Systema Camp 2016
Just like in 2014, I shown up at Toronto international airport right as the camp buses were leaving, and just like in 2014 I thought well enough ahead to make travel arrangements with the camp. So for the ride up yo Systema Camp I basically had my own personal driver. On arrival Big Sergei was one of the first to greet everyone with a shot of vodka to get camp started right. Unlike in previous years, this year I brought my own personal tent instead of staying with a group. This made traveling a bit more cumbersome since I prefer to just bring everything as a carry on, but there was no way to make this tent fit in a over head bin. I quickly set up my site and met with everyone at the mess hall.
At the last two Systema camps, you not only had Vladimir Vasiliev teaching but Valentine Talanov and Konstantin Komarov. This allowed everyone to break up into groups based on their skill level and topic they which to train in, but also allowed instructors to have some free time instead of teaching for 13+ hours a day. But this year Vladimir was basically teaching everything himself. Other well established Systema instructors such as the Systema Twins (Brandon and Adam Zettler), Big Sergei, and few others where there to assist but it was mostly all Vlad.
We started off just after lunch in the big field with some warm up exercises: squats, push ups, sit ups, breathing and moving. I have always enjoyed these on long seminars. It gives you a chance to take in the scenery a bit and center yourself for the training ahead. From there we work on some basic movement work with some light striking, into take downs and grappling. Everyone was cheerful and friendly. We then spent some time in the lake, dinner, and then some light evening work. But the next day…
If it isn’t raining we ain’t training!
It rained off and on for the rest of the week at Systema Camp, and it was amazing. That Tuesday was the hardest day of the week, and of any day of any of the Systema camps I have gone to. It was no-stop grapple training. From standing, from the ground, in the woods, in the lake, at night, and in darkness.
It was worth the trip just for that day, to do great high level work with such skilled people from all over the globe. You where either drinking trying to stay hydrated or you where out there in the rainy field training.
The following day was focused on giving and receiving strikes. People where given the option to spend the day blindfolded which was a very interesting expertise. Once someone got used to being blindfolded, all of the visual ques went away. No shoulder raising on their strikes and no shuffling with their steps. It gave you a great experience and understanding in seeing just how much you rely on your eyes on telling you what your partner is going to do, and how they are going to do it. Definitely going to do more blindfold work here at our school.
Thursday we spent working with weapons, sticks and knives. This is always fun to do because we usually end up spending half the day in the woods fighting around and using trees. Friday was spent more on multiple attackers and mass attacks, we partied that night and went home the next day.
I know it might seem that I don’t have much to say about this camp, but I think it might be my favorite of the three I have gone to. Everyone there was well rounded and skilled, and always eager to help and improve one another. It was a excellent non-stop training in a such a varied group of environments. Rain and shine, woods and fields, open spaces and lakes, and everything in between with very little downtime. It really was a excellent camp.