Older Blogs

IZVOR seminar in Holland 2013 Day 1


On the 22nd November 2013 along with two students from the Combat Lab club I headed to a small city in Holland for the first IZVOR seminar to take place in Holland.  Hosted by Michael van der Woude who has lived in and travelled throughout Russia to train with ROSS founder Alexander Retuinskih, the Kadochnikov Systema Headquarters and other sources of Russian Martial Arts this was going to be for many the first time they had seen IZVOR other than on youtube clips. 


We arrived in the city of Groningen by train and were met by the Russian Martial Art instructor Michael Grundev, Michael van der Woude and his sister.  


We had a little time to kill before our first session and it was to provide us with our first surprise of the seminar.  Having dropped my bag of in our room I made my way to the hotel next-door where the others were waiting to find Michael Grudev singing and playing a grand piano in the bar area.  


Michael turns out to be quite a talented musician and plays the guitar too.  He also owns one of the biggest pet cats I have ever seen and loves to show video clips of it stalking the light from a laser pen when ever there is a quite moment.


Over a traditional dutch meal of Hotspot he started to tell us of some ideas he has for the growth of IZVOR and how it like all other Systema schools is part of one Russian Martial Art


He clarified this by saying that there is one Russian Martial Art that complies with certain principles, but all instructors flavour their schools based on their individual interests.  IZVOR focuses on dealing with realistic street based attacks and also does a lot of work with boxers, kick boxers and MMA fighters.


One of his ideas is for the first international summer camp that will be held on the 20th to the 23rd June 2014 in Riga, Latvia.  Details of this event are to be confirmed, but the venue has been chosen because it offers great opportunities and value for money without the need for getting travel visas to visit the country. When I get more details of this event I will be letting everyone know so check out our facebook group and sign up to the newsletter to make sure you do not miss out.


During the evening a small group of us got together to get what for most was the first look at IZVOR and its training methods.  No I know many in the Systema community see people wearing boxing gloves in IZVOR clips and think training it is going to be a bloody affair to be endured.  Yet the reality is very far from that.  

In fact on the first night we never used gloves as we learnt the basics of movement and footwork that allows Michael to work full speed using his expression of the Russian Martial Art.  


One big difference between what he showed and what I had seen with other Systema schools was the absence of the square step as seen in Systema Kadochnikova.  


Instead he used footwork that the boxers amongst our ranks said was exactly how they had been taught in their old boxing gyms.  When asked why this was the case and why not use the square step he explained that IZVOR students work with lots of boxers and the square step simply did not work with them.  This comment indicates one important point about IZVOR.  Its instructors are not interested in things they cannot get to work with people outside of their own school.


Another skill that comes from the boxing play book is to be able to slip punches with the head and in a manner similar to other Systema schools the body too.  This means that the Systema principle of escaping, but staying close remains very much alive in what he does.  


Michael also used a stick to illustrate how to use the arms once they have made contact with the opponent to alter the attacks trajectory.  Like other schools of Russian Martial Art the goal is not to block or stop the weapon, but to alter the trajectory using the angle plane and screw so that it maintains its inertia.  


Keen to make the point that these drills were for skill development and not self defence against a stick there was no illusion created amongst the students.  Clear objectives and goals for students and instructors are very much part of the IZVOR teaching method and in my opinion make learning more efficient and also measurable.


Another thing about  Michael’s teaching methods is that he makes training personal to each student.  He constantly moved around the class correcting mistakes and adding extra information to students who were already able to perform the task he had set. This meant everyone was moving towards the same goals and yet they all grew as individuals with their own little tweaks on the common skills we were developing.


We got through a huge amount of material in a two hour lesson and everyone was really excited to see what the following two days would bring.  Afterwards it was great to discuss with everyone what their impressions were and what they had learnt.  This was already shaping up to be a pivotable seminar in the way many of them viewed their own studies of Systema.


This Video shows Michael teaching how to move effective on a wall.




To find out more information about the IZVOR summer camp check out the official website.




For information on how we study to use Systema at speed check out our video lesson Move Fast Fight Fast to see how to take your Systema to the next level.

Also available from the Combat Lab Shop are ebooks and video lessons that explain the scientific principles that make Systema work.