On Fighting and Training - Tips from Vladimir Vasiliev

August 10, 2012 by Joao Carlos Furia  

Joao has shared his notes from Vladimir’s seminars, DVDs and online discussions.


It is next to impossible to be in a real fight and not take a single hit.

While studying to deliver strikes based on Systema principles, you learn to pick an ideal distance from your partner, you learn to position your body in a straight and natural position, and you learn to align your arm, wrist and hand along solid lines in a relaxed and comfortable way. As a result, you get powerful and precise punches, and your punches do not injure yourself. This is great and exactly what we want, but notice the following: because you are relaxed and position yourself properly - you get minimal rebound and tension, thus you do not feel your own strength. Your partner may experience a powerful punch from you and to you itfeels like a light movement.

Moreover, the partner who is receiving a good “Systema” punch does not see the threat that is usually associated with punches – such as tough poses or facial expressions. Everything is done in a calm, relaxed and friendly way. So not only is the punch strong, it is also unexpected. If the partner on the receiving end did not learn how to take punches and to relax, he may get hurt, so make sure he learns to receive punches before you begin practice.


Redirecting takes less physical effort than delivering strikes. Therefore, it is good to use that if you are tired, injured or wounded. Be aware that when the work is quick, the danger for the attackers to get hit by the “friendly fire” is increased. During fast redirecting, fellow attackers can easily receive unexpected and unintended strikes from each other. This could lead to injuries, so be very careful when you practice redirecting.


If an attacker grabs hold of you, it’s not necessarily bad. In fact, it’s good to allow him to grab you. That way you know where he is. You’re aware of his exact location and can fight other people simultaneously if necessary.

Don’t break contact. Arms should be sensitive. All the time, when fighting, you must look around, search for other guys, pay attention to the environment. Do not worry about where your opponent is if you’re in contact with him.


Slow exercises done with breathwork are extremely good for working with tendons and developing strong and elastic body. They allow to get rid of lactic acid. They also provide unique work for the fascia tissues and therefore, give us endurance and explosive potential. In addition to that, the nervous system gets stronger and balanced, because there is no stress. Breathwork removes the stress as soon as stress arises.


Watch how you constantly interrupt your normal breathing cycle throughout your regular activities. As soon as you catch yourself holding your breath, even if you have already completed the action, resume full breathing. Gradually you will be catching your breath interruptions half way through the activity and then with practice, at the earlier and earlier stages.

Your goal is not to interrupt your breathing but to accelerate it if your activity requires an additional effort.


It is easy to see how ill we are - as soon as someone praises us, we get proud; as soon as someone criticizes us, we get resentful. We should run away from praise, but we always want more. We should be thankful for criticism, for it teaches us humility, but we get angry or offended. Things are reversed in our world and that destroys our inner balance and the result is fear.

The goal of training is not acquiring many quick and fancy moves, but learning to control your own pride, irritation, fear, anger and self-pity.


If you live in harmony with yourself, with the people around you and with nature, evil in the form of an attacker is far less likely to present itself. Bad situations are far less likely to occur.

We train for life, while sometimes in martial arts they prepare for death.

In Systema it is fairly simple: everything that destroys is wrong and everything that strengthens and builds is correct. 


Joao Carlos Furia Joao Carlos Furia is a Systema Instructor, certified by Vladimir Vasiliev. He has been training and teaching Systema since 2009 and conducts regular classes at Systema Sao Paulo.
He is trained in Brazilian Naval Academy (Marine Corp) and has over 15 years of sport fighting and martial arts experience.