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TMA UnderGround >> The Ultimate Systema thread.


9/20/10 2:35 PM
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Hello brothers!

I have just started to watch Vasiliev/Ryabko's dvds and play around with systema.
Please share some of your experiences with this Russian martial art and give a nooby some feedback and tips.

Thanks for your great help!
9/22/10 2:32 PM
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I guess RIP thread ;(
9/23/10 1:16 AM
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Skpotamus
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Systema has been talked about on here quite a bit. From Fedor's interview where he calls them amateurs that don't have good technique: http://www.pl.com.ua/?pid=61&artid=10594&ccatid=66 "Q: What do you think of the "Russian" combat arts? It's quite popular now to practice "Slavic styles" of combat, or say the "spetznaz combat art".

A: I think that the only true Russian fighting style (martial art) is sambo. What people call now days "Russian styles" I honestly do not take seriously. I haven't seen a single strong school with a solid technique; they most commonly look like amateurs. In fact not "most commonly", it's actually what they are – amateurs.
Why would you try to come up with something Russian, when you can actually practice something Russian? Another example would be religion, why try to demonstrate Orthodoxy, when you can simply live by the Orthodox way?"

To Scott Sonnons QandA thread about it (Sonnon was a ROSS Systema instructor): http://www.mixedmartialarts.com/mma.cfm?go=forum_framed.posts&thread=715051

Matt Thornton's reply about it: http://www.mixedmartialarts.com/mma.cfm?go=forum_framed.posts&thread=1548687

Numerous others from back in the day.

My own experience with it made me think that it wasn't a practical system to study. YMMV.
9/23/10 1:22 AM
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Thank you Very much for helping out!!!!


"My own experience with it made me think that it wasn't a practical system to study."

Can you please elaborate?
9/23/10 5:17 AM
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Skpotamus
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Back in college, mine had a martial arts group that got together to train and share stuff. I taught some mma style stuff that people loved.

We had a guy from Toronto that studied Systema. He gave some demo's and worked with some of us. Real Douchebag (cocky, down talked all of us "sport fighters". All of his training was essentially slow mo with no intent. His partners threw things in slow motion and out of range to actually hit him, etc. He had some neat looking defenses, but everything was with compliant partners going slow, to get most of his defenses to work, he'd speed up during a portion of the "attack". He looked smooth as hell, very similar to some of the vids I've seen online.

Where it fell apart is when we sparred. He had pissed me off with some of his comments about my kickboxing and shoot wrestling/BJJ being inferior to his systema and how I'd get murdered if I fought a systema guy in NHB (this was in 99). So i asked him if he'd like to pad up and go hard. His response was that they never sparred due to their system being too dangerous. I called him a dick tucking pussy representing a bullshit martial art (I was kind of a douche myself then) in front of the rest of the group. He got mad enough to agree to "teach me a lesson."

That was the most one sided beat down I've ever delivered in my life. He had zero answer for things thrown fast and in range to make contact. I don't think he blocked or evaded a single jab and seemed very confused by me throwing combinations as well as using angles.
His kick defense was comical. When a round kick came into his thigh, he'd swing that side arm down and hit the back of your knee to buckle your leg and take you down. Didn't work so well when I wasn't kicking in slow motion and setting the kick on his thigh. After the 2nd kick, he started turning away from them and taking them on the back of his legs like a completely untrained noob, so I started cutting his legs out from under him and dropping him every time he turned.
His linear kick defense was to try to catch it and lift up, the problem was his timing was way off and he didn't move his body at all to deal with the actual incoming kick, so they all landed and knocked him back. Essentially, they were free shots to his stomach.

His offensive stand up game consisted of him standing at a slight angle with his hands down, and winging what was essentially a haymaker at me. He did try some low level kicks to my shins/knees. He acted really surprised when I checked the first by raising my leg and taking it on the shin and after the 2nd kick where he jammed his toe pretty bad, he quit kicking altogether.

His ground game wasn't too bad compared to other traditional guys, he was relaxed, so he didn't tire out quickly, but his entire game seemed to consist of trying to move and defend with some incredibly odd submission attempts. He had shown some submissionos that I thought were questionable, like ye ole Japanese Jiujitsu armbar where you wrap your arm around the other persons elbow, he did this from the bottom of side control. Some chokes that were essentially him grabbing and squeezing, some wrist locks, etc. Nothing that was any real threat. When I started throwing punches, he kind of froze and ended up covering his face with his hands. His submission defense was actually pretty decent though when just grappling. I did end up catching him in a couple of key locks from cross side. A RNC from back mount and an armbar from there as well (catch and release kind of things, he refused to tap, so I let the locks go, ended up putting him out with the RNC though). He never got off of bottom after i took him down.

All in all, he acted like countless McDojo trained people. It was obvious he wasnt' used to real pressure and contact. He froze up when hit. His defense for leg kicks was the worst I've ever seen in my life and completely depends on your opponent setting their leg on your thigh to work(btw, there's a clip of Vladimir Vasiliev doing the exact same defense in a self defense montage on youtube).
Offensive wise, his punches were essentially haymakers, no straight punches thrown (straight punches can create a psychic energy backlash that makes you go blind! See one of Ryabko's videos http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eak-m2iwI7Q for more of that crap - btw, Trevor (the guy in the club) taught some of this style striking when he was teaching/demoing)

The vids I've seen online looked almost exactly like what he was doing or trying to.

His training did NOT get him ready for anything remotely close to a real situation. Other students/schools may vary. I think you'd be better served by other martial systems. If you wanna stick with Russian, go find a Combat Sambo school, or a Sport Sambo school and add some boxing/muay thai to it.
9/23/10 3:13 PM
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Thank you all for your feedback!!!

Keep on sharing bros.......Whether you had good or bad experiences with Systema.
9/25/10 10:34 PM
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Jacks Wasted Life
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Very interesting...I always felt that systema appeared very unrealistic. Your experience is pretty much what I assumed would happen.
9/26/10 7:04 AM
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Skpotamus
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Edited: 09/26/10 7:06 AM
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I guess I should quantify my experience by saying that I have no way to verify how long the guy had trained at the school, or if he even had. He looked almost exactly like the demo vids of systema on youtube. He said he'd been studying since he was 13 (meaning roughly 5 years when we met), but I have no way to verify that.

Over at Bullshido they have some vids of a couple systema guys at throwdowns. The standup vids were pathetic, I think there was one where the systema guy was sparring a guy from some kung fu style, and another vs Wing Chun.

edit: found the kung fu fight: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LfKsVWX_dG4&feature=fvw
9/26/10 10:08 AM
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cdueck
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When people are assholes regardless of there style they need to be shut-up. Having said that I don't think systema is an art that will do well in any type of full contact sparring. From what I have seen and read the high level guys might be good with full on sparring but that is not what systema is about. From what I understand Sysytema is trained in a fatigued state in order to make the movements more natural and reactive in a confrontation. Lets face it how long do real fights last, how many guys square off to fight? I've boxed and trained Kyokushin for years and I love the way systema guys train. Just try sparring at three quarter speed and power while never leaving striking distance, now add another person or give someone a knife. A friend of mine that teaches Arnis(he loves systema also) and I spar like this with a training knife regularly. Once we start we don't stop for a 1/2 hour, we never acknowledge getting hit or cut. It is amazing how tiring it is considering the speed and intensity.
10/3/10 5:09 PM
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Zero1
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 I´am a blackbelt in BJJ and I´am doing Systema since 2008.

It´s amazing for me at my level more important than mine BJJ and influences my grappling ability.

However 99% of the people who are training it don´t have a clue because it is not an easy art.

It has a lot to do with body mechanics, relaxation and breathing and it will give you creativity and ability to improvise.

If you are able to punch Systema style you can knock people out from sitting positions or on the ground. Is it easy? No but if you are an athlete and looking to more subtle solutions for fighting this is something you should check out.

I learn from Alex Kostic who trained with Vladimir for over 10 years and he is amazing yet I think Vladimir is even more on a different level.....

Not for everyone but for me it  is just amazing......
10/3/10 6:23 PM
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Zero1 -  I´am a blackbelt in BJJ and I´am doing Systema since 2008.

It´s amazing for me at my level more important than mine BJJ and influences my grappling ability.

However 99% of the people who are training it don´t have a clue because it is not an easy art.

It has a lot to do with body mechanics, relaxation and breathing and it will give you creativity and ability to improvise.

If you are able to punch Systema style you can knock people out from sitting positions or on the ground. Is it easy? No but if you are an athlete and looking to more subtle solutions for fighting this is something you should check out.

I learn from Alex Kostic who trained with Vladimir for over 10 years and he is amazing yet I think Vladimir is even more on a different level.....

Not for everyone but for me it  is just amazing......



LOL. I stumbled across your youtube channel awhile back and immediately noticed a systema-esque vibe in your 'flow' clips. Interesting!

As I've said on other threads there's a lot about systema that I find appealing, such as the breathwork, conditioning, biomechanics/intuition, and the fact that its principle based and works a lot from scrambles, etc. However, even as I can appreciate the softwork from a 'flow' perspective in how people sometimes just roll lightly in bjj, I have a monumentally difficult time accepting the fact that to date there is no evidence/footage of systema being practiced with/against 100% resistance in alive environments. The closest I've seen is a momentary blip of Kevin Secours putting on headgear/gloves in his Primal Power 2 trailer, but even that looks somewhat questionable. Nevertheless, what is most troubling to me is the knifework and mysticism. Chasing the blade instead of isolating the weaponed arm, strategically dangerous evasions(ie: parries/turning back on the blade), 'psychic' energy, no touch knockouts, etc. Crazy stuff, mang!
10/4/10 4:25 AM
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ttt
10/4/10 7:15 AM
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Zero1
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 I think doing Systema without having a background in Boxing, Wrestling, BJJ, etc. is very difficult and most of the good guys have it.

Personally I would say the only videos I really like in terms of movement are from Vladimir, Martin Wheeler, Alex Kostic and the greek guy Emmanuel.

The thing what is really inspires me is the movement ability of Vladimir. The strikes are also amazing and you can knock people out while sitting.......

You need years to be good in Wrestling or BJJ and the same is with Systema, no easy thing.....
10/4/10 2:52 PM
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Who here trained at Vladimir's school? I'm planning to go soon, is it far from hotels, etc????

Which of his affiliates' schools is convenient close to airport, hotels)?
10/7/10 8:51 AM
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Skpotamus
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Zero1, have you ever done any hard sparring or fighting with non systema guys? Just curious whether you found the strikes easy to land, I found the guy I was sparring telegraphed things horribly and the punches weren't fast.

How do you know you can KO a person while sitting with the punching style? Have you actually knocked someone out with it, or were you told that?

I'm just curious and not trying to flame or anything.
10/7/10 11:52 AM
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Zero1
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 Since I´am teaching BJJ and MMA of course I have sparred a lot and most of my students don´t even know what Systema is so mostly I train with BJJ and some MMA guys and just a few guys I which I work my Systema with.

The way of striking is much more about solving inner muscular resistance. It´s about allowing the body to move without too much tensions........I apply this to my BJJ also.

I knocked out people with striking the belly yes. I also did it standing.......

Not every punch knocks you out but the punches are much heavier than normal punches.

Systema is VERY difficult to apply for the average person because you have to overcome the idea of imposing your will on someone. It´s all about working your own fears and tensions.......
10/15/10 12:04 AM
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m6UTq_Q_gyA



^WTF is this shit?
10/15/10 6:09 AM
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Zero1
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 What you see in this clip is like slow or flow roll in BJJ. You train to open up the body explore new possibilities and allow the body to feel. It´s not actual fighting.......
10/15/10 12:40 PM
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^I'm all for 'flow'/slow rolling and being intuitive in scrambles, etc, but with bladed/penetrative weapons? Sorry, no. Not when it's encouraging fatal habits like the things Wheeler is doing in the clip.

Compare it to the Dog Brothers material in Die Less Often 2 and it's not hard to see the ridiculousness of Wheeler's video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=THW-c6E5nvs

See the big angry man giving the camera the sewing-machine treatment at :22? That's reality. So, flow/slow training or not, it's that structure/movement you're going to be dealing with in a life and death situation, so what benefit is/would there ever be in doing things like exposing your abdomen(carotid arteries, heart, lungs)) and back(cervical spine, lungs, kidneys) to a compliant opponent who, regardless of speed, is moving in a completely compliant/unrealistic manner?
10/16/10 3:38 AM
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Zero1
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 The dog brothers stuff is real fighting no doubt but how many times they do this stuff with this intensitiy?

This kind of fighting is pressure testing and you need it like you need to roll or spar hard.

BUT how can you prepare? And what Wheeler is doing is perapring his body to open up and dealing with different possibilites.

You can not learn new skills under pressure like in the dog brothers video. You have to be ready and prepared to do it and after that you will understand your mistakes and can fix them.

Take care
Björn Friedrich
10/16/10 3:57 AM
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^You learn something new everytime you spar or compete. I'm far from blackbelt level in bjj, but even I know that. Has your mileage been that different? Really? You don't learn something new when you roll hard or enter a competition?

Regardless, it's not so much the difference in speed or intensity, but rather Wheeler violating fundamental rules with regard to the knife, such failing to protect vital areas and turning his back on the blade. That to me, is not opening him/his body up to new possibilities inasmuch as it's instilling bad habits that will likely get him/his students killed when they step up to live sparring, ala the Dog Brothers model, or worse, are thrust into a life & death encounter.
10/18/10 12:37 AM
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Martin Wheeler is a genuine tough guy,was a well known Bouncer,and very respected at it,trained in Kenpo and Judo for years.Not for or against Systema,just don't misjudge Martin as a guy who cannot scrap,because he can.
10/18/10 2:04 AM
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^Nothing personal against Wheeler at all. He looks to be in shape, moves well, and, from what I've heard, has a legit grappling background and contacts. The new groundwork dvd he has out now is interesting as well.

But in my mind there's just no getting around the way he's violating the fundamentals of knife defense. Sure, he(and systema on the whole) may have his reasons for doing so, but as with the sparring argument that has been made countless times on countless internet forums, there is still the lack of footage showing it being applied in alive environments against resisting opponents. That is troubling, and as much as I hate to do lump them in with the aikido and TMA crowd, that's exactly what their unarmed and weapons demos look like, imo.

Granted, they're different people/organizations, but the closest I've seen to someone actually using systema against a resisting opponent has been on two occasions, and neither were good. The first one was a clip I saw several years ago of, I presume, Kadochnikov students getting their asses kicked by Russian All-Round Fighters(not sure what/who they are, but they fought like they had mma/sambo/kickboxing backgrounds). Basically, the systema guys went out and tried to move like they do in demos, and pretty much all got KO'd for their troubles. It wasn't pretty.

The other clip I saw was of Vadim Starov(if I'm not mistaken) in an alleged 'fight' versus somekind of kickboxer wearing Thai shorts. The fight was weird(questionable). Very weird. The kickboxer, from what I remember threw a couple of high kicks and spinning kicks, but landed nothing. And Starov pretty much just circled the entire time in a Royce Gracie-esque stance(ie: right arm up, left arm pawing at opponent), looking extremely tense while doing it. I can't recall much of anything else happening in the 'fight', and Starov has since removed it from his youtube channel.

Moreover, Emmanuel Manolakakis(sp?) gave a seminar at my buddy's bjj gym(there's a systema group that practices there) a few years ago and he relayed his thoughts about it after having talked to him(Manolakikis) and seeing/demoing a few grappling techniques. Essentially, the escapes/movements he showed in response to grappling stemmed from the techniques being applied in a compliant manner, or completely wrong to begin with. My buddy talked about the standard achilles lock as an example. The way Manolakikis partner applied the lock was wrong, and allowed him to escape. But when my buddy applied the lock with correct hand placement and leg saddle, Manolakikis couldn't escape and basically said, "if your opponent does it this way, you're fucked". Now granted, that's 2nd hand information, but it doesn't speak highly for systema, imo.

The thing that bugs me(in a good way), though, is that certain people in the special ops community are exploring systema. People like Ken Good, a former SEAL and someone who's currently teaching defensive/weapons tactics to military and LE personnel. Add in Sonny Puzikas(former Spetsnaz and systema instructor) and his AK-47/Gospel of Violence material and shit really gets confusing. Why would people in those communities vouch for systema if it was weirdo bullshit the likes of aikido and the yellow bamboo freaks? Are they getting conned like they did with Jerry Peterson/SCARS, or is there something more to it? I dunno.
10/18/10 3:29 AM
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h0CKaVVCIHM

^This actually isn't all that bad. At least not for what it's showing(drills/scenarios as opposed to real sparring). The three dimensional awareness, preemptive strikes, work in confined spaces, and 2 on 1 stuff is all interesting. I can even live with the knife sequences they showed.

But it makes you wonder. Why aren't all systema clips like this? Why are Vlad and Mikhail seemingly going down the weirdo road to mysticism and cult-like figurehead status?

It also makes me wonder why, if this is what systema looks like when applied real time, what makes it different/unique to anything else out there? I've seen a lot of RBSD, krav maga, and even savate training that looks exactly this stuff, even down to the mass attack mit/pad drills. The only thing that I can think of that would be unqiquely systema would be the breathwork/relaxation during that kind of training(ie: overcoming the adrenal state to remain calm and conserve energy). Yet, without the ability to hear the real audio(ie: background music is never a good idea in these videos, imo) there's no way to tell how they are breathing, exerting themselves, or what state of mind they're in at that moment.
10/19/10 10:11 AM
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Zero1
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 Honestly I watched so many videos on youtube and 99% are horrible.

Vlads stuff is unbelivable and I like Kostic, Wheeler, the greek guy Emmanuel and Sonny Puzikas.

All the other guys from Europe and the US are very bad. It looks so akward.

Systema is about body mechanics and a relaxed psyche which leads to spiritual things I think.
If you want to beat your opponent it will not work you have to allow the art moving through you like Vlad said.

I think you have to be crazy a little bit esoteric BUT you need basic fighting skills like boxing, wrestling, BJJ to make it work.

It´skind of a master class which is giving your skills a higher level but I doubt it will help beginners in martial arts.

And of course you can´t describe it very good. You have to feel it.

The physical idea is that your body never stops and tenses but always adabt and move as a whole. A lot like old dances......

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