Martin Wheeler knife and gun work in Boston, St Patrick’s Weekend

Fight Like a Russian Spy with Systema

Michael Chin Worcester Systema Russian SpyMartial arts are generally known as a tradition of combat practices specific to self-defense, physical and mental strength, fitness, entertainment, and spiritual development. Most of the martial arts we are familiar with in today’s society have a long and storied history. These practices are often associated with eastern Asia and various locations throughout Europe. Judo, Jujitsu, Karate, Gatka, Aikido, and Muay Thai are merely a small example of a long list of traditional arts.

Occasionally a new type of martial art or new interpretation comes along and attempts to combine a number of existing styles. The Russians have developed a new method known as Systema. Founded among the Russian military elites, Systema has become a widely respected and practiced martial art.

Systema is an intuitive, zen fighting style that emphasizes spontaneity and relaxation. This martial art does not come with rules, repetitive movements, or any particular classification of skill like blue or black belts. Systema has even become a favorite of the United States Military, as Navy Seals and Green Berets alike have begun to adopt the methods offered by this martial art.

In this article ozy.com article, participants meet with Martin Wheeler, a well-known practitioner of the art. Wheeler describes Systema by four main pillars – breathing, relaxation, movement, and structure. One of the most intriguing points he makes about Systema is in his difficulty in giving it an exact definition. According to Wheeler, his concept of the art is constantly changing. At the root of this style is a fluidity that comes from mental awareness and relaxation in the moment.

The art resembles a type of dance when in motion. Wheeler demonstrates his ability to effortlessly exist in the moment, control his breathing, and react without panic. According to Vladimir Vasiliev, one of the founders of modern Systema, you are eliminating fear in the body.

One potential and obvious application of Systema would be with the police. Many police officers and the citizens they serve and protect would prefer a less lethal approach. As noted by Nate Morrison, a special ops veteran and police instructor, this type of training would be a great public relations asset. Systema’s founders, however, are a bit hesitant to put themselves out there and advertise the art. Many believe it is a discipline that could thrive in today’s society.

Be sure to check out the video here.

Top 5 Hand-to-Hand Combat Techniques

Michael Chin Worcester systema combatIn the combat world, there are multiple different techniques that one might use. Each combat situation is different, so it’s good to know which type of combat to use in a certain situation. There are thousands of combat moves, but they generally can be narrowed down into more specific categories. Below are the top 5 hand-to-hand combat techniques that one should keep in mind if the situation happens to arise.

 

1)     Joint manipulation – there is large and small joint manipulation. Large joint manipulation occurs when you take a joint of your opponent and bend it in an unnatural position. The arm bar is one of the more popular large joint manipulations. Small joint manipulation is often overlooked yet effective.  An example of this is breaking your opponents fingers.

2)     Striking the soft spots – the throat, eyes, and bridge of the nose are considered the “soft spots.” Strinking these areas do not need increasing amounts of force to be effective. A quick jab to these areas can do enough to render your opponent weak and ready to takedown.

3)     Aim your punches to the pit of their stomach – A hit to the pit of the stomach, or the solar plexus, can knock the wind out of your opponent. This leaves your opponent gasping for air and basically useless.

4)     Knee and elbow strikes – These parts of the body are one of the most lethal if used properly. Using your knee to strike your opponents inner thigh will freeze them. A strike to the temple with your elbow has the potential to knock your opponent out in just one hit.

5)     Heel and palm strikes – these sorts of strikes usually come in the form of a surprise attack. These are used as quick, spur of the moment strikes that your opponent won’t have the time to react to.

The Russian martial art of systema combines these techniques with that of mental strength. It is important to be both physically and mentally prepared when engaging in hand-to-hand combat.

The Russian Martial Art of Systema Fighting Technique

Michael Chin Worcester Systema TechniquesThe Russian Martial Art of Systema is different than your everyday martial arts. Rather than learning how to attack, Systema’s training is more focused on learning how to respond to an attack. The existence of Systema is believed to predate back to the cold war era in the Soviet Union, but actually has roots in ancient Russian fighting styles that existed more than a millennium ago.

The style is a fluid, reactionary style that focuses on individual strengths and characteristics. The main focus is to erase physical and mental tension from the fighting equation so that the fighter is prepared for the next move. There is also a fair amount of importance on the starting-stance in Systema. The starting stance should be straightforward and natural; there should not be any immanence of a threat. The stance should reflect the position at which your opponent is in, acting as a preventative method for your opponents next attack.

For example, Vladimir Vasiliev demonstrated the starting position. His attacker came at him, and Vladimir swiftly kicked him in the thigh and punched him in the back of the neck while falling to the ground. This was all done in one swift motion. The purpose of striking in Systema is to hit the attacker unexpectedly, causing un-balance rather than pain. This manipulation of the attackers body is premeditated so that the Systema fighter has the ultimate control. With this kind of control, the Systema fighter is able to work with moves that disorient his attacker without injuring him.

The next critical proponent of Systema is being able to move in a manner that is undetectable by your opponent. When the opponent is ready to strike, he gives a tell and begins the full movement of either a kick or a punch. Here, your opponent is already committed to the move at hand, making him vulnerable at the time of the attack. This is when you strike in Systema.

Vladimir Vasiliev Systema Interview Recap

Michael Chin Worcester Russian Martial ArtBack in December of 2013, Rob Poyton interviewed Vladimir Vasiliev in regards to his entrepreneurial success in the Russian Martial Art of Systema. Today, there are over 200 schools that teach Systema with over 500 instructors.

Poyton continues to ask Vladimir about the future of Systema. Vladimir is happy where this martial art has taken him and has noticed positive effects from the people who stick with the training. He mentions the mental difficultness of understanding the entire art, which makes people gear away from continuing practice. It takes a certain type of mentality and focus to engage in the breathing and focus based combat.

Poyton then indulges about the uniqueness in the fighting technique of Systema. Vladimir responds by adding that there is a mental aspect to fighting that many martial arts do not tend to focus on. Most martial arts focus on the physical attributes of hand-to-hand combat whereas Systema focuses on maintaining equilibrium between body and mind. There is a stronger focus on living and health in Systema than with other martial arts that just focus on preserving society.

Vladimir also adds that Systema is a martial art that keeps its students improving until death. There are new discoveries and rewards every step of the way. Vladimir continues to improve on his craft. One of the purposes of systema is to reduce stress and fear to lead to clear thinking. This sort of clear thinking can really lead one to peace and strength even when not fighting.

Systema encompasses so many aspects of life that it is difficult to encapsulate in an entire interview. When many people think of martial arts, they think solely of the combat aspect. Systema is more than a type of combat. It is a way of thinking, breathing, and feeling. The physical aspect of the training has to be paired with mental preparedness that is learned overtime.

You can find the entire interview on Vladimir’s Russian Martial Art website here.

Movement in the Russian Martial Art of Systema

Michael Chin Worcester Systema MovementAs a martial art developed by the Russian military, Systema focuses on relaxation and breathing techniques in addition to hand-to-hand and weapon combat. On the Russian Martial Art website, Vladimir Vasiliev describes the secret of systema and its unique method of combat.

His first piece of advice is to always be on the move. It is a lot more difficult to attack a person moving around than a person standing still. Constantly moving around adds another level of complexity that an attacker has to deal with. This is also the case for multiple attackers. When an opponent is relaxed and spontaneous, the attacker not only has to think about how to attack but also where to attack. Vladimir describes this kind of fighting as “chess-like,” in that every move is calculated to confuse the opponent or use a group of attackers against themselves.

The difference between the relaxed movements that Vladimir is speaking about and the more typical jerky, tension-filled movements is a major aspect of the art of systema. When an opponent fights with jerky motions that are basically just position changes with small stops, it becomes a lot easier to guess their next move. In systema, fighters are trained to fight in completely relaxed and smooth, both in body and mind. This is done through exercises in consistent combative breathing techniques and internal control.

Systema focuses a lot on the mind as well as the body. Vladimir says that when someone is fighting with tension, they are really taking power away from themselves. Fighting with tension is an illusion of power when really they are fighting with fear. Tension and fear are negative emotions that take away from the true reality of power. Power, flexibility, speed, and accuracy are qualities that humans contain a large reserve of but need the proper training to successfully unleash these qualities.

For more on the secret of movement in systema, visit Vladimir’s article on the Russian Martial Art website here.

The Origins of Systema – Where It Came From

Michael Chin Worcester What is SystemaIn a recent article by Systema HQ, many people know martial arts but many don’t know about Systema, the Russian style of martial arts that dates back to the 10th century. System was first used as a method of repelling invaders from the north, south, east and west. Since Russia is such a large country, they needed people ready to defend the country from all directions. These battles to defend the country, happened in the blistering heat of summers and the cold days of winter. The russians were usually greatly outnumbered by the enemy forces. Because of their shortcomings, they created defense tactics that combined string will and innovative moves in order to compete with said enemy that wanted to invade Russia. The style of Systema is natural, free, with no strict rules, structure, or limitations. All of the tactics are based on instinctive reaction, individual strengths and characteristics.

In 1917 when the communists came to power, they suppressed all national traditions. Anyone who was practicing Systema at the time could be severely punished. However, as time went on, authorities realized that how effective and deadly systema was that they incorporated it in a few Special Operations Units. In Systema, the synergy of three components creates a true warrior: combat skill, strong spirit and healthy body. The body needs to be free of tension filled with endurance, flexibility, and effortless movement. The spirit of the warrior needs to be calm and free of anger. Lastly, the combat skill involves moments that are both precise and instant. This complete set of concepts and training components is what gives systema its name. Acquiring the martial art skill is a way to improve the seven physiological systems of the body including the three levels of human ability the physical, psychological and the spiritual. The goal of systema is not to necessarily be destructive but rather to make sure your training and attitudes do not damage the body or psyche of yours or your partners.

Another name for Systema is “poznai sebia” or “know yourself.” Taking the time to train in Russian martial art will sure help to showcase the full spectrum of your limitations. The roots of Systema are in Russian Orthodox Christian faith- the belief is that everything that happens to us has an ultimate purpose. That is to to basically help us understand ourselves. It was very interesting to see how something that could be considered deadly and self defensive could have so much meaning and roots in religion.

This blog post is based off of this article.

Michael Chin’s Training Lineage

Michael Chin Worcester Vladimir VasilievMichael Chin was certified by Vladimir Vasiliev to teach Systema at Mass Bay Systema. Vladimir is the director and chief instructor of Systema Headquarters located in Toronto. Vladimir was born in Russia and was trained in Systema and other intensive combative training. In 1993, he moved to Canada where he founded the first school of Russian Martial Art outside of Russia. He has trained and qualified 500 instructors in the Art of Systema. He is also an award-winning producer in Systema instructional videos. He has multiple government awards including the very prestigious “Order of Duty and Honor” and “Order of Loyalty” awards.

Vladimir received his Systema training from Mikhail Ryabko in Russia. Mikhail is a Russian Colonel and used to be assistant to Russia’s General Prosecutor of the Ministry of Defense. Mikhail worked in the Russian militia and trained the Minister’s security guards. He has won multiple awards for his work in the Russian military and protection of Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He served in Russian’s special unit for ten years, aiding in military affairs, hostage operations, counter-terrorist operations, armed criminal neutralizations, and training operatives in Russia’s special task unit.

Since Russia is the biggest country in the world, it had to innovate it’s own fighting style to combat invaders coming into Russia from it’s many vantage points. Russia had multiple enemies with various weapons and distinct forms of fighting; therefore, Russia had to develop a form of fighting that was based on instinctive reactions, individual strengths, and quick learning. Their fighting style had to be versatile, practical, deadly, and effective so that they could combat any type of enemy in any circumstance.

You can learn more about Systema here.

This blog post is based off of this page.

 

Systema Works both Body and Mind in Central Florida

Michael Chin Worcester Systema TeamworkMembers of Central Florida Systema are engaging their very own challenge called the “one million movements challenge.” The organization is the Orlando area’s only Russian martial arts school and has members ranging from 18 to 58 years old. Starting this year, the school took the challenge of attempting to do a combined one million movements that involved pushups, leg raises, and squats. Today, they are about one-third of the way towards their goal of one million.

When David Orman first proposed the idea back in January, people thought it was a crazy idea; however, as time went on, it acted as a motivator and people began to buy into the idea and even like it. Orman’s focus during his Systema classes is classic towards the growth and development of body and mind. On one side, he hones in on the self-defense aspect with relaxed and focused movements. On the other side, he puts emphasis on personal growth and development in using the martial arts. How hard you can kick is just as important is how you treat and respect people. Martial arts are used to protect yourself against the dangers in the world, and part of protecting yourself and others is a natural affinity for the people and community you share your life with.

Other than the physical health benefits that come along with the “one million movements challenge,” there are also psychological benefits. The goal on one million movements is a challenge for the entire team, fostering a sense of community and encouragement throughout the class. The number one priority is to help solidify the group, so that the entire class can reach the goal of one million. You will get stronger by not only helping yourself, but by also helping the people around you. Even with striking and sparing, members are not only gaining physical strength, but they are also gaining psychological strength in the courage that it takes to take a hit.