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A first hand account of Systema from a 3 year student

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    A first hand account of Systema from a 3 year student

    I'll start this post off by listing my martial arts history prior to beginning Systema.

    I had a year worth of experience in Chinese wrestling, but wanted a more "complete" System. Not knowing the merits of cross-training, I simply wanted to find an all-in-one, which is what led me to find Systema in the Martial Arts section of the local yellow pages.

    When I saw the ad for Systema I thought "fantastic!". A history of special forces use, no katas, no gis, no rituals or archaic principles that would hinder my combat training. I checked out the website, saw some of the clips and was once again very impressed by what I saw. I paid over $200 for a "foundations" package from the website and couldn't wait to start.

    I started my first class right at the mecca of Systema, the club of Vladimir Vasiliev. I was immediately paired up with people who were considered to be the more seasoned practioners, and of course I was quickly subdued in all of my attacks. The principles of this system seemd to me to be solid. Movement and exploitation of your partner's very exagerated movements.

    Over the new two years I was thrilled at my progress. I was taking people down with ease and using my own "intuition" was able to submit most people on the ground, as well as effectively strike people while standing up.

    The one common theme I noticed in all my years of systema was that the top students always have years of other training behind them. The top student at Club Vlad is a rather large fellow who was a national wrestling champion in his home country, as well as a ranked boxer. Someone like myself, having only trained in Systema at this point in the story could never hope to out-wrestle or out-strike this man.

    All of my fellow students, as well as myself, were routinely brainwashed by each other into adopting this sort of "do without effort" method of training, in that we would be so relaxed and so free-flowing that anyone who applied any strength or effort would immediately move us. This was however a good thing in systema, as the idea was that you can then work with this person's aggression to dispatch them.

    The explainations of how exactly to fight were not very educational. The instructor (Vlad) would explain some obscure principal and then the demonstrate 30 different takedowns and defences he could perform against his unrealistic, although fast-moving opponent. For a student like myself who was almsot completely green to fighting, this was not useful at all as it simply made me rely on my own wrong perceptions of the right thing to do in a situation. I developed incredibly bad habits but at the same time felt invincible because I could easily beat most people at the club.

    We were never taught ANY techniques at all. Not a single time in my 3 years was I instructed on how to do something properly, like a choke or a double-leg. I was so insulated in the group-think cult-like mentality of most systema practitioners that I convinced myself I didn't need technique.

    The physical aspect was laughable. most of the people at the club were 40, overweight and in bad shape. They didn't understand the benefits of weight-training, cardiovascular exercise, or even things like shadow boxing. We were constantly told about breathing, and very vague and downright confusing explanations were given to us. I was always told the essence of my breath would deliver power to my punches, however when I tried to apply this in real life to a seasoned striker, it didn't do anything. not to mention the simply ridiculous ways that we were told to punch, namely rotating the body and keeping the arm still, etc.

    When my friend offered to take me to his BJJ and boxing school I was thrilled to be finally able to use my Systema on some people who were trained. I went in and received the biggest ass-kicking I have ever felt. I was getting tapped in seconds, was unable to bring anybody to the ground, and during the striking portion of the class I was outmoved and out powered. Simply put... I sucked.

    A top student at Vladimir's school, with 3 years of Systema training. I was incredibly angry at the fact that I wasted 3 years of productive training time. The very next day I enrolled in the school and have been attending for the past 2 months. In these two months I have learned so much more than in my three years with Systema.

    In summary... Systema on its own is a joke. The Principles can be applied by someone who has training in other forms of combat, but on its own, it is worthless. Let this be a final nail in the coffin to the already dying debate on Systema. I seasoned student of Vladimir himself has come out to share his experience, so I hope I am seen by Systema apologists as credible.

    Feel free to ask me any questions you might have about the system, the teachers, students, etc.

    #2
    I'm sorry, but it's pretty obvious that you didn't have the REAL Systema. j/k

    I know a guy from my karate class who does Systema, and he says that they start you out by seeing how you react naturally to something, and start from there. Ex: you move away from a punch, so they teach you dodging first, etc. Did they do this at your class?

    And what do you mean by no technique? They never taught you to punch or do a choke hold or ANYTHING?

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      #3
      Good thing you got out of there when you did, before you ended up in a real life or death situation and ended up in a bad way.

      Also did they happen to go over any use of chi/ki to disable a person?

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        #4
        Originally posted by Nickeroon1987
        I'm sorry, but it's pretty obvious that you didn't have the REAL Systema. j/k

        I know a guy from my karate class who does Systema, and he says that they start you out by seeing how you react naturally to something, and start from there. Ex: you move away from a punch, so they teach you dodging first, etc. Did they do this at your class?

        And what do you mean by no technique? They never taught you to punch or do a choke hold or ANYTHING?
        There was very little attention paid to me by the Vladimir when I came to the school, but that was probably because he had about 30 students at the time. So no, no teaching based on my reactions.

        Also did they happen to go over any use of chi/ki to disable a person?
        The "no touch work" was never really explained or touched on much, which I suspect was because Vladimir thought it might have potentially turned away some customers due to it's outlandish appearance. The only way it was described to me was by a student of Mikhail's (the fat guy in the videos). He stated that the principle behind the work was that you would give support to your opponent and then take it away as to throw him off balance. I wanted very much for Vlad to demonstrate this work on me, but he was reluctant to.

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          #5
          I'll add a funny story from a class before I go to bed...

          One of the shittier of Vlad's instructors (a guy who had trouble rolling around and landing softly without making a huge thud) suggested we try to immitate some sort of strange walking that Mikhail does which seems to put people off balance. It was sort of like stepping forward with your knees pointing out and then stepping in another direction quickly, like a square dancing session for people with scoliosis of the spine.

          Of course no one, not even the instructor could do this (he admitted he is trying it for the first time) and so 30 grown men were dancing around for about 20 minutes. It was one of my worst classes. Needless to say, I never saw a few of the first-timers again after that fiasco. And I saw less of that instructor teaching, too.

          Keep the questions coming!

          Comment


            #6
            So I assume you live in NYC? Make sure to come to the Throwdowns. What school do you train at now? Good story by the way.

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              #7
              Originally posted by LI GUY 1
              So I assume you live in NYC? Make sure to come to the Throwdowns. What school do you train at now? Good story by the way.
              Thank you for the kind words. No, I live in Toronto, where the HQ of Systema is located. Although I'm aware of RobGreen, the NYC Instructor (ex?) and prison guard. I'm sure he's a nice man in real life, but from his years of posts at the Systema forums and some of his posts here, he seems like a loon.

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                #8
                Not knowing musch about Systema, other than what I've read and videos I've seen, I thing all it is is a Russian version of Aikido and just as useless.

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                  #9
                  Originally posted by King of Nigeria
                  Thank you for the kind words. No, I live in Toronto, where the HQ of Systema is located. Although I'm aware of RobGreen, the NYC Instructor (ex?) and prison guard. I'm sure he's a nice man in real life, but from his years of posts at the Systema forums and some of his posts here, he seems like a loon.

                  Welcome to Bullshido!

                  Out of interest, how did you find us? And I would love a link to some of Rob's post at the systema forums, his posts here are consider dillusional comedy of the highest class, so over there must be quite something!

                  FYI - You might find that this thread will soon be the victim of an attempted hijacking by said lunatic systema practioners and friends.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Oh I can't wait for the Systema Camp to come and check this out .

                    Bless your soul if you are a troll .

                    If for some reason you are exactly what you seem , wow ... I am sorry I was right about Systema . That must have sucked big time . I hope you are under going the proper rehab to straighten out any problems that may pop up later from exposure .

                    Did you ever go to Moscow ?

                    I can't imagine "waking up" in a room with 30 duck walking overweight men idolizing and imitating a sadistic closet homosexual who is literally three or four times the man I will ever grow to be .

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                      #11
                      Originally posted by BackFistMonkey
                      Oh I can't wait for the Systema Camp to come and check this out .

                      This member of the systema camp is burned out on these threads. I continue to happily train systema and get a lot out of it. You guys can continue your faith based hysterics if it makes you happy.

                      Systema is quite a different approach to MA, but imo it is well worth checking out.
                      Last edited by EricH; 3/09/2007 10:20am, .

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                        #12
                        To answer some questions...

                        How did I find Bullshido? I came here because a fellow Systema practioner at the time (JellyMan) suggested I check out the "fight" here. Of course I came ready to defend my art, but when I saw the good points the people here were making, I decided I needed to be a little bit more open minded.

                        I'm now training a bit more rounded, at a place called Salvosa Brazilian Jujitsu in Scarborough Ontario. Wrestling, BJJ, Boxing is what I train there.
                        The thing about Systema people is how close-minded they are. Many of them completely discounted the merits of strength training with weights, saying it was unnatural. To someone who holds a degree in kinesiology like myself, this was insulting and stupid.

                        On Moscow: No, I've never been to Moscow or the summer camps, due to the came costing somewhere in the region of $1500. From what I heard though, many of my fellow practioners did not enjoy their time at the summercamp or the Spring training last year, although from what I've seen of videos of the events they looked like a lot of fun.

                        They played a lot of games like blind-folded tag in the woods, man hunt, and lots of survival training stuff. Whatever your or mine opinion of Systema is, I would have enjoyed going if not for the price.

                        I assure you I am the real thing and not a troll. If some people want proof I can name most of the top students at Club Vlad, but of course I will not give my own name out since I do not want to burn any bridges.

                        You guys can continue your faith based hysterics if it makes you happy.

                        Systema is quite a different approach to MA, but imo it is well worth checking out.
                        With all due respect, this is not Faith-based. If you read my first post you would have noticed I trained under Vlad for 3 years. I feel this gives me at least some right to speak about what I saw.

                        The reason people take to Systema is because of the false hope it gives them. You don't need to get into shape, there's no risk of injury due to very little physical exertion being put in, and with a willing opponent it can make you feel invincible that you can take down a much larger opponent. These are all illusions that I thought were truth. Imagine my face when a 16 year-old 120 lbs Chinese kid tapped me in 14 seconds my first BJJ class.
                        Last edited by King of Nigeria; 3/09/2007 10:59am, .

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by EricH
                          This member of the systema camp is burned out on these threads. I continue to happily train systema and get a lot out of it. You guys can continue your faith based hysterics if it makes you happy.

                          Systema is quite a different approach to MA, but imo it is well worth checking out.
                          Yet you can nothing to refute the criticism levelled at it by people on these boards - including a three year practitioner who has recently "converted" (for want of a better phrase).

                          You say "well worth checking out" but offer nothing to validate that on here or in any of teh other posts on these hallowed boards. On the other hand you also meet us with silence when negatives are raised (including the "Tanswell Incident" where a systema practitioner would have been the main course on a carvery if it was real).

                          Systema rhetoric is old and tired now - you cannot back your claims yet do not want to abandon waht has been a futile quest for combat training.

                          If you want to do what you are doing because you enjoy it then more power to you - I am happy for you. But if you are trying to present it as a legitimate H2H combat system you are wrong, wrog and wrong again - it isn't.

                          King of Nigeria - nice opening posts and welcome to bullshido

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by King of Nigeria
                            The reason people take to Systema is because of the false hope it gives them. You don't need to get into shape, there's no risk of injury due to very little physical exertion being put in, and with a willing opponent it can make you feel invincible that you can take down a much larger opponent. These are all illusions that I thought were truth. Imagine my face when a 16 year-old 120 lbs Chinese kid tapped me in 14 seconds my first BJJ class.
                            That usually seems to be the case with a lot of those types of martial arts similar to Systema. The ones with little contact, very little in the way pf physical exertion, the feeling that you can take down someone much larger and stronger then you without the training required.

                            Yeah, you learn a lot when somone younger and lighter gives you a one way trip to submission hell. That's one of the things I liked about BJJ.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Damn, this reminded me of what I felt when I left WC in favour of MT. Schooled by a guy with six months of MT under his belt, I was, and I had two years of WC "training".

                              Welcome to bullshido King of Nigeria.

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