Sistema Homoluden Seminar London 2013 Part one...
I have been back from London for less than 24 hours and my head is spinning with information from the Sistema Homoluden seminar with Alex Kostic. We go back a long day and Alex was one of my training partners when I first showed up in Toronto in 2000 to train for 6 1/2 weeks with the Systema Vasiliev School.
Since those days Alex has travelled to Russia to make research trips and has trained with many traditional and contemporary Russian styles including Slaviano-Goretskaya Borba of Alexander Belov, Skobar from Gruntovsky, Systema Vasiliev, Millitary Style of A.A. Kadochnikov and a number of others styles. Since those early days Alex has through creative testing, studying mma disciplines and modifying material he collected prior to becoming interested in the Russian martial arts, created a unique training method that allows a student to test theories at real speeds and contact levels.
His goal for this seminar was to give students his vision for fist and leg fighting along with an appreciation of their own abilities of working at real world speeds and how his method is structured to allow students to free their movement for the full speed chaos of fighting in a crowd.
The first thing he told us was that in Russia there are still bare knuckle competitions and that the different Systema Schools that advocate only training slow do very badly in them. Instead the wilder folk styles do best and in particular the traditional school of Gruntovsky. Having been trained in his family style this man preserves and encourages traditional Russian culture including the practice of mass fights to celebrate different holidays. For those interested in Systema history Gruntovsky’s father has at some point taught some of his style to Vladimir Vasiliev and in early video releases footage from that school was part of the material that Vasiliev used to inform the world what Systema was.
Alex then went on to explain that we had to be able to hit in any direction along any plane and the diagonals between them. He then worked through a number of different punches and knees that would allow us to do this whilst emphasizing a bouncing movement and stamping that grounded each strike and created the inertia of the arms whilst raising he shoulders to protect our chins.
One point he made was that in Skobar and his method it was important not to look around to identify the target before striking because in chaos this will take too long and get you hit in the face.
Having worked through these strikes both with and without the pads we put them into a number of striking flows on the pad. These allowed the students to move between a number of different strikes full speed and power.
Another drill was to flow at full speed between strikes in all directions. It was at this point that the grounding stamp made sense to me. When using full power strikes they will not all make contact in a crowd. If your strike does not contact with a target and you try to change direction of your movement the inertia throws you off balance unless you can ground your structure. These stamps formed individual frames of movement and that is why Alex’s movement at full speed looks choppy instead of flowing.
This drill moved onto a number of full speed flow drills where a group of attackers tried to kick or slap the person in the centre of a circle. There job was to move full speed throwig strikes in all directions whilst moving around using the stamps to create frames and punctuate the flow.
This showed how incredibly difficult it is to enter in on someone swinging full force and gave students honest feedback on where their movement and understanding was. This became a theme in later lessons on kicking and wrestling which I will discuss in other articles on this amazing seminar.
The organiser plans to sell a DVD of the event and when this is available I will be letting you know straight away. Until that time keep checking my articles to see what else we learnt at this incredible event.