Here is an excellent introduction to Systema posted on my instructor Marc Bresee’s site systemasarasota.com, and reposted here with his permission. We have a great class here in Sarasota. In my opinion Systema is one of the very best self defense systems out there..
Systema is a Martial Art with roots in ancient Russia. It is in active use in top levels of modern Russian special operations groups. We teach Systema as taught by Vladimir Vasiliev and its founder, Mikhail Ryabko. This Style encompasses every aspect of conflict, from the psychological aspects of conversation and posturing, through all aspects of hand-to-hand fighting, grappling and groundwork and group attacks, and weaponry, including firearms. We also study these aspects of combat at different levels (lying, kneeling, standing) and environments (in the dark, against a wall, in a chair, car, stairway or in the water.) You name it, we work with it: It is a big world for self-discovery.
Our practice sessions are usually is a mixture of exercises, drills, and freestyle work. Most drills are done at a slow speed to create a fear-free environment so the body and mind can learn thoroughly. Speed becomes less relevant when the body understands the movement and can comfortably match the speed of an incoming event. Systema uses training in breath, movement and proper posture to achieve a relaxed state. Work can then be free flowing with no need to stop and try to apply a ” technique”. We train to move more from what we feel than what we see: this process is much more subconscious and doesn’t choke or waste time while the brain tries to figure out what to do. Analytical thought is usually too far behind the moment – especially if one is surprised. Systema methodology encourages instinctual work: the learning curve is shortened and a person can more easily maintain strength and manage fear. This provides an energized and creative state that allows free flowing and appropriate work. Unlike sport fighting, life is vastly more unpredictable and may demand effort for an extended period of time. Systema is designed to work when one is tired, injured or weak. This unfortunately leaves little excuse for those who think they need to get in shape before starting to train with us.
Almost anyone will benefit from regular Systema training. It is good for both men and women that want to learn to protect themselves and their families and gain better understanding and control of violence and fear. It is even good for older people that want to gain health and decrease injuries: Systema has students in their 70s. And it is appropriate for professionals because it can be applied judiciously according to the needs of a situation. It is in essence “professional work”. Training in Systema will give a professional more insight into controlling opponents while keeping ones on psyche calm. Really, it is for anyone who wants to strengthen his or her mind, body and spirit in an honest and real way.
It is really easy to fit in. Training is fun, good-spirited and cooperative. There are no belts or ranks. There are no traditions or cultural routines (well there is on: we meet in a circle at the end of training to share insights and then roll out backwards). Systema is universal: there aren’t even named techniques. And you don’t have to fight your way through a hierarchy of individuals who want to challenge you at the door. We are all adults and work with a fun but professional demeanor. It is physically reasonable to start learning. Extreme flexibility is not required: we all must come to the fight “as we are”. Whatever your condition or attributes, that is what you have to work with. Great strength is not required: We use manipulation of form rather than brute force. Systema promotes health: It strengthens and does not injure the body. You will learn proper breathing and relaxation and see a decrease in injuries and huge gains in stamina. Your posture will improve. You will learn to relax –even in a chaotic and dangerous environment. Systema is like a movement therapy that removes fear from the body. Fear is both our biggest ally but also one of our biggest enemies in life if not controlled. Fear management has very widespread daily benefits.
The best way to see what Systema is about is to train regularly for at least month. You can’t really get a good taste in a single session or even a week. If you come once it may be too brutal, or it may be too mundane. There are so many things to study and train that the content of training varies immensely. One time we work on sensitivity, another receiving strikes, then fighting in a crowd, or work against a knife, stick, or gun. It is always different so a commitment to a block of training and tasting will serve you better. I do promise you that it will be worth the experience whether or not you decide to continue training with us.
Read more at systemasarasota.com.