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Day One Training The Russian Martial Art IZVOR


My student Sunny Lum and I arrived at Riga airport on a Friday afternoon to be met by Rob  and his IZVOR and self defense club’s minibus.  Rob is a real character.  Once a river guide in the States he has settled back in Riga where he has built a very close group of students into what can only be described as an extended family.


Once we sat in the van for our short journey to the nearby hotel he started to give us information about the city of Riga, IZVOR and the things we wanted to see during our four day trip.  Having dropped off our kit we headed to the Lido restaurant for food and to meet the head instructor Michael Grudev.  


Michael and the other students were pleased to see us.  He said he had been watching some of my clips and identified how I could improve because my movements were to big.  The conversation then quickly moved onto a variety of topics before we started to swap jokes and make general conversation.  Before we left arrangements were made to meet for training on the beach later that evening.


It was raining and windy when we stepped onto the sand for the first time.  Not knowing exactly what to expect this was going to be very different to Systema seminars I had attended.  The students were fit and some clearly had plenty of experience and physical preparation.


We started with a drill that most Systema folk would be familiar with.  Stood on the edge of a board walk we were slowly pushed all over our faces and bodies with fists.  The goal was to move our bodies and hips so that these slid off without us stepping back on the sand. 



One big difference was that the hip movements were sudden and explosive.  The reason for this being that if we only moved them slow in training this is what would happen in a fight.


Then our training partners put on boxing gloves.  We had to use similar movements to avoid and slide past punches committing the cardinal sin of stepping backwards.  This very quickly showed me two massive faults. 


The first had already been identified by Michael.  Movements with my arms were way to large and wasted huge amounts of time and effort as well as left me very open to further strikes.  


In this picture I think it clearly illustrates this fault.


The second was that my feet were flat and weight was on their heels.  This meant even if I did not try to step back it was far to easy to over balance me and cause me to step onto the sand.  As IZVOR advocates forwards movement into and around an attack this was considered a very wrong thing to do.


From there we moved onto a series of wrestling and boxing drills that focused on the use of a stance and guard position that makes use of an IZVOR principle called the triangle to maintain our distance from the attacker and ensure that our weapons could all hit their targets if needed.


The skill level of several of the students were remarkable.  several of them looked like they could be dropped into a cage in any MMA gym and yet when I asked them if they had studied MMA they said they only train with IZVOR under Michael. 


We moved through much that night including sparring knife on knife and unarmed against a very aggressive knife wielding attacker.  Huge gaps in my work were identified, modified or simple put aside for future work.


One thing that stood out was that IZVOR training was going to be physically and psychologically more challenging than the average Systema seminars I had attended in the past.


After the training and more food Sunny and I were taken back to our hotel room where we cleaned the sand off ourselves before sitting down to talk through an amazing first glimpse at another side of the RMA world neither of us had seen before.







For more information on studying the Science of Systema and learn the lessons that I have learnt on my travels check out our other Systema blog articles and the educational material in our Combat Lab Shop.  Our educational material is unique in the English language.