Soon after getting my first serious glimpse of Systema, I began thinking that many of the principles and training methods employed by Mikhail and Vladimir might be highly relevant to aikido practice. As you know, the theme of Aiki Expo 2003 is "Realizing Aikido's Potential." Basically with Aiki Expo 2003, our hope is to bring to the forefront the martial aspect of aikido that has become rather neglected in the modern forms of the art. I believe Systema can play a significant role in this regard. We hope to have serious aikidoka reevaluate their training approaches and consider bringing their current practice more in line with the techniques and philosophy of Founder Morihei Ueshiba. Ueshiba O-Sensei was heavily influenced by the Omoto religion during a turbulent time of Japanese hisotry. He emphasized both the martial and spiritual aspects of aikido and considered the two inseparable. Systema was born out of centuries of technical refinement on the battlefield as Russians repelled a multitude of enemies under vastly different combative conditions. It has had strong ties to the Russian Orthodox Church historically, a tradition that continues with Mikhail Ryabko and Vladimir Vasiliev. With its dual emphasis on the martial and the spiritual, Systema shares much common ground with aikido. Aikidoka looking to revitalize their training will find in the techniques of Systema a powerful, energizing example. Systema will find in the aikido world a large community of serious-minded and ethical people desirous of impacting society in a positive, moral way. I am certain that Systema will impact Aiki Expo 2003 in a major way that special weekend of September 19-21. I am equally sure that the interaction between Vladimir Vasiliev and the other Expo instructors and participants will result in the blossoming of lasting friendships and important interactions that will reshape our thinking and practice of aikido. Stanley Pranin February 2003
This is a photo of Aikido Journal Editor Stanley Pranin posing with Vladimir Vasiliev and Mikhail Ryabko at a seminar held in Toronto, Canada in May 2003. Both are incredible martial artists and will be on hand for Aiki Expo 2005 to be held May 27-29, 2005 in Los Angeles, California.
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