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

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.


  • 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.


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

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

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:

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