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07-24-2005, 01:46 PM
Beyond The Physical (http://www.russianmartialart.com/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=22&products_id=50)
I was browsing around a found this DVD by Mikhail Ryabko who is featured in Aikido Journal (http://www.aikidojournal.com/expo/?instructor=11) and I thought it's just interesting that it's like Ki (or it is Ki).

Has anyone here bought the video and has experience something like this?


Charles Hill
07-24-2005, 11:07 PM
I have not seen the video but I do train in Systema and just attended a seminar in Chicago taught by Mikhail Ryabko's student, Vladmir Vasiliev. I have never heard any discussion of anything related to "ki." What I have seen is an extremely subtle and high level use of how a person reacts to the situation of thinking he/she is about to be hit. In Systema, we actually hit, so there is no deadening of such a response like I have found in Aikido. Of course that is just my experience.

I highly recommend the dvd Hand to Hand (H2H) by Vladmir. There is a lot directly related to Aikido.


07-25-2005, 05:35 AM
Hi Charles - could you expand on this? I'm interested in aspects of Systema training that could be used to improve aikido training. In what way do you mean 'the reaction to being hit' and that you actually hit people - i.e. do you force people to rect by hitting them if they don't? Do you wear protection?


Mark Uttech
07-25-2005, 07:59 AM
Hallo. When I heard of the "defense in a confined space" dvd, I got curious and checked out the Systema approach to Martial Arts. I was so taken by the dvd that I immediately ordered four other Systema tapes; "fundamentals of knife disarming", "Hand to hand", "Personal Protection", and
"New York Seminars, 2001". After viewng these tapes I found them very intriguing. But, luckily I
noticed this new interest was taking me 'off the track' and would take me 'far off the track' if I let it.
It is always interesting to learn new "tricks", But if you live 70 years, you are lucky. A lot of people don't. Everyone runs into this type of cross training dilemna sooner or later. After 20-plus years of
practicing Aikido, I am only now beginning to understand the 'blessing of kihon waza'. It is important
to understand that "NO!" is sometimes a good answer. An open mind is sometimes a bad thing. I
can well understand that some of these thoughts of mine can be taken in hair-splitting ways that will
make people wonder why I even bothered to write this post. It might be simply my way of saying that it is better to pick one path and stay on it. In gassho

07-25-2005, 12:52 PM
I have not seen the video but I do train in Systema

In the video, Mikhail, throws people (lose balance and fall might be a better description) without touching them and if I recall correctly cause some to lose consciousness. Been a while since I watched it. A few things were questionable only because I don't think the explanation was good enough on the video.

Much of it is simply an extension of training with contact along with a dose of psychology and understanding timing, relaxation, etc. I would say there is quite a bit of overlap but use of different terminology. However as with all no-touch stuff one has to be very careful not to cross the line into "group-think" that misleads people into thinking some sort of supernatural magic is happening. Participants should understand what is actually going and my experience with Systema teachers is that they pretty level headed about this sort of stuff keeping the most of the training on the physical contact side of the equation.

"mind leads the body" - KT

07-25-2005, 01:09 PM
"mind leads the body" - KT ? Really, I kept hearing Spirit leads, mind follows, body is attached.

Anyway, I heard really good things about Systema hitting. They were hitting a person in the best spot to get them to let go of someone else. I also heard how they weren't really using the typical "driving force" method to get impact power but rather they were more aiming at hitting just the surface level of the body and it was really fast and powerful. I like the ideas for sure. I'm not interested in focusing on anything othe than aikido at present, but I'm always open to other ideas. How is their knife work?


Charles Hill
07-25-2005, 01:16 PM
Hi Mark,

I remember when we first met at the Madison dojo about 10 years ago. John and Robin were telling me about a recent seminar with Saotome Sensei. They said that Sensei had watched pro-wrestling the night before on tv so he had everyone doing pro-wrestling techniques. I don't consider that cross-training as Saotome Sensei was using it to convey his understanding. Also, I remember that at that time John was heavily involved with Peter Ralston. It is my understanding that this helped John immensely as it was a different way to get to the same place.

I do think that this kind of thing is seriously problematic for beginners. Some of my understanding of Systema comes out in Aikido practice, but so far, this has been ok probably due to the fact that I am one of the higher ranked people in the dojo and also I am already considered a "weird foreigner" in an otherwise all Japanese dojo.


Charles Hill
07-25-2005, 01:37 PM
Hi Ian,

I haven't been training long, but I have heard over and over, "One learns how to hit people by hitting people." No pads or protection, but it is emphasized that we carefully observe our partners so as to not give them too much. What Rob wrote was how one is supposed to start receiving strikes. At the seminar Vlad had us partner up and strike at each other (after a lot of preparatory work.) We were encouraged to start with what he called surface strikes. Watching the dvd "strikes" however, it is clear that there are all kinds of strikes a lot of which go very deep in the body.

To explain about using reactions to getting hit, in the Strikes dvd Vlad teaches how to strike with the shoulder. He demonstrated by touching a student in the groin, who then bends over and his jaw becomes a perfect target for Vlad's shoulder. He did it a few times and it always worked even when the student knew what was coming. there is a scene in the H2H dvd where Vlad causes a student to fall basically by waving his hand in his face and down his body. That definitely raised my eyebrows until I had watched other sections of the dvd enough to realize that the movements(reactions) of the student were the same as when he gets hit in other sections. To put it into words (always a mistake), when V's hand is in front of the student's face, the head moves back. When it does to the throat, the chin comes down. When the hand goes to the right side of the chest, that goes back, then to the lower left chest then right hip. The guy is quite off balance and then instead of stumbling, he takes a fall to get the heck out of there. The student's name is Alex Kostich and will be coming to Tokyo to give a seminar in September. I will ask him about it then. This is something that I am far from being able to do, so until then, I will be hitting and getting hit. ):

Fundamentals of Knife Defense, almost as highly recommended as H2H.


Mark Uttech
07-25-2005, 02:42 PM
Hi Charles!
I'm flattered that you remembered me. I remember you published a newsletter at one time: "Innen".
I still have a copy of it somewhere. You were taking a different approach to Aikido even then. I am
impressed that you are adventurous enough to be studying in a dojo in Japan. All things exist to help the innumerable people trying to find a familiar path. Good luck to you and to everyone else! I think that Aikido sometimes is like a great karmic wave. It is hard for those of us who don't know how
to surf. Robin has done a lot of windsurfing though.

07-26-2005, 09:38 PM
From what I can tell Systema seems to have the same movements as Aikido except that the movements are in a spiral, instead of :circle: :square: :triangle:. I was thinking when they talk about psy energy in Systema, it must be also ki but they call it psychic energy (just some thoughts).

Vlad causes a student to fall basically by waving his hand in his face and down his body

About two weeks ago we tried something like this but instead of waving we were on our sides and facing forward... as soon as uke comes in we sidestep and use our hand and :ki: to do the throw. We move our hands from the chest, to the head, and down to the ground.

07-27-2005, 02:36 AM
This is something that I am far from being able to do, so until then, I will be hitting and getting hit. ):

I did 6 hours of training with one of Vlad's senior students a few weekends ago. Mostly close quarter H2H and knife. Breathing exercises are an important component in absorbing/dissapating blows. Even so my ribs and arms were somewhat tender from training that much all at once.

The knife stuff is pretty interesting.

07-27-2005, 03:03 AM
" "mind leads the body" - KT ? Really, I kept hearing Spirit leads, mind follows, body is attached."

OK... "spirit leads" if you want to pull religion into it...
not exactly sure what point you are trying to make.

in reality -- mind and body are one complicated feedback loop
on each other. You can manipulate someone's body/senses and affect their mind which in turn affects their body.

from the perspective of neuroscience the mind is a label to describe certain physical processes of body function.
It is not separate from the body, but an aspect of it.

07-27-2005, 06:52 AM
I have several of the Systema DVDs. This is hot stuff. The obvious similarities to aikido in SOME aspects was striking, so to speak! I can imagine a fusion of aikido and Systema somewhere in the future. Interestingly, there is apparently a considerable spiritual aspect to Systema as well.

Charles Hill
07-27-2005, 08:49 AM
There seems to be a number of people turning to Systema from Aikido. The other big martial art that is also losing people is Bujinkan. The attraction is obviously the similarities the arts have, but when you start training and exploring Systema, you will find that Systema and the other arts are quite different, opposite actually. Aikido and Bujinkan and every Japanese art teaches through kata and technique. Systema has no set forms and technique is strongly discouraged. From what I can see, the goal is the same, however. In my opinion, exposure and knowledge of Systema can really help Aikido practioners but trying to do both is problematic.

I wrote it before, but get the H2H dvd! I recently guest instructed at a Aikido dojo in the States, teaching a class on multiple attack. I introduced some simple systema exercises that are taught in the dvd. Everyone really improved and everyone liked it and had a good time.


07-27-2005, 09:01 AM
The Hand to hand and knife DVDs sound really good. I'll put them on my X-mas list. Thanks for the recommendation. Can you elaborate a bit on what it is about the hand to hand that you found to be most helpful in terms of your multiple attack?

I've just heard the phrase "spirit leads, mind follows, body is attached" SO MANY TIMES in aikido dojos in the States and in Japan that I was very surprised that KT was saying something else. I didn't actually take the "spirit" in that expression to mean in the religious sense; I took it as "drive", "intent", "will" more than like your ghost starts walking, then your mind says "oh I'd better catch up to Casper over there" and your body gets pulled along. I actually think your body leads sometimes, and your mind catches up to it now and again. You can't have 100% focus 100% of the time. You just recover more quickly from lapses in concentration through training - you really can't eliminate all lapses. Back on track of the thread, I get the impression that this is some of what's going on in Systema training.


Ron Tisdale
07-27-2005, 01:17 PM
Hi Charles,

You aren't leaving us, are you??

Ron :)

Charles Hill
07-27-2005, 08:40 PM
Hi Ron,

No. In fact, I'm working with Stevens Sensei's dvd and some private video I have to relearn the Aiki no ken and aiki no jo so when I finally make it to your annual seminar, I won't look like an idiot. Well, a little less like an idiot.:)


Charles Hill
07-27-2005, 08:50 PM
I was thinking when they talk about psy energy in Systema, it must be also ki but they call it psychic energy (just some thoughts).

Hi Aldrich,

In the little book he publishes, Vladmir talks a bit on psy energy stuff he was trained in as a special forces soldier in Russia. There is mention of how they were taught how to detect poison in a drink through its energy, to give one example. From what I have heard (3rd, 4th, 5th hand?) what he has written and said got taken so far out of context that he does not talk at all about energy or anything that is too strange. He and his students talk a lot about the psyche which is probably the same as what Rob has written as "spirit."


Charles Hill
07-27-2005, 09:07 PM
Can you elaborate a bit on what it is about the hand to hand that you found to be most helpful in terms of your multiple attack?

What I have noticed in crappy multiple attack practice (both mine and other's) is a tendency to get flustered and that results in the defender getting grabby and to spend too long with one attacker and to have a need to do a "technique." The dvd H2H has a lot to work with this. The main point is to keep deep breathing and correct posture.

The first exercise on the dvd is to have one person walk at another, slowly and with no attack. When the standing person (A) feels that she needs to move, she calmly gets out of the other's (B) way. B then walks another meter or so and then turns and comes at A again. They should only go as fast as A can keep calm. To intro the second drill, Vlad says that with only one B the tendency is for A to get off the line and just stop. To prevent this, you add a second B. They both walk straight at A, who gets off the line. The B's walk about another meter or so and turn around and try again.

Later on the dvd, they try it adding various attacks, for ex, kicks, punches, grabs, etc. When I did it in the Aikido class, I added the idea of A telling the B's what speed she wants them to come at her with. It was a scale of 1 (Night of The Living Dead speed, original version, of course) to 10 (attackers high on Jolt cola and Pez speed.) It worked well and I got a lot of good feedback. And this is only one of the many good ideas on the dvd. Jeez, I sound like a salesperson!


07-28-2005, 05:03 PM
Knife Fighting tape seemed very bad for me. Techniques like kicking the knifehand,,, oh my. (I have done lot's of Aikido with tanto, some experimenting on my own (sparring with feltpens and such) and now I have reached the STAB (Survival Tactics Against Blades) program by Karl Tanswell. )

Fighting from the Ground tapes seemed also really unrealistic for me BUT some recent Systema clips I've seen have shown quite okay level of grappling skill and practice.

There's all kinds of goofy stuff out there... put in some experimening in your own, some expreience from different people and see what it will tell you...