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Vladimir Vasiliev on Why He Regards Systema as the Best Form of Self-Defense

Interview by Glenn Murphy

Unlike the general public, Black Belt readers know a thing or two about systema. In large part, that's because of the never-ending efforts of one Vladimir Vasiliev, the most visible systema teacher in the West. Vasiliev has appeared in Black Belt numerous times, and in 2013 he was the magazine's Instructor of the Year. In this exclusive Q&A, the Russian martial arts master talks about the essential components of his self-defense system and how it differs from the traditional martial arts and combat sports.


Where are you from, and what is your background?
I'm from Russia, born in the city Tver. When I was a little bit more than 30, I came to Canada. I met my wife, and now I'm here.

You studied both competitive and military-style martial arts, is that correct?
Yes. I was 13 when I started to box. And in the army, we studied hand-to-hand combat. It was more [for] military applications. Then I did a karate competition — I was fourth in Russia, but now some people tell me I was third. (laughs) I forgot already. Then I met Mikhail [Ryabko] and started to study systema.

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