Elite Combat Explained!

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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Dustin Poirier has knocked out Conor McGregor in the second round at the UFC 257 Main Event. This spoils McGregor's long-awaited UFC return after his win over Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone last January. Poirier hinted after the match that he would be open to another bout against McGregor, as this fight brings their rivalry to a 1-1 record. The impressive wins of Poirier and Michael Chandler on Saturday night set the UFC's lightweight division up for a very exciting future.

The Legendary Black Belt Magazine Hall of Fame has never before been documented in a single location. Now, you can learn about all the icons that have achieved one of the greatest honors in all of martial arts.

Black Belt Magazine is proud to announce the NEW Member Profiles feature for the Hall of Fame. At the time of this article, the online records account for every inductee from the inaugural year of 1968 all the way through 1990 (upwards of 200 martial artists). The page will be updated continuously and will include every inductee through 2020 in the near future. For now, you can enjoy images and facts about the legendary members for each induction they received before 1991. Take advantage of this never-before-seen opportunity to learn about many of the martial artists who contributed to the lifestyle, culture, and community that every martial artist experiences today.

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The UFC returned to American network television for the first time in more than two years Saturday on ABC while former featherweight champion Max Holloway returned to his winning ways following two straight losses, earning a unanimous decision over Calvin Kattar in Abu Dhabi. Holloway showed he still has plenty left as a fighter dominating Kattar from the opening bell of the main event with a mix of punches and low kicks.

It appeared as if the former champion might stop his opponent in the fourth round landing a series of vicious body blows followed by hard elbows to the head as a bloodied Kattar sagged against the fence. But Kattar somehow survived managing to keep himself upright through the fifth stanza as well, only to lose a lopsided decision. After dropping his title to Alexander Volkanovski and then losing a controversial rematch, Holloway may have put himself in position for one more crack at the championship following Saturday's impressive performance.

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Jessie Wray's Virtual Fight Tour brought the heat in their fifth promotion with a call-out match, massive "Draft Edition" team fight, and a surprise bonus bout to bring sport karate fans an action-packed event.

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