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Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do I begin my training?
    Regardless of your experience level, if you are new to our way of training, it is highly recommended that you participate in a class to fully understand the work that we do. The best way to do this is to complete the interest form here before signing-up for a class: No experience in the martial arts is necessary for weekly classes or the workshops.
  • What are the requirements for training?
    Maturity, attentiveness, positivity, and a will to work are a few characteristics necessary to learn Systema. Basic courteousness and communication with training partners are essential in fostering a humane and safe training environment. However, it is ultimately the responsibility of the student to make the sustained effort to progress in class and ensure his/her immediate safety in any given situation. There are no uniform requirements. Comfortable (non-restrictive) clothes (or clothes you don’t mind sweating in) are recommended. ​ Payment and understanding/agreement of this FAQ and the Waiver and Terms of Service are required in advance of training. ​ The school reserves the right to refuse training to anyone for any reason.
  • What are the age requirements?
    Students must be at least 15 years of age. Those that are between the ages of 15 and 18 must be accompanied by their guardian. Younger ages are considered on a case-by-case basis. As for an upper age limit, there is no limit, since people of all ages will find immense benefit in using our principles to negotiate the various challenges at all stages of life.
  • What happens in a typical class?
    Work within Systema is best performed while relaxed and aware. We therefore typically start each class by working to erase unnecessary tension in the body and mind and then continue with special focus on the cornerstones of Posture, Proper Breathing, Relaxation, and Constant Motion. Due to the nature of our creative process, no two classes will be the same. The session typically ends with a brief circle of feedback or discussion. It is very important to understand that our training involves levels of controlled physical contact ranging from touches, grabs, pushing, and striking. Though our methods and instructions definitely ensure injury-free training, the nature of the work can cause past emotions or trauma to be exposed or enhanced, which may need to be addressed by first stepping away from the training and engaging in a conversation with the instructor(s) if/as required. The student is responsible for their level of engagement in the training and can step away at any time for any reason. Deeper trauma issues may require professional medical/psychological intervention, which this training does not offer. Please refer to the Waiver for more information on the risks associated with training.
  • Do you offer beginner classes?
    We have found that the best and fastest results happen when students of all levels of ability work together. Our training methodology is sustainable, meaning our progressive work starts from a slow speed and only increases in speed and intensity when the student is ready.
  • Do you offer Private Training?
    Yes. Requests for private training are discussed in person after the student has completed at least 2 weekly class sessions or at least one workshop.
  • What are the real differences between Systema and other arts?
    The goal of Systema is to prepare you for real world survival (generally alone), which means the most important principle is to operate without being seen. The highest level of skill is to not be detected at all, or to do the work and escape alive without detection. Because this requires that our bodies are able to minimize tension and adapt to any situation without over-reacting or hyper-focusing, we consider persistent relaxed internal and external states to be critical to seeing, understanding, and addressing the threats around us. Due to ever-changing and uncertain conditions in the real world, Systema integrates specialized work, rarely seen in other publicly-offered systems, in a very organic and intelligent way. A small list of these topics includes: Working in extremely confined spaces (stairways, hallways, vehicles, planes) and uneven terrain Prevailing against multiple opponents and within groups/masses Developing trade-craft level work including the study of the individual and group psyche, exploiting gaps in the surrounding environment, cloaked movement, and mindset training Using everyday items as improvised weapons and adapting any conventional weapon seamlessly to organic unbroken movement Developing unparalleled mobility of the body under duress Integration of a comprehensive breathwork, recovery, and bodywork methodology to prepare the body and mind for extremely difficult situations Extensive study and cultivation of the inner state Deep exploration of the many facets of fear Cultivation of improvisational skill in all situations Preserving the "humanity" in all situations by understanding and working with others as complex human beings and not just targets
  • Do I need a martial arts background?
    No. In some cases, it is actually easier to embrace and apply the core principles of Systema when there is no prior training that could hinder the pursuit of “Freedom of Movement.” Because there are numerable benefits/pitfalls to devoting yourself to any artform, it is difficult to say which particular skills or experience will help/hinder your progress in this training. We find that a serious but mature mindset is critical to showing up, gauging threats appropriately, and staying present under duress. Referring to our work as "the work" reinforces the idea that one must remain professional at all times and keep emotions at bay.
  • Do I have to be physically fit to train?
    elements to our training are mindset, awareness, efficiency, and the ability to adapt. Ultimately, your experience with us will lead you to realize a new meaning of the word “fit” or "endurance" in that our work is based more on developing adaptable real-world survival skills instead of focusing on traditional cardio or strength training. You are also encouraged to do whatever other exercise or artforms you enjoy. Life is short!
  • What is Systema Breathing?
    It is a comprehensive breathing methodology that expands your breath reserves, drives proper continuous movement, mitigates intense fear and pain, vastly expands awareness, and accelerates recovery from physical/psychological stress and injury. We use countless drills and scenarios that explore the use of breath to endure and prevail. You will notice immediately that the breathwork is calming, connecting, and very personal, and in a very short period of time, you will naturally invoke our breathing methods to adjust to your internal processes and other events in your life.
  • What is your cancellation policy?
    Please see our Terms of Service for details.

The Ultimate Survival System for the Modern Age

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