About FightClub


FightClub opened it’s doors in the winter of 2003 with Emmanuel Manolakakis as Head Instructor and proprietor.

The Laird avenue training facility was small, had a wood floor and a support pole in the middle of the room. Rolls and ground work for new students were brutal. The poll acted as sort of extra person, but a person made of steel. The training was intense and cardio more so. Slowly word got out; enrollment increased and Emmanuel was obliged to relocate to a more appropriate facility.

In April of 2005 FightClub moved into the Coxwell location, a main floor commercial space which was much bigger than the previous “room”. The thing that defined this location in the early days was the carpeting and mass-attack training. Soon bruises from hitting a wood floor were replaced by carpet burns. The reason the mass-attack training was so predominant was due to the rapid growth in class sizes, which worked perfectly for this kind of training.

Where as the Laird location offered a sense of “closed quarters fighting” the Coxwell location by virtue of it’s physical size to student class size ratio excelled in larger mass-attack and group work.

Because the club grew much faster than Emmanuel had anticipated he found himself debating whether or not to quit his day-job as a manager at Bell to open the club full-time. He did, and in order to accommodate enrollment the club began offering day classes as well as classes five nights a week and week ends.


It was during the Coxwell days that the club began offering woman’s classes and youth classes. It was during this period that mats were installed to alleviate injuries. Many of those who were lucky to train on a wood floor prefer the wood and even carpeting over mats in an effort “to keep it real”, however at the same time nobody wants to get hurt while training so most will agree that mats do have some positive attributes.

In 2008 after watching a steady growth of students locally and internationally, Emmanuel decided it was time to lay the groundwork for a permanent location for FightClub, one that could fulfill the requirements of both student size and quality of training. It is this that best qualifies FightClub in that it has always been about the training and quality of such. This is the driving factor behind FightClub’s growth and success. Simply put; “it’s the training”.

Emmanuel looked around and was fortunate to find a suitable studio close to his home and in the same area as the Coxwell club. Negotiations were made and in January of 2009 FightClub had a permanent 3500 square foot space perfectly suited to the purpose.

Over the years the training has remained intense. This is primarily due to Emannuel’s superb teaching abilities and the host of student instructors who have been with the club through the years.

Of course the focus has always been on “Systema”; a military fighting system, however the training is accomplished in a non-military environment with students from all walks of life. One minute you are training with a senior student twice your size then you are training with somebody your own weight and skill level but with boxing experience to lend to the mix. The training regiment mimics real life. Its full-contact too.

Moving into 2012 Emmanuel wished to re-invent the training space making it more accessible to those not training but in the “environment”. During the 2011 X-Mas break renovations were made to the club in an effort to bring the spectator into the experience. This was accomplished and you are free to come and participate as an active spectator. Many students do find it interesting to simply watch and often walk away having learned something without physically participating.

The equipment FightClub utilizes for training ranges from common to the unconventional. To this end the club has accumulated an abundant number of tools geared specifically towards fitness training and certain aspects of Systema.

Improvised weapons defense, knife defense, defense against a handgun are just some of the more concrete aspects of the training while others like breathing and sensitivity work are not exclusive to the senior student and you might find yourself learning pressure points or some other more esoterica work your first class.

Class size remains steady with larger class sizes for the evening and Saturday classes. Class time remains at one hour thirty minutes per class. You get a full workout. Most classes consist of a 1/2hr warm-up then an hour of Systema however there is no warm-up in a “street fight” so some classes go straight into Systema.

Each class is different. Students enroll into an on-going program. Senior students help new students.

There is quite often a student instructor present as well. Over a short period students acquire the basics of Systema equivalent to actual armed forces “basic training”. After that you are exposed to an endless stream of concepts both physical and physiological to engage in.


Children do not train with adults like some clubs. There is a Youth Program for kids. Teens are encouraged to train and there are some who have progressed amazingly through the years.

FightClub is not for everyone. The physical training is rigorous. Minor injuries are a given. At some point you will become aware of the saying; “suffer in silence” and understand its meaning implicitly.

Did I mention how much fun FC is? Well it is! Students genuinely enjoy the camaraderie and friendly atmosphere, which is encouraged. Students from all kinds of other martial arts disciplines train at FC and the oldest member is a 73 year old ex-Olympian. But don’t be discouraged if you have no previous martial arts experience save watching UFC on TV. Everyone started somewhere.

Interested persons are asked to try two classes [$20.00] to make sure the club is the right fit for you.


Cavalry in WWI looked beyond the opposing line while charging in battle.

“Conflict is often stressful. This stress tends to become worse as you approach the stage of conflict. One way to overcome this is to look past the stage of conflict. While charging into battle, looking directly at their enemy can increases the levels of stress. Looking past their objective allowed them to go forward.

As you await a troublesome meeting with your boss, your stomach might knot, every moment might seem like eternity. As you step toward someone who is threatening you, your neck and chest may become tense, and you may wish to run away. This is an unavoidable reality. Your duty then, if you wish to operate well when faced with conflict, is to learn how to mitigate its consequences, to recognize the causes and effects of physiological and psychological tension and then to see how you can work with them.

Although it is not likely that you will face a war front, you can still borrow a soldier’s insight. Look past the stage of conflict. Do not dismiss the threat facing you, but keep yourself from fixating on it more than is necessary. This principle can be applied in a number of contexts. When falling down, for instance, do not fixate on the ground. Instead, work with the situation; make adjustments and changes to your position as needed, all the while trying to keep soft. As the floor approaches (or you approach the floor!), relax and let it “show you your weaknesses.”

toronto systema training

401 Donlands Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, Canada : 416-200-0200

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