The new book by Vladimir Vasiliev and Scott Meredith has arrived. Mood: excited!
Yesterday, the new book on Systema striking “Strikes Soul Meets Body” by Scott and Vladimir I’d ordered arrived. First of all, at over 300 pages this book is an absolute beast! It feels a lot thicker than their last one on Systema breathing (“Let every breath”) so it’s going to take me a while to plough through it and do a full review, but before I do I wanted to post my initial reactions.
Firstly, the production values are high – nice cover, good photo quality (black and white) inside, and nicely produced pages in a relaxed looking typeface that makes reading easy.
Secondly – what’s it all about? In Scott’s own words “In this book, we are presenting the Russian martial art of Systema through the focused lens of one of its key skills”. That’s important, because it’s not just about striking. In Systema, it seems that each of the main skills is like a finger on a hand – meaning it’s impossible to separate each one out and still have a working fist. So, it discusses everything to do with Systema, including massage, stick work, mobility training and, most importantly, breathing. Striking in Systema is unique in that it requires huge degrees of freedom, which can only come from a body and mind that moves freely, and that’s what this book is concerned with creating in you.
The book contains lots of drills and exercises, many of which requite a partner, so it’s quite practical, not just theoretical. I also think it looks like it’s going to be of interest to any martial artist who is interested in the details of how things work, not just a Systema practitioner, (although they are obviously going to get the most out of it). For example, the introduction starts of by analysing what a strike really is, looking at how legends like Rocky Marciano produced so much power. It’s also very well written. Scott has a great writing style, as you’ll know from his other books. The majority of the book is written in his voice, but with lots and lots of interjections from Vladimir, usually relating directly to training, and he’s quoted by name, so you can tell who has written which bits.
In short -if you’re wondering if you should buy this book, then yes. Just get it. From my initial scan it looks very, very good. But does it actually live up to its promise of teaching you how to move, strike (and live?) with absolute freedom? Those are bold claims. More on that later when I’ve read it all!