Introducing Systema to the Irish Guards

 It was with great anxiety and excitement that I made my journey down to Mons Barracks Aldershot in the United Kingdom, to introduce Russian Martial Art Systema to the 1st Bn Irish Guards. An Infantry Regiment steeped in history, further more a family Regiment in more ways than one (My son Steve spent 15 years serving in the Regiment).


 As I approached the main gate to the Barracks, it felt as though I was going back in time to the early 1960’s. A time when as a young boy of no more than 15, I started my Junior Leader training to join the Brigade of Guards (all be it the Coldstream Regiment of Foot Guards). That old familiar feeling of returning back home started to well up inside as I approached the Barracks and saw the Regimental Sign and blue red blue Flag for the first time.


 The Irish Guards affectionately known through out the British Army as the Fighting Mick’s, had recently returned from successful operations in Afghanistan (Helmand province). In light of this “Russian Martial Art Systema” I knew would be a very relevant skill for the Regiment to have in view of the current World Civil unrest climate. A great way to add a new spin of unarmed defense into their already impressive and battle tested weapons and skill arsenal.


 After being introduced to members of Number 4 Company, (one of the Regiments Teeth Army Companies) by WO II CSM Alan Ahearn we started in earnest our training.

 Baptism by fire a well-versed saying in the British Army is how I started to train with and instruct the men. These young men, who on a daily basis risk their lives to keep us safe and out of harms way, quickly adjusted to the fact that this old greying gentleman (Me) who on face value looks like any one of their Granddads’, was going to train them and train them hard. The 10-minute press up was a glowing benchmark example of things to come.


 Gone was the initial “what can he teach me attitude” that I sensed when I first entered the gym, to be replaced by diligent and respectful attention and growing interest.


 The introductive seminar initially focused on the Basic Principles of Systema those of breath work, movement, relaxation, and posture. The guys quickly grew to understand that there was something very special and combat effective, to Russian Martial Art Systema. The drills we covered were simply put, adapted to the Regiments current operational mission and readiness state. Keep it relevant and to the point is how we attacked the Seminar.


 Deep emphasis was placed on breathing in the correct way, constantly being mindful of areas of tension build up in the body. Utilizing simple but effective breath work drills to increase physical emotional and inner spiritual awareness thus allowing the body to be at one with fluid effective and precise movement.


 In Combat just breathing in a calm correct way (in through the nose out through the mouth) is a simple yet fantastic tool that I could not emphasize enough would help the guys when faced with stress, hardship or adversity in any operational environment.


 Contact Impact and Control was also covered during the session, giving each individual member of the Regiment a different aspect of how and why in Systema we punch in a non-tense yet destructive way. Great focus during the drills was placed on the great health practice of being struck and absorbing the blow in the right way. The guys really took to this aspect of training like ducks to water, with two huge young Guardsmen going at it toe to toe and matching each other blow for blow (I hasten to add with huge smiles on their faces).


 We capped off the introduction with weapons training drills focused predominately on the Pistol and Knife (Bayonet) again simple yet effective drills focusing on the key elements that set Russian Martial Art Systema at a level apart from other more conventional Martial Art practices.


 In summary it was with great pride that I undertook the opportunity to train with and instruct such a great bunch of young men. In my own small way I felt like I was helping to arm them to continue to protect our Great Nation and most importantly each other on the battlefields of the future. Fighting for Queen and Country is what the British Army is all about, but ask any serving or former member of the Army what they really fight for and they will all agree “We fight for our mates” meaning the guy next to you.


 This is the first of many sessions we at Russian Martial Art GB will be conducting with the 1st Bn Irish Guards. The young Guardsmen, NCO’s and Officers were a fantastic and friendly group of people with Great Spirit and camaraderie that filled the room with so much positive energy throughout the whole of the event.




 Russian Martial Art GB is hosting the UK Russian Martial Art Systema seminar with Vladimir Vasiliev in October of this year (2012). The event is being held at Eton College Windsor and is a fantastic opportunity to train with Vladimir Vasiliev one of the Worlds leading and most relevant Martial Art experts.


For further details of the seminar please visit