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STRIKES IN A FIGHT, with Instructor Master Class ( by Denis D, 678 words )

It's 3 weeks passed after the Strikes in the Fight seminar in Toronto Systema Headquarters, but I am still overwhelmed with this event. I do not know if it's the crowd of 120 people from 40 countries around the world where I met my old and new friends, hospitality of Vladimir and Valerie, or huge amount of information presented for the 2 days. I think, these all factors made me feel 10 years younger after we completed the seminar. However, the one factor which stuck in my head, it's how well and logic Vladimir can present the complex Striking topic to crowd of students who could understand and successfully apply it at the end of seminar ( everybody was moving and striking against opponents with knife and without). We started with relaxation breathing on the floor slowly tensing and relaxing our body than we tense and relaxed different parts of the body and finally we were giving different tension on in different parts of the body, it looked first easy, but it was hard to accomplish and control. After breathing we did a lot of static exercises like pushes up from the floor and walls concentrating on keeping wrist aligned and twisting them in and out, learning to give directions in the punch. Pushing your opponent without loosing a balance or over tensing your body. Engaging only necessary muscles to complete your pushes or strikes, we practice to push person quick 3 to 5 times without overcommitting and over stressing. We learned how to see a person and his intention trough body telegraphing, controlling tension in the shoulders that was a key to see the confrontation is coming. We were pushing and pushing each other, sometimes punching just for fun or as Vladimir explained that sometimes you need to hit person with penetration to the stomach or solar plexus lightly just enough that person learn how to take a strike and how to recover with breathing. So we punch,punch and double punch. Also, Vladimir noticed that we concentrated on upper body but we completely forgot to control our lower body and legs. He gave us proper walking and relaxing exercises to be light and swift on our feet. It helped me very much on the second day as we went to more dynamic exercises. We were on the roll, we moved,we pushed, we punched doing this from different directions, distances and positions. Fighting 2,3,5 guys and were were fighting in the crowded, standing, crawling but punching anytime and anywhere. Then Vladimir introduced the knife in the fight and we became a little scary and tense, it was funny the knife actually created tensions in both partners, the one who was holding knife got happy but work like a robocop with tense hands, and no knife opponent got a little scary and forgot how to move. However, Vladimir showed us a lot of demonstrations when you can work through your tension and fear using breathing, relaxing movements with short but destructive strikes. We are slowly picked up the pace and soon we pushed and later punched one or two attackers with the knife on the move. It was continuing non stop action, fun,energetic and practical. I would like to thank all my partners who worked with me and who punched me to make me more humble, especially Peter from FL who explained the fist penetration in the body like a bullet and took wind out of me while I was trying to figure out the bullet trajectory compare with the fist, my German friend Tom with whom we exchanged lots of punches and who was very swift and invisible with the knife, my old friend Martin who corrected my mistakes and been just danger Martin, my bodies Peter, Joe and Jonathan who helped me in the training and outside it to be patient with me and have fun together, and many many new and old friends. Thank you very much Vladimir and Valery,and their hardworking daughters for your hospitality, unrested support and encouragement. My family and I grateful to God that he gave me a chance to meet you in my life.

Rating: 5 of 5 Stars! [5 of 5 Stars!]
Date Added: 2015-09-09 14:32:29
STRIKES IN A FIGHT, with Instructor Master Class ( by Carlos Guzman, 578 words )

Striking into Relaxation Recently I participated in the Strikes in a Fight Seminar held by headquarters in Toronto. It was two days of intense training with Vladimir Vasiliev and amongst 150 participants from all over the world including many senior instructors, old and new friends. A big Systema family. It was not until my drive back home that I started reflecting on the material covered at the seminar. A lot of fresh information to put into practice and shared with others for many classes to come. Normally, I will take notes of important points during demonstrations; golden nuggets of wisdom, some "aha" moments I have when I finally get something or write down tips and suggestions from senior instructors and other fellow practitioners. But not this time. This time I wanted to absorb what was taught, feel the lesson and let my body remember. Oh, and the body does remember right there during training or the next day for sure. The theme was, you guess it, strikes. We learned about the structure of a strike, the delivering of a strike and receiving a strike. Amongst these were variations such like striking in one spot, moving and striking, striking and takedowns, striking multiple attackers, knife work and strikes and striking tension into relaxation. Here is where I discovered my breakthrough. Throughout the demonstrations, as Vladimir walked around us, you could hear him say things like you should be relaxed and comfortable when striking. Move, escape then strike. Move closer to your partner or too much tension in the strike, too hard or too soft, relax your shoulders, you moved too soon or too late. For many, it's frustrating especially if you're starting in Systema. However, there lays the lesson, the understanding, the individual breakthrough that each participant experienced at one point during the seminar. Vladimir took the time to address each question hands on and when he was done, you could literally see the light bulb of understanding turning on many like myself had their own AHA moments...the golden nugget of wisdom. What I got from it was to relax, have fun and go with it. Just when I stop thinking about what we were doing and just moved, then my movement was more relaxed, more natural and comfortable. I learned to move into a place where I feel comfortable then do my work with whatever was available in front of me without being forceful or having to beat my partner down. Not having an intention to do something to my partner, allowed me to relax and have fun while taking and receiving strikes. The movement became smooth and the strikes more powerful and effortless. The intent to strike the person creates tension in my body, into my movement and it is transferred back to my partner. Neither will be able to do their work effectively because one is thinking about protecting himself from injury while the other thinks about taking him down. When I strike relaxed, I could see all my options. When I strike with tension I cannot see anything but the intention to disable my partner's movement in any way possible. When you’re relaxed and comfortable, you feel good about yourself. It is reflected on your posture, your attitude and ultimately in your movement. Relaxation brings the best of us to share it with our training partner with love and care. Because when we strike our partner in this way, you will start seeing great improvements in your Systema.

Rating: 5 of 5 Stars! [5 of 5 Stars!]
Date Added: 2015-09-14 15:01:38
Strikes with Vladimir Vasiliev ( by Jose R., 169 words )

Systema's seminar on strikes was another great opportunity to see Vlad's ability to teach, train, and guide. His amazing skill to offer subliminal words of wisdom that reach to my subconscious; words that seem to come to me exactly when needed, this makes his teachings a gift that keeps on giving. In this seminar during the session where we were trying to stamp our training partner's feet, there was a moment when I felt there was no way to gain the upper hand and all of a sudden, from the depths of my consciousness I heard Vlad's voice "Disrupt his breath" and my body just followed the instruction. I now had total control. Another instance while doing push and strike exercises, I was able to reach in further causing my training partner's strikes to become a mere powder puff. These seminars are priceless because they answer the need of so many, each one hosts a relative United Nations as Systema HQ Toronto operates under inclusiveness and integrity.

Rating: 5 of 5 Stars! [5 of 5 Stars!]
Date Added: 2015-04-06 16:59:04
Vladimir Vasiliev in Bern, Switzerland ( by Patrick van het Nederend, 85 words )

It was nice to see you in Bern. Once again it was an amazing experience! It was very basic build up but advanced at the same time. Perhaps it is my understanding of Systema that slowly is gaining but is was perfect to see the build-up in breathing, holds, strikes and knife work. And keep it simple and founded in the 4 pillars! Working on that ever since more and more. Letting go of tricks. It is quite an honour. Saving up for summer camp 2016!

Rating: 5 of 5 Stars! [5 of 5 Stars!]
Date Added: 2015-03-03 22:17:30
Vladimir Vasiliev seminar in Florida ( by Gamal Newry, 225 words )

I want to say thank you for an excellent event in Tampa, as usual Vlad detailed teaching and practical skills and information was much appreciated. From the first day to the last beneficial knowledge was shared. During Fridays Breathing Class, Vlad referenced training for Martial Arts - Healing - Health, very powerful statements as they stayed with me during the entire weekend. It suggested to me the need in life to break down, build up, and be able to sustain oneself throughout the transitions. I think the opportunity to train with other liked minded people is important for personnel development. The variation in skill level helps you to learn what works and what does not. It helps to keep you humble and the need to share as you help correct those and be corrected. The after class fellowships were also very good as many of us shared stories and experience not just about Systema but about life. This I think is important as Systema should be about life not just about the sweat of training sessions. To be able to transcends lessons learnt in class and apply them to life completes and proves training as we train for life and the real world. Not the other way around. I look forward to more opportunities to train and grow in my skills, thank you very much.

Rating: 5 of 5 Stars! [5 of 5 Stars!]
Date Added: 2013-12-27 14:41:15
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 )

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
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