Looking at the Cyrillic label on the video, Secours asked, "Any good?"
"It's interesting," the friend replied. "Weird as hell but interesting."
Little did Secours know that tape would be his introduction to a 16-year (and counting) journey into the unorthodox world of the Russian martial arts, including years of high-level training under top Russian masters. On the video Secours saw mobility exercises unlike anything he had ever experienced. As he was to learn, the uniqueness of the Russian martial arts stemmed from the uniqueness of the country itself. The Cold War in the 1950s, during which the superpowers battled for supremacy, was the final forge that refined the Russian martial arts into what they are today. In anticipation of global warfare, the Soviet government commissioned combat researchers to travel throughout the world to study different approaches. They tested these methods and integrated the best concepts with their own native traditions. This period of development led to the creation of distinct Soviet martial arts, including Sport Sambo, Combat Sambo, and Samoz, which was later modified and became known simply as Systema (literally "the System").
Approaching Systema from a decidedly Western perspective, Secours pressure-tested the strengths and benefits of every concept and technique, and ultimately took only what served him. He built his Combat Systema curriculum on a scientific approach to biomechanics, breath training, and combat psychology. In The Complete Book of Combat Systema, he keeps things practical, provable, and profitable for you to incorporate what works into your self-defense training. Prices & Ordering
With a light and simple movement of his fist alone, Vladimir Vasiliev is able to apply stealthy and shocking power of greater depth and freedom than professional heavyweight boxers can achieve with their entire focused mass, strength, torque, and momentum.
Vladimir's spontaneous and intelligent strikes work against any target, from any position, for immediate resolution of armed or unarmed confrontations, for energizing a partner, and even for healing. These strikes are the culmination of precise movement, impeccable timing, exact contact calibration and extraordinary emotional clarity. This is the meaning of "Hit Different."
In STRIKES: Soul Meets Body, chief Systema instructor Vladimir Vasiliev reveals the physical and psychological training regimen that underlies this unprecedented martial arts capability, rooted in centuries of Russian combative and spiritual tradition.
From the depth of the soul to the edge of the knuckles, experience the truth and the power. Prices & Ordering
I felt like this book kept my eyebrows raised the entire time I read. Sometimes my thought was, "What a brilliant way to put this complex concept I've struggled with!" Many times it was, "Wow. I....have to make a note of this, right now." And occasionally it was, "Goodness gracious, those Systema people are hardcore."
This 300 page book took me six weeks to read, and I was reading diligently. This is because I have page after page of notes, and frequently stopped to reread a passage, or stare off into space and consider, or go back to my own practice and see how I had been doing things and where the gaps lay.
As the title says, it's about striking. How to hit. But to get there, Mr. Vasiliev and Mr. Meredith discuss:
-- How to maintain awareness in combat
-- How to free your body, so that it can make multiple strikes and adjust to openings and adverse situations (such as being grabbed, surrounded, or injured)
--How to learn to keep a cool heart in the heat of the moment
-- How to give all the damage to your opponent when you strike, instead of splitting it 70% - 30% with them
-- How to learn to stop being afraid of getting hit, losing, etc.
--How to breathe calmly and well while going through crazy situations
--How to have a relaxed, powerful, responsive body
--How to take a hit
They give drills to get you there (crazy, hardcore Systema drills).
This is one of those books that I will certainly reread. And be working on these things for years.
Let Every Breath gave me a lot to think about and at least eight years' worth of things to work on. Well worth reading.
It's a good book. I found the worshipful admiration and gratitude for his teachers a little off-putting … but I do appreciate the humility and gratitude that makes someone want to share how amazing someone else is. However, when I recommend it to others – and I will – I will probably suggest they begin in chapter 3, where the breath teaching starts.
The Russian Orthodox flavor was great. Many martial arts texts (particularly the older ones, but also a number of the new) are tinged with religion. After so many Buddhist, Daoist, Shinto, etc, it was nice to see an Eastern Christianity view.
You can tell that the creators of this method were special forces and that a lot of the early training was military. You can tell that the author practices about a dozen martial arts very intensely. How? The really rather sweet, innocent assumption that everyone who reads this book is an athletic male in his prime.
I have had to completely adjust every single exercise shown in this book to something I could do.
First they have you doing lots and lots of push-ups while doing interesting breath patterns...with no tension anywhere in your body. Just as I was trying to figure out if I (with my pathetic upper body strength) could possibly work up to doing a push-up that slowly if I did it from my knees, the author has a helpful suggestion. Guess what? If doing endless slow push-ups is so easy that not only do you not have any muscular tension but you're actually bored, you can hook one ankle behind the other to make it more interesting!
I had to put the book down to laugh.
I remember my first day of kindergarten. I was four years old. I remember my mounting panic as I struggled to sit up as the teacher instructed, with my legs out straight ahead of me on the floor and my torso perpendicular to the floor. I couldn't do it. My legs simply aren't flexible like that. So I particularly enjoyed it as the writer explained that the double leg lift was easy for breath work because hey! Who can't just slowly lift both legs to a 90 degree angle without any tension? The trick, he says, is knowing when to stop so you don't overfill those lungs. Oh, and stop a lot along the way, not letting your back arch.
My Army friends would probably have a blast with this. But I am modifying every exercise for myself, based on the thought that breathing in these patterns under physical stress will probably bring me most of the same benefits: it just takes a lot less to stress my body that it does for, say, a Navy Seal.
Yes, as other reviewers have said, the actual content is more of a fat pamphlet than a book. But it is a very valuable fat pamphlet. It will take me several years to work through this, and more to make it a natural part of my everyday life. I am grateful that the author boiled down this game-changing teaching into so few words, so that we can grasp the important things and start working on them immediately. It is simply and purely the fundamentals, without frills to obscure the important parts. It is well explained and simple. And every coach, every sensei, every trainer will tell you that it's the correct practice of the fundamentals that matters.
For teachers there are 25 easy to understand practices that you can deliver, develop and adapt to your classes. Tips are provided to show how they can be easily developed, to give birth to many more drills, creating an endless source of inspiration and variety.
About the Author
Matt Hill Is The Owner And Chief Instructor At His Systema School In Wiltshire, Uk. He Started Training In The Martial Arts In 1987 And By 1991 He Was Living As A Full Time Student Of Aikido Giant Morihiro Saito In Iwama, Japan, Where He Lived For Two Years. Matt Is A Qualified Systema Instructor Under Vladimir Vasiliev, A 5th Degree Black Belt In Aikido And An Ex Parachute Regiment Captain. He Teaches Full Time At His School, As Well As Leading Workshops Throughout The Uk, Europe And The Middle East. He Is Committed To His Personal Training And Sharing The Gift Of Systema With As Many People As Possible. Prices & Ordering
About the Author
Joe Mayberry is a Systema Instructor certified by Vladimir Vasiliev, police detective, former United States Marine, bouncer, bodyguard, and a highly sought after self defense speaker and instructor. Trained in Martial arts since 1974, Joe brings a no-nonsense approach to his teaching and a street smart attitude to his approach to the martial arts. In 2010, Joe opened Systema St. Louis, the only school of Russian Martial Art in the St. Louis Metropolitan area. Joe and the school have been featured on every major news outlet in St. Louis. In 2014, the school was featured on The Oprah Network. In 2012, Joe founded the Systema Warrior Foundation for the teaching of Systema to disabled children. Joe has traveled all across North America bringing Systema to children with disabilities free of charge. Joe and his family happily reside is St. Louis, MO. Prices & Ordering
The purpose of this book is to provide a guide for students and teachers, to enhance their training and teaching.
It provides 25 combat drills to improve your fundamental skill. Among other things you will learn: fluid movement, to be calm under pressure, a natural and spontaneous response, fast recovery and how to be dynamic and effective in defense and attack. This book will be useful grappling, striking, weapons based, competition or reality based Martial Arts.
For teachers there are 25 easy to understand drills that you deliver, develop and adapt to your classes. Tips are provided to show how they can easily be developed, to give birth to many more drills, creating an endless source of inspiration and variety.
'Matt Hill is a strong and caring person, a talented instructor and a very experienced professional. His Systema shows great skill and understanding. I highly recommend training with Matt for people of all ages.' - Vladimir Vasiliev
About the Author
Matt Hill is the owner and chief instructor at his Systema School in Wiltshire, UK. He started training in the Martial Arts in 1987 and by 1991 he was living as a full time student of Aikido giant Morihiro Saito in Iwama, Japan, where he lived for two years. Matt is a qualified Systema Instructor under Vladimir Vasiliev, a 5th degree black belt in Aikido and an ex Parachute Regiment Captain. He teaches full time at his school, as well as leading workshops throughout the UK, Europe and the Middle East. He is committed to his personal training and sharing the gift of Systema with as many people as possible. Prices & Ordering
Never before has a book been written that goes into such depth into this ancient martial art. Major Komarov provides clear explanations of the concepts of Systema, breaks them down into step by step practice programs, all the while describing real life experiences. --Achille Currado
It is a great honour and privilege to get an advance peek at this monumental, definitive work. HARD-WON LESSONS FROM THE GREATEST TRUE LIFE ADVENTURE! --Scott Meredith
Reading this book reminds me of Konstantin giving a lecture: a thorough command of the subject matter, well organized chapters with superbly detailed lessons, plus excellent stories which support each bit of information. Here you have it all: A Systema master, who also has psychology of combat degree, plus he is a master instructor--He really knows how to teach this stuff. I particularly like that he gives instructions of exercises, with some details left to individual interpretation, but with an excellent explanation of the rationale and benefits of that particular exercise. This is a book that people will read over and over, now, and in the future, and they'll probably find meaningful tips that can only be discovered as the readers mature in their understanding of the universe that is Systema. Along with the book "Let Every Breath..." and the instructional videos, this really becomes part of a learning library for Systema practitioners of all levels. --Alberto Nacif, MD
About the Author
Major Konstantin Komarov is a PhD in Combat Psychology, a commander and pedagogue to military professionals, a highly experienced bodyguard, a mentor to troubled youth and a trainer to numerous Systema practitioners around the world. Konstantin is one of the most knowledgeable and thorough instructors of our time. Prices & Ordering
Also, you have to understand, Systema is not for everyone. You need to be open minded. Get rid of your pride, ego, ambition and prejudice. The aim of Systema is not to be the best competition fighter that ever walk the earth, but to become as good person as possible. To discover yourself. To get to know yourself and overcome your shortcomings.
By no means, don't get me wrong. It is a fantastic supplement to your training. Full of great drills. How to structure training on different levels of progression. How to work with different kinds of people, how to help them to overcome their fears. Full of advice on how to understand and correct most common mistakes. Exercises that will help you develop necessary skills.
Really great element of this book, is part, in which Dr Komarov explains how to learn from training videos. He also puts great emphasis on "following the right path", in which I completely agree with him. You can do a lot of work by yourself, but being able to attend seminars, camps and workshops with qualified and experienced instructors, training with different people, is crucial in making sure we are going in the right direction.
Don't get put off by negative reviews of this book made by people who clearly have no idea what this book is about. Reviews made by people who think Systema is like Krav Maga and this book will teach them secret techniques 😉 Once you see the contents, you will realise, there is no pictures or drawings just solid and competent source of information.
This is not a book you read once, it is a book you keep coming back to. Every time learning something new.
This book has the answers! It covers the basic methods of Systema solo practice, including:
Core Exercises, Breathing, Falling & Ground Movement, Stretching and Mobility, Equipment, Health practices and more!
These exercises will help develop your strength, freedom of movement and overall health and fitness, whether for Systema or any other activity.
110 pages and over 400 photos. Prices & Ordering