Posted On:11/01/2004 5:27pm
Style: Muay Thai, Kenjutsu
I just got back from my firsy Systema class, and thought that some people might be interested in my first impressions. This is not a review, just my initial impressions. In all fairness I believe that I would have to have spent at least six months to a year learning Systema, or any MA for that matter, before I would be comfortable passing judgment on someone else's art and/or school.
For reference, here is my background:
Kenjutsu (iai, kyujutsu, iai, naginata, jo, tanto)
Aikido (only a few months, wasn't for me)
Tai Chi Chen (only a few months, wasn't for me)
So, here's how it went:
90 min class taught by Vladimir Vasiliev (roughly 20 students)
1) Warm up:
a) Breathing/walking exercises, one lap around the room (inhale one step/exhale one step), next lap (inhale two steps/exhale two steps)...etc.. until you're walking one lap during one inhale/one lap during one exhale. Repeat in a descending cycle.
b) Breathing/Running exercises, same as above.
c) Breathing/Walking/Arms held out at shoulder height, same as above
d) Duck walk, one lap around the room
e) Spider crawl, one lap around the room
f) Sitting v-lift, scooting across the room by simply rotating your hips, no arms or legs (exhausting!)
g) Random tumbling/rolling across the room
h) Crawling across/over people to reach the opposite side of the room
i) Front, back, and side falls
2) Partner work
a) Pushes, rotational evasions, back and forth
b) Pushes, rotational evasions into arm locks, back and forth
c) Pushes, rotational evasions into arm locks and escapes, back and forth
d) Pushes, rotational evasions into throws, back and forth
e) Light sparring using all the techniques described above, with a fully countering partner.
f) Walking shoves, evasions, rotation into one armed body grabs, control your opponents shoulders, counters and controls
g) Knife work, thrusts, evasions and rotations into control and counters
1) I was totally exhausted! While it is true that I have no grappling experience and thus I was physically inefficient, this class was still, more exhausting that I ever remembered my first couple of Muay Thai classes to be.
2) While the movements were all flowing and rotating, this was nothing like Aikido, at least to me. Everything here was at closer quarters and much more physical. Aikido seems more sequential in practice, and performed at greater distances than Systema.
3) Systema seems to be more about finding your own way in and out of situations, by rotating yourself with the attack, and then into a counter. You're never really stepping out of the line of action, or trying to intersect it with a block.
4) Here is what was most interesting to me, the final knife work. Given my experience with tantojutsu, I began this drill with a high degree of skepticism. In all the years that I've practice tanto attacks, I've never met anyone who could effectively and consistently defend against a knife attack. Not because I'm so skilled, but because most defenses try to control the obvious global movements of your arms and body, and aren't very effective against the small local movements of your wrist. The subtle local movements that allows you to cut your opponent, even after they've begun their counter. So after practicing with one partner, and constantly reminding him that there wasn't any point in him continuing to disarm me, since I'd already severed all the muscles in his arm, he agreed that his counters weren't working and politely asked the head instructor, Vladimir Vasiliev, to come show me how it's done. Mr. Vasiliev handed me the knife and encouraged me to attack him, which I did. Even at half speed, and with limited force, it was clear that his counters addressed both my global and the local movements. His defenses first neutralized my local movement and range, then proceeded to disarm me by countering my global positioning, all with very little force exerted on his part. In all the years that I've practiced tanto attacks, this was the first person who'd ever done that. I was impressed. On that alone, in that one moment, I lost my skepticism of Systema, and have found a profound respect for Vladimir Vasiliev.
Posted On:11/01/2004 6:06pm
Style: BJJ - Homeland Security
Awesome post. It's refreshing to hear that there's some decent knife defence out there. Did you ask if they do freestlye knife work?
Posted On:11/02/2004 12:00am
Style: Whatever works
Thank you for posting this. I was looking forward to it.
Glad you're enjoying it.
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Posted On:11/02/2004 12:13am
Sounds good, good post. Nice to hear an instructor who can actually do what he says.
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Posted On:11/02/2004 12:25am
Style: MuayThai,Igo Ryu Jiujitsu
Nice....are you going start going there consistently now?
Posted On:11/02/2004 8:11am
Style: Shi Ja Quan
Thanks for posting this review of a class of systema and NOT the art in itself.
Can't wait to hook up with you so you can show me what he was teaching you.
I have his video tape, and I know of a couple of guys that have tried his classes, and while I have yet to formulate an opinion on him/his art, I was "leaning" towards the Bullshido type.
Your review made me re-consider, can you give me/us a little more detail in what impressed you the most?
Posted On:11/02/2004 8:29am
I'd check it out if given the chance, but really haven't made up my mind yet if it's BS or not.....
Thanks for giving us some first hand info.
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Posted On:11/02/2004 10:17am
Originally Posted by Shumagorath
.....Did you ask if they do freestlye knife work?
I suspect that they do, but since this was only my first class, I'm afraid that I didn't ask too many questions.
Originally Posted by MUT
....are you going start going there consistently now?
I'm not sure. I paid for two classes, so I'll definitely go back for the 2nd class. And while my wife has been pushing for Systema, I've been leaning toward BJJ. I'll have to decide after the 2nd class, we'll see.
Originally Posted by ronin69
.....can you give me/us a little more detail in what impressed you the most?
In all honesty, it's hard to accurately judge anything after only one class, but I can give you a few of my initial impressions.
1) It was much more physical than I'd expected, and I liked that.
2) This concept of rotating evasions flowing into unscripted counters, as oppose to blocks or more aggressive linear slips and sidesteps, was interesting.
3) I could see the obvious application to muliple attackers, it reminded me of how you handle multiple attackers in kenjutsu.
4) Since I didn't see any non-global technique instruction during this class, I'm not quite sure how the students develop this general strategy and then focus it down to any specific situations.
5) I'm glad I came with some MA background. I'm not sure how people without any MA background develop within this concept.
6) What impressed me the most, what totally blew me away, was Vladimir Vasiliev's knife defense. It was efficient, exerted very little force, and neutralized both my local and global cutting movements and range. His counters didn't require him to massively over power, or be significantly faster than me. However, with that said, I'm not sure how this skill is actually passed on to the students, since most of them appeared to be focusing on countering gobal body movements, which usually end up getting you cut.
Posted On:11/02/2004 10:28am
" 6) What impressed me the most, what totally blew me away, was Vladimir Vasiliev's knife defense. It was efficient, exerted very little force, and neutralized both my local and global cutting movements and range. His counters didn't require him to massively over power, or be significantly faster than me. However, with that said, I'm not sure how this skill is actually passed on to the students, since most of them appeared to be focusing on countering gobal body movements, which usually end up getting you cut. "
Did you see any students that were "close" to his skill level ?
Posted On:11/02/2004 10:31am
Originally Posted by ronin69
Did you see any students that were "close" to his skill level ?
No, not with a knife.
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