Saturday Sept 13 – Handgun Mini-seminar in Sarasota

On Saturday September 13 there will be a training session focused on handgun use with Systema principles.

This is not going to be a particularly difficult day in terms of the level of fitness needed. But you will be mentally and emotionally challenged and rewarded with some specific and extremely useful concepts that will greatly increase your chance of survival in a situation involving a gun.

This training comes from generations of Systema experience in the field, and is state of the art training …a snapshot of some of the material used at highest levels of elite training. This may provide the single biggest leap in your ability to use a handgun under stress.

Schedule is subject to change but an approximate schedule is:

12:00-1:30 orientation session at the Training Center (shade) covering:
safety and training rules and procedures
paintball gun operation (to allow expedited training later)
drawing and firing from concealed carry
form and movement for efficiency, accuracy and relaxation
strategic use of cover for concealment and protection
use of breath to control fear and activate movement

1:45-3:00 Dryrun use of barricade field (offsite) to train smooth movement thru obstacles
become familiar with proper distance to protective barriers and cover
continue studying use breath to aleviate stress symptoms

3:00-4:00 Session with 1-1 force on force drills
using previously trained concepts under greater stress (shooting opponent)


4:30-6:30 session practicing senario drills and room clearing
work with target identification and use of speech under stress

Food and drink

8:30-10:00 Presentation of work with a flashlight
voluntary force on force training in the dark.

after 10:00 optional use of dark course for participants 🙂
We will meet at the training center at 1795 Desoto Rd at 12:00. I will
be there after 11:30. Please come a bit early. Eat an early lunch. Drink plenty of water. Wear comfortable clothes (with long pants).

Fee: $80 includes training, beverages, dinner, materials (gun and mask
use, paintballs, gas) This seminar will not be held with less than 6 participants and attendance will be limited to approximately 12.  Please let me know on or before Sept 6 if you will be able to attend.

You can call me with any questions 941-355-2591

Best wishes, Marc Bresee

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Fear is a Symptom of Our Ailing Soul

Vladimir Vasiliev wrote:

"Fear is a symptom of our ailing soul. It is easy to see how ill we are – as soon as someone praises us, we get proud; as soon as someone criticizes us, we get resentful.

"We should run away from praise, but we always want more. We should be thankful for criticism, for it teaches us humility, but we get angry or offended. Things are reversed in our world and that destroys our inner balance and the result is fear.

"In my opinion, the ultimate and only source of power is God. For this reason, there is no better tool for overcoming than prayer to God. Everything is right in the world of God and if we try to live in His world, there will be no fear. If for various reasons, you choose not to pray, then I can say that for me breathing/breath training is the next best thing."

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Vlad Seminar in October in Manassus VA

For those of you in the Florida area this will propably be the closest Vlad will be this year. Take advantage of it if you are able. This flyer says it all.

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Fist Development

Written by Vladimir Vasiliev 2003

"In my understanding, there are stages to skill development.
In the initial stage, we learn the technical components while generally being focused and tense more than needed. This commonly produces the traditional fist where the thumb covers the index and middle fingers while the whole fist and forearm are tense. Moreover, because it is hard to localize tension it usually spreads all the way up the arm. Tension in the arm greatly reduces precision and that tension makes it very difficult to estimate the right striking distance. Tension also makes it impossible to deliver the right dosage of force in a strike. (As we know, excessive tension is totally counterproductive, it comes from fear and causes fear.)

On the next stage of training, our whole body becomes more relaxed. That leads to the fist being held more loosely as well; and you may loose some fist structure, the position of the thumb can begin to vary. When you train properly and become more calm, the whole arm may become too loose. At this point, you are acquiring freedom and power but the thumb can move to the side.

I sometimes used that fist position in demonstrations in order not to hit hard and to illustrate the loose hand positions. Also, those of you who are teaching will notice that when you are talking and explaining something to your students, you fist will automatically loosen up. It is natural that when we talk our hands and fingers move as well.

On the third stage, due to certain drills (such as fist placing, pushes and proper striking) you may start to attain what’s called the “alive fist”. Such fist has both sufficient power in it, you can control it independently of the rest of the body and at the same time, the structure of the fist is solid and collected. Everything falls into place comfortably, to the extend that it will be just as easy for you to hold a closed fist as an open hand. At this stage, the thumb is placed in its traditional classic spot. In real fighting when you wish to avoid injuries the fist has to assume the form that protects it the most. Correct technique without tension – power and precision without injuries – this is what we want. "

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Shocknife … looks like fun.

Hmmmm. This new knife training device looks like it might be really good …like what paintball and simunitions can bring to handgun training.

and a video demonstration:

It IS pricey – so before I run out and buy one for the school I would like to test it. Since we work alongside the blade a lot in systema I am not sure it would fit our needs. I will try to get someone to test on me at a gunshow sometime soon. Or if anyone has one, bring it in to share the good times.

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Announcements from Systema Lousiville

(From Bill Parravano in Louisville KY)

Hey Sarasota,

Training up in Canada at the Systema Summer Immersion Camp with Vlad the other week was amazing!

It is difficult to put into words the kind of personal growth that takes place as a result of training in Systema.
At first I got into Systema 8 years ago because I thought it was a cool martial art.  You know Spetsnaz/Russian Special Forces just in general thinking that I would learn to be tough by training with the "elite."
However, one thing I realized was how weak my body is.  If you don’t think so, try doing one of Vlad’s 40 count down and 40 count up – pushups.
I realized how much I don’t breathe and how much my mind would tell me what I could or what I couldn’t do.  It is quite a humbling experience!
No matter what, I always came out the other side of the experience feeling better, more relaxed and felt like I knew more about myself.
Something that I never really found in other martial arts. Not to mention the feeling of brotherhood that I felt towards those others that showed up to practice and trained hard with me in this type of environment.

Coming up are two trainings (one in Sept and one in October) that would be of similar experiences.

I know you have lots of obligations with work and personal life. However, One thing I discovered the more effort I put into Sytema the more rewarding and enriching my life became on many levels…

A Systema seminar coming up in Lexington, Kentucky on Saturday September, 13th.  Check out the following link for more information:

… and a Systema Seminar in Delaware coming up October 4th.  See for more information.

Kevin Secours is a great instructor as well as a great person and definitely someone you would want to train with at some point in time.

I hope to you can make it to practice or a seminar soon!

Best regards,

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Go to "Web Links" at the left,  and then "Systema Photos" category and you will find a link

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Jeff Sherwin on Efficiency

We hosted Jim King for a seminar in Northern California and one of the things Jim talked about was the difference between art and fighting.

The difference as I understood it was that art tended to value large, impressive and beautiful movements and fighting was sometimes just ugly, simple and quick. An example Jim gave was if someone grabbed your gun hand you could do an elaborate fancy throw or you could just switch the gun to you other hand and shoot the guy. Not impressive to watch but effective.

I remember Vladimir saying at the first summer camp after showing a bunch of impressive work that all that was really necessary was something much simpler but people want to see the impressive looking stuff.

The art is really fascinating and inspiring but I think it is important not to lose sight of the simplicity of survival. As martial artists we sometimes imagine using elaborate and impressive techniques in a hostile situation but maybe it is best not to desire beauty when all we need is to live.

When I think back to the physical confrontations in my life none of them were resolved with aesthetic beauty. Since this is true and since I train partially as a means to enhance my survivability maybe I should concentrate less on art and more about fighting.

-Jeff Sherwin

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Orthodox Christianity and Fighting


Many people who are seriously studying Systema and are trying to understand its spiritual basis, at one point face this question: If Christian Orthodoxy is love and peace, how can it be the foundation of a martial art? Balancing non-violence and acting in self-defense is an issue that every human being has to resolve for himself. So let’s take a look at it.

Compare an athlete fighting in the ring and a warrior defending his homeland. Both are prepared to hurt another human being, but what a huge difference in justifying their actions! The goal of a ring fighter is to show that he is superior to the other fighters, to prove that he is the best. While the goal of the warrior is to save his family, his friends and his country from death and misery. The warrior clearly has a noble goal, at that moment he is close to God. While the main motivation of the ring fighter is PRIDE, the warrior is driven by LOVE, love for his family, friends and country.

Thus, training to be a true warrior is not only justified, but is necessary. How else can we save the innocent people from evil? We have all seen the events in Beslan. How else can children held hostage by the terrorists be saved? Professionals such as soldiers and police officers are trained, armed and prepared for the task of saving lives. They put their own lives on the line with humility and honor.

Orthodox Christianity teaches us that fighting becomes a sin only when there is pride and aggression in it, or if it contains hatred, revenge or callousness, when the causes are greed, vanity, envy, desperation and other such vices. Otherwise, if it is fighting for defense, for rescue – it is a sin not to fight and let your loved ones get hurt or killed or have your country destroyed.

There are numerous examples of righteous warriors since the creation of the world. The first Warrior known to mankind is Archangel Mikhail – God gave him the sword – the power to fight evil; and with that sword He had banished the fallen angels (not killed but banished) from God’s Kingdom, all those who no longer served God, but only served their own pride. It had to be done, so that evil does not take over.

We see the Prophets in the Old Testament – such as Gideon or Samson – they were blessed by God to fight the evil. All the way to our times, when during World War II, many nations had to go up against the evil.

The Word of God in the bible tells us that there is no bigger sacrifice than to give up your life for others. Thus, anyone who prepares to be a true warrior, who undergoes training and takes a weapon in his hand, accepts this possibility of sacrificing his life in the name of love for other people; in essence, he prepares to become a martyr.

The ultimate quality that Systema develops in its practitioners is humility. Training in Systema lets the person see his own egotism and other weaknesses and gives him ammunition to overcome them. A humble person devotes his life to fighting the evil in his heart and constantly asks God to help him with that. In reward for his hard work and resulting humility, God gives him this amazing gift of peace, joy and absence of resentment no matter what happens.

If humility becomes our character, there is no more room for pride, aggression, vanity, greed and envy. Our spirit will always be with God and you will fight only when it is absolutely necessary, only for a noble cause, always causing the least possible damage to the opponents, in a calm, firm, fearless and professional way. We have to do it, otherwise evil will take over.


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Seminar Review – Joint Destruction in Pacifica

It was a typical spring day in Pacifica. Cool, to say the least, with strong gusts of wind breaking up the morning mists to let the sun thru. One could just feel the vastness of the Pacific Ocean at our backs. Air doesn’t get much fresher than that. By passing over a thousand miles of open ocean, it was perfect for the breathing we would enjoy so much that day. Comrades gathered, hands in pockets, eager for the day of training to begin. As people arrived warm greeting sounded all around. Returning to this group of ours, wherever it may be, always feel like a family reunion. As with family, it is not that we are all such close friends, but there is a bond that comes from learning and suffering joyfully together. Many of us see each other only on these rare occasions. Conversations are often brief, but it is easy to builds bonds that go deeper than the level of our daily lives. The honest work of giving and receiving training cuts to the core. It was good to be among these brothers again.


Training started with a bearable bit of running, followed by the tension exercises that I have come love as the gentlest transition into work. This is especially appreciated at seminars where travel leaves the body cold and a bit disconnected. Tension work tunes the body to the mind gently, and we were ready to work after a short session.


Then we began, following up on things recently explored in the Dallas seminar and true to the seminar’s title “Joint Destruction”. Now, work on the joints always makes me cautious -and I am sure I am not alone. It is easy to have some serious respect for an arm bar once you receive a couple overly zealous applications. So as we got moving I reminded myself to be careful and mentally set the reaction-to-pain sensors on high alert. Little did I know that by the end of the day we would all receive hundreds of elbow hyperextensions on each side.  It turned out well: there were only a couple that my body remembered a day later, and no one was injured in the two days of training.


Overall, this seminar seemed unique to me in that it was almost entirely centered on this one concept. From seminars I have attended this was the most thoroughly explored of hand-to-hand concepts. This work is so fundamental, so functional and so beautiful. It is easy for the mind to grasp since it is natural and intuitive. An attacker cannot reach out, push, punch or stab without putting their limbs at risk. It requires no strength to take the opponents limb because he freely gives it.. This is true of Systema in general but in this case it is so easy to see and use.


The principle works by fulcrum and lever. The body is moved by the lever if you go slowly and smoothly.  But the body is a dead weight that can’t move fast enough, and breaking the lever if you move the too fast. In the course of training one learns to find the fulcrum and feel the lever very easily. This allows a joint extension to be applied quickly and smoothly.  And this make joint-trapping and hyperextension a very functional part of a hand-to-hand combat system. One can even accentuate the attackers offering with a little tug to straighten him further. Or push the body away gently to start an opposing wave to straighten the arm and make the work more effective.


Joint extension can be adjusted for a variety of results. If one applies it in a small dose it can simply stop a person, or it can be used to move and steer them, like a big lever. And taken abruptly to its extreme, it can destroy the joint and leave them momentarily preoccupied with internal problems. It provides a whole continuum of physical conflict resolution in a single and simply attainable concept. And this works in every dimension. You can work up, down, and sideways. You can work from the floor with someone attacking downwards or standing with someone attacking upwards. It works for head grab, waist grab or attack on the legs. Whatever the opponent reaches for, there it is. And any part of the body can be used for a fulcrum point, as can another opponent, or a nearby object.


Due to the simplicity and effectiveness, It is very appropriate for multiple attackers. A broken arm can occur in a split second, like falling into a hole, almost as fast as you can pass by. This would give almost any attacker something to think about, hopefully eliminating them and quickly reducing the group. Some of my favorite drills were working against multiple attackers. It was very easy to discover greater efficiently: the complexity brought out the skill of applying force with any part of the body, whatever is closest.


We explored joint hyperextension in every variation, ending with a session of knife training using the same principles. I love the way Vlad frequently ends seminars with knife work. It always suits the mood so well, when, near the end, everyone is tired from the work of a two-day seminar.


There is only one thing better than thoroughly satisfying training session like this. That is when Vlad decides to use the material to make a teaching DVD. It is like getting a video of ones vacation. And there is always the fun and sometimes humbling experience of seeing yourself in the production. But the real benefit is being able to fine-tune what one got out of the seminar. We all remember what got into our bodies during that time, then in training that follows we get to plant it deeper. But there are always thing that pass by because we unable to grasp it at the time. Video review can really bring back these fine points. And many times over many years it will bring a different message.


This was one of the best seminars ever. Those who couldn’t make it will surely enjoy this video since it will clearly explain the progressions that lead to mastery of this concept. The work contained within could be a fighting system all in itself…even without the rest of Systema’s storehouse of treasures.


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