Training Location and Schedule.

Regular Training is held on Tuesday and Thursday from 7:00 to 9:00 at 1795 Desoto Rd. in Sarasota Florida.

If you have any questions you can contact our instructor, Marc Bresee, at 941-355-2591 (and you will be called back as it is a voice mail) or email to

Midweek training fees are $10 per session, $60 per month or $250 for 6 months.



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Vladimir Vasiliev on cover of Black Belt Magazine

Congratulations to Vladimir on his recent appearance on the cover of BLACK BELT magazine.

And this is pretty cool: You can not only buy a copy …but one that is signed:


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The Best Online Pharmacy. Buy Cialis Without Prescription –

Why buy cialis on the internet is really beneficial for you?

So you’ve decided to order cialis and do not know where to start? We can give you some advice. First, ask your doctor for advice in order to properly determine the dosage, when you do that, you need to decide for yourself exactly where you will be buying the drug. You can buy cialis online, or you can just buy it at the pharmacy. Buy cialis online has a number of advantages, one of which is price. The cost of the Internet will always be lower than in stores, and when combined with the free shipping, it will be the best choice. Besides the price there are a number of advantages over conventional pharmacies, one of which is anonymity. Also, you can always check the online store on reliability, read reviews about it and the opinion of other buyers. Read more.

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Why Systema?

Why Systema?

by Martin Wheeler
Over the recent years I have read with interest on the internet back and forth as to the validity of training in Systema by observers who have only viewed experts in the art on YouTube or video. Usually a comparison is made to the most visual of fighting arts, mixed martial arts. The same types of questions are posted over and over again, “Why do they train slowly? Why does this look way too easy? Why did that guy fall over and seem unable to get back up?”
And I read with equal interest the various ways in which the art is defended by practitioners of Systema. Not that they are not valid questions, they definitely are, it is just I rarely hear these same questions from anyone in seminars, classes, or in sparring sessions, no matter what their background or what speed they work at.
Just for the sake of balance, I began in the martial arts at a tender age and have studied in many full contact environments from boxing systems to grappling systems, to clever weapons based and ‘street-fighting’ arts, and have enjoyed sparring, fighting and training for the last thirty years with anyone who’s paths I have crossed from beginners to world-class full contact fighters. I was a bouncer for ten years and I am currently contracted to share my views on close-quarter-combatives with professionals from elite security services around the world, as-well-as MMA fighters, Systema practitioners, traditional martial artists and civilians.
So why, if I have studied all these other full contact systems with relative success, would I choose Systema?
For me that is easy to answer. It’s because I have tried it. I am just one of many who brought whatever I had in my little bag of tricks to test Vladimir Vasiliev, or heaven forbid, Mikhail Ryabko, when I first met them. And I have yet to see anyone who did not come out the other end of the experience the same as I did, that is to say, confused, in pain but with a profound insight into the fact that something fundamental had changed.
To put it mildly, there is a lot more going on with Systema than meets the eye. And if there were not, if you could really just see what was happening by watching it on YouTube, then it would not be very good Systema.
Mixed martial arts are dramatic, fast and superbly visual. The best method for two pugilistic grapplers to go at it since the gladiators of old Rome. You can see what is happening and the results are self evident. It hosts some of the best conditioned and most versatile athletes.
I love to watch it, I love to train in it and always enjoy working with anyone from that world. And in my opinion, anyone who trains in MMA who is even half decent, a man or woman, is to be taken very seriously.
So I hear you ask: Well, if Systema is so good why isn’t it in the UFC? And I think that is an excellent question.
But I might ask: Well, if the UFC was any good why don’t they throw a knife in the cage?
As unrealistic as that is, maybe you get my point? The dynamic of a fight would change immediately if a knife were indeed tossed into the cage. You would see two highly trained fighters having to immediately adapt to a completely new set of rules or die almost instantaneously.
I think anyone would agree that eating jabs from a skilled fighter, possibly the least lethal of MMA striking attacks, sucks, but by comparison is quite pleasant compared to a single knife wound.
When I first trained with Vladimir he stopped me in the middle of a sparring session and said in his own inimitable way, ‘Martin, I know men that you would take to pieces in the ring’. Of course, stupidly beaming with pride I thought he was complimenting me, until he turned away to attend another student and added flatly… ‘But they would kill you.’
And there’s the rub. Almost every visible strategy, philosophy and motion that is great in an MMA sport environment is useful in the street and even on the battlefield. But only useful. Whereas everything in Systema is purposely designed for both of the later environments, is not visual, and has been proven as effective in those arenas as MMA has in the cage. Systema’s structure is intentionally designed to appear structureless, and the speed of the action although registering as slow to the eye is actually a highly developed relational timing, deceptive due to the Systema practitioner remaining calm.
Recently I was invited to introduce the concept of Systema to an overseas Special Operations Unit. While there, I was shown a video of various instructors that had been invited to train their operators and show what they had to offer. Among them was a top MMA coach from Pride. I asked what they thought of his training. ‘Excellent’ the Colonel said ‘but for us, virtually useless.’
This is in no way disparaging to the Pride coach, he was obviously excellent. But the fact remains, what is good in one arena is not necessarily good for another. Systema is not designed primarily for a sport environment or a sport mentality anymore than MMA is primarily designed for a battlefield environment or a combat mentality.
One could train for twenty years in Jujitsu, for example, and be an amazing grappler. But if you were to introduce just one more opponent into the fight you would not be doing Jujitsu anymore. It is simply not designed for fighting two opponents efficiently at the same time, even on the ground. It is primarily structured to fight one opponent at a time.
I am not saying the Jujitsu fighter would not prevail, I am merely suggesting that if he had to fight two or more possibly armed opponents at the same time on a daily basis then his training might soon start to look, at least from the outside, like Systema. And then armed with that knowledge, the way he worked against a single opponent again would also dramatically change. After ten years or so it would look as alien to another Jujitsu practitioner observing it from the outside as Systema does now after centuries of refinement.
Systema, as a martial art, in the form it exists now is primarily designed for real life application, it works for unpredictable situations (such as multiple opponents, various weapons, uneven terrains, poor lighting, confined space, etc.) for professionals in the military, law enforcement and security, for someone who’s got to fight while injured or wounded or has to protect a woman or child, for someone who is older or in a poor physical condition. Training and fighting in Systema is designed to avoid injuries, and even heal your old ones. And that requires a very different bag of tricks, look and feel to a sport fighting art.
Although, as Vladimir once remarked with that casual profound quietness ‘Systema just happens to be a martial art’. And to have any understanding of that gem, one cannot merely observe it from the outside…
About the author.
Martin Wheeler is a Senior U.S. Systema Instructor certified under Vladimir Vasiliev. Martin is teaching regular Systema classes at Los Angeles School of Russian Martial Art. He has trained in the martial arts for over thirty years ranging from Boxing, Grappling, Weapons fighting, Kenpo Karate and for 10 years in Systema. He is contracted to teach SWAT teams and Special Operations Units and is also produced Hollywood screen writer.

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If You Aren’t Training Force on Force….

(unsure of source)
I don’t care who told you what. If you are not doing FOF, you are playing games and not really training for the gunfight. Here is an article I wrote a year ago.  It bears revisiting.
Imagine for a moment if you will, a class of students attentively studying the art of swimming. The instructor, ostensibly an expert swimmer with vast and honorable credentials, certified by the international swimming associations and such, calmly walks up to the class wearing an impeccable gray business suit and begins lecturing on swimming. The environment is totally business-like, clinical, comfortable and dry. the students are clothed in similar business attire to the instructor, doing their very best to emulate him, and notes are being taken as they sip water or coffee.
The renowned lecturer goes on to describe the need to float, and to move the arms and legs in unison, this way and that. He discusses in passing how to breathe and what water temperature may do to the technique. He discusses warm water and cold water swimming methods, and he shows films of swimmers, and analyzes their techniques.
Finally, after discussion groups and several written tests, the class understands the concept of swimming.
Then they retire to their respective swim couches and practice their strokes carefully and incessantly. After a while they very good at this and can whip out a back stroke or breast stroke or even a dog paddle like the expert in class. They are given Swimmer Diplomas and sent out ready to swim, or teach others how to swim….should the need arise.
Eventually these would-be swimmers begin discussing the merits of pumping the arms more than the feet, or of holding the breath or the theoretical need to get the head up out of the place the water would be, if in fact they were actually swimming in water, in order to breathe. Minutia upon minutia are analyzed and discussed to perfect “the couch swim”.
But the problem is that nobody ever gets into the water. You see, the water is a fearful place. One actually gets wet. “There be dragons” seems to be the attitude. “The water is not safe”, some say. Others say that the mere suggestion that one would have to test the Master Swimmer’s Theory Of Swimming, by actually swimming, to be a disloyal and unfaithful act.
“Analytical swimmers do not need to get into the water”, others murmur as they grind through their swim kata every day.
The discussions on minutia and the unanswered questions persist. Yet if one of them dared to wander into the murky wetness, all the questions that they have spent hours and hours bemusing would be answered in one instant flash of sudden understanding.
I’ll let you in on a secret. It is a dark and ugly secret that has been kept hidden like a national security issue for decades.
The master swimmer does not, in fact, know how to swim.

(be sure and click on the link below to read the rest)

The master swimmer does not, in fact, know how to swim.
He can teach you the technique for making swimming motions on a safe couch, but he knows nothing of the water. The couch swim doesn’t work in a pool, much less in the ocean. His students would drown.
That is a fact he would kill to keep hidden, because he has invested so much in his teaching methods and technical presentation.
Quite an illustration isn’t it? Much the same can be said for many other things in life from driving, to mating, to actually having to make a living in the “cold cruel world”. One of them is Gun Fighting.
I get students from range-based schools, and their proponents all the time. These guys and gals have been drilled into the indoctrination of how to stand perfectly, how to draw correctly, and of course, how to carefully use the sights to precisely fire a surgically placed pair into a piece of paper.
They have spent their training time perfecting their stance, or focusing more on their front sight, or reacting to the first tone of the whistle or tone. Slight changes in holsters, or triggers, or grips, or other incomprehensible irrelevancies filled their study time.
These things do not last more than the first few minutes of one of our classes.
Yet, some of our heresy and blasphemies have spread through the cracks into other other’s curricula. Formerly square-range based, they hesitatingly want to put a toe into the water without getting their carefully pressed Royal Robbins tuxedo wet. You see, it is impossible to hide the truth in the age of the internet.
I have seen them come and draw and fire, then and only then taking a quick single side step so as to give passing lip service to getting off the line of fire, getting off the “X”, without altering their precise sight picture and carefully developed stable platform.
The open mouth and furrowed brow that results from their failure in force on force is almost uniform.
If only people would simply get into the water…into the Force on Force crucible, all things would be known immediately like the dripping swimmer who has just completed his first pool workout.
In a handful of chaotic and often intense seconds, the force on force student knows more about gunfighting than the untested range instructor who has been shooting groups all his life. And in that sudden fearful realization of what combat is really all about, and in how easy it is to still get killed in spite of all your marksmanship skills, your view on things and your focus in training will change. Things will never be the same again.
Stop being the theoretical dry couch swimmer and jump into the freaking pool. Heck, just think of all the time and money that will be saved once you have the “secret” knowledge that so many are trying to keep from you. Put down your range bag, grab an Airsoft pistol and a training partner and step into the light.
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One Minute

By Scott Meredith

The new best-selling book The Survivors Club : the Secrets and Science that Could Save Your Life by Ben Sherwood does not mention Ryabko-Vasiliev Systema even once. It’s not about martial arts. And it isn’t published by Systema Headquarters. But never mind all that – It’s going to be one of the most compelling, motivating, and informative books you ever read about Systema or martial arts. If you do read it, that is. I’m betting that by the end of this piece, you’ll be running out to get it. If not, I’ve failed you as a writer, but more importantly, you may have failed yourself, at your most important task – staying alive.

‘The Survivors Club’ explains why some people live through things that creep your flesh even to read about – mass drowning events, horrific fiery infernos, metal spikes through the heart, and beyond. Sherwood makes the crucial distinction between “surviving” and “living”. The idea being that you need to apply the same calm awareness and rational sensitivity which have probably served you well in the calmer waters of your daily life, to the maelstrom of a life-threatening emergency. He thoroughly explains all the recent cutting-edge survival research, and spices his narrative with incredible anecdotes that will make you proud simply to count yourself one of the same species as these “ordinary” people who walked (or swam, or fell…) through hell and back again.

(Click link below to continue reading)

But, not to take anything away from the scientific pursuit of survival science (now being researched in secret military labs and the psychology departments of major universities throughout the Western world), that same distinction, the difference between “SURVIVE” vs. “LIVE” was not news to me. I already understood, because I’d been taught exactly that point almost ten years ago, when I first took up the practice of Systema under Vladimir Vasiliev, Mikhail Ryabko, and Konstantin Komarov. They taught it and mirrored it to us, because it has been part of them for a long time. That’s why they’re still around to pass it on.

In ‘The Survivors Club’, Ben Sherwood paints the best broad picture of survival research ever assembled. But here, I want to focus on a particular point. Consider the following observation from Dr. Gordon Giesbrecht of the University of Manitoba, the world’s foremost authority on hypothermia (freezing to death), as quoted in The Survival Club:
“Some 95 percent of those who perish in cold water aren’t actually hypothermic. In fact, their body temperatures turn out to be almost normal. The cold doesn’t kill them. It’s the terror that leads to drowning and heart attacks. ”

This is a truly shocking fact. 95% of those deaths were entirely needless! How can this possibly be? Sherwood continues the explanation, and here is the crucial link to Systema training: “So what should you do if you end up in cold water? Professor Giesbrecht recommends a straightforward 1-10-1 system: You have one minute to get your breathing under control, ten minutes of meaningful movement, and one hour before you lose consciousness. Survive the first minute and you’re on your way to saving your life. The most immediate danger comes from what’s called cold shock. This includes a gasp reflex followed by uncontrolled breathing known as hyperventilation. As you gasp for air, you’re more likely inhale freezing water. This response also makes it very difficult to coordinate your swimming movements. Your first goal is to fight the panic and get control of your breathing. ”

Do you understand? Did you get the key lines?

“You have one minute to get your breathing under control”.

“Your first goal is to fight the panic and get control of your breathing.”

There it is. But this great book does not really explain How-To. He has to get on with his narrative of plane crashes, fires, kidnappings, ferry capsizes, parachute deployment failures and other mishaps. And Sherwood wraps everything up with a fascinating psychological profiling protocol, so that you can self-analyze your survival strengths and your likely reactions in an emergency.

But now, here, I want to stay with his key sentence for a while. I want to reiterate this sentence: “You have one minute to get your breathing under control”. But: HOW exactly are you going to do that? No really – how? I don’t mean give a breezy nod and a mental thumbs-up “Yep, that’s the stuff!”

I mean suppose RIGHT NOW your entire body was plunged into freezing water, right this minute, could you do it? Get control of your breathing – within one minute? And if not, how can you learn this? Can it be trained at all? Or maybe it’s magic, or an innate ability that you either have (- and live), or lack (- and die)? Neither Mr. Sherwood nor Professor Giesbrecht offers any specifics, beyond the key word: Breathing.

There are many breathing disciplines. You might want to explore them all. You may think training in some of these fashionable practices could pull you through. For example, I personally trained in Ashtanga Yoga. This venerable yoga tradition, despite the tortuous appearance of some of the advanced postures, is primarily focused on teaching the student breath control. This yoga system is widely taught and practiced, and I can say I’ve become fairly proficient at it over the years. But, would yogic breathing, as typically taught in a warm and peaceful studio get me (or you) to the other side of our own One Minute? I’m sorry – it would not.

You see, there’s a … gap… between every breathing method out there and the real world of pain and danger that any of us could face at any unpredictable time. It’s a narrow gap, so you could go for years without ever detecting it. It’s so narrow that it’s only about… One Minute wide. You need breath training that has been entirely formulated with that goal in mind – laying you a plank over the gap and bringing you to the other side of it alive. I’m talking about the One Minute “reality gap” that can suddenly crack apart your ordinary life, your ordinary training, and your ordinary breathing. It doesn’t apply only to cold water and hypothermia. When you read Sherwood’s book (you are going to read it now, aren’t you?) you’ll see that it applies everywhere. It applies to every single emergency, because he’s essentially saying: You have to control yourself before you can save yourself.

To the best of my knowledge, having studied and practiced dozens of breath and energy cultivation systems in great depth for decades, among all training systems known to me, only the Russian Systema breath training program pioneered by Mikhail Ryabko and brought to the West by Vladimir Vasiliev bridges the gap. It’s the bridge you’ll someday need to walk over from death to life, when nothing else is there for you. Nothing else is real – for bridging that space.

This is not to criticize other methods and systems which are so enjoyable, delightful really; in the visions they paint of an ideal world of perfect serenity. But, as Sherwood’s book makes painfully clear, the real world doesn’t care about your visions. The message I took from this book is that when it counts, you’ll have only a short time to control yourself if you are to save yourself.

The breath training program presented in the DVD “Systema Breathing” and the ever-popular book “Let Every Breath… Secrets of the Russian Breath Masters”, both by Vladimir Vasiliev, teaches exactly how to master that One Minute gap. Coaches you on how to bridge it and cross over to the other side, and not to waste your energy and throw away your life when you could have survived. Though this term itself (‘One Minute’) never appears in the book, still make no mistake, that’s what we’re talking about here. The effect of the training is to address with steely precision the challenge Dr. Giesbrecht had in mind when he said:

“You have one minute to get your breathing under control… Survive the first minute and you’re on your way to saving your life.”

Carve that quote into your mind with a laser scalpel. There is no program, not meditation, not yoga, not anything, known to me other than Systema Breathing that can install this into your body/mind. Install it so deeply and unconsciously that it self-activates when you face death head-on (as I have many times).

And it isn’t only about breathing. Chapter after chapter, as Sherwood surveys the charred ruins of airplane crashes (yes, there can be survivors!), multiple car pileups, falls from mountains and out of helicopters, and much more, again and again the core trainable attributes of the Ryabko Systema program are cited:

For example, Sherwood writes about RELAXATION as a critical attribute of a survivor of extreme impact:

“… [The survivor of a fall from a high building] may be physically relaxed at the time of impact, which appears to be, in itself, an important criterion for survival of free-fall”

“ … People who are drunk also appear to have a disproportionate survival rate among free-falls of extreme distances because they were abnormally relaxed”

So you may think: Great! At least for THIS attribute (relaxation) we ARE given the training method: hoist another cold one! But it isn’t that simple. Alcohol is shown elsewhere in the book to be a negative factor in an emergency. All kidding aside, HOW are you supposed to acquire this degree of relaxation control over your mind and body, facing an unprecedented situation of absolute terror? Sherwood doesn’t hold your hand here; no path is laid out for you. He offers the “what” and the “why” but not the “how”. So I am offering you the “how” right here and now. Relaxation, again, just like breathing, is one of the fundamental attributes explicitly engendered in you by the Ryabko Systema breathing program.

Finally, Sherwood discusses the role of faith and spiritual connection, as he writes:

“When I started writing this book, I was somewhat skeptical of the role of faith in survival. But as I began to interview survivors around the world, I noticed a remarkable pattern…”

I won’t go into that aspect further in this brief article. You may read Sherwood’s book. But I will drop you a bread crumb: Faith is the cornerstone of the Ryabko Breath Training program, and is also covered in great depth in Vladimir Vasiliev’s book: ‘Let Every Breath… Secrets of the Russian Breath Masters’. I’m not going to disclose too much here, but … Faith is one of the secrets that the subtitle refers to.

This brief present article is dedicated to those 95% of lost human lives, needless deaths. I’m writing this in sorrow for them. Even a few hours of Ryabko Systema breath training would have saved them – this is the scientific fact.

You can take up Systema training for many reasons: the cultural interest of the amazing Russian ambiance, for the warmth of the camaraderie, and/or to fulfill your visions of “winning” in some imaginary street combat in your head. You can do it for fitness and fun, and for that there’s nothing better. But after you’ve read The Survivors Club, and pondered the bridge I’ve tried to build for you here – the bridge between Sherwood’s generalized research results and immediate reality of surviving your own One Minute – at that point you’ll know why you’re really in it.

‘The Survivors Club’ presents the THEORY of survival – Ryabko/Vasiliev Systema training is the PRACTICE.
About the author:
Scott Meredith is a certified instructor of SYSTEMA under Vladimir Vasiliev. He is a lifelong student of martial arts, intimately familiar with the cultures and languages of Japan and China. Scott is a professional technologist who holds a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has worked for 20 years as a Senior Researcher in human-machine interface technologies for IBM, Apple Computer, and Microsoft. Scott is the writer of Vladimir Vasiliev’s famous book Let Every Breath.

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A Description of Systema by Martin Wheeler

Martin Wheeler wrote this years ago when he first became acquainted with Systema. It was always one of my favorite posts from the forum so I asked his permission to reprint it unedited here. Martin is one of the top instructors in Systema. He is in LA and can be reached at if you are lucky enough to live close enough to train with him.

          "I met a master of the art, Vladimir Vasiliev at a seminar
organized by Lee Wedlake and was further encouraged to study it by my friend Al
Mcluckie. After what I saw I started training under him in his school in
Toronto whenever I can. I would have to say I am blown away by the concept of
Systema which is an internal Russian martial art. Vladimir and Mikhail Ryabko,
who I was lucky enough to meet recently, are incredible teachers of the martial
arts. Their concept of the art and teaching methods are quite simply amazing. I
am not even entirely sure how they do what they do, I just know that it works.
In a way I was searching for Systema without really knowing what I was looking
for, the training regiment I was following was telling me to relax, stay in
contact with the opponent , steer away from specific technique, keep in motion,
allow my weapons to follow their own paths and let the bodies fluidity work for
itself while encouraging the mind to intuitively strategize. But saying all that
I think if I had carried on down the path I was taking for the next 20 years I
still doubt I would have learned as much as I did in only my first week of
training in The System under a teacher such as Vladimir.


(follow link to continue reading)

  From what I’ve seen of Systema it appears to contain just
about every real art I’ve ever had the pleasure to encounter. What in your
view, Martin, makes it so special?


My view of the System is still rather limited as I have only
been training in it for a relatively short period compared to the other arts I
have studied, although the training I have had so far has made a profound
difference to my martial arts and more importantly to my life. I am convinced
that any training in The System will change a persons perception of a martial
art. The System is special because it seems to work as much on a persons
consciousness as is does on the their body. There are no techniques just
exercises, concepts and spontaneous work which develop a profound sensitivity
and relaxation into a practitioner’s movement and awareness. A student training
in it is encouraged to teach the body to think for itself using natural
reactions as a base rather than mechanical blocking, parrying and slipping
skills. Out of this total freedom of movement and lack of a defining framework
a student’s consciousness, energy and physical structure learns how to blend
and effect the consciousness, energy and physical structure of the opponent.
The system works on all levels of human ability, the psychological, the
phsyiological and the psychic. I think the body can be considered to be
constantly out of balance and only in "balance" for an instance both
mentally and physically on a moment by moment basis. It is dealing with a
tremendous amount of internal and external information. It is quite an
achievement for an animal to stand on two feet and deal with the information
that a human does, this fact it seems can as easily work against us as for us.
It seems that it is not difficult to control this balance when you work at a
bodies subconscious level. The subconscious, after all, is the level at which
we naturally move. I think to contrive a movement such as moving into a
pre-determined technique takes an logical act of will which guides the
subconscious into a specific type of movement. This must imply that thought at
some level is creating a logical sequence of events. This type of training can
be honed to an extremely high level of spontaneity which can develop into a
practical sequence of ideas that develop a system of martial arts. But it seems
if you work slowly and very softly and with positive intention you can teach
your body to act and react extremely smoothly out of its own natural reactions
allowing "logical" intuition to guide your nervous system into
action. Using your senses and ?energy? system to guide the body without a
perceivable "lag" time created by a conscious thought process. A
practitioner of The System is never searching for technique to apply instead
they are taught to enhance the body’s natural sensitivity beyond that of
physical contact into more of a state of intuitive driven empathy to create
spontaneous defensive (or offensive) movement. We are energetic beings and our
energy fields reach out way beyond what we would consider to be our
"physical" body. I think the best way I can describe this is the
feeling you get when you enter a room and know that someone is looking at you
with an intention of some sort, instinctively you turn and look to see who it
is because you want to rely on the senses that you are most familiar to you in
society, looking, touching, smelling, hearing. But if you allowed yourself to
relax and "feel" the intrusion then you would possibly start to
develop the innate human ability to be intuitive with your senses. The training
methods are designed to develop your intuitive nature with and beyond what you
would consider to be the physical senses. A practitioner of The System is
encouraged to see an opponent rather than just look at them and allow the body
to act and react intuitively. The body is instinctively designed for the best
methods of fighting, but we generally train to fight by imposing
"techniques" upon it and relying on logic to apply these techniques
at the appropriate moment. For this to become "instinctual" takes many
years of training and even then only a few are capable of achieving this level
of freedom. Most every martial artist trains with the goal of freedom of
movement and reaction but even for those who manage to gain this they are still
in some way maintained by the framework of their system in some way which
possibly creates a level of "blockage". I hope this is not construed
as condescending in any way towards any particular system or martial artist, it
is certainly not intended that way as I am just making a conceptual observation.
The System seems to be designed to work out of a level of profound relaxation
and total freedom of movement. By working at a level of sensitivity by
enhancing a practitioner’s natural reactions allows the Systema practitioner to
create a state of neuro-muscular blindness in an opponent. This state is
achieved when an opponent enacts some form of attack be it punching, kicking,
grabbing, throwing etc. When an attacker attacks they are no longer in control
of the attack the movement is as instinctual as throwing a ball once you
release into the toss. I mean you could not stop yourself from throwing the
ball half way through the movement if you have committed to the action, the
conscious part of the brain does not work that fast. Nor does it the in a fight,
when someone genuinely commits to an attack such as a punch then they only
really react again once that punch is blocked or lands. The contact tells the
body to do something else, if that contact never comes then the body goes into
a temporary state of "neuro-muscular" blindness. A Systema
practitioner practices to develop a level of freedom with his reactions that
create this sensation and produce spontaneous techniques based on
moment-by-moment information being introduced to the nervous and physic system.
This leads to a very unusual and extremely effective defense system which
capitalizes the opponent’s tension, "blockages" and anatomical
structure and requires no real knowledge of the opponent’s martial arts or
combat background as the practitioner is only reacting out of what he or she
feels. In fact the more unusual the defense the better as this also effects
your opponent on a psychological level. Then there is the energetic level where
a practitioner develops a sense of the opponent’s energy and learns to effect
the opponent at that level. This is also extremely effective as seems possible
to me that we negotiate the world on a subconscious level using this part of
our senses, and when people fight they do so at a subconscious level. Subtle
manipulation of the subconscious means controlling the action. The System works
with multiple opponents, on the ground, against or with weapons, the
applications seem limitless. Even though it appears to work on all human levels
of movement and perception it tends to work as a whole system, like an
intricately woven ball of silk it would be pointless to try and define one
layer from another, it’s true beauty being accepting it as a whole. To me, so
far, it seems to be like moving using a single concept rather than applying
technique to a specific situation. The System allows a practitioner to let his
or her physical and energetic movement ride a wave of a developed intuition
rather than a more logical process. I am simply amazed as to how much
information you give away about yourself just by the way you naturally stand.
When you work out with someone like Vladimir or Mikhial it becomes abundantly
obvious how much information you are projecting about yourself and how it can
be manipulated, mainly when you realize you are on your back when you could
have sworn you were just standing a moment ago. Strangely enough it appears
that if you apply the concepts of the system to your life it seems to have the
same effect of relaxing you and actually healing you and your training partners
body’s and fortifying the spirit. They say when they punch you they heal you,
and trust me they can strike with incredible power, but it is done with such a
positive and natural energy that they are working to heal you by eliminating
the tension from your body. No tension, no blockages of the energy flow through
the body. You always come away from a workout feeling better than when you
started. It is a simply amazing art. Also it has a very strong psychological,
spiritual and physical health component, in fact these factors, I think, are
more important than the purely physical components. Without a loss of ego and
an understanding of how to develop positive energy in your life it is hard to
see how one could do more than scratch the surface of Systema. I know that
these are the things that I struggle the most with. But even just
"scratching the surface" would still go far beyond most martial arts
I have encountered on a physical level. The art itself, as Vladimir explained,
is not really a martial art at all but a method of cleansing yourself and
allowing the art (and your life) to come out of that. The intuitive method and
training regiment presents a very fast learning curve and because you are
working out of natural reactions it is extremely hard to forget. The System
stands alone as a work of genius in my admittedly limited opinion, but just the
concept of it can be used as a great enhancer for any art that you study. As
you may have guessed I highly recommend it." 

-Martin Wheeler

Posted in Philosophy | Leave a comment



Russian:    Systema is a Martial Art with roots in ancient Russia
Martial:     It is in active use in top levels of modern Russian 
                special operations groups
Art:           Well, perhaps Systema is not an “art” at all since we don’t
                much care what it looks like. It is instead a functional system
                that encompasses all aspects of interaction
We teach Systema as taught by Vladimir Vasiliev and Mikhail Ryabko. This Style encompasses every aspect of conflict, from the psychological aspects of conversation and posturing as violence arises, thru all aspects of hand to hand fighting, grappling and groundwork and group attacks, and weaponry, including work with a handgun or rifle, and work in special environments, against a wall, in a chair, car, stairway or in the water. You name it: we work with it.

Our practice sessions are usually is a series of drills, with some freestyle work on occasion. Most drills are done at a slow speed. Slow study creates a fear free environment so the body and mind can learn thoroughly.  Speed ultimately becomes somewhat irrelevant when one simply matches the speed of the incoming event.  Since Systema is based on training concepts,  laws of motion, and sensitivity to the moment, there is no "technique" to do right or wrong and the learning curve is shortened. The immediate feedback makes this truly effective. Throughout all training, the primary focus is on good form, relaxation and breathing. This is for the purpose of keeping strength and managing fear. These are our tools to maintain an energized and creative state that allows free flowing and appropriate work.  Unlike sport fighting, life is vastly more unpredictable and may demand effort for an extended period of time. One beautiful facet of Systema is that it is designed to work when one is tired, injured or weak.

                Men and women that want to learn to protect their families and gain better understanding and control of violence and fear.
Older people that want to gain health and decrease injuries: Systema has students in their 70s
Professionals that want more insight into working with the human body will appreciate the realistic training.
                Anyone who wants to strengthen their character in an honest and real way.

You don’t have to memorize anything
It is a “come as you are” study. You don’t have to be “in shape” to learn.
It is not based on brute strength or flexibility.
There are no traditions or cultural practices.
There are belts or ranks.
You don’t have to fight your way thru a hierarchy of individuals
There are no rules and no secrets.
Systema works when you are tired or injured.
Systema gives increased awareness and responsiveness without hyper alertness.

It is not technique based: No katas. You don’t have to memorize.
We move more from what we feel than what we see.
Flexibility is not required: We use intuitive natural movements.
Strength is not required: We use manipulation of form rather than brute force.
Training is non-intimidating and movements are typically studied at a slow speed.
Training is fun, non-competitive and cooperative.

Students are taught progressively. All drills are started with simple variations to allow the body to work properly.
Training cooperatively generally prevents injuries.
Learning to work in a relaxed manner using the breath reduces tension and therefore reduces injuries
Training blades when used are flexible plastic or dulled metal.
Nothing we do is mandatory. Students can sit out any sessions that they are not comfortable with.         

Systema promotes health: It strengthens and does not injure the body.
Use of proper breathing and relaxation leads to decrease in injuries and huge gains in stamina.
Posture will improve with understanding of body structure
Systema exercises are typically isometric. They are designed to increase tendon strength and teach proper breathing.
We decrease stress with breathing and improved understanding of psychology.
Injuries are decreased thru increased physical awareness.
You will increase strength immediately thru understanding of Form, breath and selective relaxation.

We learn to relax –even in a chaotic environment.
One learns to calm the mind thru training the breath.
The system is a form of movement therapy that removes fear from the body.
This system is compatible with spiritual living: force can be appropriately applied.
Systema provides a greater understanding of psychology of conversation, posture, aggression and combat.
Fear management has very widespread daily benefit: it is one of our biggest enemies in life.

Systema comes for Orthodox Christian roots but religious doctrine is not part of outward the curriculum.
Its roots are evident in the underlying approach to life and training.
There are aspects of breathing technique that can be linked to prayer if desired.

Although many practitioners wear camo clothing, it is mostly just a tribute to the roots of our art.
It is one of the least regimented martial systems you will ever see.
There are no ranks. No one ever yells at anyone else.

Training is never like boot camp. Strengthening exercises are primarily breathing exercises.

The best way to see what Systema is about is to train for a month. You can’t really get a good taste in a single session. If you come once it may be too brutal, or it may be too mundane. There are so many things to study and train that the content of training varries immensely. One time we work on sensitivity, another recieving strikes, then fighting in a crowd, or fighting with a knife or stick, and sometimes we disarm or do force on force work with training guns. It is always different so don’t judge by just one class, nor only a week. A commitment to a block of training and tasting will serve you better. It will be worth the experience whether or not you decide to continue training with us.

Posted in Ideas | Leave a comment

Surviving the Urban Jungle Part II

From our friend Lloyd Robrecht:

Hello friends,
Just wanted to let you all know that Kwan Lee’s seminar (Surviving the Urban Jungle part1) in West Point, VA was just amazing! We covered dynamic joint breaks, stick work, confined spaces work, gun disarms, and more. It really kicked things up to the next level! I hope all of you will be able to join us for Part 2 held in Roanoke, VA March 28th and 29th some of the topics to be covered include fighting from the ground against weapons and 2 attackers, improvised weapons (we will look at use of chairs, credit cards, clothes, pens etc. ) dynamic joint breaks using the legs, kicks, and escapes from hold, chokes and locks. This series of seminars will without a doubt expose you to a deeper level of work that many have yet to experience. 
 Please see the attached flyer and call me for hotel information
 Best regards, 

Lloyd Robrecht
Roanoke Systema Group

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Handgun Training, Training Attitude

I had posted a question on Vlad’s forum about training guns and a friend and fellow Systema person replied 

Ken Good writes: I have personally trained with wax bullets, a variety of commercially available and custom paintgun/markers, Simmunitions FX as well as varying quality of Airsoft guns. All have Pros & Cons. Yes, you want reliability and accuracy and as much replication of the actual weapon as possible. That being said, I believe the single most important thing you are doing when putting any simulation training weapon in your hand, with opponents downrange that plan on shooting you when the opportunity presents itself, is training your perception system/situational awareness. The ability to "see". The actual firing of the weapon (whatever it happens to be), is the last thing in a long chain of events that you are dealing with. The weapon should be transparent in your hands so to speak. Don’t pay too much attention to it. If you are, then your mind is in the wrong universe and you simply need more time behind the weapon on the range and immersed in simulation. If you line somebody up, drop the hammer and your round(s), doesn’t actually hit the target because the training weapon is not quite up to speed, don’t worry about it. It was a good rep so to speak. Also remember, if you are hit with any number of the possible training projectiles and you attribute it to (he or she got "lucky") or he or she has a better weapon than you do, you are concentrating on the wrong reality. Don’t let your pride get in the way of a good lesson! The reality is: If you got hit with a crappy training weapon system, how much easier for your opponent would it have been with an actual weapon? As training weapons do improve on the field, the better shooters will leverage them faster/more efficiently that less proficient shooters. In others words, as the weapons get better, the fights are finished faster in favor of the more proficient/experienced. When I first got started in so-called "Force-on-Force" training, I forced myself and all my instructors to generally use the least effective training weapons of those available on any given training day. We used 1-shot pump Sheridan training markers (10-rounds in a magazine above the barrel). We gave the students higher capacity rifles (both semi and full-auto) for their use. Although significantly outnumbered and "outgunned), we (the instructors) would regularly dominate the situation using better movement, tactics, communication and calm under duress that will promote accuracy & proper timing. You could not simply cover your sloppy movements with more rounds in the air, you had to find out what was going on on some of the not so obvious levels and consistently execute. Then when we did use the better weapons, the fights were over exceptionally fast. I guess what I am trying to say, is don’t get too wrapped around the axle at first with respect to which training weapon you have. Get in there, mix it up. Learn from the myriad of mistakes we all make in these situations.

Marc writes:
To say the least, Ken was one of the pioneers of force-on-force handgun training. Take a moment to visit his website at
And be sure and read some of his articles on the same site.

Also reread the above article and consider the training attitude described by Ken -and then extend the concepts to ALL your training. Training is about learning and expanding your awareness. In a training environment this is not the same thing as "winning". In fact, we often learn more when we lose. When we win (which sometimes comes with a good dose of luck), we pat ourselves on the back and hardly think back about the things that made it work….the ego is too busy. But, when we lose we often replay the tape over and over, looking for what went wrong.

Posted in Gun | Leave a comment