|Irish Guards Systema Experience|
by David Flaherty
It was with great anxiety and excitement that I made my journey down to Mons Barracks Aldershot in the United Kingdom, to introduce Russian Martial Art Systema to the 1st Bn Irish Guards. An Infantry Regiment steeped in history, further more a family Regiment in more ways than one (my son Steve spent 15
years serving in the Regiment).
As I approached the main gate to the Barracks, it felt as though I was going back in time to the early 1960’s. A time when as a young boy of no more than 15, I started my Junior Leader training to join the Brigade of Guards (all be it the Coldstream Regiment of Foot Guards). That old familiar feeling of returning back home started to well up inside as I approached the Barracks and saw the Regimental Sign and blue red blue Flag for the first time.
The Irish Guards affectionately known throughout the British Army as the Fighting Mick’s, had recently returned from successful operations in Afghanistan (Helmand province). In light of this “Russian Martial Art Systema” I knew would be a very relevant skill for the Regiment to have in view of the current World Civil unrest climate. A great way to add a new spin of unarmed defense into their already impressive and battle tested weapons and skill arsenal.
After being introduced to members of Number 4 Company (one of the Regiments Teeth Army Companies) by WO II CSM Alan Ahearn, we started in earnest our training.
Baptism by fire, a well-versed saying in the British Army is how I started to train with and instruct the men. These young men, who on a daily basis risk their lives to keep us safe and out of harm’s way, quickly adjusted to the fact that this old graying gentleman (me) who on face value looks like any one of their Granddads’, was going to train them and train them hard. The 10-minute press up was a glowing benchmark example of things to come.
Gone was the initial “what can he teach me attitude” that I sensed when I first entered the gym, to be replaced by diligent and respectful attention and growing interest.
The introductive seminar mainly focused on the Basic Principles of Systema those of breath work, movement, relaxation, and posture. The guys quickly grew to understand that there was something very special and combat effective, to Russian Martial Art Systema. We further built this up to incorporate simple yet highly effective Knife and Pistol work. The drills we covered were simply put, adapted to the Regiments current operational mission and readiness state. Keep it relevant and to the point is how we attacked the Seminar.
In summary, it was with great pride that I undertook the opportunity to train with and instruct such a great bunch of young men. In my own small way I felt like I was helping to arm them to continue to protect our great nation and most importantly each other on the battlefields of the future. Fighting for Queen and Country is what the British Army is all about, but ask any serving or former member of the Army what they really fight for and they will all agree “We fight for our mates” meaning the guy next to you.
This is the first of many sessions we at Russian Martial Art GB will be conducting with the 1st Bn Irish Guards. The young Guardsmen, NCO’s and Officers were a fantastic and friendly group of people with Great Spirit and camaraderie that filled the room with so much positive energy throughout the whole of the event.
About the Author: David Flaherty MBE, owner and Chief Instructor of Russian Martial Art GB, has been practicing Martial Arts for 55 years. David has been training under and has been a certified Instructor to teach Russian Martial Art Systema with Vladimir Vasiliev since 2000.
Russian Martial Art GB is hosting a Systema seminar with Vladimir Vasiliev in October 2012. The event is being held at Eton College Windsor and is a fantastic opportunity to train with Vladimir Vasiliev one of the world’s leading and most relevant Martial Art experts. For further details and registration visit
|Quotes from Systema Masters |
by Alexander Shostko
The quotes below are from my notes taken at Systema camps and seminars in the past two years. With some things lost in translation, I hope they can still be useful to Systema practitioners.
If someone attacks you or your family and you already know that you will be fighting – do not be nervous and do not add emotional content, just work.
Do not break the person; break his desire to attack you.
Provide an illusion that your opponent still has control, but make sure he does not.
Those who think they are very strong die first in conflicts.
Every person that works with you is your instructor. And those who want to beat you up are your best instructors.
When you know there will be a fight – start relaxing beforehand. Do not try to fight, just work.
Control the situation in such a way that nobody understands how you control it.
Remove yourself not just from the line of attack, but from line of opponent’s attention.
When you counter on the move, the strikes seem to come out of nowhere.
When you hit somebody – remain human.
People die from non-lethal wounds, yet do not die from lethal ones, all depends on whether you mentally give up.
Endurance is a psychological phenomenon.
Your emotional base controls the situation.
The more you discover yourself, the more tension you see in yourself.
There are several ways to remove stress, the most important are breathing and movement.
The stronger someone grips you, the more you need to relax.
People do not die from wounds or impact, they die because they cannot handle psychological effect of the impact.
|SYSTEMA: Mirror Neurons|
by Dr. Andrea Bisaz
This article is published in the newsletter in short version. For those scientifically inclined, please read the full article as listed on the Training Tips pages: http://www.russianmartialart.com/main.html?page=articles&tPath=1
It is interesting to see, how keen observation of human behavior can be translated into extremely efficient and deceptive fighting principles. What I am about to discuss is essentially nothing new to the experienced Systema practitioner. In fact, we have heard Mikhail Ryabko and Vladimir Vasiliev talk about these principles over and over again. What is fascinating, however, is to see these principles verified by current research in neuroscience.
Understanding in simple terms how things actually work (or might work) in the nervous system can help us to be more specific and successful in our training.
Have you ever wondered how we can sense other people’s movements, intentions and emotions? How we read facial expressions or can control expressing our emotions? Can we really trust our gut feelings? What makes our movements visible or invisible and how does conscious thought and tension interfere with intuitive subconscious action? Where does fighting originate in us? ... In other words, what makes Systema such an effective combat art?
All of these questions have something in common, namely Mirror Neurons – MNs (neuron means nerve cell).
Until recently, it was always thought that we would figure out the opponents’ intentions and movements by doing the following. We first observe them, then create a mental picture and evaluate their movement and expressions through intellectual thinking based on our experience and acquired rules. The discovery of MNs has shown us that our brains have much more elegant and efficient ways.
In short, when we observe another person, our brain will mirror or immediately perform this person’s actions using MNs in our own “brain programs”. This happens without us activating our muscles and without our conscious awareness. However, everything else is as if we were doing it for real. Our brains will activate hormones and link up emotions and feelings as well as memories just as if we were moving ourselves. The only conscious experience we may have of this mirroring is a “gut feeling”. This elegant method allows us to immediately figure out an opponent’s intentions via our own intentions that we would have, if using those movements, facial expressions, etc.
We can see that when Systema practitioners execute natural and non-threatening movements, it will be confusing for an adversaries or even invisible until it is too late. Thus, their reactions to our actions will be inappropriately delayed. This is what makes our actions invisible and effective. Good Systema actions are simply invisible in the context of their meaning and since the brain sees things instead of the eyes those actions can be literally invisible to the brain!
For a great example of this, watch Stealth Striking by Mikhail Ryabko: http://www.russianmartialart.com/catalog/product_info.html?cPath=22&products_id=178