Systema trainning experiences

Tim's Discussion Board: Martial Arts - Miscellaneous: Systema trainning experiences
   By Craig (Unregistered Guest) on Friday, November 21, 2003 - 01:58 pm: Edit Post

Hi all,

I trainned in Systema(after a number years in CIMA's) for a short period of time in the UK. Since moving away from the UK, I have not had a chance to train in the system at any schools that teach it.

When I trainned in a systema class, there were alot of very useful sensativity drills, some good cooperative sparring and drills to deal with learning to handle fear and physical pain.

In my limited experience trainning in Systema, I haven't seen any non-cooperative sparring, with fully resisting opponents. It was explain to the class that such trainning(non-cooperative sparring) was counter-productive to ones progress, in being able to "properly" apply the system(and it's principles) in a fight and that non-cooperative trainning would just lead to kickboxing type fighting.

This is just my limited experience, trainning with different instuctors. I would like to hear about other peoples experiences, trainning in Systema, especially about their sparring experience. Coopeative and non-cooperative.

Best wishes,


   By chris hein on Friday, November 21, 2003 - 04:56 pm: Edit Post

Well no systema training here, but I did Aikido for a long time. Like you say of systema, Aikido has lots of useful sensitivity drills, and cooperative practices. This can give you lots of cool stuff. But I think it's ridiculous to say that noncooperative training is counter productive. If in your life someone ever attacks you for real, they are going to resist everything you try and do to them. This is the nature of a fight. Not being comfortable with the way this feels (a direct result of never training with resistance.) is very disadvantageous. Even if you have all the skills to effortlessly fend off such an attack in a relaxed manner, the fact that you are not used to someone resisting you and really trying to hurt you will likely make you tense up. I think I understand where the systema guys are going with what they are saying, (that you shouldn't rely on force to bale you out, and you should be working on technical profecentcy) but never feeling resistance isn't' the way to go about it. Most of my Aikido training was useless till I started learning how to deal with resistance, now I'm finding that lots of it comes in handy.

Just my feelings and experience,
p.s In my exsperiance there is no such thing as “just kickboxing”, there is fighting, and not fighting. "Just kickboxing" is what people say when they don't know how to fight.

   By Kenneth Sohl on Friday, November 21, 2003 - 11:44 pm: Edit Post

Craig, many years ago I was fortunate enough to sample a bit of the Systema. Many of its techniques that I saw would indeed be difficult to translate into a safe sparring method, and to sanitize them would greatly reduce Systema's combat effectiveness. However, bear in mind that those who criticize sparring as not being "real" fighting are forgetting that forms, two-man drills and conditioning aren't real fighting either. Might I suggest practicing the more dangerous techniques until they become second nature (this can develop timing and distancing), but using VARIOUS sparring methods to develop the spontaniety and balance necessary to apply those techniques? Cooperating is the only way to learn things, but as you get better, your partner must increase the difficulty of his opposition to you accordingly, so in the end, resistance is actually "cooperative". I've found that IF you and your training partners truly respect each other and stay focused with a serious attitude towards learning dangerous methods, you can spar with few limitations in relative safety. In taijutsu randori, we fought at 1/3rd speed and gradually increased speed over a period of about a year. Unfortunately, if you are training in a system based sheerly on sporting principles, this is just a time-consuming way of discovering it doesn't work. My opinion of Systema (for what it's worth)from what I saw was that some experienced people had contributed to it.

   By Craig (Unregistered Guest) on Saturday, November 22, 2003 - 03:38 am: Edit Post

Chris, Kenneth,

Thanks for the insight into your experiences. I hope that I will get the oppertunity to come to Shen Wu and do some trainning, in the future. Or meet some like minded people with the similar goals.

Best wishes,

   By rumbrae (Unregistered Guest) on Saturday, November 22, 2003 - 02:20 pm: Edit Post


I interpret that by "dangerous methods" you mean street lethal methods that work in the reality of life or death situations in the street.

So how do you know you are really learning and practicing these "dangerous methods" that will actually work in the street if you and your training partners haven't and don't spend most of the time in such situations?

   By Kenneth Sohl on Saturday, November 22, 2003 - 07:21 pm: Edit Post

Rumbrae, that's simple: learn from other people's mistakes, not your own. Then, see if you have the luck and sense of detachment to make your own that which you think you've learned.

   By Enforcer (Unregistered Guest) on Sunday, November 23, 2003 - 05:16 pm: Edit Post

Yes, yes I know - punches are punches and kicks are kicks and they often are in several styles with different names. But there are techniques unique to a style of MA like Wing Chun practitioners would have Chi Sao, Sambo guys go for legs and ankles and BJJ would be like armbars and triangles.

Chuck Lidell studied Kempo yet in his Pride/UFC matches what he does sure looks like boxing, muay thai, greco roman wrestling, and bjj.

   By jellyman (Unregistered Guest) on Thursday, November 27, 2003 - 12:39 pm: Edit Post

'I haven't seen any non-cooperative sparring, with fully resisting opponents.'

Guess you dropped in at that time of the year. As one of VV's other students said to me, it takes about a full year before you might see a repetition in the content of a class.

I help run an affiliate club about 100km from VV's, and for sure we have sparrings wherein one person tries to beat the other. Intensity varies on a sliding scale, and depending on the 'tude of the participants.

If your definition of non-cooperative, fully-resisting sparring is as defined on this thread on Tim's Concepts sub-forum:

Then I would say YES, there is sparring in systema.

Right now VV's big thing seems to be striking, getting hit, and mass attacks.

For example, last week I went to class there and we had a progressive series of drills. First, you lie down and 2 partners kick at you slowly. Your job is to roll out of the way. Then you must hold your breath for 30 seconds (instructor calls when) as you do this. Then the 2 guys pick up the contact, so they can hear a good thump. Then you aer allowed to try and take them down as you roll out of the way.

A similar drill involved standing in the middle of a circle. First you are shoved around, and you must maintain balance and form with footwork. Then you are shoved with fists. Then you are punched and kicked, and are free to do react as you wish. The idea was that you would be able to ride the blows and redirect the force through your body and out to someone in the circle.

Then we ran out of time, so everyone who had not been in the middle was put in the center of the room, everyone surrounded them and got to hit them. This lasted for about 5 seconds before people on the outside waded into the middle and the whole class - about 25 people - got into a mass fight. The absorption really paid off, is all I'm saying. Everyone had a good time, and although a few bloody noses/split lips did occur, it was all taken in good fun.

There is also the 'regular' one-onone type stuff.

And of course, every time someone walks into my club, they want some 'proof'. You know how it is.

   By jellyman (Unregistered Guest) on Thursday, November 27, 2003 - 12:43 pm: Edit Post

'So how do you know you are really learning and practicing these "dangerous methods" that will actually work in the street if you and your training partners haven't and don't spend most of the time in such situations? '

Well, all of the vital hits I learned from VV were from getting hit there lightly - just enough to make you dizzy. It was enough to convince me. In fact, that's how I show these same points to my students. And no, I wasn't standing there either. Same with say neck cranks and stuff - do them lightly enough to thee partner has a chance to escape, but enough so he sees the need to escape. It does take some practice on both sides of the equation...

   By jellyman (Unregistered Guest) on Thursday, November 27, 2003 - 12:59 pm: Edit Post

'It was explain to the class that such trainning(non-cooperative sparring) was counter-productive to ones progress, in being able to "properly" apply the system(and it's principles) in a fight and that non-cooperative trainning would just lead to kickboxing type fighting. '

I think it depends what you eman by non-cooperative. I think what is meant here is that if you go in with the philosophy of 'not losing' rather than 'winning' you will be stunted in your growth.

So, for example, you soar with this guy, and decide you aren't going to get hit. To the point where you aern't hitting, or are simply running away and flicking a fist at the guy's face. Well, such a strategy may pay off in a kickboxing match that scores points for such stuff, but if it has no power, it is really useless. When I encounter this behaviour from others, I simply step forward and stop when they run. When they pull up 6 feet away, and look puzzled, I say something like 'If you don't want to hit me, why would we fight?'

There are also countermeasures for dealing with the 'afraid to tangle guy' - that's what I call guys who refuse to commit, but dance around trying to pick off some light shots. This involves hitting pps on the arms and hands - easier than you would think with practice. Over the space of a few seconds the fraidy fighter will try to keep his hands away from you, rather than try to hit you with them. We practice this at a decent speed, and students of mine have tried it on others, with positive results.

The point, in short, is to abandon the idea of points or some invisible judges, and train with the idea of survival instead.

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