Episode-1351- Bill Wolfe and Adam Perrins on WWII Combatives — 32 Comments

  1. I loved Jacks moment of silence when the guest said that Systema is mostly just for show.

    • I always temper such responses because generally they are made by people that know nothing about systema, as was the case here.

      • My knowledge of systema has been limited to a series of “Systema Spetsnaz” training DVD’s one of our students had collected and gave to us. There are a few impressive demonstrations but it is really hard to judge, and I try not to, if you are not there experiencing it yourself.

        The system is very different from what we teach. Better? Worse? Who really knows. From the little I have seen of Val he seems more then capable and knows his stuff. I would never claim that WWII combatives is the best fighting system ever devised, I simply believe it is the most applicable to the common man due to it’s simplicity.

        • Just for your knowledge before he hit the age of compulsory military service Val was a member of the USSR Olympic Judo Squad. He was in his mid teens at that point! Timing was bad for him as in 84 the Soviets boycotted the Olympics and soon after he was sent to spend time in the Soviet Army, he ended up eventually in the KGB and hauled the F ass out of the country when the USSR fell apart. Why, he said at that point if you were mid level KGB you either joined the Russian Mob or got out of Dodge. He did time running security for night clubs in London’s dangerous areas and started training students and fought as an unlicensed heavy weight boxer for a while there. Today he works for the Royal Family of the UAE as one of their chief trainers of their personal royal guard. Capable is an understatement.

  2. It just made me laugh because I knew that you were going to say something about it. I just wasn’t sure how it was going to go down. I think you handled it properly.

  3. My dad was in the Royal Canadian Air Force during WWII and received “Commando” training (as he called it) before he went overseas. When I was about 14 he had a stroke and although he recovered he walked with a cane.

    Anyway, I remember an incident when I was about 16. My friends and I were at the park hanging out and my dad came by with my little nephew to play on the swings. As he was taking him home, about half way through the park these 2 guys came up who were about the same age as my friends and I and started to harass my dad. My friends and I were all relatively big guys and played a lot of sports so we started running toward my dad and nephew but before we were even half way there one of the guys was laying flat on his back and the other was about to wear my dads cane across his forehead… by the time we got there they had decided they messed with the wrong guy and took off… It was hilarious. My friends and I definitely had a new respect for the old bugger after that. And after hearing this podcast I know why he was so effective at handling those 2 morons.

    • A couple of years ago Bill was working on a history television program called “Devils Brigade.” It was a documentary profiling the First Special Service Force from WWII. A few of the surviving members, now all in their late 80’s or early 90’s were on set to ensure the authenticity of what was being shown. A few of them were not hesitant to mix it up with younger soldiers who had volunteered to be part of the show. It was surprising how well they could still implement their skills.

      Got to love the old guy beats up young buck stories…..feels like the story of my life some days training. haha

  4. I trained with Bill Wolfe for a period in the late nineties, and I can attest to his skill level . He is one of the best instructors I have encountered , and I have been training for many many years. He is practical and no nonsense, and if he tells you he’s been there and done that, he’s actually been there and done that. I also laughed at the awkward systema moment.. I was was thinking ” oh no! This will be a great interview! It’s too early to get off on the wrong foot! ” haha. Like Jack, he won’t pull punches, but is sensible and reasonable. His exposure to systema may be limited, but I’m sure he is open minded enough to consider someone’s opinion who has actual( read, quality) experience. Great talk. Thanks Jack.

  5. I have studied Systema for over a year now and although I am by no means an expert , the value of instruction , and its practical application is by far one of the most useful methods out there. But that said it works for me and I like to keep an open mind for other methods .This guy really turned me off though because I don’t like when people make negative judgements/comments on something rather than speak to the real and subjective differences between two things. That would be like someone saying that Ar15’s are better than AK 47 ‘s because they look cooler rather than talking about the real operational differences.
    I could hear Jack getting all bent out of shape and ready to wind up a rant. Good job ,boyo for keeping a cool head.

      • There is a studio here where I live in Beverly Hills ca (I know that’s gonna raise some eyebrows. ) I don’t feel comfortable giving the name since I don’t want to get into trouble with Jack by promoting someone’s business on his website. Suffice to say as with any martial arts , you need to audition potential studios and see if you can take a free first class etc. to see if it right for you. I don’t know what you want to get from your training ie:fitness ,endurance or self defense help so you should try a few places if needed. I’m lucky because the guy I train with is a personal friend if mine and systema for me , is more than just a rock em sock em art. It makes you look holistically at being present in every situation not just combat. It puts you in touch with your breathing and your tension (read “fear”)
        It’s helped me with so much more than just combat training. And again I haven’t been doing it for long so I am by no means an expert. it’s about the journey for me. Hope this helps.

  6. Great show,

    I thought the point about it being easier to defend in court, killing someone with a firearm rather than with your bare hands is interesting.

    Instinctively I agree with Jack in that you’d think a jury would attribute more malice to a bare handed fatality rather than one involving guns, despite the fact your are way more vulnerable without a gun.

    But I suppose in an enfeebled society where the people are not trusted to own firearms freely, there is less chance of of that comparison.

    In fact it is often assumed here that if you are one of the lucky few aloud a gun, then well, you must be up to something. Sad.

    Hope they have a Uk affiliate soon, Vancouver is a little too far…

  7. Very germane podcast. I couldn’t help but think back to what happened to my favorite cousin who was more like a brother. He was in a bar and two if his acquaintances got into a fight. He tried to break it up and ended up with a knife through the abdominal aorta. He was dead in less than a minute. A real tragedy but it proves just how fast things can go bad. Situational avoidance is important.

    • Sorry for your loss.

      I always like to say “I don’t get paid to fight.” So the best solution is to avoid the situation to begin with. Knives are a sad and scary reality. Someone that is intelligent or trained in using one will not let you know they have it until it’s too late.

      It is a very challenging situation to deal with but thankfully most people are not trained how to properly use a knife offensively.

      Unfortunately it doesn’t take much for a bad guy to get luck with his use of a knife.

  8. Jack, do you have a link to what you would consider an accurate depiction of a Systema on youtube? I’ve been looking at a few videos and it seems to have a lot of commonality with traditional Japanese Shotokan.

    • I feel like Systema has little to do with any martial art other than clearly some body movements will be similar. In fact there are only so many ways a body can move.

      Here is some knife work, as you can see the knives are real. In the first one the blonde lad is Val’s son In the next three that is Bryan Black of ITS Tactical and I can tell you that knife is very real it is my K-Bar. Part One Part Two Part Three

      The real thing though is there is actually plenty of good systema stuff on Youtube, the thing is the viewer tends to not comprehend what he is seeing. I mean imagine if you saw some of this video in a compilation without the explanation and context.

      Much as Bill talked about starting out at the level of trying to kill someone. Val is starting out at the level of you are totally F’d. You never knew the knife was there and moving backwards.

      Tards see this and say something stupid like, “no one stabs that slow” or “they thing they are making their bodies knife proof”. A guy like Bill that has more than been around sees it and calls it “fantasy”, with ZERO idea of what is even going on.

      There is a ton on striking, there is a reason, well there are three big ones.

      1. It works, you know instantly something is different when you feel it. Especially how little effort is extended compared to the result.

      2. It is the first thing people want to learn.

      3. It is a key part of opening the students mind.

      The last part is very hard to convey in a youtube video. You really have to feel it and get it. In systema we hit each other, we do it in controlled levels and we take it up. We hit each other in ways that HURT but no real harm is done.

      Part of this is adapting the mind. The “blow absorption” you see is far more mental than phyical. It isn’t super natural, and the same guys you see taking tons of shots to the body will not do so to the face or the knee or the throat and they all know it. It isn’t an act to try to convince you of something it is training for the striker and receiver.

      On opening minds it also is used this way. You get the tough guy that doesn’t believe it. You let him pound the piss out of a trained student, he can’t do a thing. You hit the trained student who does respond, tough guy doubts it, you tap him, he goes OH I SEE NOW. His mind is now open to training.

      It isn’t mystical, it is all about physics as to how the striking is done.

      May be I should do another show about it.

      Here is an example of a mind being opened. The out of shape looking guy hitting the young kids is a former General in the KGB and likely one of the most dangerous men on the planet.

      The strikes in the beginning are not designed to hurt, but to energize the body. It is hard to explain but controlled strikes start to actually feel good, get blood going and wake you up. Pain is good in some ways as long as it isn’t damaging.

      The part I am really talking about with opening a mind starts more at about two mintues ish in.

      • @Jose another mind opened, this is me trying to explain it in advance.

        The guy is a 2nd Dan Black Belt in American Karate. The guy who owned the school owed over 100, he showed up later and the Black Belt (Brian) explained it to the owner. He seriously doubted, Brain said go get hit, he did and immediately offered Val a contract to teach seminars at all 100 of his schools. But Val is under contract in the UAE so he turned it down.

        • The ability to take the strike is pretty darn impressive.

          As is the ability to strike without telegraphing.

      • The knife videos are amazing. I have never seen the dynamics of a knife attack explained that way. It makes sense to release your lung pressure if you are getting stabbed. It reminded me of what Ferfal once said about professional criminals in Argentina fasting before a hit because a bullet on an empty gut is a lot less dangerous than on a full one.

        Regarding the punching video, also amazing how the big guy goes down with a seemingly innocent punch, but endures multiple punches from the black belt.

        • Funny thing is the Big Guy isn’t really “big” at all, just well trained. That is my former business partner Neil Franklin. He is actually a few inches shorter than me.

        • Yes, I found that pretty enlightening as well. I have little knowledge of such techniques. I may have to download some video. This info could be vital if one finds oneself in a situation. Only problem is up here in PEI, there is little such training in most of these skills. This is fascinating stuff

  9. I wonder if there is a way to teach yourself *some* of this alone, or do you need a human victim LOL. Or is there any repetitive exercises, practice one could do. A Wii simulation?

    • It doesn’t translate to a bag very well. You can learn the basics of striking on your own but a partner helps a lot. Val has put out videos but I think they work best for the open minded individual with some martial arts experience. They are discounted for members of the MSB.

  10. I read in Val’s web site that he is currently not available to teach in person.
    I was wondering if by way of the TSP Val would do a 3-5 day seminar in the DFW metroplex. I’ve got 6 years of Shotokan (Shodan), but would love to incorporate some of these techniques to what I know.

    • I could likely arrange it with enough interest but it would have to be say 800 a head minimum. We’d have to fly Val in from the UAE, which isn’t cheap and he’d have to make enough to justify the time off from his duties there. As you might imagine being part of the personal security of the Royal Family is a pretty good gig.

  11. I’m sure the training would be worth every penny, I just did not realize Val was anchored in the Emirates and hence the overhead to get him here.

  12. No offense to the previous martial arts guests you’ve had but these guys where spot on. Another great guest would be Matt Larsen who has pioneered the Modern Army Combatives Program. He even help develop the LHR, it’s a knife and sheath that prevents the enemy from taking the knife from the holster/sheath.

  13. I’m behind on my listening (just finished this one, on the next one as I type).

    Anyway, just interesting that when I click over to Wolfe’s Combatives I see: Bandwidth Limit Exceeded. Way to go, TSP!