Monthly Archives: October 2008

Systema Instructor Produces New Book on Knee Pain

Systema Instructor, Bill Parravano, has just released his new book on the topic of knee pain. This information is not from Systema itself, and although I have not read the book, I can recommend it without hesitation as I have had Bill work on me with amazing results, and have seen him work on many others, including Mikhail Ryabko …and heard nothing but praises.

Bill has an unconventional approach. I have a messed up hip that I believe originated from an injury of the knee on that side. When I train allot, like at camp, the falls on that one side add up and make it more painful. This year, after about three days at camp I was limping around and asked Bill his advise, hoping he would work on me a bit. Since Bill is such a good-natured guy who truly loves his craft, he had me lie down and he worked on immediately. It is a bit hard to describe what was done. It seemed like Bill pressed the leg towards the socket and rotated a bit both directions. It was very gentle and painless, lasting no more than about five minutes. To paraphrase his explanation, he put the joint in a position where it could release the tension that the body was putting there to protect it. Something did indeed seem to release, but gently, not like cracking chiropractics. After this short session it immediately felt better, and the following morning when I woke up it felt substantially better. Although it was not the end to the situation, I knew he was on to something with his technique.

For those of you who are interested you can find the e-book online
You can also visit the website at
Continue reading

Posted in Blogroll | Leave a comment

Breathing with Multiple Strikes

(This is a follow-up to articles on striking posted earlier)

Vlad writes:
Question: When we work with a single strike it seems clear – exhale at the very moment that the strike makes contact with the body, and then, follow up with Burst Breathing if it is necessary to recover. But what happens when there are multiple strikes?

Vladimir: Multiple strikes give you multiple opportunities to take action by ways of: Breathing , Movement , Capturing the force. Let’s look at each one briefly.

1. Clearly, the importance of Breathing properly becomes even more important during multiple striking. No matter what, try to maintain exhaling upon every contact. If you are faced with quick consequent strikes, keep up by making your exhales very short. If two or more strikes land on you simultaneously, make a longer exhale. It becomes very apparent how to do that when you experience it yourself. Begin with pushing and practice by having two or three partners deliver pushes with their fists to various parts of your body. Start slowly and gradually increase the speed.

2. Breathing will help you avoid the tension and if tension is not holding you back, you will be able to move. The more mobile you are the less pain you will experience. In Systema, we often practice moving different body segments such as shoulders independent of the rest of the body. This drill will allow you to put forward less vulnerable body areas to meet the strikes. With multiple punches, you will also realize that preplanned and pre-rehearsed techniques will not work. Whereas, your breath patterns and your free movements can be adapted to any unpredictable attacks and challenging settings.

3. An additional alternative in dealing with multiple hitting is capturing the force. You would take the strike onto your body and redirect it towards your own fist to give your punch more power. You can transform the energy of each punch you receive to go into the force of your own strike. This training requires an experienced instructor and we do it in class and in seminars.

Vlad says, "We have received many questions on this topic. Some very good ones and some questions only show that people have not read LET EVERY BREATH book carefully, and that is a shame. The book contains many answers and most valuable information. It is entertaining and tremendously well put together by a skilled writer Professor Scott Meredith.
Life goes on so quickly and we should try not to miss the treasures on the way.

Please visit Vlad’s website when you get a chance. And contribute to the forum there if you are able.

Continue reading

Posted in Strikes | Leave a comment

Article on Slow Training Principles

This excerpt is from Spyridon Katsigiannis’ article posted on Systema UK website. Mr. Katsigiannis is in Goteborg, Sweden. 

In Soft Work what we do is simulate combat situations using slow time framing (low speed, that is) while trying to keep the energy of our attacks real. This training method of the RMA has been highly publicised, mainly through videos available all over the Internet and it is because of this training method that Systema has been accused by practitioners of other combat arts as "unrealistic", "flowery", "girly" and various other reeeally cool adjectives!
Before going deeper on the specific reasons of using Soft Work as part of our training, I would like to state something that for Systema practitioner is already well known: we do not ONLY train soft in Systema – on the contrary, we use both soft and hard methods and each of those plays its own distinct role in our fighting preparation.

 ….Be sure and click "more" below to continue reading this article.
Continue reading

Posted in Movement | Leave a comment

What is the "Art" of Martial Arts?

Written by Alex Kostic, Senior Instructor in Serbia: translated by Dragan Milojevic


        We live today in a time where almost every single aspect of our existence is either directly or indirectly conditioned by technology. Moreover, according to many thinkers, the technology dictates the direction in which civilization will develop. Nowadays, man is following the dictate of technology, and not vice versa. Such a situation inevitably leads to a slow imposing of hard frames on thing most humane – the spontaneity and creativity as a feature of wondering. This “wondering”, which is being lost even among the children, is the main instigator of the co-existence between man and the mystery of being, which is discovered, layer by layer, through the wondering and amazement. 
        The ecstasy of discovery is primarily shaped through the “phenomenon” that we refer to as art. Everything else is just utilization and adaptation of the original insight to the daily needs. In order for a man to create a work of art, he must be inspire-d (as in-spirit-ed). We see here that words inspiration and respiration (root – spirit) are of the same origin, same root, which in turn awakes the thought that a man who creates needs to be inspired, i.e. spiritual. This leads us to recognizing some order. Breath…insight…materialization or shaping of “that something”, a phenomenon. That something, which is being unfolded has its hidden side. There is no other way…it would be the murder of the mystery of being. This dance between the concealed and unfolded is expressed (and is only possible) in art. A work of art is unlimited in its interpretations and bears inexhaustible messages and guidelines for each new generation. For example, an old, bent wheel-hub or an old broken battery radio might be witnesses of recent past, but have no use today (besides recycling), unlike Michelangelo’s David or Shakespeare’s Hamlet, which does not cease to educate upcoming generations. This is just scratching the surface, as one might add the Bible, various music composers etc. 
         While reading this, someone might ask “what does it have to do with martial arts?” 
         If we accept the art segment of the martial, then we need to ask not where, but how is the art present there. I will attempt to give a short (and direct) answer to that question. In individual being (as opposed to persona). A man is not given, but rather “sketched”. If I can put it roughly, given is an animal body, with all its urges, instincts and so on. What is sketched is a man as a being of love. Someone who is transformed…or even better being transformed… someone who is overcoming his or hers mindless urges and is redirecting own energy towards the refining and modeling of one’s personality (in my jargon, as an Orthodox Christian, it would be called “Christ-likeness”). The context of practicing martial arts (Systema) opens up a possibility for some kind of corporal confession, by working out in the community with other participants. Quicker than anywhere else, we are able to perceive plethora of emotions that permeate our body, from anger, through sorrow to happiness… 
         When we are winning a sparring session, we are celebrating (while the other is maybe angry or sad),  sometimes we get scared from someone stronger or more ruthless. Sometimes we strive for a revenge…to hurt someone on purpose…and sometimes we retreat (we run away from the whole situation). Sometimes, the states are emerging that we haven’t been aware of. There is at the same time the mindless nature of the entire thing, but also material to work with. Like painter has his colors and canvas and sculptor has stone, so we have our body (as the foundation of Being – "body as the temple for the soul”) to work with. 
        To make it possible at all, we need to have a right framework, which means a different relation than the competitive one. What constitutes a man is his relation with others. Without others, which also means without the community, we do not exist as people. The relation with others is what shapes my identity…through interaction with others I am shaped, as an individual and a Personality. In the interaction and caring for each other we grow, become enriched and develop as individuals and as the community. Through the constant competition, what we get is the illusion of power…in plain language, we loot it from the defeated…until one day we get looted ourselves…our power is temporary and short-lived, like a drug. We go through emotional and physical hell to preserve the state…we close ourselves in our own fortresses, made of muscular armor, and there we dwell alone in the spiritual darkness. 
           There is no light without empathy and care for other. Only an open door or window will let fresh air or light into someone’s home. In case of man, it is the openness for the “other”, who is my other “I”. Fighting is always fighting with oneself. In a way, it means overcoming one’s own fears and weakness. The other is there to help us, and not to defeat us. The only thing that needs to be defeated is our weakness and fears that are impeding us from being a new body – a body of light and love. 
         The art in martial endeavor is the “art of transformation” from mindless into minded, through the terror of facing oneself with the help of other. Today, in the world of pragmatism and measuring, we often have the case of martial arts straying from the reality, i.e. avoiding that face-off. Under the excuse of “tradition”, they are hiding before the challenge of reality. On the other side, we have a pure utilitarian approach, which is deprived of humane, and becomes a purpose in itself, where the humane becomes sacrificed (of turning a man into a machine). The encounter of a man with reality in himself and around himself, all that within a community that provides support to overcome weakness and transform into spiritual, Christ-like…maybe that is a direction to follow. The greatest warrior of all times had defeated and brought down himself and not others…for the sake of us all.
Senior Systema Instructor Alex Kostic
Systema Serbia

Alex is one of my favorite instructors and I have heard nothing but good things about the seminar he hosts there every year at a mountaintop resort. The prices are even good. Be sure and check it out on his website.
Continue reading

Posted in Philosophy | Leave a comment

On Any Thursday: Ken Good Breathes thru a Crash

Written by Ken Good, Mon, 29 Sep 2008 

On Any Thursday

         The actual movie title is “On any Sunday” which is an older motorcycle race/crash movie that my friend Ben Chassen just brought over…Perfect!

         As some of you are aware, I decided not to turn left on the road when it was prudent to do so.  We were in a relatively inaccessible canyon area, East of San Diego.  It was totally makeable, I was just stupid.

         Unfortunately I didn’t have a helmet camera on my motorcycle for do*****entation when I left the mountain to test the validity of my gravity theories in the local area. If there is any lingering doubt, I am here to say that gravity works quite well in this particular canyon….In fact, even without proper do*****entation, in my mind it’s beyond theory at this point, and I’m leaning toward it’s a scientific law at this point….At the very least, gravity is exceptionally consistent in this area….I also confirmed that granite boulders generally win when your back hits them at normally back-breaking velocities.

         I do remember flying through the air after my bike impacted the first set of boulders, thinking “relax and breathe” ala Systema principles, (which I did) like I have told countless people in our combatives training, but I did not expect to be having to tap that bit of knowledge for such a moment as this.  I was wearing full protection during my reunion with terra firma.
See:  Note the back protection on this system.

        When I hit the next set of rocks, I was actually surprised that I lived, then I was even more surprised that I could move my extremities.  Based on the scientific “thrash index”, I was thrashed on the upper end of the scale and thought for certain I broke my back.
        My best word picture to describe the wonderful sensation was it was like getting hit with a free swinging 2-ton steel girder concentrated in one area of your body but you are trapped against something hard when it makes contact.
       Granted, some of you on my email list can punch extremely hard, but I am here to tell you, ya got nothing on Mother Nature!

       My friends later told me later, that they had never seen such ash white and dark green on a human face before….I attribute it to the secret chameleon training I went through in the Navy…The ability to change colors on demand can be useful in stressful situations…But I digress.
       Although I almost lost consciousness several times over a 2-hour period on the ground, I kept control of my breathing as best as I could.

I remember kinda snapping back into reality and looking up and admiring the blueness of the sky, the beauty of the clouds.  Then my son walked by.  I thought, “Man he is a good looking kid….He looks like his mother…” I was chuckling at the ridiculousness of the entire scene… I remember hearing Molly pray from me and the first responders.  Regardless of your beliefs, this is good stuff in times like these. The clarity of the moment was pure.  I am actually quite grateful for it.

        Alas, all I have to chronicle the adventure is the helicopter lift out of the area taken from a cell phone camera (mine)….They were already re-allocating my belongings! In the 1st video you can hear me say, I am getting claustrophobic.  What happened was I was on the hot ground for a quite some time.  De-hydrated and in a bit of pain.  These guys bundle me up on back board, belt me in, tape everything down, neck brace, head brace…..I can’t move anything but my hands…It takes time….Not a fun feeling even in the best of cir*****stances. Then they spend about 10 minutes wrapping this lift bag around the whole thing….It’s thick….I immediately got exceptionally HOT inside that bag…Several times the material is draped over my face and mouth.   The neck brace is constricting my blood flow to my head, because it was too tight around my neck.  Think mummy sack, but you now know you cannot move…..Then 3 guys step over me….I had an immediate, powerful psychological reaction to it.  I calmly state, I am getting claustic….My friend Ben tells me to hang in there….I breathe and try to put my mind somewhere else…Then I ask my friends if they can pour some water over my head….They did.  As soon as the cold water hit my head and chest, I was fine…..

           In the 3rd video, in what appears to be the sun is me actually taking the opportunity to show the power of our HID lights during an emergency situation. You don’t always run across marketing opportunities like this and I wanted maximize time on target while the resources were there.

           Overall damage report:  Cracked Sacrum that should heal in 6-weeks and slightly beat up YZ250…I am walking on my own power today with no pain meds.

           In the final analysis:  I am exceptionally grateful to be alive, not in a wheel chair for the rest of my daze, and the my wife Francine is not real happy with me right now!!!  Yahoo Honey! – I am sorry Honey….

           I thank my son who found me, my friends who comforted me and prayed for me on-scene, the emergency response folks, and for Rick who managed to let me know he was personally grateful it wasn’t his $12K KTM stuck upside in the tree with smashed parts (which I was riding earlier).

As on “Oh by the way”, the 1st helicopter that showed up on scene, over-torqued during a low-level hover and almost crashed into the mountain….It was exceptionally close in terms of a another catastrophic event.  I talked to the crewman, when he did end up near me and he was visibly shaken from what just almost happened to them.
          What a day! The humor index was exceptionally high when you step away from being in the middle. I am also now thinking if I had a faster bike, I might have cleared the section….


         Ken J. Good

Thank God that Ken survived this one! Ken is a fellow Systema student and is a world-class close-quarters handgun instructor with whom many of us have been blessed to train.

Ken pioneered force-on-force training and has been instrumental in producing top quality combative lighting, now under a new name at
Continue reading

Posted in Breath | Leave a comment

Take it…or Greive it (Part 2)

-Second part of an article with Vladimir Vasiliev. Be sure and find part 1 below.

        Student: Could you give a few tips on applying Systema Breathing to taking a punch.

        Vladimir: There are training tips related to preparation for striking and the actual things you do while your are receiving the strike.
Most people have the primary fear of contact. Of course the degree of fear varies from person to person. I have met some who came to my school afraid to get hurt to such an extent that they were shaking even in a peaceful setting of the gym. Learning to take strikes should follow a good progression.

          One day at Mikhail Ryabko’s class in Moscow one of his students brought a friend who was not a fighter at all. In fact, the man had no experience in any martial art or any sport, he was from the world of science and classical music. He wanted to know how to take strikes, but was absolutely unprepared to have any contact with a fist. Despite his interest, he was completely unable to understand the principles of breathing and taking strikes. Even talking about punches made him panic.

(Be sure and follow the link "READ MORE" to the rest of this article) Continue reading

Posted in Strikes | Leave a comment