Company: Threat Response Solutions (T.R.S.)
Tape Name: Russian Martial Art - Systema
Tape Cost: $99 plus $4.50 shipping (For 3 tapes, only sold as set)
Length of Tape/Time: Tape 1=2 hours , Tape 2 = 90 minutes , Tape 3 = 30 minutes
Number of Moves/Techniques: Too many to count
Return Policy:
Experiences in dealing with this company: Excellent
The Instructor: Vladimir Vasiliev
Company's Address: 6o6 E.Acequia Ave.,Visalia, CA 93292
Company's Phone Number: 1-800-899-8153
Web Page:

Primary Grading Criteria:

1. Production/Tape Quality: 10
2. Instructors demonstrated skill level: 10
3. Comprehension Score/Immediate Understanding: 8
4. Degree to which this will make someone a better Martial Artist: 10
5. Score on delivery vs. hype: 8
6. Degree to which we'd recommend this product: 10
7. Wasted Time (The higher the number, the less "fluff"/repetition): 10
8. Playback Score/Watching it over-and-over again: 10
9. Would I purchase more of this company's products: 10
10. Overall grade based on cost vs. value: 10

Grand Total:

1. 80%-100% = 96 %
2. Poor, Fair, Good, Excellent = Excellent
3. 0-5 stars = 4 Stars

Secondary Grading Criteria:

1. Beginners benefit: Good,but will need some work to get into
2. Intermediate benefit: Excellent
3. Advanced benefit: Excellent
4. Time to benefit: Hard work should produce superb results (But then, when does this not apply?)
5. The need to buy additional tapes to understand this one: None

Written Summary:

You've all seen them, the full-page ads in Black Belt magazine promising you the ability to knock out several attackers with a few, simple to learn techniques, if only you order this set of videos featuring the world's deadliest and previously top secret instructor. Hurry though, this information is so classified that the producer is expecting to be assassinated by a CIA hit squad shortly. At which point the videos will obviously no longer be available.

The problem for the person interested in top-class self defense instruction is, that in spite of all the marketing hype, T.R.S. has consistently and repeatedly produced top class videos, some of the best material available. The Paul Vunak and Jim West tapes, which have already been reviewed by MAVR are good examples of this. No, these tapes will not make you an instant expert without raising a sweat. Newsflash : Such a system does not exist. Then again, the real martial artists already know this and the suckers are still going to be looking for that next, great Ninja Master, irrespective of what anyone says.

As to this specific set of three tapes : This is one of the most interesting and unusual systems this reviewer has seen in the last few years and he has seen plenty. Mr. Vasiliev is clearly a master of this system and demonstrates and teaches it with fluidity and competence. In describing something, it is often helpful to compare it to something the reader already knows. What then is the Systema like ? The closest fit this reviewer could think of is the movement principles of Tai Chi Chuan combined with a special forces mentality and specific target selection. So that this does not sound like gibberish, let's look at this bit by bit.

Tai Chi Chuan not in the sense of a slow motion movement form, but rather in the sense of applying some of the principles of the art, i.e. first and foremost relaxed movement. Mr. Vasiliev and his students do everything with complete relaxation, the movements are natural and economical and one movement flows into the next, without any gaps or breaks. The principle of "Folding" is used extensively, if the opponent blocks you fold at the elbow or shoulder, move around the obstacle and strike."Yielding" and "Absorbing" are also utilized, the incoming force of the opponent's attack is minimised. What is interesting, is that many Tai Chi practitioners cannot walk their talk (reviewer has 14 years of tai chi with two chinese sifu and five trips to the far east behind him, thus feels qualified to comment) their forms are beautiful but they couldn't fight their way out of the proverbial wet paper bag. The Systema practitioners definitely can and so can anyone who studies this approach seriously. Two additional points: Size and strength do not matter in this system, by definition. Also: All you Tai Chi guys and girls out there, if you want to learn self defense without getting all tense and external, dump the deadly death touch videos in the nearest trash can, where they belong and get stuck into this! Special forces mentality in the sense that, in spite of the relaxed movement, the idea is clearly to completely annihilate the opponent. Specific target selection simply in so far as this is a shotgun approach, i.e. instead of firing off a single 45 Magnum bullet which would rip apart whatever it hits, this method consists of multiple speed strikes to vital areas.

Tape 1 starts off with the basic conversational stance, then proceeds to deflecting blows with one's shoulders, takedowns using elbows, counters to punches, open hand strikes, elbow strikes, absorbing blows and some additional defenses against assorted strikes. All movements are extremely natural but it will take serious and hard work to become proficient. It would also be very worthwile and one day potentially life-saving.

Tape 2 starts off with 50 minutes of defending oneself against kicks. Again, the same movement principles and combat concepts are used . This is followed by ten minutes of takedowns using the feet and legs. The last half hour is devoted to kicks and knee strikes. Some of the kicks are perhaps a little on the exotic side, such as the "Podkrut", a leg-flip kick demonstrated against an attackers chest. In the last few minutes it is all put together in the form of sparring, in the form of unrehearsed responses to spontaneous attacks.

Tape 3, the so-called bonus tape, shows the use of some interesting improvised weapons. Mr.Vasiliev uses a rolled up magazine, a knuckleduster made up of a magazine and a few coins, a wallet, credit card, belt and a jacket, yours or the opponent's.

To summarise : An excellent series of tapes, showcasing an excellent system in a comprehensive and easily understood way . Not something that can be picked up in a few days or weeks, but worthy of whatever time one invests in it. This reviewer is looking forward to other tapes by Mr.Vasiliev and other tapes by TRS.


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