“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: http://www.russianmartialart.com/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=22&products_id=161
Systema Sydney Russian Martial Art