Beat the Odds

July 21, 2009 by Scott Meredith  
Beat The Odds has a number of unique features that make it a keystone of the DVD training materials to date. This material zooms in on a number of features that Vladimir’s work always displays but that, in the need to cover other material, aren’t always called out explicitly and presented to you on a platter at they are here.

For example, if you have a boxing background, you may have heard that Systema work requires the hands held somewhat low in a natural relaxed position, which is a bit counter to what you may have assumed in your boxing training. WHY is that? In this material, Vladimir explains and demonstrates the reasoning behind that – it is not an arbitrary or aesthetic thing, it is purely and absolutely functional reasoning. I believe that for many people, watching this material will be the first time they really understand this rationale. Or again, if you have a boxing background, you may (again possibly, depending on your training style) have tended to emphasize a fast retraction of a punch, getting ready to relaunch. You may have heard vaguely that in Systema this is considered non-optimal. But why should that be? It certainly seems to be well-motivated in boxing. But here again, Vladimir both shows and tells, what exactly is the issue with a fast retraction, how you can work far more efficiently by changing your thinking about that completely. I’ve only cited two examples so far, but I hope you are beginning to get the flavor of this material, it not only presents the effects of the unique Systema combat movements, but Vladimir deconstructs them in a more detailed way.

If you have previously viewed the work in the Defense in Confined Space DVD, you may have been awed by the incredibly short and crisp, absolutely devastating nearly invisible “close work” exhibited there. Yet because that DVD (my personal favorite of them all for sheer watchability) has other issues and other training as its primary focus, perhaps you were left wondering – how can I do that, myself? In Beat The Odds, there is an entire chapter devoted to a practically surgical deconstruction of exactly that kind of crisp “short work” which will hand you the keys.

Or again, you have probably seen Systema’s trademark “redirection” work in many clips and other DVDs, where one attacker’s strike is sent flying into another attacker’s face. But because those materials do not normally have redirection as their primary or explicit focus, the many physical and psychological considerations and rationales that underlie this work have remained a bit in the background. Now again in this area too, everything is brought to light in the most straight-forward and immediately applicable way. I could continue to cite area after area of the advanced implicit work of Systema being brought in from the periphery to form an essential new primary core skill base.

What is the exact parallel between short striking work and release from multiple grab work? How can you perform what I might call (not their words) a sort of “scapegoat” punch that uses your own strike (thus it is not “redirection”, which is covered separately) yet the strike seems to the recipient to have come from another person? Why is it non-optimal to cross your own body in striking from certain distance ranges? How can a strike be both absolutely “precise” and yet completely “free”? How is tension (in yourself and others) related to range and distance in a fight? Whatever question you may have, the answers keep coming on this DVD – including answers to many questions you may never have thought to ask.

Time after time, on topic after topic, this DVD extracts core concepts of Systema movement and function that are both shown and well-motivated on the other DVDs but which are not their explicit focus. This DVD is the key to the most advanced, fluid, and sometimes nearly invisible work shown on all the others.

Scott Meredith Scott Meredith, the writer of STRIKES: Soul Meets Body and of Let Every Breath, is a certified instructor of Systema under Vladimir Vasiliev.
He is intimately familiar with the languages and cultures of Japan and China, and is a lifelong student of martial arts.
Scott is a professional technologist who holds a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has worked for over 30 years as a senior researcher in human-machine interface technologies for IBM, Apple, and Microsoft.