I'm still picking myself up off the floor.
by Scott Meredith, August 19, 2005
.. what can you say when you see such work? All you can do is shake your head over and over and wonder that you've had the personal privilege to learn from this historical-level master of martial arts.
Today I was visually slammed to the floor once again, with another video preview I got of Vlad's newest production on escaping from holds, locks, pins, chokes and grabs.
Unbelievable. What can I say?
I actually have a special interest in locks/grabs and their counters, because my very first martial arts teacher way back in the Cretaceous Era was a famous Chinese master who pioneered kung fu arts in the USA and who specialized in the extremely subtle and complex ancient Chinese art of locking and counters. He wrote a groundbreaking 2 volume series on it, Chinese Grappling Tien Shan Pai Chin-Na. He schooled us very painfully and very well, and instilled in me a lifelong particular interest in this branch of work. So though I don't usually flaunt it (yeah right haha!) I did think that I knew SOMETHING about this field, a bit beyond the norm.
But no way, think again, NOTHING I ever learned or saw prepared me for this newest dvd. Here we're running into the "adjectives are useless" problem again. What am I supposed to say when I see the top of the Sistine Chapel "Whoa, slick! Who's your interior decorator?"
This tape is so simple, straight-forward and attractive - so instantly accessible, that only as the minutes flash by and you begin to reel in your eyeballs up off the floor will you start to see that it actually has as many layered levels of interlocking explicit and implicit work as an Escher drawing.
First the bare bones: Vlad covers escapes from every conceivable kind of grab, lock, choke, mount, pin, nelson, standing, walking, dragging, charging, you name it. That goes without saying. What is just so beautiful about this work is that he does it without any struggle or strength. I own over three hundred martial arts instructional vids, of which probably one third or more are focused in whole or part on escaping from various grabs and holds, its a popular thing to teach. Trust me there is nothing out there remotely comparable to what Vlad is showing. What Vlad is doing is incredible for its quality of minimality of response with totality of effect. For LEO's, every move is establishing complete control from the first instant, with rushing, no strength, no struggle. For lethal situations, every one of those same responses has a partially expressed destroyer finish, should that be called for. The calibration that he displays in every solution is beyond genius.
He's showing at least 10 or more variations of work for any given presentation of a problem. There's an unbelievably rich harvest of specific take-way turnkey solutions, for those shopping for that. It is stuff that I have never seen and would have never thought of myself in a million years. If that's what you want you'll be feasting off this tape for years like a shark amidst an infinite school of fat tuna.
But what Vlad's really teaching here is something a lot deeper than any particular mechanical response or even beyond any single type of movement. The tape consists of two major segements, one of pure instructional work broken down by type of attack or situation, and the second an actual Systema class covering the entire spectrum of basic and advanced skill development, in the school, on the mat.
OK backing up here, I've sometimes been a critic of the tendency towards the slight creeping athleticism in Systema, by that I mean fancy body work for its own macho sake. It's always a danger to get swept up in "conditioning" and a little bit of an urge among Systema students to work on showoff stunts. But this tape is a decisive refutation of anybody who thinks you need to be some kind of physically atheletic Arnold Spetz-anager android super-hero to save yourself. On this tape, (apart from a a number of pyrotechnically spectacular moves where you'll just have to laugh out loud and smack your head out of sheer inexpressible admiration for Vlads outrageous and audacious creativity), I saw that EVERYTHING Vlad shows in the first tutorial part are things that truly ANYBODY could do. If you can stand up, if you are a small woman or a teen or a an old person or whatever, you can do these moves and instantaneously bust a grabber down to slime at your feet. Oops, now I'm sounding like TRS aren't I, but what can I say?
Another thing being shown here is the real, deep freedom of Systema, freedom from ANY restrictive concept. For example we love to say that relaxation is everything in Systema, one of the Pillars etc. Yes of course it is, but here Vlad shows that there's something deeper, the real master works with relaxation and tension BOTH entirely at his will, playing with both like a master violinist on any string, without restriction. No constraints just ultimate sensitivity and minimality i response.
You can only laugh at yorrself, when you see a grab situation in this tape, here we go, the attacker grabs him again, and you ask yourself, well ok, what MORE can he possibly DO with this ... then - Oh my God!! *smile* It's just that shockingly good but when you review it in your mind you'll realize that anybody could do these moves, no physicality or conditioning needed at all.
Vlad keys you to a few basic qualities of body (relaxation) and sensitivity and you are good to go. While pushups and other conditioning are important for all kinds of other deep reasons, on this tape what he's showing is going to work whether you can do 1000 pushups or 1. That's what I call deep teaching.
But meanwhile, without obtruding it, this tape is STUFFED completely full of ways to develop the "Systema body" and Systema mind useful for fullest lifetime development. It's an absolutely integrated presentation. Those who have lamented that there isn't enough video teaching record of the breathing and body control work of Systema represented in the video archive (to date, hardly any in fact) are going to be all smiles. The tape is worth twice the purchase price for this deep body/mind development work alone even if it didn't show a single grab attack (it actually shows hundreds).
There are so many layers in this that I'll be reviewing and reversing this for months to come. I believe is the the deepest and most seamless presentation yet of absolutely practical solutions with the conditions for full spectrum martial arts development woven in transparently.
For martial arts instructors of any art, I think this tape will be a foundational historic archive piece that they'll be drawing from for decades to come. Honestly at this point, I don't know where "Systema" leaves off and "Vladimir" begins, because frankly I never saw anything this great even in two trips to Russia, but I'm sure that's just my ignorance working. If this is just another part of "Systema" then it is is pure uncut straight from the heart of Mother Russia. If it is Vlad, then we are dealing as I've often said with one of those rare comets that streaks over the scene every several hundred years and lights everything up and sets everything on fire.
All I know is that I'm going to replay this over and over and catch a new fire every time.
Sorry I got carried away and went on for so long. Anyway the tape will be out very soon as I understand, so you can see for yourself if I'm making any sense here or not. Many of our Systema senior brothers and teachers are also featured in various great ways on this tape, yay team!
(Anything I say about Systema in this post is just my own opinion and does NOT represent any kind of official point of view on the art or established teaching. See your local certified Systema instructor for professional instruction. I just call 'em exactly as I see 'em, that's it.)
Even though I was there; the DVD showed me a few things I missed.
by Demetry Furman, August 19, 2005
Vladimir demonstrates some of the possibilities of what Systema has to offer in specific situations by showing a few things that can be done, all of which was unscripted, unrehearsed, completely spontaneous, and mind-blowing. Many concepts are demonstrated and explained, from how to properly use your tension to recognizing that your movement can start any time. You learn not to wait for the end of the aggressors movement. This concept can be daunting and overwhelming; something like being in the middle of an ocean and not being able to see land, but knowing that as long as you keep swimming you will get there eventually. This to me opens the infinite possibilities for the infinite movements Systema teaches to what seems like straight forward problems with limited solutions. Part two is a treat for all distant students of Vladimir; here you get a chance to see how he teaches his daily classes, and his creative genius. I wasn't there when these classes were video taped, and again I saw a few things I've missed.
I just watched a second time.
by Demetry Furman, August 19, 2005
.. this time I managed to keep my mouth closed . I want to bring up a certain point as TRS was mentioned earlier; this DVD is beyond comparison to the TRS tapes. That is due to three main reasons.
1) Vlad had three cameras filming simultaneously, focusing on different aspects of the movements. The camera men were all Systema practitioners, so they knew exactly where to aim the camera. Although some of the action was to fast for them to catch it all. But you get three angles and three ranges, rite down to the finger tip detail.
2) Vlad did all the editing and production. Therefore only the most specific and exact information that Vladimir wanted to be there made it on to the DVD. The shoot took some four hours, with three cameras, and three focus points, only one hour and 50 minutes made it on to the DVD.
3) Vladimir does all of the explaining, his spoken English is improving .
In other words, nothing is lost in the 'translation'. I, to this day, will not view the TRS tapes with the sound on. Vladimirs explanations are concise and to the point. Even though I was there, Vladimirs explanations presented me with insights which I missed the first time around.
For those reasons alone the DVD is worth the money, not withstanding the invaluable information provided.
My final thought on it, as I watched the DVD, 'how did I miss all that?... '
Escape from Holds: a Review
In this title Vasiliev provides a large amount of information on a simple theoretical framework.
by John Elliott, August 20, 2005
Vladimir speaks of 3 ranges from a standing grab POV, and for the first half of the tape he explores movements you can make in these ranges for various attacks. Not big elaborate techniques, so much as the core type of movements you need to get in a good position. Much of the work here is nuanced, and it is fortunate that the key points were captured in multi-angle slow-mo shots. This approach, serves well for two reasons.
The movements are done at normal speed so people can see what they 'really' look like, and the slow-mo (with voice over from Vlad), so people can figure out how it works. The voice overs are impressive, because if you pay attention they are often lifted from Vlad as he does the movement or just after, yet the slow mos illustrate what is said in an uncannily timely fashion – you would think it was post-production commentary.
Then comes some class footage to round it out, illustrating how to put this to use, and incidentally (for those who didn't know) showing that in systema classes no moves are rehearsed or prearranged – everything is live. More importantly (to me) it relates breathing to movement and relaxation/tension, and shows how a movement can unbalance, lock, strike, or do all three, as well as lead to freedom from a hold.
For the beginner, this will give you a good knowledge of ranges of motion, how to free them in yourself and restrict them in others. For people who have done systema for a while, you will see all the principles at work, and the slow-mo gives insight into the tension/relaxation and wave movements used that make Vlad's movements effortless. Perhaps because I had just done a striking-oriented class the night before, when I watched this tape I came to appreciate how movements are what links hitting and wrestling, and really the rest should just be side-effects of that movement.
Some of the information in this tape is very specific. However, when it is, it's specific to the human anatomy which is pretty much a constant, and still has multiple applications. There is a wealth of information in this production, at many levels, and it is something you will want to watch many times, often in still frames.
To me, this screams for a groundfighting companion piece, but that's my usual complaint for all of Vlad's titles - I always want more. Too much is never enough!
Absolutely amazing MUST HAVE roadmap for grapplers, MMA, full contact competitors, peace officers & anyone who plan to survive a non striking confrontation with the utmost efficiency.
by Sergey Makarenko, September 13, 2005
‘How’s he doing this…?!’- the question surfaces over & over once I get working with the Master’s video collection. The ‘Escape from holds’ has left me glued to the screen for hours while this question was answered just as many times as it has surfaced the conscience. The clarity & simplicity of explanations & instructions allow no room for doubt of the suggested tactic’s applicability of while a breath taking demonstrations perfectly illustrate their inspirational efficiency.
But the best part in my opinion is that this latest addition to the Master’s brilliant video collection represents next generation of the RMA Systema training video which now emphasized on delivering instructional component but not at the expense of demonstrational one.
Obviously memorization of the cascading movements performed by Vladimir is impossible & less than intelligent task. Efficiency of the demonstrated work although depends of a practitioner’s individual qualification, originates within Russian Martial Art training methods which don’t rely on ability to memorize specific movements.
The ‘Escape from holds’ presents another look at the RMA Systema tactics & training methods while offers a great guidance for individual improvisation & self discovery – extremely practical & hard to find tool in today’s martial art market space.
My last ‘How’s he doing this…?!’ question is still left without answer:
How does he manage to make each new video better than a previous one which was just perfect?!
If someone finds that out – please let me know…
I just got it today and I 've already watched it 3 times once in slow motion.
by roy hatcher, September 14, 2005
The technical aspects of the escapes are explained in terms that a beginner can understand and veteran in the system can appreciate. This is an awsome DVD I recommend that everyone training in Systema should get it. Thank you Vlad once again for such a wonderful learning tool.
Escape from Holds (DVD)
by dovi lipton, September 14, 2005
great video it is something that everyone can learn from
all is super.
by cornel chelu, September 27, 2005
i make ashihara karate from 11 years but what i see is gorgeous.
i want teach somethin more from this style.thx
Systema’s presentation on DVD and video
‘Escape from Holds’
By Lex Opdam
Editor-in-chief Meibukan Magazine
Seven years ago I watched a video by Vladimir Vasiliev which was my first contact with Systema.
by Opdam Lex, October 12, 2005
I directly saw a natural way of moving and was impressed by the body mechanics as well as the clear insight and life experience in close combat Vladimir himself expressed.
Some years later there where some opportunities for me to attend seminars given by Vladimir Vasiliev in Europe and after my first video impression, I felt the need to see this man alive. During these seminars, he impressed me over and over again with his exceptional abilities.
I began practicing martial arts 25 years ago and although I have studied and practiced different martial arts, my main core of practice until this day has been Okinawan Goju-ryu karate. I have traveled around the world and have seen many Western and Eastern martial masters throughout my life. Vladimir Vasiliev is one of the few martial top instructors that remain on my retina.
Since the day that I saw Vladimir’s video for the first time, I was intrigued. By practicing (also thanks to the instruction I have received from his brother Valentin Vasiliev) and studying Systema, understanding it little by little, I have gained other views and insights upon my own martial way and martial ways in general.
When I see Vladimir Vasiliev moving, he inspires me and adds to my motivation to investigate and practice Systema, as I am still investigating and practicing Goju-ryu karate and martial arts in general.
Today, at the age of 38, I have my own little library with martial books and video’s. Although secondary, these books and video’s are a great support for me. Practice and first hand instruction always comes first, but in a technical sense the video’s and DVD’s by Vladimir, contribute to my understanding of Systema. It shows Systema’s core elements in its best way, especially since Vladimir himself demonstrates directly and intuitively.
‘Escape from holds’, Vladimir’s last DVD publication, is again a unique presentation and instruction DVD of Systema’s close combat fighting. Suitable for both beginner and advanced martial practitioner and accessible to watch (to do is something different!).
This DVD shows escapes from various grabs and holds in a natural and relaxed way. Vladimir’s comments, while he instructs and superbly demonstrates, are direct pointers to understand the way a person could move. This Systema master shows step by step different solutions to the same problem. Learning basics and performing drills, again and again with free movements and hardly with any strength, Vladimir instructs different stages on how to work when gripped, choked, locked dragged etc. From every angle or situation with a minimum of energy getting the job done.
‘Escape from holds’, shows how creative Vladimir is and again, how complete Systema is. Except for the technical part, this DVD also shows how Vladimir teaches a class in his Toronto school in Canada, going over the basics of correct breathing, moving and posture with the subject of holds.
This is the best of the dvds on m/arts that I have ever seen.
by prashant nair, November 01, 2005
This dvd teaches simple solutions to get out of any of the toughest of locks/holds.Very practical.Highly recomended.
The organised format and structure that Vladimir is using makes the information clear and accessible - very professional.
by Aran Aran, January 20, 2006
With the escape from holds dvd it was good that Vladimir used both the formal instructional part and then the second part with Vladimir teaching in the class. This second part allows people to get a feel for the atmosphere at the school and the relaxed, friendly environment. At the same time, I think it is good in future dvds to include highlights footage
I learn Taekwon-Do.
by Yeoh Wui Liang, February 26, 2007
During 8 years of training in Taekwon-Do, I didn't learn more than 10 ways how to escapes from holds and locks. Most of the method that I learnt are not even practical. After watching Escape from Holds, there are many good, practical and effective way to escape from holds and locks.
All the methods that are taught in this dvd are easy and are suitable for anybody who doesn't have any martial art background.
This DVD has the goods.
by Doug Grier, October 07, 2007
If you've ever taken any kind of combatives training you know about the color code conditions.
Condition White: You're going along minding your own business, not tactically aware of your surroundings. You're shopping, talking to your boss on your cell, etc.
Condition Yellow: You notice things around you. Your antenna is up. Tactical awareness is active.
Condition Red: Ready to fight, actively looking for potential threats.
This is all well and good but most of us, even those trained in martial arts and street smart combatives don't walk around in Condition Yellow. Life intrudes, things happen, there are situations to mitigate. Many times we're in Condition White. That's when an attacker will take adavantage. While many other fighting systems and DVD's show you how to react from Condition Red," Escape From Holds" gives you the secrets on how to react to a critical situation from Condition White. Your enemy has surprised you, grabbed you in a headlock, an arm hold, neck lock. Vladimir demonstrates how easy you can get out. Simple unbalancing maneuvers to make your opponent release you, or you can slip out of his hold. Almost effortlessly Vlad redirects his attackers. It's kinda Russian Akido, without the years of practice and mediatation. Vlad shows you where to push, pull, or slap your way to freedom and then follow up.
After watching this video and practicing the lessons therein, I no longer fear walking around in Condition White.