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Vladimir Vasiliev seminar in Florida ( by Matt Furey, 907 words )

Nearly 14 years ago, I met Vladimir Vasiliev for the first time. Both of us were presenters at the world-renowned Arnold Classic in Columbus, Ohio. I'd watched many of his DVDs and read his now out of print "handbook" after a mutual friend, Brett, wrote a piece about his first encounter with Vladimir, in Toronto. In the article, Brett recalled being "courageous" enough to challenge Vladimir because he just had to know, via the school of hard knocks, if this so-called Russian Martial Art Master was the real deal. He wrote about taking Vladimir to the ground… and immediately wishing he hadn't done such a thing as the beating woke him up more than he'd bargained for. Over the course of many years, I saw many of the DVDs that Vladimir, Mikhail and other Systema practitioners have created. As I watched each new DVD, my respect deepened, and I often told myself that I was eventually going to reconnect with Vladimir and study Systema in much more depth. Earlier this year, I hooked up with a local Systema instructor, Kenny Gonzalez, and wouldn't you know it, in my very first class he told me "Vladimir is coming to town." To me, that's much better than Santa, so I immediately enrolled in his December 6-8 seminar, in Tampa, Florida. Before the seminar began, Vladimir spotted me stretching. He smiled from ear to ear and approached. I jumped up and as we shook hands, I felt right at home. Once the training began, Vladimir seized the day, giving us an hour of warm-up exercises, replete with twisting, turning, falling and breathing. From every angle and position you could imagine - and then some - the Master challenged us to be nimble, soft, smooth and tension-free. And just when you thought he'd gone too far, making an exercise too difficult to understand, Vladimir assumed the position and made it look like child's play. To say I was "impressed" at this point would be less than accurate. "Got my money's worth in the first five minutes," I told the guy sweating next to me. "This is awesome." Now, in case you think the warm-up began with hard-core exercises, think again. The very first order of the day was to lie on our backs. Yes, this is how the warm-up started. From this position, Vladimir gave us breathing exercises. And then, when it was time to move, these same breathing exercises were incorporated into everything we did. If you were stuck, you needed to breathe and relax more. That was it. All of it. Don't try harder. Simply let it happen with the proper breathing and reduced body tension. After the warm-ups, we stood and began doing two-person drills. I quickly realized that Vladimir never stops evolving. EVER. If you think whatever you've watched or practiced on his DVDs or in previous trainings with him is "all there is" - think again. Wayne, a fellow student of Kenny Gonzalez, said: "The people who've trained with Vladimir the longest will tell you that where he was six months ago in his teaching in already ‘old’. You miss training with him for a year and you have no idea what he's doing now." In my books, that may be the highest praise an instructor can receive. Why? Because so many instructors, regardless of the endeavor, stop learning way too soon. Many instructors do little more than pass on exactly how they learned something. Vladimir doesn't do that. When you train with him you're getting the "V effect." You're getting "Vladimir squared." Everything he's ever taught before, he multiplies it. He divides and conquers whatever the next mission or exercise is - and without reservation, gives it away to all who come to learn. On Day Two, if you expected to see a warm-up that was remotely similar to the first day, ah, that would be a mistake. There was no lying down to begin. There were no exercises from the ground. Nope. This time we began by running. But not forward. Backward would be so much better. Then again, how about backward with one arm lifted skyward? Or one arm out to the side and one directly in front? And by the way, no bumping into anyone. Be aware. Focus on what you're doing. And what is it that you're doing? You're breathing and relaxing as you move. Not after. During. Want to know what Systema really is? Vladimir would be the first to tell you. It's "knowing yourself." And how do you come to know yourself? Through your breath. Through realizing you've got tension. Through experiencing the fear that's stored in your tissues, and discovering how to release it with and without the assistance of a partner. Through making what once seemed impossible, totally possible. Every exercise on both days, whether it was a bodyweight callisthenic or learning to defend against a fist, an elbow, a kick or a knife, the goal of "knowing yourself" with breathing and relaxed tension-free movement was omnipresent. And throughout it all, Vladimir was almost all smiles. Long before the seminar ended, I got 10X my money's worth. This is why I will end by saying: Next time Vladimir is coming to town within 1,000 miles of you, hop on a plane, jump on a train or hitchhike to the event. Do whatever you need to do to go. Your life will be touched by the V effect.


Rating: 5 of 5 Stars! [5 of 5 Stars!]
Date Added: 2013-12-27 14:44:26
Vladimir Vasiliev seminar in Florida ( by Joao Carlos Furia, 41 words )

I flew to the Tampa, Florida seminar from Brazil and I am writing to thank you for your help, support and restless dedication so everybody had such a wonderful experience. I am sure everyone enjoyed it just as I did!


Rating: 5 of 5 Stars! [5 of 5 Stars!]
Date Added: 2013-12-27 16:07:11
International Systema Seminar with Vladimir Vasiliev in Amsterdam ( by Patrick van het Nederend, 85 words )

Thank you for making this possible and it was amazing to see you work and “play” with all the people during the seminar. I have seen and trained with many great martial artist all over the world, but I saw something new, relaxed, totally with the attackers, soft but very powerful and fun, like you were holding back. The way the training was set up was is perfect, not like the most martial arts but every exercise you gave helped to grow, mentally and physically!


Rating: 5 of 5 Stars! [5 of 5 Stars!]
Date Added: 2014-01-16 00:20:20
Mastering Systema - Toronto, Canada ( by Joe Mayberry, 722 words ) www.StLSystema.com

Vladimir Vasiliev: Mastering Systema 2013 Finding Your Voice Over the course of five days, participants from literally all over the world descended unto Toronto to learn from Vladimir Vasiliev. The diversity of individuals that entered Systema Headquarters would make even the United Nations look paltry by comparison. Some were established instructors who have been involved in Systema for decades and then there were those who were being introduced to Systema for the first time. The following is my observation of one of the many lessons that I took from the tremendously informative course of instruction. When starting down the path of Systema, many people are very unsure of their bodies. They see that they cannot do things like others that train or teach Systema. Many give up very quickly, frustrated by their lack of ability to move freely. Their attempts to mimic or mirror the movements shown by others result in failure due to their lack of understanding the easiest of mantras. Make it your own. In most martial arts, students will watch their instructor and imitate his or her movements to the letter. Hand and foot placements are carefully scrutinized. Katas are practiced for years to perfection. Movements are studied. And in the end what you have are facsimiles of the instructor. Unquestionable minions of the “my way or the highway” mindset. For many people, that is a very easy and dogmatic route to follow. Learning by rote. One of the first things I will tell new students starting Systema is to not get frustrated and find their voice. My meaning when I say this is that everyone is different. Old, young, short, tall, fat, skinny, athletic or couch potato. No two people are the same and we all have strengths and weaknesses. But in order to begin to develop The System in themselves, they must find their own way of doing it. They must discover their own Systema voice. No one I have ever met in my life moves like Vladimir Vasiliev. That is because Vladimir moves like Vladimir. He does not mimic others. It is his own voice that he speaks with. It is his own Systema and no one else. But what is disconcerting to some is that many will try to imitate Vladimir and fail miserably. They study and always fall short. They watch in amazement of his skill, but do not realize that what they are seeing is one man’s expression of an entire system of life. Everyone has Systema in them. It is there from infancy. Over time we mask or forget the God given ability to breathe fully and to move freely. Pride, ego and arrogance will smother the traits that Systema exalts! During the course of the Mastering Systema seminar, Vladimir demonstrated a wealth of different movements and exercise. But never once did he say that we should do it like he did. He instead simply told us to breathe and relax. From that we will find our own movements, escapes, offenses and defenses. But we first must find it in ourselves through breath and lack of tension. During the course of the first three days of the Mastering Systema Seminar, Vladimir collectively bonded each participant together through profound breathwork. From there he released us to do our own individual work. Our base was strong as long as we followed our breathing. It was the foundation of everything else that occurred. No one cared what they looked like or how they were perceived to be moving. The breath led the way and they worked from that. The beautiful aspect of attending larger based seminars at Systema Headquarters is to realize that we are all different, but held together with a common bond. We practice the same concepts, but apply them to our different bodies. If one were to compare a Systema seminar to a church choir, everyone would be together in harmony, but just singing in different languages. And no one would care because everyone has their own voice. My thanks to all my fellow instructors, participants and friends who took the journey to Mastering Systema with me. I also want to thank Maxim Franz and Adam and Brendon Zettler for assisting and giving personal attention to anyone the required assistance. But finally thanks to Vladimir and Valerie Vasiliev for presenting, coordinating and executing a most profound training experience.


Rating: 5 of 5 Stars! [5 of 5 Stars!]
Date Added: 2013-08-21 13:01:46
Vladimir Vasiliev Seminar in Belgium ( by adrian codrea, 857 words )

I want to start my feedback by thanking Vladimir, his wife and two daughters for coming all the way to Belgium from half-way across the world. Similarly, I want to extend my thanks and congratulations to the Systema Belgium instructors (Koen and Jurgen) and organizers of the seminar; they were simply amazing in terms of coordinating things to a minute detail as well as generous with their time/effort as regards offering transport to people, micro-managing problems, etc., etc. BIG Thanks to all!! Now, as regards my experience of the seminar: I have attended several seminars with Vladimir spanning a period of almost 10 years. I remember the first seminar in Paris, May 2004 (Vladimir’s first in Europe?). He impressed me on several levels at the time: pure calmness combined with a high level of awareness and self-control. He communicated concepts in a simple and accessible way. He didn’t say or do anything that was not necessary or excessive. Just like his movements. Only as much or as little as necessary. Nothing more and nothing less. I remember scratching my eyes several times during his demos wishing that there was a stop and rewind button so that I could see it again. Unfortunately there wasn’t. But then, I would get to see the same attack again and a different set of movements would unfold in front of me. Back to the eye scratching… Almost ten years later, Brussels… (I’ve lost most of my hair in the meanwhile, he still has his intact)... Again, Vladimir’s calmness and positive energy exuded from him. The seminar was organized around fundamental Systema principles: breathing, relaxation, structure and movement. The teaching was done by way of scaffolding, following logical steps: • If you don’t breathe correctly and fully, you cannot be relaxed. • If you are not relaxed, you cannot maintain your structure. • And without proper structure there is no effective movement, only dancing around. The first evening focused on learning how to relax through tension. The idea of pushing the floor away from you during a push up is just as creative as breathing through tensed parts of your body or simply different parts of your body. It simply changed the way I do pushups although from the outside I am pretty sure it looks exactly the same (well, maybe not for Vladimir’s super perceptive eyes). Same concept applied to leg raises and squats. Breathing through tension, relaxing the tensed parts, being super aware of the tight spots and limitations in your body. And then, how to do the 1 ½ step walk. Some people didn’t get it. I can’t say I did, either. But since then I believe there is a funny spring in my step? Priceless stuff… The following two days of training focused on studying distance, creating movement and learning how to let the body react in a natural and relaxed way to whatever stimulus, i.e. “attack” presented itself. This is where I remembered about the (in)famous “FAP’s” Fixed Action Patterns; they are defined as “innate evolutionary responses” to stimuli – such as the “flinch” effect in case of a knife attack (bringing the arms in front of the body to defend), or moving the head backwards in the first milliseconds of a punch already initiated. This is the fundamental issue that Systema training solves: it slowly gets rid of FAP’s and lets the subconscious mind take over and just REACT in the most appropriate and effective manner. When I watch Vladimir at work during demos or instructional videos, I am always struck by two things: absolute freedom of movement (which indicates absence of FAP’s) and relaxation (no emotional content). During the seminar he said: “If you hit, you have to hit in such a way as to take away his fighting SPIRIT; he does not even know what just happened to him, but his will to fight is over”. Then Vladimir added: “Then, we are friends again”? He also reminisced of his teacher, Mikhail Ryabko who “When he hits, he changes your vision of the world”. 200 odd people are no small number to manage and teach. Vladimir did it to perfection, as usual. Some people were experienced and displayed good understanding of Systema philosophy (i.e. train softly, slowly, don’t move in a jerky way [or like a jerk...]) Other people were exploring, trying to replicate whatever Systema moves they had in their heads (perhaps from videos or Vlad’s demos). And then, unfortunately, the usual ones with over-inflated egos and a huge desire to impress and “win” at all costs: hitting as hard as they could, forcing moves on training partners and… displaying huge “understanding” of what tension is: “You are too tense..”. Yeah, Ok, whatever… Overall, I think this was a principle-based seminar with the ultimate focus of creating subconscious motor reactivity as opposed to FAP’s. Vladimir chose not to do his usual long demos that wow people and make them want some more... I personally would have liked a few, just as a treat... I mean, they guys training in Toronto get it all the time, right?? Thank you Vladimir, hope to see you soon again! Adrian Codrea Systema Dublin Ireland


Rating: 5 of 5 Stars! [5 of 5 Stars!]
Date Added: 2013-07-16 11:50:17
Vladimir Vasiliev Seminar in Los Angeles, California ( by Cristian Isbasescu, 70 words )

I wanted to thank Vladimir for the breathing exercises that he showed in LA. They benefit my health greatly and it was amazing how many more layers of tension and fear I discovered in 2 days and few simple exercises. I also wanted to thank Vladimir for using me in a few of the demos. It is quite amazing how much I learn in a few seconds when it's hands-on teaching.


Rating: 5 of 5 Stars! [5 of 5 Stars!]
Date Added: 2013-06-17 12:18:22
Vladimir Vasiliev Seminar in Manhattan, New York ( by Errol Williams, 36 words )

I would like to thank Vladimir for an awesome seminar, and would like to say it was a privilege to see him in person and that he provided an inspiration to me in my Systema journey.


Rating: 5 of 5 Stars! [5 of 5 Stars!]
Date Added: 2013-02-28 17:17:48
Vladimir Vasiliev Seminar in Manhattan, New York ( by Daniel Colageo, 648 words ) systemaofmaine.com

It had been a while since I trained with Vladimir, and before this seminar it was only once. Since I've been leading a group for a while in Maine and hadn't been to a serious training event since I was in Moscow over a year ago, I was due for a thorough experience, Vlad-style. At times in my own training I think I have to sweat and feel pain and burst breathe a lot to know something is happening, but Vlad's seminar reminded me of how deep the work is when you stay soft and don't worry so much. All exercises and concepts were simple, but all of them permeated much more deeply than I would have imagined. One of the things I was looking to learn at this seminar was how to run a large group of people, since most of my experience had been small groups and one-on-one training. Well, Vladimir lead a group of 160 participants at this seminar! Given, they were all there to be trained by him, but to think of communicating efficiently to such a large group of people is mind-numbing. He effortlessly showed how one can convey the information needed to do the work in the simplest and quickest way. Inspiring to say the least. What was so profound to me was the relationship between the instructions being given and how I interpreted them. Since Vladimir conveyed his information with such simplicity, it was much harder to be confused with my interpretation. Furthermore, since he was moving with us it was easier to feel what he was talking about. Turning off the analytical mind was the hardest work of the entire seminar for me, and of course this is something that is felt with every training. The mind starts to turn everything you are experiencing into "petty conflicts," making a big deal of simple feelings that must happen anyway. Allowing myself to have the work be about feeling everything and not doing something about everything was the hardest struggle, but it was the deepest lesson and the greatest help. All the training exercises, concepts, examples and demonstrations presented things that we encounter in daily life. Whether it be working with a knife or rolling on the floor with 159 other people, the lessons permeated to all areas of my life. A couple quotes from the seminar: Vladimir was demonstrating the "heavy hand" punch and had one of the participants hit him a couple times to get a feel for it. He laughed and kindly said to him "See, you WANT to hit me. I don't WANT to hit you." At one point I was partnered up with Sergei, a man who has trained with Vladimir and others for many years and was a pleasure to work with. We were doing a drill on the ground with knives where we had to stab and cut the other person and they were to constantly evade the blade. I seemed to keep getting stuck with his blade on some part of my body, stopping, then trying to do better the next time. I was feeling sorry for myself fairly quickly. He kindly and quietly took advantage of this and I kept experiencing more of the same. He stopped with me between his knife and the floor and said "Every time you get stuck, you give up. Don't stop moving. Don't give up." Those words hit home, and not just with the knife work. However, that is the kind of honesty one can expect when working in the Systema environment, and it's undoubtedly helpful in all aspects of life and training. There is a care and kindness to the honesty in all the work. All these things I wish to carry on to others and experience as often as I can. If you haven't yet visited a seminar, I highly recommend it! Take care, Daniel


Rating: 5 of 5 Stars! [5 of 5 Stars!]
Date Added: 2013-05-22 10:57:11
Short Work Seminar by Vladimir Vasiliev ( by Sherman Lau, 77 words )

Thank you very much again for last week's training at the RMA. I greatly appreciate the opportunity to train with the students at the school and to study under Max and Vladimir. I felt exceptionally welcome, and blessed by the chance to feel Vladimir's work. I will keep very fond memories of the experience. I look forward to seeing Vladimir next month in New York, and hope to make a trip to Toronto again.


Rating: 5 of 5 Stars! [5 of 5 Stars!]
Date Added: 2013-01-25 18:13:14
Short Work Seminar by Vladimir Vasiliev ( by Mark Fan, 1133 words )

<P>As an infrequent visitor to Systema HQ myself, it is always a special trip. It becomes a sort of pseudo-reality when you see many familiar faces that you’ve never actually met (e.g., instructors who are well known throughout the world for their seminars and youtube videos, but never trained with). It is easy to be a little awestruck, but seeing everyone’s smiling and kind faces, attention to detail, and care for each other before the seminar even began made me sure that it would be a good one. Today was also special to me because it was the first time that I worked directly with Vladimir, receiving some strikes and some feedback from him. </P> <P>Interestingly, when he asked me to punch him in the face during a demonstration, he told me I was too nice – something that cut very quickly to a deeper issue I have in training and in life – all identified from one push with the fist… I have been told that before, but to hear it again from Vladmir has bumped it back onto my list of things to consider in my training. What was also interesting was when I received punches from him. Even though his punches were fast, accurate and powerful, he hit me in such a way that did not scare or hurt me too much. Those of you who know me, know that I frequently jump back or lean away from punches when I feel danger, to such a degree that I am preventing myself from learning to take them properly. Maybe it was the nature of the work at the seminar, but I was able to stay closer to him for a longer, and take more punches in the right way; it was right because it built spirit, confidence and therefore relaxation and calmness in the body. </P> <P>While there are many psychological effects of his punches – the speed, the placement, and the unexpectedness of the angles – it was his control of depth that was most interesting, and difficult to emulate precisely. To demonstrate, he punched someone at roughly the same angle and speed twice, but explained the first punch hit the body, while the second hit the muscle. From what I could observe, the first punch distributed its force throughout the receiver’s body, and they moved backwards, whereas the second one sort of “exploded” relaxation into the specific point of content. The person was more visibly affected at the point of contact with the second punch. When he showed me and my partner, he did not punch as fast. He punched with a small amount of penetration into the body, but it impacted the muscle specifically, and did not transfer force into the rest of the body. It did however, make me collapse the area that was punched, and that bent me and allowed him to subtly translate the same punch into a strike to the jaw – a “double strike”. </P> <P>Short work seems to be a culmination of many of the softer and less visible elements of Systema practice. Some of my first impressions: ? Patience – so you can train at the right pace, and observe deeply. You also wait wait wait for the person to come closer, and launch your strikes quickly, quietly, powerfully, accurately and because you waited long enough, imperceptibly. The attacker has come too close to escape. The faster they come, the harder it is for them to change course and your strikes have more power because of it. ? Relaxation – in particular, the shoulders. A great deal of the work at the seminar was to push without tensing the shoulders. Vladimir gave us specific homework which you can try. Lie on the floor and begin your pushup. Be careful that your shoulders do not become tense as soon as the push-up begins (where you place your fists on the floor has a big impact on this, make sure it is not too close to your chest or too high as it will jam your shoulders). Push the floor away from you (obviously the floor won’t move, but you will go up, but the feeling is that the floor is moving away from you), and at no point should the pressure on your fists change (if it does, unnecessary tension arose somewhere – you need tension, but not any that makes your punch obvious and alters your pushing power and consistency). </P> <P>Any tension that appears in the shoulders during the slow push-up should be removed with breathing, or a little movement to relax the affected area. This way, when you are restricted (e.g., you could be grabbed around the shoulders), you can push/strike quickly, lightly and powerfully without tensing your shoulders. ? Awareness – short work is built on relaxation. The faster and more accurately you can detect tension in yourself and others, the better for your striking accuracy and power. The pushup described above will help you. ? Continuity of movement – your strike does not end after the first point of contact, it should bounce and keep going to the next available target. ? Necessity – your strike should not have any extra power than is needed. Recall my story about the “depth” of the punch earlier. It is actually quite a light punch to affect the muscle. If you want to bounce your punch around, and pop relaxation into the muscles of each point of contact, you cannot hit too hard. The harder you “try” to hit, the more tension you will return to yourself, the more pain instead of relaxation you will inflict, and the more anger you will create in both yourself and your partner. ? Breathing – not explicitly discussed in the seminar, but easily forgotten. When practicing strikes, and waiting waiting waiting for your partner, tension will build in both of you. </P> <P>Breathe continuously, and lightly, throughout the whole body, to equalize the “spots” of pressure/tension that arise from receiving strikes all over. ? Balance – it is always more effective to push your partner when they are off balance. As a drill, you can try this. As your partner slowly pushes you away/off balance, try to place your hand on them in such a way that they are not able to push you anymore, and you take their strength away. You return to balance, and they lose theirs. This is where you should strike. In addition, when they have just broken their balance, that is the perfect time to deliver your push. In the context of deep striking, this is how your punches can go deep inside the person. </P> <P>Overall it was a very interesting seminar. I stuck with one very good partner throughout, so it allowed me to focus on the lessons very specifically. </P>


Rating: 5 of 5 Stars! [5 of 5 Stars!]
Date Added: 2013-01-25 18:16:37
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