasiliev. Intimately familiar with the languages and cultures of Japan and China, Scott is a lifelong student of martial arts. He is a professional technologist who holds a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has worked for over 20 years as a senior researcher in human-machine interface technologies for IBM, Apple Computer, and Microsoft. Scott is highly regarded and respected by both Mikhail Ryabko and Vladimir Vasiliev for his profound understanding of Systema.

KNIFE IN A FIGHT by Vladimir Vasiliev available in downloadable MP4 format for tablets and smart phones.

Many thanks to Scott Meredith for such a comprehensive review

Justin Ho
Principal Instructor
Systema Sydney Russian Martial Art

Sunday, 2 June 2013

What is Systema? A Word by Senior Systema Instructor Maxim Franz in Belgrade

Senior Systema Instructor Maxim Franz, straight out of Systema Headquarters in Toronto. This clip was during a Systema knife and gun disarming seminar in Belgrade in Serbia, October 2011.

Max gave this wonderful description of Systema:

Clip sourced from Systema Serbia, see: or

Many thanks to Maxim Franz and Milos Malic,

Justin Ho
Principal Instructor
Systema Sydney Russian Martial Art