Meeting Systema

November 05, 2014 by  
translated by Nelka Az

The drive to be better. The first surprise when encountering Systema is the silence. In a well-lighted gym robust men calmly and orderly work through seemingly simple moves, interchanging them with sudden escapes, turns, and grabs. No leaps and shouts, nobody assumes stances that look like comic-book pictures. The instructor Vladimir Vasiliev remarks on what is taking place without raising his voice…

The school of Russian Martial Art that he founded in Toronto in 1993 received world-wide acclaim. The history tells us that this kind of martial art dates back to the 10-th century, the age of Ilya Muromets and other epic bogatyrs (warrior heroes). Nowadays its elements and principles are used in training and preparing the special operations soldiers.

- Who is a good warrior? One who is, above all, healthy, both in body and in spirit, - says Valerie Vasiliev, wife and helper of Vladimir. – He is then able to neutralize the enemy and to wage combat for a very long time without losing strength.
The fundamental principle of Systema is that a person should not be fighting aggressively, out of fear. People are taught how to control their inner state. A calm person can defend himself and others, not feel stress after a fight, and continue to live to the utmost in the family and in the society.

We work in Toronto for 23 years already. Started with a small group, and now there is a huge number of people training, every week we have 10 adult and 3 children’s classes.

The school became an international center, Systema Headquarters, people come from different countries.
Now Vladimir has more than 200 schools and more than 600 instructors all over the world. Each of them went through a certification process which allowed them to teach Systema. For example, in today’s class there are two people from Japan, four from Australia, and there are also people from USA, from France. They come – some for a week, some for a month, some even come for a year – live here and train to master this art…

Once every two years we organize a summer camp, this year we called it “Full Immersion Camp”, 150 people from different countries live in a forest by a lake and train from 7:00am until 11:00pm, for a whole week. They learn how to fight in the field, in the forest, and in the water, and in a way that enables them to do so in the dark as well. The camp is health-promoting, with the exercise, swimming, and full training…

- Starting with what age do you accept students into your school?

- The children’s class is from 8 to 17 years old, they train separately 3 times a week. The age for an adult class is from 17 and up; we even had people over 70 who trained very successfully. What is good about this style is that you do not need to do anything complex, no leg splits, leaps, big swings. Only what is simple and natural. One who is healthy and strong can do push-ups, heavy punches, etc. One who is weaker shouldn’t lose the fight despite his physical condition, because he learned to stay calm, regulate his breathing, see the situation, move correctly…

- How is Russian martial art different from the Eastern martial arts?

- Physical difference is that there are no stances, no “katas” – memorized moves. Vladimir does not even recommend to memorize anything. Because in a real battle the main thing for a person is to triumph over his own fear and not freeze. As soon as he froze, this is when he can receive a punch, a knife wound, etc.

The main thing is to be skilled in controlling one’s emotions, not give in to panic and confusion. If a person is tense, it means he didn’t yet master Systema. And if he is relaxed, and at the same time reacts speedily and precisely – then he is ready, and he already won the major part of the fight.

Another thing – in Systema practical situations are taught. For example, to fight in a crowd, to use your clothing and things that surround you as a weapon, to defend oneself in a car, in tight space, and to survive in any difficult situation.

- Do women also train with you?

- In the martial art classes – rarely. After all, what goes on there is real work – punches, physical contact, wrestling – and it isn’t something that suits many women.

For women we have excellent classes on “Breathing and health improvement” twice a week. All the exercises there are individual, no physical contact with others, the load is not strenuous, and the effect is magnificent.

- How can one understand if a person fits into Systema?

- We offer two trial classes for $20, no obligations, if you liked it, you stay. If, by chance, an aggressive person comes, after trying a few classes he either changes his approach or leaves. Many people train for years, sometimes they take a break and then return again.

We are in a constant contact, we send advice on training, articles, answer the questions. Our students do not need to prove anything, we do not have competition, we have serious training and excellent interaction. People become friends for life…

The class ended, and Vladimir Vasiliev joined our conversation:

- Systema changes people, they become stronger but kinder. Calmer. It is understood, of course, that if strength needs to be applied in a situation, then each one exercises his skills. What is especially good is that Systema provides you with something positive, not a negative, every day.
In other sports it happens that people are tired after training, they go back out into the street and cannot walk, everything is shaking, arms-legs. It is the opposite by us – after the training you leave the gym feeling vigorous, robust, not weakened.

In camp people train for 3-4 hours straight, then they laugh, wrestle… The body gets tired, but the spirit is vigorous…

The Systema school is located at:
39 Glen Cameron Rd Unit 2 Thornhill ON L3T 1P1
(Yonge Street north of Steeles Ave)
Toll free: 1.866.993.0400