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Jon Marshall
10-11-2010, 04:36 PM
Hi All,

I think it was 2003 that Systema hit the aikido world via the Aiki Expo. Well we're a bit behind here in the UK and I haven't yet had the opportunity, but I would be interested in hearing from anyone who has cross-trained in Systema. I've just read Vasiliev's "Let Every Breath..." and am giving the exercises a go.

What especially draws me to Systema, aside from the "internal"/breath aspect, is that they don't learn technique. Wow. Wouldn't that save some time! It would also completely side-step the difficulty of uke not giving attacks appropriate to the technique being practised - i.e. digging in.

I like to train with the freedom to change a technique to whatever's most appropriate, but this can be frustrating for those who are wanting to learn a particular technique. It can also lead to ego-clashes with those who think you should do the named technique, despite having braced themselves (often unconsciously) against it. If I can't successfully do a freestyle technique, then at least I know the problem lies with me rather than my uke.

Happily, I feel I'm finally arriving at a place where my waza flow more easily from one to another without having to consciously problem-solve, but it's been a long old road. Is it a necessary road? Is Systema the medicine for what might be regarded as weaknesses in our training methodology? Or should we just focus more on improving and teaching uke skills?

Regards,
Jon

fremoy
10-14-2010, 04:33 AM
Hi Jon

Great timing, I first heard about Ststema last week and after some on-line watching and reading I'm going to check it out in London next Thursday.
I love the timing and flowing of it, I'm looking forward to it!

There's quite a few clubs in London, not sure about Bath.
I'll let you know how it went, if you attend a class let me know your thoughts too please.

ta
Mark.

Thomas Campbell
10-14-2010, 09:54 AM
The quality of instruction and the effectiveness of skill develop vary tremendously within the Ryabko/Vasiliev line of Russian martial art. In the UK, Rob Poynton (http://www.cuttingedgeshop.com/systema.htm) is a great resource for Systema.

For a secular approach with a more structured approach to learning, it's worthwhile corresponding with Canadian Kevin Secours (kevinsecours@hotmail.com) about his "Combat Systema" approach (www.combatsystema.com). A couple of Kevin's articles are worth reading with respect to the "intuitive learning" espoused by the Ryabko/Vasiliev approach:

http://www.meibukanmagazine.org/Downloads/MeibukanMagazineno10LowRes.pdf

http://www.combatsystema.com/uploads/Russian_Systema_JAMA_Article.pdf

With respect to your Aikido, no approach to Systema is a panacea for another art's shortcomings in teaching. The "slow-training" approach of Systema can encourage dive-bunny tanking behavior just like happy harmonious ukes can in Aikido. That's why it's important to check into making sure that any particular Systema instructor will teach graduated progress towards realistic levels of conflict and tension.

On a personal level, the physical conditioning and breathwork of Systema would probably be very useful to many aikidoka.

Just some thoughts--hope that helps.

Howard Popkin
10-14-2010, 02:59 PM
The quality of instruction and the effectiveness of skill develop vary tremendously within the Ryabko/Vasiliev line of Russian martial art. In the UK, Rob Poynton (http://www.cuttingedgeshop.com/systema.htm) is a great resource for Systema.



Isn't that true everywhere ? The good Systema guys are really good ! And they teach someone how to be soft, instead of just saying "relax".

Cool eh ?

Best regards,

Howard

Thomas Campbell
10-15-2010, 02:23 PM
Isn't that true everywhere ? The good Systema guys are really good ! And they teach someone how to be soft, instead of just saying "relax".

Cool eh ?

Best regards,

Howard

Relax, Howard.

:D

You're right--the good Systema guys are really good. But not all Systema guys are good. And some are good at Systema but not necessarily good at teaching Systema. This can be true with any martial art, as you note.

For purposes of this thread, I think Jon needs to find out who teaches Systema well. And I think he needs to hear from aikidoka who have trained Systema and then attempted to integrate skills and insights learned in Systema training back into their aikido--as students or as teachers.

Mark Kruger
10-15-2010, 04:16 PM
My (limited) experience with Systema: One of my fellow aikido students leads the local Systema group and we've played around a bit. I've been to a Systema seminar on firearms usage.

The good:
- The conditioning and breathing practices are excellent.
- They flow and develop softness well.
- They punch hard.

The bad:
- Because it is a principle based art, they extend it to everything. When they extend outside their core competency things get questionable.
- The slow practice can run afoul of Mroz's law.

Jon Marshall
10-15-2010, 05:17 PM
Thanks guys,

I've got an eye on Rob Poynton's website and do intend to seek him out at some point.

I agree with Thomas that the conditioning's really important, and is something that's pretty optional at a lot of aikido dojo. I've certainly been long-term lazy about it, and am starting to think that this is holding me back - but those Systema sit-ups are really tough! If I can get a head start with the breathing/conditioning before attending a class, then so much the better.

I can't imagine that any Systema I might get to do won't have a strong aikido flavour, and this would be interesting to experience. I think that's partly why I wanted to hear from cross-trainers.

Thanks again for you're replies,
Jon

P.S. Hey Mark, I was in the Ki Fed until a couple of years ago so maybe we've met. Who's your London teacher? PM me.

Howard Popkin
10-15-2010, 05:34 PM
in that case -

Kaizen Taki - Systema NW - Trained with George Ledyard for a very long time.

Kevin Choate - Chicago - one of Saotome's Instructors

Hope that helps.

See you in Seattle in December Thomas ? I can show you how relaxed I am them :)

Take it easy

Howie

Jon Marshall
10-16-2010, 04:26 AM
Thanks Howie,

That is helpful. It seems that Kaizen Taki is rather YouTube-shy, but that Kevin Choate has aikido and systema vids. He looks good at both to me, so I shall keep an eye out for him. Do you know if Kevin still practices aikido, or whether he's dropped it in favour of systema?

Also...

The bad:
- Because it is a principle based art, they extend it to everything. When they extend outside their core competency things get questionable.
...is interesting because it's largely the principle-based bit that attracts me. A good reminder that every approach has it's pit-falls.

So thanks to you both,
Jon

Howard Popkin
10-16-2010, 12:03 PM
Kevin still does aikido.

Send Kaizen an e-mail on his website. I'm sure he would answer questions for you.

Take care,

Howard

Mark Jakabcsin
10-16-2010, 01:42 PM
The knocks no slow training are rather....yeah.

If you can learn it fast, you can learn it twice as fast, slow.

Check out the book "The Talent Code", by Daniel Coyle for some of the latest research on how people learn, or more precisely how people learn to become exceptional at a skill or activity.

Also note that Systema is in no way limited to 100% slow training, a common misconception by those that do not train Systema. The majority of training is done slowly as that IS how we learn the fastest, but a portion of each training secession should be done at varied speeds. High speeds are for testing more than learning.

Another common misconception is Systema is all about being totally relaxed. It is not. Systema is about the proper use of tension, which is significantly less than most folks are used to. We focus a great deal on relaxation because most of us tend to be very tense, but this does not mean that tension does not have its place, it does; but mindless tension does not.

Good luck,

Mark J.

Howard Popkin
10-17-2010, 05:44 AM
Mark,

Its been so long I forgot you did Aikido :)

Best regards,

Howie

Howard Popkin
10-17-2010, 05:45 AM
and, GREAT explanation of the tension.

Thanks !

phitruong
10-17-2010, 06:26 AM
We focus a great deal on relaxation because most of us tend to be very tense, but this does not mean that tension does not have its place, it does; but mindless tension does not.

Mark J.

mindless tension does have a place. i like my uke/attacker to have mindless tension. make me work less.

aren't mindless create tension normally? if you look at a number of zombie movies, the zombies just mind their own mindless business, and the normal folks who screamed their bloody head off (pun intended). :)

Mark Jakabcsin
10-17-2010, 09:49 AM
mindless tension does have a place. i like my uke/attacker to have mindless tension. make me work less.

aren't mindless create tension normally? if you look at a number of zombie movies, the zombies just mind their own mindless business, and the normal folks who screamed their bloody head off (pun intended). :)

Phi, Once again I am stunned by your ability to think outside the box. I had forgotten about the zombies.

LOL.

Mark J.

Mark Kruger
10-19-2010, 01:46 PM
The knocks no slow training are rather....yeah.

If you can learn it fast, you can learn it twice as fast, slow.

Check out the book "The Talent Code", by Daniel Coyle for some of the latest research on how people learn, or more precisely how people learn to become exceptional at a skill or activity.


I read "The Talent Code" and "Talent is Overrated" at nearly the same time, so I get the two confused. Anyway, in one of the books, _two_ systems are developed for developing a high degree of talent. The first is to go go slowly over the material, piecewise and then link the pieces together. The example used for this training method was violin instruction. The other method involves a smaller, faster cycling, version of the material to be learned. The exampled used for this training method was Brazilian "soccer" instruction. The former technique works well when you want to reproduce something complex and lengthy, perfectly. The latter technique is works well when you have a chaotic, fast paced environment where the reactions must occur at an almost unconscious level.

Allen Beebe
10-19-2010, 02:03 PM
Hi Mark,

Would you mind trying to find out which book explains the method used by the Brazilian Soccer team? It sounds interesting.

Thanks,
Allen

Demetrio Cereijo
10-19-2010, 02:12 PM
The Talent Code

MM
10-19-2010, 02:14 PM
Hi Mark,

Would you mind trying to find out which book explains the method used by the Brazilian Soccer team? It sounds interesting.

Thanks,
Allen

I believe The Talent Code book uses both examples.

Allen Beebe
10-19-2010, 02:26 PM
Thanks Demetrio and Mark (both)!

Allen

Mark Kruger
10-19-2010, 03:13 PM
Hi Mark,

Would you mind trying to find out which book explains the method used by the Brazilian Soccer team? It sounds interesting.

Thanks,
Allen

IIRC from the book, the sport of futsal is used as a training grounds. It's played indoors, on a smaller court, with fewer players, with a shorter time limit, and a faster ball.

I have both books and can lend them to you if you want. I'll be passing through Portland on the 29th and 31st.

Allen Beebe
10-19-2010, 03:24 PM
Thanks Mark,

I ordered it from Amazon (Kindle Ed. $9.99) before you posted. Let me know if you want to get together for a meal or something anyway.

Thanks again,
Allen

Dan Rubin
10-20-2010, 09:31 AM
Another common misconception is Systema is all about being totally relaxed. It is not. Systema is about the proper use of tension, which is significantly less than most folks are used to. We focus a great deal on relaxation because most of us tend to be very tense, but this does not mean that tension does not have its place, it does; but mindless tension does not.

Thanks for that explanation (with all due respect to the zombies).