The Seal of an Officially Certified Systema School

Kick Ass Like A Russian Spy from Ozy Films on Vimeo.


Knife Work

Knife work with Cash Nickerson and Martin Wheeler at the Academy Beverly Hills in Los Angeles


Important Update – Valentin Talanov

Our former guest instructor Valentin Talanov made a decision to be completely separate and independent from Systema HQ Moscow and from Systema HQ Toronto.

Rather than continuing his affiliation and training with Systema founders Mikhail Ryabko and Vladimir Vasiliev, Valentin is now working with his translator and manager David Kirillov.

Instructor certifications issued by Valentin are not recognized by Systema HQ Moscow or Systema HQ Toronto.

We have also received a number of complaints regarding poor practices and statements made by David Kirillov. Please be aware of misleading and inaccurate information and feel free to contact us directly.

If a Systema affiliate becomes authorized to certify instructors, it will be announced by Mikhail and Vladimir.

If you have any questions or comments, please email Vladimir at:

or Mikhail at:

Take It beyond the Gym

Written by a long time Systema student and experienced Ontario police officer (taken from Systema Headquarters website)

There are no answers, only questions. That statement might be a little facetious in nature, but the longer I train in Systema the more questions I have. One question that continues to pop into my mind over and over again in the last 11 years of knowing Vlad is “why do I train?” The second question would be “how the heck does he do that?”

How often will most of us ever be in a situation where we will need to defend ourselves from an attacker with a knife, or multiple opponents, or maneuver our way through an angry mob? Although these things are happening, more and more these days, I pray that none of us will ever have to face challenges like these. Maybe the most important aspect of training is knowing how to avoid ever putting yourself in that kind of situation.

I often think that without Systema I wouldn’t be the person I am today. The times when I did not train were the times I had the most difficulty dealing with the everyday stresses of life; big or small. And then when I did train, I was able to handle those stresses with greater ease and objectivity. So I often ask myself, what is really happening when I am learning how to relax and breathe while training against a 6’3”, 240 lb monster of a training partner at class. There is a big difference. Your tension and fear allows him to throw you around like a rag doll. While if you relax through breathing, you can move, work against him and survive.

For most of us in everyday life that hulk of a training partner may be equated to your boss, the guy who cut you off while driving to work, your kids throwing a fit on a sugar high, or your wife’s honey do list. When I learn to relax and breathe in these situations it is similar to my experience working against the hulk in class. Training in Systema has continuously allowed me to discover who I am in all areas of life, to deeper understand my psyche and my own limitations. The only time I struggle is when I do not apply the lessons learned on the mat to situations beyond the gym.

So I leave you with the thought; what really goes on when we train in class is a lot more profound than we realize.

Full Contact Sparring

We now offer sparring classes on Tuesday and Thursday from 6:00-7:00pm. The classes will be given by Systema Instructor-in-Training and Kenpo Karate Black Belt: Colin Shubitz. If you're looking for great aerobic exercise, fun, and to develop your self-defense skills take advantage of our 30-day free trial offer. You don't need any experience in the martial arts. The training is gradual in a closely supervised environment. Please see the sparring page for more info and equipment list.

Cardio/Plyometric and Kickboxing classes

We now offer strength and fitness training on Monday and Wednesday from 12:00-1:00pm. The classes will be given by Systema Instructor-in-Training Danial Gutierrez.

Comments from the Kwan Lee seminar

I wanted to take time out and thank Big D for hosting the Kwan Lee seminar this past weekend. To begin,  I am from out of town and Big D's hospitality was very much appreciated. The seminar itself was , for a lack of a better word, amazing. more...

Thanks for hosting Kwan Lee on the 12th and 13th at Big D Systema. Awesome seminar! I really like the fact that he is a scientist, being evident with his teaching. more...

Fists and Punches

by Vladimir Vasiliev

A few years ago, when I was visiting Mikhail Ryabko in Moscow, he demonstrated a slow fist pushup against the wall. I still clearly remember how standing next to him, it felt like a huge beast filled the room, the wall was droning and buzzing under his fists.

Pushups in Systema are not just exercises for shoulders and chest, they are a comprehensive method to prepare for fighting and strikes. The way Mikhail did it, he had full sensitivity of the surface his fists were on, and he was not just moving his body up and down, he used the points of weight bearing to work through his entire body. The pushing off force moved though the arms down to the feet and back up, smooth, strong and solid.

Fist pushups are great training for punches. When done correctly, they help us learn how to strike without tension in the body. When we learn to do pushups while keeping the body relaxed, using only the muscles we need – then we will be able to do the same during strikes – that is to keep the body tension-free while delivering a punch. Control of our muscle tension gives us power and precision, it allows us to choose the distance correctly, there is no longer a need to reach, punches become short, strong and accurate. Tension-free punches produce no side effects of straining and fatigue, the recovery time from training and fighting becomes minimal.

When I practiced karate many years ago, before my Systema experience, I noticed a definite vulnerability there. At the point of completing a strike, the body was fixed, in a rigid structure, not moving and tense. I found that this often created a very fragile structure for real confrontations. If the striker was hit right at that moment – he was easily injured. A tense body lacks sensitivity and agility, it cannot react, escape and counterattack quickly and smoothly.

So here is how you can practice pushups.

  • Rest on the fists in the pushup position.
  • Place as much of your fist surface as comfortable in contact with the floor.
  • Execute the pushup and continue to feel the ground with the same fist area as you started with throughout the entire range of movement.
  • In the meantime, watch for any tension in the body. As soon as you feel that part of your fist surface no longer has full sensitivity of the floor – you know that tension has set in. In that case, continue the pushups and try to relax through breathing and movement. 
  • Repeat as much as you feel is necessary.

Also, as Mikhail explains, such pushups with tension control have a tremendous health benefit. They ensure that excessive pressure does not go up to the head but instead gets evenly distributed through the body. We know how damaging the excessive pressure to the head can be during striking. Once mastered in pushups, the pressure control will also be occurring while delivering a punch.

The History of Systema

Throughout history Russia had to repel invaders from the north, south, east, and west. All attackers brought their distinct styles of combat and weaponry

The battles took place on different terrain, during freezing winters and sweltering summer heat alike, with the Russians often greatly outnumbered by the enemy forces. As a result of these factors, the Russian warriors acquired a style that combined strong spirit with extremely innovative and versatile tactics that were at the same time practical, deadly, and effective against any type of enemy under any circumstances.

The style was natural and free while having no strict rules, rigid structure or limitations (except for moral ones). All tactics were based on instinctive reactions, individual strengths and characteristics, specifically designed for fast learning.

The Communists came to power in 1917, and suppressed all traditions.

Those practicing the old style of fighting could be severely punished. At the same time, the authorities quickly realized how viable and devastating the original combat system was and reserved it just for a few Special Operations Units. Throughout history Russia had to repel invaders from the north, south, east, and west. All attackers brought their distinct styles of combat and weaponry. more...

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