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A first hand account of Systema from a 3 year student

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    #31
    FINALLY...a well written post - although negative overall -about someone who actually studied Systema with Vlad.

    (Oh, BTW - I am the 'loon' -- and not a prison guard, a NYC jail guard. There is a vast difference between the two...mostly $$$ and benefits).

    Now KoNigeria - evidently you know 'of' me by postings on Vlad's site....you refer to me by that screen-name there. We must not have ever met.

    I will agree that, overall - experienced martial devotees gain far more from training with Vlad than newbies do in comparitive time. I was over 3 decades in study of methods - some well regarded here, others not so much...before I threw the kitchen sink and the full library at Vlad, when first we met, years ago.

    It led me to become a student of Systema...and go to Moscow. I had the resources and am not dis-satisfied with the results. Doubt I ever will be....and still retain an open enough mind that I will watch certain NHB matches and ask the VERY few BJJ or MT guys on my job, when we meet in the work gym - to spar abit with me and work with some of the unique things they do, as they ask, of me.

    I am not an 'ex'-instructor....I simply asked my name be removed from the 'active' list of certified Systema instructors...for due to time and other things I must concentrate on in life -I simply do not have the time to get into the skills sets of those that kept asking me to train them.

    I do find it odd that you state you had little direction in exacting techniques. Like how to choke, by example. And since you mention 3 years training, but do not mention - at this point - meeting with Ryabco last year - I must wonder how often you actually went to class.
    I have not been to Vlad's for about 2 years or more...$$$, family, job reasons. BUT - I have been there many times...even have my own key to the place and the security code to the alarm. (Wonder if my left behind air mattress is still in the storage room, next to the changing room). Over the time I have spent there...direct contact with 'those that come to Vlad's' - I have seen many different types. The occasional visitor - such as myself, come in many stripes. The hard working students of combatives....many who do not give a fat rat's ass about the name or seeking a position in the Systema group, they just get 'something that works for them' out of it. (MOST of them are trained in other methods also - or action professionals). A WHOLE LIST TOO LONG TO POST. And then we come down to the least of the list - those that want the t-shirt! The Toronto dorks that will actually go out on a Friday night - wearing a RMA t-shirt to the pub! They pay a total fee - and stand off to the sidelines in classes...and even when drawn into doing some work - work like crap, and always will.

    Ya know, I have seen the whole lexicon in every martial school I ever studied in. EVERY one. In (now) 43 years of martial study...trying to learn whatever worked for ME - there were always the t-shirt collectors..the dabblers.

    ROC. I agree with you, sir. There are those that actually might convert to ROC - being nearer the teacher 'than thee'..seeking a magic that simply does not exist. (Others convert for a myriad of choices...who can say what anyone really wishes to find to be 'at peace with their life'?)

    I have walked in a number of Russian ROC churces...I get the idea...I was a child raised in RC Christianity. And even though both Vlad and Ryabco ar my friends...and I have visited a hand made ROC chapel on the house grounds of Misha...they never tried to force ROC down my throat. When in earlier studies, I was invited to convert to Buddha...and in my earlier MT training - to get 'protective tatoos' and wear amulets. I cohse to look at the world my way...and if anyone needs to try to define and pidgeon hole my 'faith'? I am a crazy...lol...make that a 'loony zennist type sceptic'. And Both VV and MR knew that from the start. Still, I know that people of deep faith forms WILL express their ideas by their form of faith...their convictions..what 'works' for them. In Russian speak - this is very normal.
    I live in one of the most concentrated pocets of Russian people in America...and understand this....and it allows me a certain form of understanding to communicate with them as a person.

    Do VV and MR have a 'supernatual gift or ability' - no! To me, they have oddly well trained perceptions and responses...and (to them - as above) they MIGHT view this as a gift from the flying spaghetti monster (to quote James - the Randi)...I dont. They are simply well trained and can express very unusual martial movements that are not of the standard norm. Maybe, as one with abit too much experience in inter-personal violence, I got a bit more direct contact with these two than a general student.

    As far as being in shape goes, in personal training with MR and VV and at Toronto - it was up to every person to get into shape. Did not Vlad lead a 5 minute - single push-up, ever - when you were at class? Condidtioning is up to the student, always was when I was there. A supplemental to trying to relax and learn..and open ones mind to how the body can move.

    As far as weight work goes....there is a vast difference between body building reps and USING progressive resistance in a larger range of motion. To temper the body and spirit to not surrender to pain. THE RUSSIAN metod of such uses things more like kettle bells and unusual ways of using conventional weight tools than body building...I know, I was a devoted b.builder for a couple fo decades. Pavel Tatsoulene porivdes much into the way the Russians use dead weight in this regard. Systema, overall - is not interested in the size of muscle tissue and the residual muscle tension of b.building movements. A HUGE meaty bodypart like a set of well rounded deltiods....might be actually unbalanced to the relative proper balance of the delicate chains of movements to the tissues that make up the rotator cuff. Body becomes the function of use - and if you spend 8 hours of b.building - as opposed to 3 hours of trainimng in any martial method...and do so for a year....where will your nervous system and reactions be more inclined to rely upon? Where will your carido be - by comparison? VERY few here or anywhere in martial study, ever get a chance to do so professionally...where you chose to invest your time, pays dividends exactly measured to that time spent.

    Two last things in closing:
    andrewa, et al -
    the list can be argued for all of the martial things I have studied in over 4 decades...to a greater or lesser extent. I once was a constant attendee at a MMA/JKD/MT/FMA/Savate/BJJschool in Queens....and I bought the big plan and could attend any class. I could afford it and my work schedule was constantly changing every 6 days. I was there for a few years, and in 'the mix' I saw guys who would get the tat's of FMA on their bodies. But could not attend often enough to even begin to get a rudimentary inderstanding of gunting - though they all bought karambits and some carried them around. The MT wanna-be's learned how to do the opening dance to music...but would cut short bananna bag kicking. Some JKDers would quote Lee chapter and verse...but broken timing was not woprked on enouigh. Savate-ists that would work on French language...but shyed away from sparring. I cant be critcal of the BJJ guys, primarily because the teacher was rarely there when I was. My timing in the job and life. I would suspect the least efficient ones wore tap-out shorts in the street during breaks and owned every one of the early UFC tapes and could quote chapter and verse. I know, a general view of the devoted not willing to just damn do it...but had ALL of the t-shirts! Your description of 'cultism' would have fit them to a T.

    Now a loon ends his too long post. And I have no problem with being an odd ball...my colest friends and lovers accept this fact. I am a product of the totality that I have encountered in life....and as a result, might have a very different style than those that followed a more beaten path. Those few that 'get it' - get it! Those that dont and wish to denegrate or critique? So be it. I dont wear your skin...no more than 'you' wear mine.

    So said, I will take my leave.....and had only returned to read and became motivated to post because I got a PM on another site from a friend.

    BTW - I am a very nice person. Odd, quirky and perhpas unique. And I managed to be so open to slings and arrows...and even suffer 'fools' gladly - because I have hung around the arts over 4 decades...and learned to keep an open mind and be more sceptical than the vast majority of Systema detrators might believe me to be.

    Long post.....over!

    Maybe I will write in a reply....but, I have little time for the cyber presently....PM's will probably not be read for weeks, if at all.

    Go ahead and run with it.

    More time in training is FAR more important than this cyber stuff.....I am outty!
    Peace and personal growth, to ya'all!

    Comment


      #32
      What King of Nigeria writes in his post(s) sounds very familiar to my experiences after 18 months of Systema training here at my local club.

      Comment


        #33
        OK.
        Might be totally true...I do not know.
        the Systema I taught..the work I learned at the tip of hard movements....might be different than what you experienced as a student. 'I' did not train 'you'...and this might be a different thing to consider. My sessions were to raise a student to get to a level (but not 100% nor eye gouging nor biting level) of about 3/4 free form sparring. THIS was what I was taught by Vlad....and only after you had a few that could just move, and the attacker(s) move freely - one would get into a bit of the deeper things of mindset.

        Remember - a standard is that individual results will vary.

        I doubt that Systema has changed in just a 1 1/2 year period since I worked with VV and MR....then again, the very first time VV saw me and my best Systema student and best friend (Alan) wail on each other at a seminar..he laughed and said "And you two are friends?"

        MAYBE IT GOES ALL THE WAY BACK TO THE FINE ORIGINAL POSTER! An interesting post.

        That poster mentioned the ones with previous training...and I had already alot of real time dealing with aggressives before Systema came along...and maybe, just maybe - this was reflected in what I taught my students..when I taught students.
        It IS not a warm and fuzzy world of compliance - in the real deal - when you are in danger.
        No ref...no rules. Systema - for me - became the binding icing on the cake or my previous things studied. I can not post from a relative newbie to combative studies pont of view...only my own experience. And that is what I do here, though it might me mis-interpeted.

        Froim about my very first post on this site, years ago - the essence was always this:
        Systema works for ME!
        I do not have the time to go deeply into why...no more than I need to understand the electrical system in my car,...I turn the key..and step on the pedal...and GO!

        Comment


          #34
          Hi guys!

          Here is a quote from http://www.systemaryabko.ru/eng/article1.aspx

          Systema's spiritual dimension
          For me this trip had an other special event. With Val and Mikhail I talked a lot about certain subjects concerning my specific interest in the spiritual aspects of systema and the reason of my interest. Mikhail answered my questions very sincere. At a certain moment he said that if I really wanted to develop certain aspects I had to think about becoming Russian Orthodox. The roots of Systema lie in this old religion.
          So after some thinking and a talk with my wife, I decided to become Russian Orthodox and got baptized. Actually, during my baptizing ceremony I experienced a lot of resemblance between this religion and systema. For example in breathing.
          After this Mikhail, together with Val and Daniel showed me things of systema's spiritual dimension, which made me understand that it is very difficult to understand systema really without understanding of Russian Orthodox religion. But understanding is just the first step. Being Russian Orthodox is the next!

          :godtroll: :biblethum :godtroll:

          Comment


            #35
            I thought the beginning post was very articulate. (Esp. for Bullshido!)
            Now we have excellent comments "for" Systema as well.

            --I sent this thread to my sometimes workout partner who has done a lot of different MAs. He's been working on Systema conditioning with the tape series and went to a seminar in Phoenix. He has declined to be "deprogrammed" and says the concepts have some merit and supplement his training.

            He offered the observation that the more grounding that one has in MA-- any MA, the more one can get out of studying another MA. This is something I've been thinking about for awhile.

            Could it be that even the ranking nobility of Bullshido owe some small debt to those crappy "McDojo" arts that so many of them appear to have studied-- Ke?po, --ing --hun, TKD, etc..
            And that with some basics and conditioning under their belt , when they finally "arrived" at a "real" MA that had validity and street cred for them, they were able to take the ball and run with it??

            Comment


              #36
              @ RobG:

              Let me pick up this "previous training" thing.

              IMO it is a key thing when it comes to systema. All "normal" (i.e. not Michail or Vlad) guys I saw, where I thought "well, this guy could fight with this stuff", had decades of experience in other arts and were used to deal with violent people due to their jobs.

              People who lacked this background would in most cases not have been able to use systema in real life, if the situation demanded it, simply because they werent prepared for such a situation

              Comment


                #37
                Originally posted by kiai_killer
                Hi guys!

                Here is a quote from http://www.systemaryabko.ru/eng/article1.aspx

                Systema's spiritual dimension
                For me this trip had an other special event. With Val and Mikhail I talked a lot about certain subjects concerning my specific interest in the spiritual aspects of systema and the reason of my interest. Mikhail answered my questions very sincere. At a certain moment he said that if I really wanted to develop certain aspects I had to think about becoming Russian Orthodox. The roots of Systema lie in this old religion.
                So after some thinking and a talk with my wife, I decided to become Russian Orthodox and got baptized. Actually, during my baptizing ceremony I experienced a lot of resemblance between this religion and systema. For example in breathing.
                After this Mikhail, together with Val and Daniel showed me things of systema's spiritual dimension, which made me understand that it is very difficult to understand systema really without understanding of Russian Orthodox religion. But understanding is just the first step. Being Russian Orthodox is the next!

                :godtroll: :biblethum :godtroll:
                BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!

                Comment


                  #38
                  King of Nigeria, thanks for clearing up the "weights are bad" stuff as well.

                  Here is another rumor I would like to have either confirmed or debunked. Is it true that Systema views Asian martial arts as being Satanic and/or a way for evil influences to get hold of you?

                  Comment


                    #39
                    Could it be that even the ranking nobility of Bullshido owe some small debt to those crappy "McDojo" arts that so many of them appear to have studied-- Ke?po, --ing --hun, TKD, etc..
                    Read around a little and you'll find that's true. The Villain/Osiris, for instance, pays respect to TKD even though he doesn't practice it anymore. Asia harps endlessly about BAJI! and other CMA and JMA roots.


                    RobG, out of that whole post, the thing that sticks out in my mind is your dismissal of the OP by way of a not-too-subtle dig at every Systema practitioner from Toronto. Are we really supposed to believe that there's some reason all Toronto Systema practitioners are somehow suspect, despite the fact that they train at your art's North American headquarters?
                    That's extremely unpersuasive, to be generous.

                    Comment


                      #40
                      Originally posted by sui generis
                      @ RobG:

                      Let me pick up this "previous training" thing.

                      IMO it is a key thing when it comes to systema. All "normal" (i.e. not Michail or Vlad) guys I saw, where I thought "well, this guy could fight with this stuff", had decades of experience in other arts and were used to deal with violent people due to their jobs.

                      People who lacked this background would in most cases not have been able to use systema in real life, if the situation demanded it, simply because they werent prepared for such a situation
                      Odd how systema cultists attribute every "victory" to their art regardless of the fact that their previous backgrounds in other systems which probably had a lot more to do with the successful encounter than anything else. It sort of reminds one of the jesus freaks out there that praise their lord for every good thing but never any of the bad. You'll never hear how jesus was responsible for giving one of his followers cancer.

                      It seems pretty clear systema is a rather pointless endeavor other than to occupy ones time with similarly weak-minded individuals.

                      Comment


                        #41
                        If I give an impression of a dig at anyone in Toronto - prehaps I have expressed less than correctly. There are very impressive people training there....and elsewhere. Pretty much like those that study the heralded, 'favorite' arts in vogue on this particular site. EVERY school has t-shirt collectors...every one. Like any gym, they help pay the bills and keep the lights on for those that will go to classes and devote serious time to study. And there ARE people that have zero previous martial training but can use the method effectively.

                        Like any and all methods, individual results will vary.

                        The whole ROC thing - as a key to really understanding Systema:
                        Ever study an art that was taught by anyone who had a deep religious conviction? Where they expressed their whole understanding of life, based on Taoism or Shinto? Or how about a FMA teacher who was bron in America - and although they could fight with the movements - took another name and tatooed protective symbols on their body, as a method to 'get closer to the essence' (?) of the fighting method? I can easily remember when Karate was one of the few arts available - and a student would wind up with a 'name' and learn certain rituals that were part and parcel to the study of the art.

                        So what?
                        There always was, and will be - those that will believe that wearing fairfield shorts or a tap-out cap or copying the diet of the head teacher will provide them with an insiders edge. Just human nature. Same as those that play golf and seek to use exactly the same clubs that Tiger Woods uses.

                        Ah Kungy, welcome to the thread. If you are referring to me as a cultist - how very wrong you are, again. BUT - lets not go over our past exchanges.
                        There are some very definite Systema influences in whatever I 'do'. And previous training and methods are still allowed to surface when they fit a situation. I did not forget how to thigh kick or RNChoke when I got into Systema....but I did work on losing numerous less effective things (hard blocking, for example) - and worked on things that I learned from Vlad that were more effective for me. Even at work, I stopped trying to use JJJ based arm cranks to get a resisting individual to go into a handcuffing position - I learned from Vlad how to much more efficiently use leverage to collapse their arm into a behind the back cuffing position....and retained the ability to speed jab from anywhere my hands might be at the time. The jab got even better from learning how to be more relaxed throughout an attack.

                        EVERY 'true believer' in ANY method will be prone to praise their method when it 'works' and not blame the method if they fail a situation. And that is the same for BJJ, MT, Baiji, TKD or whatever. Even SCARS-ists. Again, just human nature and defensive mind mechanisms. This does not mean the method does not work...nor is a perfect system - it is always the totality of situation and the exponent using 'the method' that is more important than the t-shirt one is wearing.

                        Always was...always will be - and I doubt that is difficult for anyone who studies a combative method to understand.
                        *****
                        Look, ya'all - I really do not have either time nor interest to do the forums, as I once did. Just answering above has already made me late for work. I will be back eventually - so if you post questions directly to me....do not expect a timely reply.
                        Most of every Systema thread here has evolved into a re-hash of previous threads anyway.
                        Its the cyber-world....detractors and supporters jousting in a sterile environment - all sound and fury, signifying nothing.
                        I have more interesting and personally important things to do.


                        Oh, Kungy - you again?

                        Comment


                          #42
                          RobG, I want to thank you for your reply but like many apologists you never directly answer or confront some the more questionable issues that have been raised about Systema. You may not beieve that Vlad and co. have any kind of mystical or supernatural powers but why was this notion promoted in the first place? What about some of the bizarre and dangerous "self-defence" techniques that are taught? Can you provide the King of Niigeria with an explanation of why after three years of Systema he was dominated in his first BJJ class?

                          Comment


                            #43
                            And can you explain "The Tanswell Incident"....

                            By the way Rob, I Like the way you post on this particular topic - it is levelled and reasoned even if I don't necessarily agree with WHAT you say, I like HOW you say it

                            Comment


                              #44
                              Originally posted by King of Nigeria
                              The physical aspect was laughable. most of the people at the club were 40, overweight and in bad shape. .
                              Nickeroon, this sentence alone ios proof that it was the REAL systema....

                              Comment


                                #45
                                "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"

                                Unusual, because most people are just let loose willy-nilly. Maybe your very first pair-up, but you are generally allowed to work out with anyone - between each drill, you simply walk up to whoever and ask. 99% sure this is bullshit.

                                "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."

                                I would like a demonstration of this (see end of post)

                                "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."

                                This is rather vague and unverifiable, although the student I have met at Vlad's who most impressed me did not really fit this description. I know several people this could be, although none have been invincible to all others.

                                "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 principle of yielding is hardly unique to systema, although it is hardly the only principle. And if you cannot handle the aggression, then you do not understand systema.

                                "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."

                                You have so badly described how Vladimir teaches that I can only say bullshit.

                                "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."

                                Bullshit. No technique means no jjj style waza where the answer to an attack is a prescribed sequence of movements. RNC, single leg, double, a large variety of takedowns are in fact apparent and commonly known. Can you even tell me the name of the drill we do wherein this sort of thing is emphasized?

                                "The physical aspect was laughable. most of the people at the club were 40, overweight and in bad shape."

                                Bullshit

                                "They didn't understand the benefits of weight-training, cardiovascular exercise, or even things like shadow boxing."

                                Bullshit

                                "We were constantly told about breathing, and very vague and downright confusing explanations were given to us. "

                                I can believe you have no understanding.

                                "I was always told the essence of my breath would deliver power to my punches"

                                Unusual turn of phrase I have never heard in a systema class.

                                "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."

                                The claim that this is THE systema method of striking is bullshit


                                "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."

                                I can believe you suck, although there is no shame in being beaten by a specialist in his specialty. I was never told to expect different. Experience is the best teacher.

                                "A top student at Vladimir's school, with 3 years of Systema training. "

                                3 years and you are a top student?

                                Bullshit

                                If you like you can prove that last part to me Friday night at Vlad's. Before or after class. I'm not a top student, but I know who I would consider one, and I know of no 3 year person who I would call a 'top student".

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