Martin Wheeler – Systema

Martin Wheeler – Systema

I got back from France a couple of days ago. Great to be back in LA for the summer. I’ve been on a whirlwind of seminars since February with many wonderful and generous practitioners of Systema and other arts. California, Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Wales, Holland, France, Hawaii, Florida plus a couple of personal trip thrown in for good measure, with everything from health and movement work, to working with police/military professionals from all around the world.

My body is still not sure which country it is in, I had to lick the tarmac to make sure. It tasted of mocha skinny frappe with a half twist, so I knew I was home. I am blessed to travel the world for so many years, experiencing Systema grow in the way it has. I am often asked for advice on what is the difference I see in Systema in the different countries and continents as I travel and the best way to change your training. And I do see differences as to the focus of the training from purely health work to only the combat aspects, but more often than not I see positive similarities of practitioners working on their art, on their abilities and more importantly on their pride.

The one thing I would encourage is that if you are studying and/or teaching Systema mainly as a fighting art, then let fighting inform you as to how to develop your art and not just your understanding of the art to solely inform you as to how to fight. Personally I have trained in many full contact systems, from stand up to ground fighting, for decades, plus years as a bouncer before I ever came to Systema, and I still grapple and spar on a regular basis as part of my training as many of you do.

Fighting has its own unique space in your consciousness, and it is important to understand how you work in a fight to apply Systema in combat. I always ask my students to be honest in their attacks, and as spontaneous as possible to test me. Obviously, if I am showing a concept or a drill, slower relatively cooperative work is essential, but beyond that, pressure, aggression, speed and power are essential. No fighting art is born in a vacuum. I train anything from 2-6 hours a day on average with many different types of people/fighters, often with multiples at once.

If I am not getting caught by the knife or punched, kicked and taken down on a fairly regular basis with the hundreds to thousands of spontaneous attacks I experience on a regular basis, at multiple speeds, with multiple attackers, powers, aggressions.. etc… then I know the people I am working with are not being completely honest in attacking me. And if they are not honest then I cannot make mistakes, and if I cannot make mistakes then I cannot figure out how to correct those mistakes and then teach what I have learned to those trusting me to know. Always allow yourself to make mistakes in front of others, conquering pride and fear is not just a feeling to be controlled by breathing techniques, they are tools to help you learn and be ok with learning.

If you are winning in training all the time you are essentially losing in reality. Each of you know why you train, for health, wellness, mentally and physically or whatever it is, I am fine with it and happy that you have found Systema to express that through. If you teach someone or learn how to deal with the world a little better through your teaching or training I am all for it. I find as many ways to learn, express and teach Systema as there are aspects to my own life. But if your desire is to understand Systema as a fighting art, there is only one path to that. Be as safe as possible, but also be honest, mainly with yourself.


Martin Wheeler in my opinion is one of the best in Systema. He is a decent and good hearted person. I got the opportunity to attend a seminar by Martin and learned a great deal. Not to mention an eye opener. Literally!

Martin teaches out in LA. If your out that way I would recommend you take a class. Martin has a few video’s for purchase – again I highly recommend them as well.