Systema Write Up

Systema by Vlad has been increasingly in the news lately. I spoke with him a few weeks ago and he said that the art is growing so rapidly that he is concentrating on making his instructors top notch to make sure the ideas are convayed properly.

This write up is the national post but he has also been in other popular magazines such as "Maxim" for men.

He has been a longtime popular guy with military magazines but also as of late many martial arts mags are now jumping on the wagon as they "discover" him and his system.
Of everyone who does Russian martial arts & Systema?
Where are you all from?

And how many schools do you all know of?

I know there are a lot of practitioners, let us see where we are all at?

How long you been training now?
And who is your instructor?


come on guys, lets all get on board here!
Isn't that by Tim Horton's?

I would have been choked out several times this past wekend if not for the training Vlad has given on proper breathing!
Thank you Vlad!

A kewl way to train. :)
The A-Teams by Shane Mooney
- MAXIM - March 2001

In 1974, the USSR formed its own elite unit. They quickly became brutally efficient.

Some like to equate Russian's SPETSNAZ (SPETSialnoye NAZnacheniye, "troops of special purpose") with the Green Berets or Britain's SAS, but anyone even remotely familiar with their Cold War recruitment and training tactics knows that there is no way such intensity would be allowed in the West. In 1974, Yuri Andropov established the stealth military group, SPETSNAZ Group Alpha, to act independently of the Red Army and to carry out any mission - legal or not.

Selection and Training

During the Cold War, Soviets didn't fill out forms asking to join the SPETSNAZ. SPETSNAZ chose them. Men from all walks of life were observed and handpicked for the arduous, long-term service by military superiors.

To this day, most of the recruits training for the secretive unit don't even realize they are prospective SPETSNAZ members until many months, even years, into the process. Notes former SPETSNAZ officer, Vladimir Vasiliev, "Even when you are chosen for this training, no one tells you that it is something special until you get up to a certain level ... but no matter how high up you get, you never get the whole story."

Of all the world's special forces, the SPETSNAZ is perhaps unparalleled in the time it devotes to mental training to toughen and magnify all the senses. Soldiers are blindfolded for hours until they are able to understand the exercises and principles the instructor is teaching without the benefit of sight, or thrown into pitch-black rooms for hours.

The physical training borders on cruel and unusual punishment. "We'd be forced to go through unbearable pain during some of these exercises," says Vasiliev. "The trainers would bend your arm back until you started screaming. Then, as if this wasn't enough, somebody would get a knife and start poking you with it. You were then given the choice of two extremes - having your arm broken or being cut with a knife."

All SPETSNAZ soldiers learn Systema, a Russian martial art many experts consider to be the best technique for knife defense of fighting multiple opponents --- essentially the most complete way to maim and kill. And thanks to inmates of the gulags, the soldiers have an endless supply of opponents to kick, beat, and abuse in the hand-to-hand phase of training.

Unit Highlights

In 1985, terrorists stormed the Soviet Embassy in Beirut and abducted several Russian officials, demanding that the Soviets force Syria to stop its efforts to drive Palestinians supporting Arafat out of Lebanon.

Then Soviet president Gorbachev was quickly able to get Syria to stop its operation, but the kidnappers were slow in releasing the hostages. The SPETSNAZ quickly went into action, rushing to Beirut and giving the extremists 48 hours to free their people. When the terrorists let the deadline pass, the SPETSNAZ actually kidnapped four of them and sent one of their decapitated heads in a bag to the terrorist chief, promising further unrestrained action. The captives were quickly freed.

Personal Combat Story

"In the mid-80's, a dangerous prisoner in the medical unit of a large city prison seized a female doctor, held a knife to her throat, and began dragging her toward the first set of exit doors. The internal alarm was activated and an emergency call went out to my SPETSNAZ unit. While the murderer made his way through the corridors with his hostage, the unit arrived and one of our men replaced the prison guard on the other side of the exit doors. The criminal yelled to have the doors opened, saying he was prepared to slit the doctor's throat. Our guy was done up to look old, with scruffy hair and thick glasses. He started to whine and complain that it was his first day on the job and he didn't know what to do. Fumbling through his pockets, he took out a gun, held it by two shaking fingers from an outstretched arm, and offered it to the prisoner. Then, in the blink of an eye, the sniffling guard flipped the gun into his [own] hand and blew the guy's head off."
- Vladimir Vasiliev, a 10-year SPETSNAZ veteran.
FIGHT CLUBS: From Russia With ... By Steve Payne
Jan. 13, 2001

In the movie Fight Club, starring Brad Pitt, people punch the hell out of each other for fun.

While Hollywood's film goes to extremes, all over Toronto, men and women practice unarmed combat everyday. Why? For fitness and self-confidence, to relieve tension and to let off steam, without getting battered.

Here's a look at some of the fight-club possibilities, from boxing and karate to lessons from a former member of the Special Operations Unit of Spetsnaz, the Russian Special Forces.
Meet James Bondski. A veteran of secret missions, Vladimir Vasiliev is so wired for action that he always sleeps with his feet outside the covers. It's a survival trait from a decade of training and work with Russia's Special Forces, including covert missions.

As a soldier and bodyguard, Vasiliev was so adept at unarmed combat that he was a teacher and practitioner. Now he passes on skills to students at his Thornhill fight club.

Don't expect blood and guts in his classes. Contrary to most other combat techniques, Russian Martial Art has no regimented stances or moves, no grades or colored belts. Students fight with instinctive, spontaneous, natural moves. Vasiliev, 42, who came to Canada in 1990, has students so relaxed that combat is more like a dance than a donnybrook. "Everyone should be human first, not an animal," says Vasiliev, a married father of two. "Relax and you react quicker."

Russian Martial Art looks absurdly simplistic. In reality, it's ruthlessly efficient. Vasiliev can fight off up to six knife-wielding attackers. Toronto firefighter Scott Connor, 39, has trained with Vasiliev for five years. ?The system is based on freedom of movement. Because it's so natural, it's much more effective," says Connor.

Rommel San Pedro, 33, an evangelical minister in Mississauga, is in awe of Vasiliev, as are all his students. San Pedro once worked with a martial arts teacher in the Philippines who beat the late, legendary Bruce Lee. "Vasiliev would have beaten Lee," notes the priest.
VLADIMIR VASILIEV: Russia's Mind Warrior is Set to Hit the U.K. By Trevor Robinson
COMBAT - March 2000

The two warriors faced each other on the battlefield, sword in hand, looking death in the face, time standing still. A mixture of blood, fear and adrenalin coursing through their veins and their heavy breathing the only sound.

In the timing of a moment, the first warrior attacks. Swinging his hefty sword high over his head in a crescent arc aimed at the second warrior's head. I have him, the first warrior thinks, rushing forwards, a split second away from total victory. The second warrior's left hand waves horizontally to his left, it is a gentle yet deliberate act. The first warrior, with a mixture of disbelief and astonishment cuts clean through the air, and in the same timing the second warrior cuts clean through him.

As the stricken warrior lies dying on the battlefield, he wonders how he could have missed. He dies with that thought.

The victorious warrior already knew the answer to that question, for he was a Master in The System and his awesome skills with psychic energy, the highest state in martial arts technique, would be shrouded in secrecy and mystery and kept from the world for hundreds of years to come.

Before I talk about Psychic Energy, there are a few things I must cover to clear the way, as this is a very provocative and esoteric subject. This topic is vast and also very complicated so I will endeavor to keep it simple.

The Martial Arts and religious paths have gone hand-in-hand, the Chinese Arts with the Tao and Buddhism, the Japanese Arts with Zen, Shinto and Buddhist sects, the Christian Knights of the Temple and the Crusaders, even the Indian Thugees were from a Religious Order. There are far more than I can mention here, other than to note the fact that the martial arts have always had a Spiritual aspect in fact the core of all martial arts is religion.

The real warrior has always historically worked on the body, mind and spirit and there has always been talk of the Path, the Way of the Warrior and enlightenment. With the training of the mind, body, and spirit, for the true martial artist, this is a road to personal perfection, a continuing expansion of awareness and freedom in all aspects of the practitioner's life.

In perfecting oneself, one perfects technique.

On the path in The System, the martial artist learns that technique is to be a natural reaction and not a learned response (through kata, etc.) and so by tempering the psychology (mind) and intuitive (spiritual) aspects, he is able to master his technique (and vice versa).

For those individuals who continue their training long enough and thoroughly enough, they will go beyond technique to the next development, which are the principles or the how of the technique.

When he understands the principles, and there are around 30 principles in The System, there are no longer any techniques, only body movement --- the principles and natural relaxed body reactions that help the body think and provide all that is needed in spontaneous reaction to any dangerous threat. At this stage, it helps if you have been involved in martial art that uses natural relaxed body movement based on human, not pretended animal movements. After all, a rabbit does not make a good wolf!

At this higher development, the mind and body are now freed from technique (if you're thinking you are in a state of then or activity). When freed, the mind stops thinking (non-introspection of action). The mind is in a state of now; and the body reacts in an interactive spontaneous relationship with the opponent, which is physical and psychological, and ultimately psychic as well. The Russian System dictates that only the natural response of the body will provide a proper defense. This is especially true when you are confronted with multiple attackers.

As the martial artist moves towards the spiritual realm, the difference in the relationship between the defender and attacker fade, and the fight becomes merely a moving relationship of energy.

The defender does not stop the attacker's movements, but lets them continue in a new direction using his strength with him, not against him. Through this, the attacker provides the defender with the tools to bring about the aggressor's defeat. The aggressor truly defeats himself through his own actions.

The defender steals from his attacker's movements to the extent that every move the opponent makes is a mistake and a flawed action.

To accomplish this, the defender must always go along with the attacker's movement, as I said before, it is an interactive spontaneous relationship and that means the opponent also reacts to what the defender is doing! Take note: you have to be in a constant continuous relationship with him in rapport to realize this. We are always in a relationship with our environment. If you disregard this, you will pay the consequences.
The attacker must believe he is winning right up to the moment of his defeat (or he will change his movement). To accomplish this, the defender must become completely selfless or devoid of introspection, only then is he able to understand that it is not what the defender thinks he must do that is important, but the importance lies in what the attacker is doing moment by moment.
And so the defender's movements (techniques) are a direct reaction to the attacker's movements and not the defender's idea of what he thinks he will do to the attacker. This principle applies even if the defender is attacking!

At this level you are now working with timing, space, and energy. At this level, there is no such thing as conflict. You are able to step inside the fight itself and control the opponent in a safe space and the opponent's movements are no more than an energy influx.

Of course you can explore all these levels as you could explore a multi-level building, you could practice Psychic Energy before you perfect your fighting maneuvers and you could understand it well, but it would be of little of no practical use to you without understanding all the levels completely.
Now, I will cover the highest level.

Thoughts are things. Where thought goes, so goes energy.
The concepts of Ki (Japanese), Chi or Qi (Chinese), Prana (Indian) and all its other names the world over is woven so deeply into the tapestry of world culture, mystery and legend, that only the most myopic of people would think this energy did not exist. The consequences of their belief being overturned are huge. It would mean that the body does not end at the skin and all the implications of that. So, many people do not question that conviction.

It would mean that the human aura, mesmerism, the laying on of hands and magic using the power of though-directed energy (witchcraft) is real, and that is too much for people in this over-technical world we live in. You see: if this energy is real what else is?

Through training in the martial arts, we begin to pay more attention to aspects of experience that might have seemed peripheral, if not hard to believe before. We begin to start noticing and giving more credence to experiences such as meeting someone for the first time and instantly liking them or disliking them without knowing anything about them. We like their vibes, we can tell if someone is staring at us and when we look up (what makes you look?) we feel we know what they are feeling or that something is going to happen, the phone rings and we know who it is before we answer it. As we allow ourselves to develop new sensitivities, we begin to view the world quite differently.

Dr. Victor Inyushin at Kazakh University in Russia has done extensive research with the human energy field since the 1950s. Using the results of these experiments, he suggests the existence of bioplasmic energy field composed of ions, free protons and free electrons. Since this is a state distinct from the four known states of matter solid, liquid, gases and plasma (by the way Liquid Crystal Diodes fall into this new category as they are neither solid nor liquid), Inyushin suggests that the bioplasmic energy field is a fifth state of matter.

His observations showed the bioplasmic particles are constantly renewed by chemical processes in the cells and are in constant motion. There appears to be a balance of positive and negative particles within the bioplasma that is relatively stable. If there is a severe shift in this balance, the health of the organism is affected.

In spite of the normal stability of bioplasma, Inyushin has found that a significant amount of this energy is radiated into space. Streams of bioplasmic particles that have broken away from the organism can be measured moving through the air. It is these streams or strings of the unseen human form that the practitioner of The System manipulates and that in turn manipulates the opponent. Thus, we have plunged into a world of life energy fields and bioplasmic forms moving about and streaming off the body.

If we look into the literature, this is not new. People have known about this phenomenon since the dawn of time. It is just that in our time, the phenomenon is being rediscovered. As this knowledge has developed and Newtonian physics has given way to relativity, electromagnetic and particle theories, we are more and more able to see connections between scientific objective descriptions of our world and the world of subjective human experience.

So what does this energy feel like? Well, the best description I've been given so far was from my three and a half year old son, Dominic, who said it felt like fluff when I was, err, testing it on him, he was giggling and being pushed back against a wall with the pressure.

Personally, I don't expect anyone to just believe in this energy until they have experienced it for themselves, and everyone has a certain degree of ability with this energy.

My first real experience of this energy was in 1995 when I took my 5-day black belt test in Ninjitsu. This test involved avoiding a sword strike to the top of my head while I was kneeling, with my eyes closed, and facing away from my Japanese Grandmaster, whose eyes were also closed (probably, so he didn't stop if I didn't move!) As he brought down the sword to my head, intending to kill me with it (mentally, I hope?), the object of the test was to see if you can pick up the force of the killer's intention. I passed the first time, thank God, there is no trick. If you wait to hear the sword it would have already hit you, your body feels the attacker's intention and your body throw you out of harm's way. Why this does not work for everybody is because people consciously override the body's reaction to escape until they reach a certain level. You must get rid of the 'self' (i.e. activity/introspection) so the body can hear the threat.
Since the test and especially since practicing The System, I have gained new and greater abilities, such as making people miss punches, kicks and grabs, as well as making them fall over in mid-attack (all with no physical contact!), but what I can do pales in comparison to what I've seen in the outstanding abilities of the masters in the Russian Martial Art of The System.

Vladimir Vasiliev is a Master in The System and he has an outstanding command of its use. Though he is so humble, I'm sure he would be the first to deny it! What I will relay now is on his personal account of the Psychic Training he received while he was with the Special Operations unit in Spetsnaz. In his own words:

'The goal of the training was to make you multi-functional. You were to be able to work effectively in any kind of situation and never fear it.

Perhaps more importantly, you were expected to learn how to be creative and act spontaneously. Divergent thinking, being able to come up with unconventional and unusual responses and decisions in different situations was an absolute necessity. You had to be totally adaptable to survive in the unit.

The key to this adaptability was the Psychic Training you received. You were expected to go well beyond the mere physical and psychological mastery to a point where intuition and that sixth sense, that we all have but seldom use, became a part of your daily life.

Awareness, or tapping into your sixth sense, was a focus for many of the exercises. Training classes could run for five hours and in some, you'd be blindfolded for the entire time. You'd have to follow what was going on, do your exercises and come to an understanding of the principles the instructor was teaching without the use of sight.

While sparring, the instructor would also walk around the class looking for trainees who weren't paying attention to the total environment they were working in. If he thought you weren't aware of his presence, he'd hit you with a stick over the head, this taught the trainee very quickly to be aware of where everyone was at all times.

At other times, we were brought up into pitch-black rooms and had to guess how many people were in it, if any. We'd also be blindfolded and have to identify colors just by touching colored blocks of paper. Again, awareness was to extend far beyond the normal five senses into the area of the psychic.

Some instructors who were skilled at passing psychic energy would take a few glasses of water and charge them with energy. This was a charge grounded in a psychic form of energy. It was much like touch healing. They'd concentrate on the water and send energy into it through their fingers without touching it. The trainee would then have to come into the room and tell the instructor which classes had been charged with the energy. The purpose behind this exercise was to teach the trainee how, on a mission, to tell if their drink was poisoned. Poison has a much stronger energy than regular water and that energy is discernible to those who have learned to access and use their psychic abilities.

Before sleep, we were also taught to picture everything around us. We became completely aware of how a room looked, sounded and smelled. We even became aware of a tactile, or touch perceptions. We put all this information into a mental picture and fell asleep. If anything at all changed in the room while you were sleeping, you were to awaken immediately and respond to any situation.

The trainer would change something in the environment, sometimes even slightly, and we'd have to wake up or answer for it with our superiors. After much practice, we learned how to do this.

We were also taught to sleep with our feet outside our blanket or bag. That way, if some threat presented itself we'd be able to get up immediately to respond. As above, I still sleep this way. My feet are never covered at night.

Eventually, you came to understand and respect the extent of your lethal powers and learned to use them only when necessary or in pursuit of the necessary military goal. There is a strong moral side to the Russian Martial Art, as there is in many of the other martial arts around the world. To become a bully or use your powers in pursuit of in connection with evil, would be a disgrace, totally out of character for the warrior and would ultimately weaken the inner power.

So there you have it an introduction to psychic energy. In my next article for Combat, I will relay more on Vladimir's physical and mental training in Spetsnaz, his philosophy of life, and more interesting aspects of the Russian Martial Art of The System.
If you would like to see the methods of psychic energy in action for yourself as well as other aspects of The System, then you can find Vladimir Vasiliev's videos advertised elsewhere in this issue of Combat.
Thanks for sharing all this info. GouRonin.

I'm spending a week in Toronto this month for business...sounds tempting.
My Special Assignment By Dr. Brett Jacques
- Nov./Dec. 1999

When the assignment came across my desk, I rolled my eyes. I figured it would be a tough assignment. My editor always gives tough jobs, If it's easy, it's no good, he says. I knew something wasn't right when the plain brown manila folder was marked, G.A.I.N. Top Secret. I opened it and read the following profile:

Subject: Vladimir Vasiliev a.k.a. the Snake
Age: 40
POB: Tver, Russia
Height: 1.83m
Weight: 81.82 kg
Military Record: Classified
Status: Married, 3 children
Residence: Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada
Occupation: Martial Arts Instructor
Martial Arts Training:
Boxing: 5 years
Karate: 1 year
Military Hand to Hand Combat (the System): Classified
Other Hand-to-Hand Combat Systems:
Method taught by Michael Ryabko 20+ years
Method taught by Uncle Peter 5+ years
Hobbies: Electronic Gadgets, Reading History
Favorite Music: The Beatles
Favorite Movie: Midnight Express
Favorite Food: Roasted Sunflower Seeds
Favorite Drink: Heineken

We had data on this guy, but the editor wants more. The phone rings and he was on the phone. What the hell are you still doing here? he says.

Huh? Get your butt up to Toronto and find out everything you can about this guy. Test him out. Punch him, grab him, do whatever it is that you do to see if he is legit. Don't you do some sort of Russian thing yourself? He can probably relate to you better than anyone else can. Well, why are we still on the phone? Get moving.

The phone slammed down and I thought great, Toronto in January. Why couldn't he have sent me to Brazil to interview Sperry? I arrived as the snow began to fall.
I went to his home and he and his wife, Valerie, welcomed me with open arms and warm hearts. It was about noon when I got to his house and for the next four hours we ate Russian food, talked and watched videos. For those of you who do not know Russian hospitality, experience it, you won't be disappointed.

Prior to my trip, I queried other sources for anything they could give me on the guy. I also got a hold of every video he had released. From this information, I made a mistake that good reporters shouldn't make; I went up to interview this guy with an extremely negative bias. Hell, from some of the reports I had, this guy could whip Bruce Lee, Quaichang Kane, Jacob and the Angel, and Godzilla. Secret army this, secret technique that. The videos, well, the stuff looked fake. His training partners looked like they were taking dives. So, after talking with the Super Spec. Op. Warrior for nearly four hours, I found him to be one of the most genuine people I had ever met. His knowledge of all things martial was so comprehensive and so enlightening, I literally forgot to breathe and blink for hours at a time. We analyzed videotapes of other instructors from Russia and the U.S. (including mine). I discovered that he really enjoyed the study of movement and its real world application. He was not interested in sport fighting, just what works on the street or on the battlefield. I thought that this was all well and good. He could talk the talk, but could he walk the walk? I was soon to find out. It was time for Vladimir to teach his class.

We started class with several strange warm-up drills that culminated in exercises that pitted one man against another. I chose Vladimir. This skinny guy was strong. I was quite surprised by his strength, far beyond what I had expected. Next, he lectured his class about movement concepts and then demonstrated what he wanted them to work on. He came over to me so we could work in private. I told him before we began that I had seen his videos and that his stuff looked fake. I explained that I felt it would have a hard time working on the street. He smiled a big smile or was it an evil grin. He then said, "Let's test. You punch, kick whatever and I move." I launched a series of attacks varying from kick to shoot to punch. Although I never went all out, I didn't need to. This guy was amazing. He hit me from the most unpredictable angles. Each of the strikes was not a knockout blows, but they had odd effects that I couldn't and still can't explain. I could get inside and take him down, but the pain he induced made it an unlikely process to happen repeatedly. He was incredible at escaping. All in all, he was the real deal. We proceeded to work on knife defense, pressure points, bodyguarding ideas and most of all, relaxation. The ability to react and stay relaxed was paramount to success using Vladimir's method.

I had an outstanding time that became more enlightening as the class wound down to a close. So how do you describe such a method? Accounting for my training background, I would have to say that Vladimir's method of Russian Martial Art is best described as Drunken Silat or Inebriated Ba Gua or maybe Sloshed Aikido. Hell, how about pretty f****** amazing. However, a system is only good if you can teach it to others so they can use it. Can others learn it? If so, how long does it take to become proficient? Some of these questions were answered when I worked out with two of his students who have been with him at least two years.

These guys were smooth and fluid, but not clones of Vladimir. They made the method work for them. This whole training experience created shock waves in my martial arts thinking. It would be well worth it for anyone to make a sojourn to Toronto (at any time of the year) to train at Vladimir's school.

GAIN: What was your first martial art and how old were you?
VV: I took up boxing when I was 13.

GAIN: What system was next?
VV: The hand-to-hand combat taught to me, in the military, was known as The System, a term employed for a compilation of techniques that focused primarily on strategies and tactics. At age 20, I took up karate and after six months of training, I took second place in an all-Russian kumite competition at 70 kilograms. It was a light contact tournament, but it seemed that every other fighter had to see the doctor.

GAIN: What aspects of karate did you like?
VV: I liked the fact that there were competitions and you could show your stuff.

GAIN: When did you start training with your current instructor, Michael Ryabko?
VV: I started training with him when I was 20. My friend and I went to see him because we heard he had great skill. We attacked him at the same time. I kicked and my friend punched and we ended up on the floor. So I started training with him. But I was also still training in karate until I had a street fight and hurt my knee. Then I realized that karate training didn't allow you to continue to fight when you are hurt. The movements I learned from Michael could allow continuing to fight when hurt. I stopped doing karate, but I still love to kick. I used to impress my future wife and future mother-in-law by performing a kicking trick. I had (my wife) Valerie hold a matchbox and I did a jump-spinning-round kick while holding a matchstick between my toes to light the match. I was also very good at throwing things and I impressed them by flicking razor blades, deep into wood.

GAIN: Tell me a little more about Mikhail Ryabko.
VV: He was taught by one of Stalin's bodyguards when he was in the army. Michael started this kind of training when he was very young. He is a very good person and I learned a lot from him. I still go back to Russia to train with him whenever I can.

GAIN: Have you had any other instructors?
VV: Uncle Peter is what I called him. I met him on the street and we started talking. We then started training together. He was in his 70s then, but very strong. Uncle Peter said his system developed out of dealing with Samurai Warriors. It had to be instant reaction and you only let your opponent do one move. It was very scary to work with him because he was so brutal. He taught me how to quickly assess your opponent's weak spot with a kinesthetic sense, a feeling. Uncle Peter told me in the old days, people were more aware and relaxed. This allowed them to find injuries and weak spots on people by feel. He taught me how to heal by transferring energy. I trained with him for five years.

GAIN: What are some of your favorite techniques?
VV: I use movement concepts, not techniques really. In Russia, street fights are common; people are always ready to go. It is normal for our culture. Fights happen in restaurants, bars, everywhere. Each time I fought, it would happen so quickly. People would be lying on the ground and I couldn't remember what I had done.

GAIN: What are the major strengths of The System that you teach?
VV: It allows for growth in horizontal (human qualities) and vertical (skill level) abilities. It promotes less aggression because you are more relaxed and having fun. It allows you to see things not just look at them.

GAIN: What are the weaknesses of what you teach?
VV: There are weaknesses in every system, but the weakness is more within the individual. I like to teach good people that have good hearts.

GAIN: One of the interesting quotes in the Russian System Guidebook says, Ten wounded are better than one dead. Could you explain that?
VV: Humans break easily when you know how. But The System promotes a good moral character and respect for human life. If you can accomplish your task without taking a life, then this is good.

GAIN: Your method is concept/movement based rather than the traditional method of a foundation of techniques. Explain this.
VV: Concepts allow you to adapt and improvise. Learning movements accomplishes the same thing. When a fight happens it is unpredictable and you have to be able to react, be flexible and adapt. This builds upon your natural reflexes. It is also important to move only the parts of the body that you have to. This approach allows you the freedom to handle any strike from any direction.

GAIN: What are some of the training methods you use in your classes?
VV: First class must be fun, there is still work to be done, but it has to be enjoyable. We use progression in our training. By this I mean that first we use wooden weapons or light strikes and gradually work up to live blades and hard strikes. We do some blindfold training. At the end of class, we discuss our experiences to aid in understanding of the lessons. We believe in contact training to aid in the development of reaction, confidence and relaxation. Relaxation exercises are very important because tightness impairs mobility.

GAIN: Is there a philosophical foundation to your system?
VV: Philosophy is very important. A brief introduction to the philosophy is in the guidebook. Philosophy serves as a guide, concepts to be aware of. Here are ten important concepts to aid in the mastery of the Russian system.
"Harmonize your life.
"Do not be aggressive
"Think continuously
"Do not rely on rules
"Understand that it is not the weapon that does the harm, but the person
"Accept the occurrence of defeat and anger
"Slip away without breaking contact
"Don't be self-conscious about how you look
"Do everything with awareness and relaxation
"Always perform with the least possible effort

GAIN: Those are valuable principles. In the Guidebook you talk about the Russian Health System. What are some of the basic concepts behind it?
VV: I first learned some of the principles in the army. In the army, we were trained not to be machines but develop on our own. We were taught the basics on many things that we then researched further on our own. It was the same with the Russian Health System. We employ hydrotherapy, fasting, instinctive eating, movement and proper breathing.

GAIN: Do you follow a special diet?
VV: I eat instinctively and I fast for about 40 hours once a week. This allows me to do the work better.

GAIN: Do you follow a special exercise routine?
VV: Again, to use instinct to tell me what I need to do, but I teach class everyday and this provides plenty of exercise.

GAIN: Let's change the focus here a bit. What do you think of the no-holds-barred contests?
VV: They have a lot of rules to be given such a name. They have allowed martial arts to move forward, but they favor big guys. These guys are the first ones to get hit by a bullet in combat because they don't move so well and are bigger targets. Smaller guys survive combat.

GAIN: Is there grappling in the system that you teach?
VV: We don't do sambo. We focus on movement and not on techniques. Our takedowns create awkward landings and there is a greater potential for injury. We don't practice it a lot. It is the same with our groundfighting, it is movement- oriented and we tend to move through the opponent's limbs rather than hold them. I teach holds, but this is more for police and bodyguard work,

GAIN: What does the future hold for Vladimir Vasiliev?
VV: I am going to produce videos of other instructors from Russia. I will be traveling for seminars in the US and Europe.

Based on my glowing accounts of training with Vladimir, a local Kung Fu organization sponsored a two-day seminar. Well over 100 people attended it from eight different states. Some of Vladimir's long-time students attended also. The amount of information covered in two days could have easily been spread out over two weeks time. I gave Vladimir a basic outline of what the people wanted to see and he covered all of it and more. We did pressure point work, offensive strategies, knife and gun disarms, break falls which were really rolling techniques, open hand striking concepts and foundational principles to allow the inclusion of Vladimir's method into the Kung Fu system they were already studying. After the first night, we had a little soiree for Vladimir and the leading dignitaries of the sponsors. I also invited some Russian friends from the area. We ate Russian hors d'oeuvres and drank some adult beverages. We traded stories and barbs until the wee hours. The seminar on the following day went off without a hangover hitch. At the end of the weekend, a good time was had by all. Many traditional practitioners had their martial paradigms altered extensively. I would have to say that most of the participants will never practice martial arts the same way again.

Well, there you have it, the scoop on Vladimir Vasiliev, a talented martial artist and a truly genuine human being. I recommend his seminars and videos with the highest of ratings. Teaching one of the most unique and effective systems, Vladimir is one of North America's finest instructors.
Originally posted by arnisador
Thanks for sharing all this info. GouRonin.
I'm spending a week in Toronto this month for business...sounds tempting.

I can't explain it. I don't have the words. You have to feel it to believe.

Gee, I remember another kenpo inovator saying something like that, "To see is to be decieved, to feel is to believe."
While Gou continues to whipe the drool off of's another one :D



Thane Burnett,
Oct. 19, 2001 Vol. 30, No. 253

Bloody Russian

Take it from Mikhail Ryabko fighting in Afghanistan is no picnic

THORNHILL Mikhail Ryabko is not the kind of man youd want to insult in a dark Moscow bar. Or meet, even with a knife in your hand, on a rocky Afghanistan mountain trail on a starless night.
The former Russian Army Special Forces member spent several tours in the now infamous Afghani war zone, conducting reconnaissance and assault operations during the Soviet Unions doomed 1980s occupation.
He knows what its like to face Afghans and to kill them where they stand.
He can give a chilling account of what its like to fight our new enemy, face-to-face, on his own ground.
Its something coalition soldiers if Special Forces are not doing right now will be doing soon.
The counter-terrorism instructor from Moscow son of a bodyguard of Stalinsaid Americans can defeat Osama bin Ladens al-Qaida terrorist network. But the price may be much higher than weeks of bombing runs.
Russians spent 10 years there it became part of our lives, explained Ryabko, who believes his countrys politicians, bowing to international pressure, pulled out of the region too soon.
Is America prepared to spend the next 10 years there? Thats what it will take to win.
Its a long way from mountain passes to a clean and tidy Thornhill gym, home to the Russian Martial Arts School, which has flown in Ryabkoauthor of manuals on Russian special-ops tactics to run five days of hand-to-hand combat seminars.
Retired from the military, as well as a stint with Russian police, he is short and meaty and looks like your lazy uncle Ed. But Ryabko moves alarmingly fast if you come at him with a knifeeven the blunt one I was given yesterday.
There was a fluid control to his movements as he reached out like an adult would do to a toddler and easily twisted the blade away from me. Then, as he drove my knee into the ground with his foot, the knife I once held was suddenly pressed into my own throat.
Throughout, he smirked a trademark, he explained, of the close-quarter combat he likes. Ryabko said most missions into Afghanistanhe and his squad would fly in and out over years were reconnaissance.
They would watch the Afghans meeting up with drug and weapon convoys, sometimes taking them into mountain caves so large, vehicles could drive into them. He became used to seeing Americans alongside the Taliban soldiers a vision he finds hard to fathom given the current Afghanistan offensive.
There were other missions to blow up mountain weapon and ammo depots, along with sophisticated communications equipment the Afghans used.
He and his men would come in by helicopter. Mine clearing teams would then sweep the landing area. Stealth, he recalled, was a key weapons.
His orders were to not fire a gun, which would attract more enemies. His first time in, he and his squad drew blood.
I was not at the front on the line, so the first thing I knew a body was being tossed at me, Ryabko said through a translator. That was my first military operation in Afghanistan. I was covered in his blood.
A knife fight began between his troops and an almost equal number of Afghani soldiers. In the pitch black, it lasted, he said, about 10 minutes, with two Russians wounded and the enemy squad dead around them.
As is always the case in covert operations of war even one long over its now impossible to confirm Ryabkos version of the melee.
In the morning, with the light, the other soldiers say I was covered in blood . . . from the first (enemy soldier) thrown on me. They assumed I had fought like a lion.
He said Russian experience found 70% of Taliban troops routinely take drugs.
It gives them no fear before battlethey have a very high threshold for pain, recalled Ryabko.

Eliminate them

When you are at war with (the Afghanistan people), you either kill them all, or much better, make an agreement with them. But for (extremists), like Osama bin Laden, you just have to eliminate them.
The father of two likens the terrorists to wolves, raised from birth to fight and live in the mountains.
America was sleeping this has shocked them into the kind of reality Israel and Russia have lived with for years, he said.
Those in the west even those out of uniformmust now have a new mind-set to defeat terrorism, he said.
Know you can win. Have a clear conscience, and do not be afraid to fight and die, said the Russian. Its now time to confront this new reality.
Not from thousands of feet up in a bomber. But, ultimately, face-to-face on mountain trails.
Originally posted by Jay Bell
While Gou continues to whipe the drool off of himself... :D

It's because I think Vlad severed my spinal cord last wednesday. It's ok though. He fixed it.

My Name is Cory, I first experienced Systema at a martial arts seminar last year at a Meeting the masters workshop in Indianapolis, Indiana. I met there and trained w/ extensivly for 2 days w/ Dave and Rick Merrill of Florida. They then told me o AL MckLuckie who teaches in Ft Wayne, so I in order to further my training has spent several classes w/ AL in the systema martial art. I have most if not all the Systema series video collection.
It's hard for me to make it to Ft Wayne on a regular basis due to Al only teachs on Wednesday nights, but I do practice what I learnt from him rather frequently and follow the videos as well. I try to get to systema class on a regular basis of 2 times a month if I can, the 2 hour drive one way is kinda hard w/ my work schedule.

However I also have a rather rigerous martial arts background from Karate, kickboxing,boxing to Filipino Kali, Eskrima and Silat, JKD

So one day I hope to meet and train w/ Vlad and or Mikhail and I will continue to train in Systema, I know an effective martial art when I see it, and Systema is just that.
Cory Ballinger
I have seen McLuckie move once while I was at Vlad's and he looked pretty good to me. Martin Wheeler is also a great teacher of it.

I drive 2 hours one way too ebery other week to train at Vlad's so I hear where you are coming from. Keep at it!
yeah I was thouroghly impressed w/ AL McKluckie when I first met and watch his systema compared w/ the other two brothers
Rick and Dave Merrill that I had previously met, and it was at the moment that I met the Merrill bros, that I though man thiers no way I can do this stuff.

I met Al and he gave me confidence, since we both shared common background in the same martial arts of Kali/Silat/JKD etc.

and I seen and felt his motions compared w/ the merrill bros. I then realized it was possible for me to combine these and put it to work in a systema setting. I found systema as the core but I find myself refering back to some Kali or some other form of MA that I had previously had instruction in, and AL said thats great! it will all serve its purpose in real speed and combat. Use what is working and practice it in its original and natural feel. As systema teaches, relax take it not w/ stride but rather w/ the aspect of accumulating a existing flow that is natural. Dont take the "hardnes" that the other arts expect but let the flow out of you like it was meant to be there. and its amazing how they all combine to connect I love systema. I have to admit upon my first initial encounter to the system I was really skeptical as to how this is even the slightest bit effective, I was like thier is absolutly no way this can even work in a real fight. But after dealing and finding its trueness and working the natural reflexes, I find its more true than almost any martial art I've experienced. It has so many truth's that it makes it almost unimpressive to the untrained eye.

thanks for the response
PS.. I intend on keeping up the classes, I just wish I could do them more and be closer, I one day want to meet and feel Vlad and Mikhails energy compared to the others I have felt.
My instructor is pretty good friends with him and trys to bring him to town 2 or 3 times a year for seminars at the school. I went to one in February and it was so cool. Doing stick and knife work with him was amazing to me. He also had us go out in the alley and do work out there using dumpsters and such as ways of defending our selves. Good man to work with, must do more. :D