View Full Version : Systema Downtown - Toronto

2/24/2015 12:08pm,
I`ve lurked for years at bullshido, and after a lot of reflection, I decided to review Systema Downtown.

First off, I stopped a while back. I did Systema for 2 years. Solid, twice a week stuff.

I`m going to add some color commentary - qualitative comments to the ranking system provided.

Aliveness - Deader than a frog in science class being dissected.
It was all about compliance to what a more senior student or instructor did. As someone starting out, it was bonkers, because you would get hints that you should go limp where they hit you when you receive a blow to protect yourself, but then you fall, and they look like winners that demolished you....but you can`t spar back. Let`s say you don`t go down or you use the same movements or your own to counter a senior student, and they get knocked down...you are reprimanded. The worst was seeing a senior student of multiple years going to the instructor and feeling crestfallen their movements didn`t work.

Equipment - none
To be fair, I don`t think they need equipment, even if it was real.

Gym Size - huge, just a big gym.
Lots of space, some matting. It really was large.

Atmosphere - Cult
A leader or two. Inner circle of malleable, er, I mean elite, students. Make elite students lose, leader come in and smack you down. Leadership is training AT students, not with. This is not a McDojo with 50 students, cranking out lessons ever two hours...so it`s ridiculuous to be taught at. Bad mouthing other martial arts, and dissuading from learning them (because systema is an open system apparently)...even when the elite or leader meet other martial art masters, they praise them in public, then bash them horrendously in class.

Striking Instruction - striking without instruction
You read that right. Sure, hit other people, gently is the instruction (WTF). But no instruction on how to make a fist, use of whole body to strike, or rabbit punching. Just instruction on what is wrong. Constantly wrong. This really reinforces the cultish mentality. Only the elite know what you are doing wrong constantly, but they can`t demonstrate what is right because the student isn`t ready or the methods are some sort of internalized energy mumbo-jumbo. I feel weird giving a 2...there was striking...but it was all bs.

Grappling Instruction - see Striking Instruction.
There was grappling. But no instruction on holds. Some instruction on how to get out. True story: I grappled someone who I know (but not a friend), and he is a beast of being in shape and a lot younger. It`s our first class, so with no instruction, I just crush him because I sit on him because I weight more. I thought I was a champ, he thought he had tonnes to learn more because he lost, and we weren`t taught a damn thing. We both quit around the same time as we realized holy crap, we didn`t learn a damn thing for 2 years about grappling. Except how to collapse when the elite student is to take you down.

Weapons Instruction - How to get yourself stabbed.
Instructions to ignore the knife were about it. Again, they had weapon training with knives...but it was all complaint drills similiar to the striking instructions...but with the instructions to not pay attention to the knife. Having had some weapons training in my youth, my bullshit detector went off like crazy.

Overall, these people taking systema are human being. Nice bunch overall, and I don`t wish them any ill will. I truly believe they all think they are some sort of Green Beret badasses doing elite training. Unfortunately it`s all horsefeathers

There is a general warm up and conditioning. It`s never specific to what they are actually working on in the training

The actual martial art training is crap. The sparring is nice in that you get used to handling people physically. But in fighting with someone, an angry soccer mom with her purse would be able to beat you senseless while her sunglasses remain in place.

The cool down. This I personally liked. It was really relaxing. They should make this their business.

Outside of the martial art, it has all the ear markings of a cult: a leadership you can`t question, elite students or inner circle, waiting list for being an elite student, perpetual putdowns of students to get them reliant on leadership, dissuading from trying other systems, etc.

I`m sure I will get nasty calls about not being serious about martial arts. I know it`s an interest of mine, and what I like to do better, so in all honesty it is a hobby....so saying I`m not the best at it...it`s ok, it`s not my identity. Am I serious about it, sure, but I can improve on it.

I`ll probably get that I wasn`t the best student. Probably not. I ask a lot of questions, such as: how do I make a fist. what is a good lock on the elbow from this position, etc. You know, questions almost anyone else will answer from either an experienced or school method.

But yea, it`s a cult. There is no method being taught. You can kid yourself that there are some things to learn, but your time, effort and money is better elsewhere.

2/24/2015 1:48pm,
Pretty sure I met you a few years back. Sorry you had to experience that. :/

Omega Supreme
2/24/2015 3:08pm,
I don't think your review is objective.

8/16/2015 11:30pm,
I don't think your review is objective.
Why do you say that? Seems fine to me. But I do admit it is weird it took 2 years for him to quit even though he seems knowledgable in the fact its rubbish training.

Omega Supreme
8/17/2015 6:42pm,
Why do you say that? Seems fine to me. But I do admit it is weird it took 2 years for him to quit even though he seems knowledgable in the fact its rubbish training.

He said the gym was huge but gave it a 3.

8/18/2015 3:03am,
Not really, I think many on here stayed in BS cubs for social or practical reasons or just failed to draw a line under it.