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  1. HANKtheTANK is offline
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    Posted On:
    9/22/2006 12:57am


     Style: Systema & BJJ

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Quote Originally Posted by EricH
    Hey Hank,

    It sounds like you have grappling/MMA in your background. How did you come to train in Systema?
    your posts are very informative....i think i tend to lean a bit towards how Viktor would 'move'

    I've been doing security for nightclubs for over 8 years now, and striking is definitely not something i prefer to use on the job (too much evidence) .....so i always end up using joint manipulations....so thats what i'm really accustomed to from real life

    my background? Wrestled in high school, loved it, but it got canned after the first year i was there...some girl cried fowl that the coach groped her.....totally pissed me off, as i was absolutely excelling in it.....altho, in a way i'm glad it didn't last long in my life, or it would have totally shaped me into a wrestler, so ingrained into the art that i would probably have a hard time breakin the bad habits of what amateur wrestling brings

    from there, i did s hybrid art, which the instructor called chinese boxing, and it was a well rounded school that was basically a breeding ground for a lotta tough doormen at the time - huge emphasis on muay thai

    as 4 MMA? I've always had an interest in it since it started back in the day. But i have never officially trained in BJJ or anything formal like that (was well into my MT right around then). I just mess around a lot when we wrestle in class, and i try to make time to grapple/spar with the guys i work with, who come from all different backgrounds

    how i found Vlad? i watched a tape on mass attacks, and thought it was interesting, as this topic doesnt get addressed too often....and his principles seemed decent and very applicable to my environment of a nightclub, so i went to check it out.....and here I am, 2 years later, still there 2-3 classes a week
    Last edited by HANKtheTANK; 9/22/2006 1:00am at .
  2. OnceLost is offline
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    Posted On:
    9/22/2006 7:37am

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     Style: Ke?po, MMA ultra-newb

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    EricH - yeah, the posts crossed.

    As far as I know there is no revealing of secrets to advanced students. Instead there is a continual improvement of a persons movement and interaction.
    That's why I was careful to phrase it as "higher level concepts." You have to build a foundation with new students but as a student gets more experienced they are able to assimilate new concepts. For instance, a beginning student might be taught force misdirection and leg reaps (osoto gari), a student with more experienced student might be taught force reversal and leg trips (more in-fighting), and a more advanced student might be taught how to apply the same concepts against multiple attackers and compression throws - (I'm intentionally pairing a concept with a 'technique'). Nothing is 'secret,' but people don't generally understand higher mathematical concepts without starting in pre-algebra.

    Finally, the "Beyond The Physical" stuff is probably a romanticized translation, i.e. flashy title, for simple misguiding techniques such as offering a target and pulling it away before the attacker can touch it, to destroy his balance. This type of stuff generally works well with untrained opponents, which is the majority of what you'll encounter in self-defense situations.
    This sometimes results in being able to send people to the floor with little or no contact. I have been doing this long enough that when the right situation presents itself I don't have to do very much phsyically to send somebody off balance. In my understanding that is all it is. some people (Vasiliev and Ryabko) get to the point where they can do this with relative ease and consistancy. All in all a much much bigger deal is made of this by non-systema people on the internet than in systema training. It just never comes up in training.
    Part of my formal martial arts training involved four years of Aikido, although the instructor I learned from taught it more as aiki-jutsu (there were strikes and kicks and no 'flipping for fun' that you find in some Aikido dojos), so this is a concept I'm familiar with. But this explanation fails when I watch the below clip, which is the section of the "Toronto 2000" video titled, "Beyond the Physical." Notwithstanding any other issues I might have, this is pure and outright crap...

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?do...=systema&hl=en

    As an aside, a female co-worker of mine with no martial arts experience just came into my office and watched the above video clip. Her response was, "They're just pretending, right?"
  3. EricH is offline

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    Posted On:
    9/22/2006 8:44am


     Style: systema/RMA

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Quote Originally Posted by OnceLost
    That's why I was careful to phrase it as "higher level concepts." You have to build a foundation with new students but as a student gets more experienced they are able to assimilate new concepts. For instance, a beginning student might be taught force misdirection and leg reaps (osoto gari), a student with more experienced student might be taught force reversal and leg trips (more in-fighting), and a more advanced student might be taught how to apply the same concepts against multiple attackers and compression throws - (I'm intentionally pairing a concept with a 'technique'). Nothing is 'secret,' but people don't generally understand higher mathematical concepts without starting in pre-algebra.
    In systema everybody trains together on the same material. There is no separation of advanced and beginner. That said, your final statement is correct, people of different levels get different things out of the same exercises.


    Part of my formal martial arts training involved four years of Aikido, although the instructor I learned from taught it more as aiki-jutsu (there were strikes and kicks and no 'flipping for fun' that you find in some Aikido dojos), so this is a concept I'm familiar with. But this explanation fails when I watch the below clip, which is the section of the "Toronto 2000" video titled, "Beyond the Physical." Notwithstanding any other issues I might have, this is pure and outright crap...

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?do...=systema&hl=en

    As an aside, a female co-worker of mine with no martial arts experience just came into my office and watched the above video clip. Her response was, "They're just pretending, right?"
    Much of what you see in that video might be training exercises where the goal is avoidance rather than contact, but much of it is not. They are not pretending and from my perspective it is not crap. Watch carefully and look for disruption of the opponents motion. Michael moves just enough to cause the opponent to adjust in an unfavorable way, then he adjusts again, repeat until you end up on the ground. It is beautiful and intuitive work where he is always a step or two ahead of the partner.

    Call it crap if you like. It has worked on me.
  4. TheWarriorman is offline

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    Posted On:
    9/22/2006 11:49am

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    What I can add to EricH's comments on the clip is that, from what I've seen, Ryabko hits hard enough and precisely enough that if he flinches in someone's direction, chances are they'll have a knee-jerk avoidance reaction. From what I was told, the last images with guys on the floor is from a relaxation drill. Not necessarily crap, but I understand a lot of martial artist do not integrate meditation/relaxation into their training.
  5. OnceLost is offline
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    Posted On:
    9/22/2006 12:58pm

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     Style: Ke?po, MMA ultra-newb

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    That said, your final statement is correct, people of different levels get different things out of the same exercises.


    Agreed.

    Much of what you see in that video might be training exercises where the goal is avoidance rather than contact, but much of it is not.


    If that’s the case, the video should make it clear that these were evasion exercises rather than explain it as follows, “Based on years of intense combat and secret missions, Mikhail shows you how to develop and apply the highest form of self defense; the psychic energy. With a minimum physical effort, he completely controls any attack, skillfully works with human psychology, and truly takes you…” and the video clip ends without explaining where he takes you.

    Of all that, I see him doing one thing – skillfully working with human psychology. Read what I posted earlier about pre-programming/NLP.

    Michael moves just enough to cause the opponent to adjust in an unfavorable way, then he adjusts again, repeat until you end up on the ground. It is beautiful and intuitive work where he is always a step or two ahead of the partner.


    But a non-compliant opponent is not necessarily going to adjust in an unfavorable way without a very good reason – distraction strikes, misdirection of force, reversal of motion, overextension, SOMETHING! Not just leaning INTO an attack (see below).

    Here’s another link, this one to the entire “Toronto 2000” clip, which includes the narration I quoted above. Let’s look at some of the attacks and responses in that clip, not limiting ourselves to the “Beyond the Physical” section:

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=827877829185720919&q=systema&hl=en

    At 0:39, a man wearing white pants and a sleeveless shirt starts an attacks with a low take-down type shoot. When Ryabko puts in palm in front of the attacker, the man stops his forward momentum and melts to the ground. Why? To avoid being hit in the face? If that’s the case, it doesn’t show much commitment to the attack. Even if the hand in front of the face did stop the attack (because the attacker was worried about his eyes, maybe), that doesn’t explain the melting to the ground! Same thing for the next attack by the same person (starting at 0:41). Sticking your hand in someone’s face without doing SOMETHING to them first is an invitation for broken or bitten fingers!

    A sweeping type kick starting at 0:48 sends a man wearing black pants and a gray shirt into a 450 degree spin and ends with him falling to the ground…the camera angle is bad, but it doesn’t appear that the kick connected. I’ve been kicked all over the legs and there are places that make it tough to stand up (sciatic nerve line or common peroneal), but in those cases my leg buckled; I didn’t spin around, glance at the guy who kicked me, put my hand on my head, and then fall down. There was also no ‘lag time’ in Ryabko’s momentum to show the kick did connect.

    At 0:58 there was a defense against a descending knife attack. Ryabko does a good job taking himself out of the line of the attack and deflecting the knife arm, but there is no reason why the attacker had to do a front roll to ‘respond’ to the defense. If Ryabko was using the attacker’s motion to throw the guy onto his face, the attacker wouldn’t have time to put both hands on the ground before doing a somersault.

    Immediately after that, at 1:00, Ryabko is, I assume, defending himself against 3 attackers. This is my problem with this technique – only ONE of the attackers ever raises an arm over gut level - before they roll away in response to the punches. They appear to be walking toward him just to get punched in the face. Attackers should be…well, attacking!

    At 1:08, a guy is approaching Ryabko from the back when Ryabko leans forward and the attacker rolls over him, a la Cirque de Soleil. If this were an actual attacker reaching for Ryabko’s head/neck, they *might* fall forward, but then they would be laying on top of a defender who is face down…not a very defensible position.

    And that’s BEFORE we get into “Beyond the Physical.”

    The first attack, starting at 1:31, looks to be a shoulder grab. Even if the attacker was completely committed to grabbing Ryabko’s left shoulder, it doesn’t explain why he falls over backwards.

    The next attack is a two handed grab where, again Ryabko puts his hand in someones face. I actually like the end of this move (using the outer edge of your forearm across someone’s throat – nothing beyond the physical about that), but again – putting your hand in someone’s face without doing something to them is a bad idea.

    At 1:21, a guy wearing gray fatigue pants and a white shirt attacks with a kick, and I like the punch to the outside of the leg Ryabko uses, and even the backhanded strike to the hip. But WHY do neither the attacker nor the defender have their hands up?!? If the defender had his hands up in a decent guard, the left handed strike (a thumb to the throat?) wouldn’t work out so well. WHY DO THEY HAVE THEIR HANDS DOWN??

    At 1:36, it looks like a guy in green pants and a black shirt is trying to block Ryabko similar to what players do in basketball. Ryabko shifts back a forth a few times and the guy falls over and turns it into a front roll. This bleeds into the next ‘attack,’ where a guy in white pants and a black shirt obligingly follows Ryabko’s open hand into a front roll. What attack was that simulating?

    Starting at 1:43, Ryabko stops an attacker moving toward him with open arms by leaning *toward* the attacker with his own hands down beneath his waist. Not only is there no reason for the ‘attacker’ to fall over backwards, but Ryabko puts his face in front and steps into a lunge step, almost begging for the attacker to gouge his eyes. And lest anyone say there is a leg trip going on here, Ryabko’s foot stays planted while the attacker rolls away, cleaing revealing the lack of contact between their legs.

    Finally, with two men rushing at him at 1:45, Ryabko lifts his hands and splits them apart, sending each into, you guessed it, a roll. Notice, by the way, that the hands of the attacker closest to the camera only come up to parry Ryabko’s left hand and you can see the other attacker’s hand stay at about the level of his bellybutton (unless he raises them for the brief fraction of a second he is hidden from the camera).

    I won’t describe the last attack, other than to say it is another set of multiple attackers who, for no apparent reason, fall over when they fail to grab someone.

    There were other things that I didn’t like, but I also saw a few things I did like – an knee stomp into a kick at 0:36 was great stuff. At 1:13 there was a wonderful kick to a kicking attacker’s support knee.

    This is my biggest problem with presenting any of this ‘beyond the physical’ crap – if it is an ancient secret, why is it so little known? There is a theory relating to social Darwinism that people use whatever works easiest and most effectively – especially the military and law enforcement. Yes, I acknowledge that it can take both of those institutions a while to ‘come around’ to a new way of thinking (since neither is particularly quick to change), but if police could subdue someone without touching them as opposed to having to wrestle on the side of the street, don’t you think that would be used. Look at Tasers (regardless of how you feel about them and any potential lethality issues) – they’re used because they are effective at stopping someone and safer than shooting someone (that’s a no-brainer for either side of the Taser debate).

    Watch carefully and look for disruption of the opponents motion.


    I did, and I’m more than familiar with the concept, but usually you have to touch someone to disrupt their movement. Having studied Aikido, I know about the “touchless” throws of Ueshiba Morihei, but I studied enough Aikido to realize that many Aikidokas ‘over-react’ to the movements (sorry guys and gals, it’s true). Is it possible to disrupt someone’s motion without touching them? Sure – but not by leaning into an attack with your hands at your sides!

    I appreciate the debate here and I hope this exchange clarifies some of the problems that I have in accepting systema at face value.
  6. TheWarriorman is offline

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    Posted On:
    9/22/2006 1:47pm

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    OnceLost, I sure understand the point you're putting across and I appreciate your willingness to debate it with strong arguments. I'm little more than a bystander in this discussion, but I pay close attention. I'd like to bring forth my interpretation of what I see in the above video clips.

    At 0:39, from what I see, the guy dressed in white's problem with his initial attack is that he appears to have overstepped forward and when his momentum is blocked, he cannot back out of his stretch. This may be a common thing in this clip too, with Ryabko merely capitalizing on mistakes made by attackers. We can't discount that possibility. The 0:41 attack, to me, looks like it would've ended in a throat strike. For the sake of demonstration, I assume Ryabko held back but the other guy knew/felt what would've happened next and complied.

    The 0:48 tilt-a-whirl, in my opinion, simply represents that the "victim's" next step was going to be where Mikhail stood, which sent said "victim" into a spiral to try to catch his momentum. Had he been an actual aggressor, I believe this would not have happened as he would've had no qualms about stepping where Ryabko stood.

    At 0:58, the strike on the carpal tunnel (and the strength with which Ryabko apparently strikes) would have probably unbalanced the attacker, and the guy simply chose to roll forward instead of landing on his knees - or worse, wind up stabbing himself in the thigh because he did not hold his arm up tight enough.

    I might be mistaken, but I think the drill at 1:00 was meant to represent not necessarily attackers, but unrest in a crowd and how to create a space between yourself and the pack. Systema has indicated mass attack scenarios are common in their training.

    At 1:08 is another great example of what I think Ryabko does well. He changed position, which would've required the attacker to alter his game plan. The guy obviously didn't know what to do next and just found himself forced to roll to avoid going to the ground with Mikhail. Apparently, that is not something you want to do as Kevin Secours, an extremely proficient grappler and author of the awesome grappling DVD "Primal Power", has recently expressed after trying to pull guard on Ryabko. This segment is another case of an attacker's shortcomings being used to defeat them easily.

    The misdirection ("Beyond The Physical") stuff is a little harder to explain, I gather, unless you experience it. I'm guessing a little wilder here.

    The only justification of the 1:31 clip I could imagine would be that the attacker expected Ryabko's right fist to come right at him and connect, so he moved in anticipation. It's a trick of body mechanics used by someone who's good enough to make you feel his next move, without actually going for it. In short, it's because you perceive it's going to hurt and decide to yield that this "defense" works.

    Systema also does some VIP detail sort of work, where you have to gently coerce a third party to follow your physical commands. Perhaps the 1:36 segment where the guy with his arms down has his path cut short in front of him and rolls forward is such an example?

    The 1:43 "repulsion" can only be explained once more by an attacker expecting a tackle and backing off abruptly to avoid it. Most of these are based on intrinsic human responses of not wanting to get hurt. Of course, this depends on the individuals and their desire/commitment to an attack, but notice that in both cases where I posited this possibility, we're looking at the same attacker.

    At 1:45, one thing I can think of is that Ryabko provided support to their chest for an instant and then pulled it away, so even though they felt they were leaning against his hands (like he was stopping their forward momentum), there was really nothing there to stand up against.

    Finally, as far as why some Systema principles would be so little known, I can only say that Russia - under the Communist regime - was not exactly in a position to share its knowledge with other cultures. Hell, most of the times, they weren't allowed to share stuff amongst themselves. That may have contributed to their views of certains things being somewhat different from what's already widely available since the Orient started opening up to the rest of the world in the 70s and 80s. I'm willing to bet that a lot of the things the Russians use are also being used by some Grand Masters in Asia. No doubt, there is a limited wealth of "what works" and this knowledge is likely attained - through different routes - by most Masters, regardless of cultures.

    Anyway, that's my opinion.
  7. OnceLost is offline
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    Posted On:
    9/22/2006 2:57pm

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     Style: Ke?po, MMA ultra-newb

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    The problem that I have is that it appears that one has to be "in the know" to understand why these techniques function. This implies an "exclusive knowledge," which is yet another one of those martial arts tricks used to convince students that their way is superior - I'm not saying that's the case here, but the similarity exists.

    I understand your position, but I still have far more questions than answers.

    I agree that the guy in white overstepped in the first attack - he simulated being committed to the attack without actually going through with it. I don't think his momentum is blocked - no one's open, inverted hand can stop a person's body weight if they throw themselves into an attack. The next attack might have ended in any number of things, it's hard to tell when the attacker starts backing away because there is a hand in his face. I have the same problem here - perhaps it is more with the attacker than Ryakbo, but he should be telling the attacker to stop pusy-footing around and come in realistically!

    On the 0:48 attack I have the same problem. Any way you cut it, this is not realistic.

    I disagree with the assessment of the 0:58 attack. The body's natural reaction to a strike is to pull the extremity struck into the center, not rotate over it. In this case that would have meant bending the elbow and retracting the arm. I do like the idea of directing a knife into the attacker's thigh, but you can't just push it down and expect it to get there without following through. Nor have I ever seen anyone realistically driven to their knees by a downward strike on an arm that was ALREADY descending - regardless of the strength of the strike, it is hitting a target that is already moving in the same direction, which compromises the effectiveness. Try punching someone who is backing away from you or (if you're into breaking stuff, which I'm not) breaking a board that is hanging from a string instead of being held immobile; same concept.

    Regarding the unrest in a crowd, I have some experience with this as a member of a Special Response Team (riot response, etc) when I was with the police department. If the crowd is jostling you, why would you start punching people? All you're going to do is aggravate the condition of the crowd and potentially get jumped on. When you're trying to move through a tight moving crowd, you want to pull your arms in and stick your elbows out slighty (making a wedge, basically), not start randomly punching people!

    With the 1:08 flip over the back, if you're going to learn how to defend against an attack, than the attacker (victim, uke, whatever) has to ATTACK! An attacker on the street wouldn't know if Ryabko was a ground fighter or not. A decent street attacker would have either dropped his body onto the suddenly prone and (in that position) relatively defenseless target in front of him or pulled up and started stomping. I have a problem with the blanket use of using "an attacker's shortcomings to defeat them;" you don't KNOW what an attacker's short comings are. I thought systema wasn't like a sparring match where you can test their medium range strikes before you close to grapple - it explains itself as a combative, street defense!

    1:31 clip - you can't explain that Ryakbo telegraphed a right punch to get the attacker to anticipate it is Ryakbo's hand stays hanging open by his right pocket. Further, if the attacker is expecting a right punch, why is his left hand down by his side.

    it's because you perceive it's going to hurt and decide to yield that this "defense" works.
    This is EXACTLY what I'm talking about. It has been called fostering an environment of presumed compliance - the attackers KNOW they are going to be the 'victims' of a sucessful defense, so they go with it, just as the defender knows they are not 'really' going to be attacked. Even boxers and experienced martial artists do it - they fight one way in the ring but on the street they move completely differently for a number of reasons (fear, stress, adrenaline, etc).

    This is big - people who attack on the street get into fights. They are not going to decide to yield because they think something is going to hurt!! If that was the case, no one would ever fight the police because they could anticipate being hit with a baton, pepper sprayed, tasered, or shot! BUT PEOPLE STILL DO!! That's something of a sore spot with me - you train as if your attacker was a mix of Bruce Lee and Mr. Incredible, so if you ARE attacked, you can (hopefully) handle an untrained fighter who can be hurt.

    Systema also does some VIP detail sort of work, where you have to gently coerce a third party to follow your physical commands. Perhaps the 1:36 segment where the guy with his arms down has his path cut short in front of him and rolls forward is such an example?
    Gently convincing a third party is using a 'familiar touch' on their arm and gently propelling them forward. A good friend of mine has extensive experience, both military and private defense contractor work, guarding diplomats and mucky-mucks overseas - if you need to direct someone a certain way, blocking them with your arms isn't go to do much. If you block someone's way and they want to get past you, they'll try to push past you, if they give up, they're not going to forward roll away.

    With the 'repulsion' why would the attacker just give up? If they're unwilling to even risk the idea of getting hurt, they're not going to attack at all.

    With the last clip, with Ryabko putting pressure on their chests - why would two people walk forward and let someone put pressure on their chests? If they're attacking, they're doing a pretty crappy job of it. If they aren't attacking, what's the point in putting your hands on their chests? Besides, this clip is in slow motion, so it's clear there is extremely limited physical contact (other than when the bald 'attacker' puts his left arm up in front of Ryabko's left arm, only to lower it as Ryabko's left arm goes over it and drifts down), maybe his fingers brush against their chests. And their momentum never stops, so they're not "pushing" against him when he suddenly releases them.

    Systema is supposed to be an ANCIENT Russian art, no? Predating the communist regime, I would expect. Even if the tired excuse, "It was a art known only to a select few," were beleived, there would be something in popular culture about the guards of the Russian emperor/tsar being able to 'drain the life' away from attackers, just as folklore says that ancient Chinese martial arts masters could fly. That is about as substantial as the 'beyond the physical,' which is up there with "chi pulling" and, to use a non-martial arts example, "Therapeutic touch" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Therapeutic_Touch).

    I do agree that there is are only so many things that "work" for a specific purpose.
  8. TheWarriorman is offline

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    Posted On:
    9/22/2006 4:25pm

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Indeed, I do think the assertion that the problems in these clips might lie more with attackers than with Ryabko is correct most of the time. One thing I see throughout your response is that you don't understand why someone would do this or that in a given situation. That's EXACTLY why people would study with one of those Masters, to understand their whole view on this. Besides, we're dwelling on Ryabko here, but unless you live in Europe, then Vasiliev is much closer and does not fight the same way AT ALL. Nevertheless...

    I personally see the 0:58 attacker's knife wielding hand going to the groin/thigh area in a sharp instant. And helping the downwards momentum is not akin to punching someone who's backing up, simply due to the gravitational physics involved. You can successfully push something down faster than it's going because you're not running after it. I've successfully swung an opponent hand down that way, at least. As far as going down to their knees, that was a guess, and only would happen if Ryabko's strike was going diagonally down and to the front of the adversary, pulling on it in that direction on the way down. This is hard to tell in that fraction of clip.

    Again, when it comes to the unrest in the crowd, to understand the psychology behind the action undertaken here, you would need to listen to its context during the excercise. I couldn't say why, in this particular instance, this decision was wise or not without having been involved in the setup of the drill. I can certainly imagine that there would be a situational element that I'm missing in order to understand it fully, though.

    The 1:08 attack; you mention "decent street attacker", but not everybody is. I've seen other videos where people have stomped on either Ryabko or Vasiliev, and they've ended up on the ground in a rear naked choke for their effort (amongst other fates). It's important to keep in mind that what is demonstrated in these clips is mostly aimed at civilian response to an attack, but rarely do these situations involve trained Cage Fighters going after your lunch money. In order to see more specialized scenarios, I'd go ask Ryabko or Vasiliev to make demonstrations with that in mind.

    As for 1:31, you have to know that I'm not explaining anything. Merely positing opinions on why this would've happened the way it did. I just think a lot of these clips are judged outside of the element of a Systema class and since people seeing them think it's crap, they end up not attending and furthering the misunderstanding. Of course, that is all just based on my opinion.

    Regarding presumed compliance, I wholeheartedly agree. But you cannot expect people who have been hurt before trying conventional attacks to repeat the same thing that got them pain in the first place. I understand that this isn't a faithful representation, but then that's why they do these face-to-face things. I've never heard of someone who was refused a shot at either Ryabko or Vasiliev so that is where I'd start my personal investigating. Furthermore, on the topic of people still attacking police despite knowing it's going to hurt, I would argue that not everybody does. Some criminals do yield when faced with police. In riots, some people throw stones at cops, other don't. Of those who do, some stop when the favor is returned in the form of CS, others still don't. It all depends on the individual. To know how one would react, one would have to experience it in my opinion.

    The same deal applies to your view on the potential VIP detail segment (which, admittedly, is only a guess on my part). I understand that you wouldn't do things like this. I also understand that Spetsnaz and the GRU operatives and all the other bodies who back Systema do use those techniques, for whatever reason. Therefore, I assume that whatever interrogations you have regarding the reasoning behind this would best be answered by referring to the source. Hell, maybe if you'd ask Ryabko why he did that he'd tell you he didn't even know. It just presented itself and he saw that the guy was going to follow so he took the shot.

    Here's another guess example: the guy is walking forward, so you put your arm in front of his face. He obviously tries to go around it (or under it or whatever - he tries to continue his way) and, while his attention is there on that action, you stick a leg out in front of his causing him to trip. Same concept, and I'm pretty skippy it would work on most businessmen.

    I would also argue that some attackers convince themselves that they can pull off their crime without reprimand. For a lot of them, that is the primary motivating factor. But if pain is suddenly introduced in the equation, a lot of those same people may choose to abandon the attack and retreat. Not all attackers weigh the risks of getting hurt realistically against the potential gain of their actions.

    The last clip is another case where I can guess some meaning, and see if it fits. I'd say that it's possible that they're not attacking and just walking forward and Ryabko's intent in this drill was to stop them (either for their protection or other, depending on the scenario for which we have absolutely no indication). Thus he suddenly props his arms up in front of their face, causing a surprise reaction where you kind of bend back to avoid being smacked in the face and then causes them to fall when he removes whatever pressure they leaned against in that moment.

    It's all very fast and based on timing, so I think these possibilities are plausible. Of course, like I said, we're discussing arguably the more complicated of the two teachers of Systema (Ryabko is Vasiliev's teacher, after all) and their methods differ greatly. Plus, this video dates back many years and a lot of this has since been reworded to diminish nomenclature like "Psychic Energy". You have to keep in mind that this stuff is translated by third parties, often people who wish to capitalize on marketing. There is definitely no magic implied (or used... just makin' sure!) here, in my opinion.

    Finally, Systema is not that ancient. The form currently being taught by these two guys was pretty much formed by Ryabko. Vasiliev was his top student, and when he left Russia he asked for permission to teach this stuff here. But it's not like it's 100 years old in its current form (well, unless Ryabko is a lot older than he looks... a LOT older!). Sure, some of the things Systema is based on come from the ancient Russian warriors - some of whom served as bodyguards for Chinese royalty at some point in history - so the knowledge is shared and based on that stuff. Stalin's personal elite - of which Ryabko's father was a part of - is credited with having come up with what Systema is today. Communism did not allow the sharing of this information on the popular level, and therefore it was only available - at first - to this elite. Ryabko got trained in it and went on to become the leading authority on it throughout the years, which probably hints at some level of profiency above and beyond what is presented in a few internet clips, in my view.
  9. DdlR is offline
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    Posted On:
    9/22/2006 5:29pm

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Gents,

    I stepped out of this discussion while I was overseas, but I'm glad to see that it's taken a turn towards serious debate. I'm sure that the sideshow will return in due course.

    After a long time gleaning what I could of Systema via forum discussions, email conversations, DVDs etc. I finally had the chance to take a few classes while I was travelling. I'm only slightly better qualified to discuss this subject now than I was before, but having actually studied the art, even in a very limited capacity, I might still be able to add something useful.

    Systema has a highly unusual pedagogical method which can be very difficult to explain even to experienced MAists. Briefly, the entire art is taught and learned via a series of improvised "challenges" based on a defined set of tactics and movement skills. There is very, very little technique drilling and no specific curriculum. Learning the art is based on experimentation through improvised, freestyle exercises, which are initially practiced very slowly and with minimal resistance, and then with greater speed, force and realism as the student gains more experience.

    The fact that Systema students are encouraged, even required, to experiment and improvise has led to a lot of confusion. People see clips of apparently outlandish techniques and bizarre-looking counter-attacks and assume that these are necessarily "Systema technique demos". Oftentimes, they are not; they are simply moments that emerge during improvised work.

    My own feeling is that quite a lot of the most "extreme" defenses demonstrated by Ryabko and Vasiliev are simply the two of them having fun, with the additional purpose of encouraging their students to think outside the box. This adaptability and ability to move spontaneously is really a core value in Systema.

    As the exercises become harder, faster and more realistic, the student learns "what really works" *for them* through trial and error and ideally emerges with a flexible set of core skills that will help them cope with a real assault.

    OnceLost, a number of the actions shown in the "Beyond the Physical" promotional clip are actually movement, sensitivity and evasion exercises for the student's benefit, rather than demonstrations of the instructor's fighting techniques. It is very common for people to look at these online clips and completely miss this point, but understanding this point is crucial to figuring out how Systema is taught.

    At 0:39, a man wearing white pants and a sleeveless shirt starts an attacks with a low take-down type shoot. When Ryabko puts in palm in front of the attacker, the man stops his forward momentum and melts to the ground. Why? To avoid being hit in the face? If that’s the case, it doesn’t show much commitment to the attack. Even if the hand in front of the face did stop the attack (because the attacker was worried about his eyes, maybe), that doesn’t explain the melting to the ground! Same thing for the next attack by the same person (starting at 0:41). Sticking your hand in someone’s face without doing SOMETHING to them first is an invitation for broken or bitten fingers!
    Starting at 1:43, Ryabko stops an attacker moving toward him with open arms by leaning *toward* the attacker with his own hands down beneath his waist. Not only is there no reason for the ‘attacker’ to fall over backwards, but Ryabko puts his face in front and steps into a lunge step, almost begging for the attacker to gouge his eyes. And lest anyone say there is a leg trip going on here, Ryabko’s foot stays planted while the attacker rolls away, cleaing revealing the lack of contact between their legs.
    I believe that, in both these cases, the student is being trained to be able to evade a counter-attack that interrupts his own attacking movement. In your first example, Mr. Ryabko symbolically indicates the counter-attack by gesturing with his palm; in the second example, he simply steps towards the student. In both cases, what is shown is not Ryabko demonstrating a counter-attack but rather the student practicing to be able to collapse his body away from a counter-attack.

    This method of collapsing and yielding to pressure is a fundamental Systema skill and is present in a number of their training exercises. This inevitably leads to allegations of "tanking" and role-playing, which miss the point that developing this skill is, in fact, one of the major goals of the art. For balance, I should again point out that other exercises do involve realistic speed, power and resistance.

    Systema pays a great deal of attention to very subtle details of movement, balance, tension, psychology and body language. It includes some very unusual training exercises to develop the student's awareness of these faculties. Some of these exercises make absolutely no sense to the casual observer - you have to understand the context of the exercise to appreciate what you're seeing. This isn't "secret knowledge", but it is subtle and unusual stuff which is not often dealt with in depth by more mainstream MAs.

    Warriorman,
    It's all very fast and based on timing, so I think these possibilities are plausible. Of course, like I said, we're discussing arguably the more complicated of the two teachers of Systema (Ryabko is Vasiliev's teacher, after all) and their methods differ greatly. Plus, this video dates back many years and a lot of this has since been reworded to diminish nomenclature like "Psychic Energy". You have to keep in mind that this stuff is translated by third parties, often people who wish to capitalize on marketing. There is definitely no magic implied (or used... just makin' sure!) here, in my opinion.

    Finally, Systema is not that ancient. The form currently being taught by these two guys was pretty much formed by Ryabko. Vasiliev was his top student, and when he left Russia he asked for permission to teach this stuff here. But it's not like it's 100 years old in its current form (well, unless Ryabko is a lot older than he looks... a LOT older!). Sure, some of the things Systema is based on come from the ancient Russian warriors - some of whom served as bodyguards for Chinese royalty at some point in history - so the knowledge is shared and based on that stuff. Stalin's personal elite - of which Ryabko's father was a part of - is credited with having come up with what Systema is today. Communism did not allow the sharing of this information on the popular level, and therefore it was only available - at first - to this elite. Ryabko got trained in it and went on to become the leading authority on it throughout the years, which probably hints at some level of profiency above and beyond what is presented in a few internet clips, in my view.
    I agree with all of these points regarding "psychic energy", etc. - IMHO this was never more than a poor choice of words/translation compounded by TRS marketing - and I also largely agree with your assessment of Systema history.

    My research suggests that Ryabko Systema may be a development of a self-defense art developed by Victor Spridonov. Spridonov was a WW1 veteran and was one of the real pioneers of the modern RMA, being heavily involved in designing the various forms of SAMBO. He developed the SAMOZ method after suffering an injury that forced him to stop participating in sport SAMBO matches.

    Due to his injury he began to use the massive resources of the NVKD's Dinamo organization, which included research into a huge number of ethnic MA/combat sports and military CQB methods as well as sports science, psychology, etc. to develop a new method based on more subtle movements.

    This method (known variously as SAM and as SAMOZ) apparently found favor with Spetsnaz units assigned to bodyguard duties and to covert operations, presumably because it could be used to take people down without a lot of spectacle or athletic effort. SAMOZ later seems to have spread to other departments within the KGB and the Russian government in general, for use by workers and operatives who were not required to train as regular soldiers but still required a means of self defense; and elements appear to have been mixed back in to the more mainstream Combat SAMBO courses for use by injured soldiers, etc.

    The references to ancient Cossacks, etc. that appear on the major Systema websites reflect a very casual approach to history. I think that this may be due to the founder(s) wanting to associate their art with the virtues of traditional (pre-Communist) Russian culture. It could be argued that, as SAMBO and other RMA styles do incorporate Russian folk-combat techniques, then that creates a "link" back into the ancient past, but IMO that's stretching things a bit.

    Please note that much of this is speculation based on a bit of preliminary research - I'm hoping that more verifiable historical information will come to light as Systema becomes better established in the West.
    Last edited by DdlR; 9/22/2006 5:52pm at .
  10. BackFistMonkey is online now
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    Posted On:
    9/22/2006 5:55pm

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Quote Originally Posted by DdlR
    Gents,

    I stepped out of this discussion while I was overseas, but I'm glad to see that it's taken a turn towards serious debate. I'm sure that the sideshow will return in due course.

    After a long time gleaning what I could of Systema via forum discussions, email conversations, DVDs etc. I finally had the chance to take a few classes while I was travelling. I'm only slightly better qualified to discuss this subject now than I was before, but having actually studied the art, even in a very limited capacity, I might still be able to add something useful.

    ......
    Please note that much of this is speculation based on a bit of preliminary research - I'm hoping that more verifiable historical information will come to light as Systema becomes better established in the West.
    Well your thoughts are not valid buddy .

    You have atleast twenty more classes till you can form an opinion .
    Quote Originally Posted by Bodhi108 View Post
    Nuke a unborn gay whale for Christ.
    “I don't mean to sound bitter, cold, or cruel, but I am, so that's how it comes out.”
    BILL HICKS,
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