Systema Sydney Russian Martial Art

Friday, 27 September 2013

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.

-Vladimir Vasiliev

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 Vlad,

Justin Ho
Principal Instructor
Systema Sydney Russian Martial Art

Friday, 20 September 2013

Finding Your Voice by Systema Instructor Joe Mayberry

This was written shortly after the Mastering Systema Seminar Series at Systema Headquarters Toronto with Vladimir Vasiliev in August of 2013

Over the five days, participants from literally all over the world descended unto Toronto to learn from Vladimir Vasiliev. The diversity of individuals that entered Systema Headquarters would make even the United Nations look paltry by comparison. Some were established instructors involved in Systema for decades and then there were those introduced to Systema for the first time.

The following is my observation of one of the many lessons that I took from the tremendously informative course. When starting down the path of Systema, some people are unsure of their bodies. They see that they cannot move freely and they may give up or get frustrated. In most martial arts, students will watch their instructor and imitate his movements to the letter. Hand and foot placements are carefully scrutinized. Katas are practiced for years to perfection. And in the end what you have are facsimiles of the instructor. For some people, that is a very easy and dogmatic route to follow. Learning by rote.

One of the first things I will tell new students starting Systema is to not get frustrated and find their voice. My meaning is that everyone is different. Old, young, short, tall, fat, skinny, athletic or couch potato. No two people are the same and we all have strengths and weaknesses. But in order to begin to develop The System in themselves, they must find their own way of doing it. They must discover their own Systema voice.

No one I have ever met in my life moves like Vladimir Vasiliev. That is because Vladimir moves like Vladimir. He does not mimic others. It is his own voice that he speaks with. It is his own Systema and no one else’s. Trying to imitate Vladimir might not work when we watch in amazement of his skill, but do not realize that what we are seeing is one man’s expression of an entire system of life.

Everyone has Systema in them. It is there from infancy. Over time we mask or forget the God given ability to breathe fully and to move freely. Pride, ego and misinformation will smother the traits that Systema exalts!

During the course of the Mastering Systema seminar, Vladimir demonstrated a wealth of different movements and exercise. But never once did he say that we should do it like he did. He instead simply told us to breathe and relax. From that we will find our own movements, escapes, offenses and defenses. But we first must find it in ourselves through breath and absence of tension.

During the first three days of the seminar, Vladimir prepared each participant through profound breathwork. From there he released us to do our own individual work. Our base was strong as long as we followed our breathing. It was the foundation of everything else that occurred. No one cared what they looked like or how they were perceived to be. The breath led the way and they worked from that. And no one would care because everyone had their own voice. My thanks to all my fellow instructors, participants and friends who took the journey to Mastering Systema with me. I also want to thank Maxim Franz and Adam and Brendon Zettler for assisting and giving personal attention to anyone the required assistance. But finally thanks to Vladimir and Valerie Vasiliev for presenting, coordinating and executing a most profound training experience.

About the Author: Joe Mayberry has been intensively training and teaching Systema since 2008. He is a USMC Veteran and Detective with the St. Louis Police Dept. Joe has extensive martial arts experience and currently teaches Police, Military and Security personnel. Joe’s school has recently been awarded the best Self Defense Program in St. Louis.

Thanks again Joe :)

Justin Ho
Principal Instructor
Systema Sydney Russian Martial Art

Friday, 13 September 2013

Master's Push Up by Systema Master Valentin Talanov

At Systema Camp 2012, Valentin Talanov started the week with this story.

“This incident changed my approach to Systema and to training in general. It happened in 1980’s at the home of Mikhail Ryabko. Visiting our instructor at his apartment was a common thing to do in Russia. There were three of us, Systema students, coming to talk to Mikhail that day. All experienced in other types of fighting, we were fairly new to this training and had our doubts about learning Systema. We actually told Mikhail straight out that we will no longer practice Systema because we do not understand it.

Mikhail was very calm and positive about this announcement. He said “doubt prevents understanding”. Then he asked us to do a couple of simple exercises. First, push yourself up from a push up position, clap your hands under your chest and land back on your palms. We easily did that. Second, from the same position, push yourself up and do one clap over the head and one under the chest and land back onto the palms. After some deliberation, we were able to do that. And finally, from the same push up position, all in one shot, push off and clap under the chest, then over the head and then behind the back, landing right back on your palms.

Mikhail said that we are not to leave his place until it is done. We were laughing and making jokes about this impossible exercise. Mikhail said that it is achievable and people have done this, and while we are doubting we will not be able to accomplish this. For about 40 minutes, we continued making fun of this situation. At last, the emotions subsided and we started to try…

Eventually, we were all determined to complete the task, believed in the possibility and all three of us succeeded! I remember doing a very high amplitude push off and finishing the third clap a split second before my hands hit the floor.

This was a great ‘hands-on’ experience of how Faith leads to Success, Success opens Understanding, and Understanding grants Confidence. Moreover, I realized that Systema is the thing I love and I started to practice it regularly and diligently. Now about 25 years later, I am very thankful to Mikhail for his unique teaching methodology and for the gift of Systema. It has truly changed my training and enriched my life.

Thank you to Vladimir and Valerie Vasiliev and Systema HQ Toronto for hosing such an amazing Camp and giving me the opportunity to share this gift with so many people!

About the Author:

Valentin Talanov is one of the top Specialists, Instructor and Trainer of Systema since 1982 under Mikhail Ryabko. He is an experienced street and tournament fighter, health and conditioning trainer of world class athletes and KS master of boxing. Valentin’s amazing power and skills are featured in his DVD Breathwork and Combat:

Thankyou Valentin,

Justin Ho
Principal Instructor
Systema Sydney Russian Martial Art

Friday, 6 September 2013

The Short Route of Knowing by Systema Master Konstantin Komarov

To me, the essence of Systema is learning to deal with any unfavorable environment, which means increasing the chances of survival. One cannot account for every possible negative scenario that we may encounter in life. Therefore, we cannot prepare for each possibility separately. Instead, we need to prepare for all at once. Thus in Systema, the specific techniques and methods of work are not as important as the changes occurring in the student’s body and psyche.

My service in the army also taught me to overcome any negative impacts. The thing is, I had to learn differently, through overcoming myself. Over the course of four years of study at the military school, by running I have probably circled the Earth. We would run so much daily, morning, day or night, in freezing cold and sweltering heat, always wearing boots and uniforms, often with weapons and full gear, sometimes on skis, through obstacle courses, through the woods, across fields, on- or off-road. I hated running with my guts. I would ask myself – “at the age of cars, IVFs, APCs and all kinds of armored vehicles why, oh why do we need to run and march on foot so much?” Back then I could not answer that question.

In addition to that, physical training was also a part of other disciplines such as tactics, firearms, topography, defense from weapons of mass destruction, or military vehicles. This “PE component” included many miles of walking or running with weapons and gear, often wearing personal protection equipment; timed getting in and out of vehicles; loading / unloading ammo; mounting and taking down weapons, among other “pleasures”. In short, during the first two years I moved about exclusively by either marching or running. I kept asking that same question “Why do we need this?” even in my dreams!

Suddenly, after the graduation and getting to my first assignment, I got it. I knew why I had suffered. My commanders and teachers had helped me develop a stable psyche and stamina – the two qualities that determine one’s readiness to withstand negative impacts, and therefore survive. As the old military saying goes “what does not kill you makes you stronger”. Indeed, by overcoming yourself, you can tap into inconceivable powers! I realized that I had this internal strength, and so did my subordinates. Otherwise, they would not have followed my command.

So, the army taught me well to overcome myself, while Systema teaches self-understanding. In the army I shaped myself through a variety of drills, while in Systema I can develop myself directly. Under a good Systema instructor, this is a shorter route. Yes, there are drills, but I know exactly how each one changes me and why. I can build myself from the ground up, discover and correct my own shortcomings and strengthen the qualities I need. Systema is a marvelous, subtle instrument of self-development, which helps build a sound foundation for any movement, any activity. And not so much through overcoming but more through understanding yourself. Trust me – this process is faster and much more enjoyable.

Try a little experiment. Watch a video recording of a relatively simple dance (modern or folk) and try to copy the moves for a minute. If it is working, you are on a right Systema path. See, Systema training gives your body freedom to easily repeat any unusual and complex moves.

Would you like to take the challenge of overcoming yourself and reap the benefits? Try crawling without the use of arms or legs, non-stop for 20 minutes and up to 90 minutes depending on your fitness level. Then, in a class, do some wrestling with a partner or practice simple strikes, grabs and escapes on the move. Those of you, who succeed in overcoming yourself, will get an amazing, outstanding long-term result. This happens because we do most activities with our arms and legs, while the trunk is less capable of movement. But this approach is not for everyone. At Systema Camp this summer, I’d like to share with you the tasks that are easier, more engaging, and more fun. Together we will master most interesting things! See you there!

About the Author: Konstantin Komarov is a Major in the Special Service Police Force, PhD in Combat Psychology, one of the master instructors coming from Russia to teach at Systema at Full Range Camp 2012. Enjoy the short route to knowledge at SYSTEMA CAMP 2012 with Vladimir Vasiliev and Konstantin Komarov and Systema HQ instructors, August 13th through 19th.

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