|“Do not choose a studio according to the style taught there. Choose the very best teacher you can find, and learn what that person teaches. A great teacher is the most important element for students. Mr. Scornavacco is a wonderful man, a talented practitioner, and a caring and gifted teacher.”——
–Rabbi Benjamin Sendrow
“Over the holiday weekend our school hosted a seminar featuring Al McLuckie and Brad Scornavacco, two talented instructors who have known each other for the past fifteen years.Being a holiday weekend, the seminar was relatively short, though we still had a good attendance, and the quality of instruction was particularly great. Though two separate topics were covered, ground work and knife work, they were blended particularly well.
Brad began the seminar with a series of exercises designed to develop proper body mechanics to perform the Systema style squat, using a partner to help keep your balance and another to give inward pressure on the knees as you resist by pushing outwards. We followed this up with some work designed to loosen the shoulders and hips.
Then we got into the meat and potatoes of the seminar- ground work. Our school does not only Systema but also we are a training and competing MMA school. Brad focused on taking a Systema spin on Jiu-Jitsu, and it was extremely useful and interesting. Some of the topics were unique submission escape ideas, using the core to pass the guard, and escaping positions in the transition. Much of the work was based on using a figure 8 originating from the core through the limb.”
Brad really showed how Systema can be used in an MMA arena which is extremely beneficial to the students of our school.
Al’s portion began with some exercises that taught how to develop and use tendon and core strength as opposed to muscular exertion. We then covered a variety ideas on using the knife offensively as well as ideas on breaking free from an opponent if they have control such as going for a disarm.
Al also took figure 8 concepts that Brad covered and applied it to scenarios where the attacker has control of the knife hand by the wrist or forearm and is pinning it to their body. The result was an effortless motion as opposed to trying to fight the knife free by using the figure 8 motion from the core through the limb.
All in all it was a great seminar and I would like to thank the instructors again for coming out and spending the day with us.
–Matt Olevich, Academy of Self-Defense
“I found my way to Brad’s class from Canada when I was in Denver for a conference. I’m sorry to say that up to this point my experience with Systema has been limited and wanting, compared to what I see in Vladimir’s DVDs. I don’t think anyone who’s met Brad needs to be convinced, but judging from the hour and a half I was there, I saw the Systema that I had hoped was out there. I left feeling bruised but buoyant.
This class focused on kick defense. We began with some pushups, squats, and stretching with partners to loosen up. The demonstrations and drills progressed from avoiding kicks from a group to partner/small group work defending kicks with legs, arms, and takedowns and strikes.
Brad taught with a light touch — sometimes directions to the class when we got tense (look at the person, not the legs!) and walked around with specific instructions or suggestions (he’ll go down with pressure to the inside of knee) and I thought it was just right.
The drills were simple and focused with a definite goal. As a beginner, I had this sense that I was only catching some of the obvious aspects but there were deeper layers if I was ready for it. Simple, but I was enjoying them so much I didn’t want to stop. I appreciated that Brad made sure we worked with a mix of partners and skill levels.
I think it says a lot about Brad that I was most impressed by his students. I like to think Brad sets the tone and they all get it.
There was a refreshing spirit of camaraderie. Everyone I worked with seemed to know what I could handle and I felt totally safe. These guys were encouraging, helpful with feedback and did the work relaxedly and honestly (which I struggle with). I learned from everyone.
The relaxed atmosphere made my own tension really stand out — I could see for myself where I needed to breathe (when kicking, when falling… everywhere) and what I needed to work on. It put me in a place where I could see myself more clearly.
I don’t like to be negative, but to contrast, I’ve been in other classes where:
- I stopped because I didn’t trust my partner
- partners told me how to do it like aikido/boxing/etc.
- partnered with other beginners the whole time and drills felt futile
- the drills seemed boring or pointless, too vague or too difficult
- partners scared to hit or to be hit
So with my disappointing track record, I found training with Brad and students to be the opposite — an uplifting, beneficial, very positive experience. He is a real treasure for anyone in the area (I’m jealous) and I would go back in a heartbeat. My time was brief but these are guys I would choose to spend my time with and it was a gift to be welcomed there.”
Its a bit after the fact, but the last Systema workshop on the wave concept was outstanding. I learned in incredible amount in a very short time. Since the seminar, Justin and I have regularly been practicing wave work with some very good results.
As far as the next seminar goes, I do have a request. Wavework part deux would be fun. As you pointed out we did not get to cover some of the things you had planned. I would especially like to cover wave work to mitigate or avoid strikes and the use of the wave to generate power.
However, no matter what the topic is I plan on attending.
Fort Collins, Colorado
“I was as the seminar today and it was everything and more than I’d thought it would be. I’ve always enjoyed myself and there were a lot of different techniques that we went over a lot of them I think Iâ€™ll remember.Â It was a very good class.Â I hope you come back, soon, so we can do this on a regular basis.
I really enjoyed you being here.”
-Willie Huntington, Chicago
“I’m a 62 year old retired kind of like teacher and Systema is wonderful. I can do it, I have my limitations, because of my age and the worn out body, but I have learned so much from this class, with the sticks–actually I like knives better–but this is wonderful.”
-Bev Magsaman, Illinois
“It’s not a regular martial arts, it’s not memorized movements or anything like that; it’s bio-mechanics. You have to have an understanding how to move the body and with your center of gravity, and to adapt to what’s going on, versus something like karate or kung fu where there’s patterned movements and things of that nature. Here it’s simply moving the body as one System, as one unit to adapt to situations.”
-Jovan Hill, Florida
” just spent 6 hours rolling Systema, and I got a great workout, and I feel stronger, more powerful.”
“That was just a great time, first time ever training (Systema) and they showed me a lot, a lot of stuff.”
“Today was INCREDIBLEÂ I was telling my guys at the other end of the table that its the first time ALL MY EXPECTATIONS HAVE BEEN MET BY GOING TO A SEMINAR. Systema is the sun source and these guys (Brad Scornavacco & Al McLuckie) are the ones who,ll show it to you. Come see ’em.”
-Rob Sloan, Indiana
“I visited Brad Scornavacco’s school In August. As usual Brad treated me like family. His classes were extremely informative, rigorous and fun. Brad breaks thing down without shattering the Systema wholeness of the art. He is an excellent teacher, a consummate professional. I look forward to training with him again.“
“I wanted to post to give my thanks and appreciation to both Brad Scornavacco and Al McLuckie. Last month Iowa Systema hosted a 2-day workshop in Ames with the two of them and it was a fantastic. This was Brad’s 5th visit to Ames and Al’s first. It’s always a pleasure having Brad come in to work with everyone, and this was no exception. Most of the people here have worked with him many times now and they always look forward to training with him. Even so, I think everyone was just as excited to have Al here to see what new things he would bring. They were certainly not disappointed.
They covered too many things to do justice to them all here, but I wanted to note some of the best parts of the weekend. Brad started everyone off each day and got everyone moving and warmed up, while Al followed up in the afternoons. There was a nice mix of beginners and experienced people, and Brad did an excellent job of getting people of all skill levels moving smoothly and ready to work. In particular he did some very nice multi-level walking and movement exercises and transitional drills that included both one-on-one and multiple attacker variations. One of the highlights that I think everyone enjoyed and that definitely opened a lot of eyes was a series of groundwork drills focused on moving against and breaking the opponent’s elbow on the ground using any body part. This was then incorporated with the concept of saving your elbow by rolling onto your partner rather than away from him. This was a revelation to everyone, including those – or should I say particularly those – who had previous groundwork experience.
Even though many of us were familiar with the work Brad was showing, none of us really had any experience working with 28-30 inch sticks, which is primarily what Al covered. There’s really no other way to describe it than amazing. Al began by taking us through a nearly two hour process that he jokingly terms Russianized Kali. It was a beautiful progression that built upon itself and got everyone moving smoothly very quickly. It started with basic introduction to the weapon, moving up through simple butt-striking with the stick, and proceeded ultimately to include passing and blocking with counter-striking, slashing, thrusting, locking and throwing, takedowns, all in a non-patterned free-flow pretty close to full speed. It was something to see, a group of people who a couple hours before had never held a stick, moving freely around the room, striking and countering smoothly as if they’d been doing it for months rather than hours. I’ve had very limited experience with any type of stick fighting myself, but according to Al and Brad, who also has a Filipino background, everyone was moving as if they had 3-4 years of consistent, traditional Kali training. Needless to say, it was very impressive.
All in all it was an excellent seminar. As I’m sure many of you know, Brad and Al have known each other and trained with each other for many years, and it really showed in the way their teaching styles complemented each other. Again, on behalf of myself everyone who participated in the workshop, many thanks to the both of them! If you get a chance to work with either of them, don’t miss it!”
“This was my third Systema seminar. My very first with a natural born citizen of the U.S. The first day began with body dragging exercises and butt walking. Brad has a very laid back calming personality, but as with any Systema Instructor you are expected to do your best and work hard. The first day was packed with so much information that my brain was as tired as my body. Brad’s calm demeanor gave me the strength to accept my first Systema strikes to the body. It was very educational and I am ready to do it again.The second day started with massage work. I am so glad that I have a whole new repertoire of hip and shoulder stretches. Between the two days of takedowns and moving I was totally exhausted. As I looked into the glassy eyes of my fellow students at the end of day two, I knew most of us had hit the wall. The resounding statement made in the circle was, “It is all finally coming together”. The information and delivery was well paced and well explained. Systema has afforded me a new awareness of my surroundings. After the weekend with Brad, I have more confidence in my abilities and feel I would actually have tactics I could employ. “ — Kelli Dyer
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I had trained at Brad’s Systema school for 10 years and learned principles that have been very beneficial since moving away. I have attended seminars for various martial arts including Systema and have been able participate at a comfortable level with whomever I am working with. I always am asked as to where I learned to move so well. My thanks to Brad and all the training partners over the years. I look forward to coming back to Colorado for one of Brad’s seminars.