“As a person and as an instructor he [Emmanuel] is TOP NOTCH and I recommend that anyone who has the chance to visit his school or one of his seminars goes. It will definitely be a life changing experience.”

David Strachan
US Navy Special Boat Team 20 Training Dept LCPO

“Without doubt, the fight skills that you are able to equip your students with are both incomparable, effective and a real world practical line of self defense”

Joseph Gulesserian, MBA

“I’ve never stabbed anyone before. But feeling the heft of a Russian bayonet in my hand, I think maybe this will be my first time. After all, the small, sturdy guy keeps taunting me. “Just try to stab me,” he says. I’m the one holding the razor-sharp knife. So I lunge. But he grabs my wrist, bends it backward and painfully redirects the knife back toward my gut. I’ve lost the fight, but learned a lesson at East York Fight Club, a different type of martial-arts gym, where there are no white uniforms, no black belts, no kanku katas, or tournament trophies. Just fighting. Lots of it.”

Rob Shaw, Reporter – TORONTO GLOBE and MAIL

I have a lot to thank for the Fight Club and the System, it has helped me feel as a though I’m a better person and given me the ability to “see” the good in people, and the bad in people as well, and how to deal with them (the good and bad). It still amazes me after doing this for one and a half years that even though I still get pummeled with strikes how humble it makes me feel. I guess humility does bring out the best in everybody.

What I’ve learned so far in my year and a half journey is quite simple: No matter how big, strong, fast, or powerful you may be, you are just as fragile as anybody else. And when you realize that you get a better appreciation for this grand gift that our parents have given us called life. Or at least I did.

So, in closing I’d like to thank Emmanuel for opening the FIGHTCLUB, through you I not only gained an excellent instructor, but also a good friend.

John Katsavos

On the weekend of 3-4 Dec 06, I went to a Systema seminar taught by Emmanuel Manolakakis in New York at the Fighthouse. I hope that I can find the right words to describe just how amazing this seminar was. I have been to seminars taught by Vladimir Vasiliev which were very powerful and moving in the way he teaches and the way he is with people. Emmanuel’s demeanor is similar to that of Vladimir’s in the way that both are very friendly and have a calmness about them that brings a sense of inner peace before you even start to train. Emmanuel teaches similar but yet different in his own way. As it goes when you learn Systema or so as my understanding has it, you do not learn specifics as in this is what you do and how you do it. Rather you learn generalities in the way of the principles, concepts, and movement which when you further break those down for yourself to your own specifics you make Systema part of you.

Everyone is able to have their own ownership in Systema which makes it so diverse and never ending. Emmanuel has learned and continues to learn Systema from the best and has made his own interpretation of the System that stands out. He never said nor appeared to portray greatness even though his movement and ability to teach and share his knowledge seemed great to me. He is a very powerful man in mind, body, and spirit yet he is such a humble man that it was such an honor and humbling experience for me. Emmanuel has a subtle approach of teaching and at helping you to relax so that you may understand and perform at your best.

During the two days we covered ground work, knife, striking, kicking, and multiple opponent work. He would start with exceptional warm ups that prepared you directly for the upcoming training. The drills started at a very basic level and logically grew from there continually prepping you for the next event. Everything was in simple terms but if there was any misunderstanding, he was easily approachable and eager to help you find the right path. He would continually interact with the students and assist them or help them to grow further if they were ready. As a person and as an instructor he is TOP NOTCH and I recommend that anyone who has the chance to visit his school or one of his seminars goes. It will definitely be a life changing experience.

Very Respectfully & God Bless,

David Strachan
US Navy
Special Boat Team 20
Training Dept LCPO

In December 2004 my wife Petra and I took a plane from Amsterdam, Netherlands to Toronto. The reason: training at Vladimir Vasiliev’s Russian Martial Art school. During his European seiminars I had already the opportunity to work with Vladimir, but some force pulled me to Canada. Anyway, during the first training session on Monday morning, Vladimir suggested that I’d also go and train with Emmanuel, so I could train more. Well, o.k. but who’s Emmanuel? During that training session, a short, strongly build guy with the looks of a Southern-European (Italian, Greek, Spanish) joined the class. I recognized him. He was on some of the video’s which Vladimir produced. “That’s Emmanuel” and Vladimir pointed at this man. During the class I worked with Eammanuel and that felt very good. After class Emmanuel gave us some information and we could come already the next day for the morning class.

So the next morning we took the subway to down-town Toronto and after a short bus drive we arrived at Coxwell’s FIGHTCLUB. At first it reminded me of some typical American martial arts schools, e.a. the entrance, a small office, some picture on the wall and behind that the training room. But there was something different. I felt welcome and at ease, where in most American gyms you get the feeling to have to prove something. But not here. Vladimir’s school has that same atmosphere, so the teaching of the ‘master’ were heard by the ‘student’. And also Emmanuel’s students where listening to their ‘master’s’ teachings. All in all it created something which learning theories based on neuroscience call a “positive emotional learning climat”. For the record, brain based learning considers this as one of the most cirtical conditions for learning. People do not learn when they don’t feel at ease at first. It is something of which I think Russian Martial Art as thought by Vladimir and Mikail. And Emmanuel understands this concept very well. As soon as the class started I saw that this guy knew where he was talking about. I experienced Emmanuel as being very creative with combining training drills and concepts of Russian Martial Art.

Therefore, next to all the classes at Vladimir’s school I also attended all the classes I could at Emmanuel’s FIGHTCLUB. This created for me a top of the top learning experience in the time I could spent in Toronto. Emmanuel showed me the more ‘technical’ concepts of the Russian Martial Art, where Vladimir worked with me on the more psychological or emotional concepts.

So thanks to all the students of FIGHTCLUB and we could work with and special thanks to Emmanuel, who’s fighting and teaching competences are only exceeded by his modesty and helpfulness.

I’ll be back (soon)!
Dr. Jan Bloem

Human Movement Scientist, Psycho Motor Therapist
State certified (level 5) martial arts and self-defence instructor level
Teaching and advising position at the Higher Institute for Sports studies Advisor to Ducth Olympic Committee concerning
instructor courses of Dutch martial arts organisations (state certificate)

Special guest instructor for the Dutch Police forces and their instructors

This weekend Emmanuel Manolakakis came from Toronto’s Fight Club to teach the Bear Creek Systema Study Circle, as arranged and hosted by the Circle’s instructor, Brian King.

It was a beautiful jewel of a weekend! Emmanuel distilled the very best of Systema down into a 2-day, 4-hours-per-day format. We covered extensive and incredibly creative forms of “warm up” (actually this is extremely advanced energetic cultivation work, in the disguise of unbelievably varied. surprising and fun “physical” challenges). That segued smoothly into coverage of every point on the Systema spectrum – defense against knives (which is the base paradigm of all Systema defensive movement work), extensive groundwork, all kinds of work on escape from holds, releases and attacks, body guard and “door” work types of scenarios and on and on and on our cup runneth over as it says in the Bible.

And with all the many training weeks I’ve spent in Toronto and Moscow and all seminars I’ve taken over four years, well, you always think maybe there can’t be anything “new” but there was! Much new stuff, and all very fun.

Hey – these seminar reviews can get dull right? “It was so great blah blah blah… ” You-had-to-be-there syndrome is kicking in, isn’t it? OK, so let me dish you out just ONE “take home” game for your own work. Something – (just one of many) “new” things (to me) that were incredibly fun and educational. Here’s a freebie, courtesy of Emmanuel.

Very simple. Two partners on their knees or sitting, one has a knife. Now the one with the knife throws it to the other. The receiver needs to catch the knife and roll immediately, as part of the catching motion. The pitcher needs to throw it out of range so the catcher needs to really dive for it! Dive, catch, roll – GO ! It was SO fun!

The version I have provided you here is actually just one arbitrary variation I’ve randomly selected from a whole family of knife catch-and-avoidance drills that Emmanuel taught. It was so great, what can I say?

Now you got your hard-cash “take home” freebie, so you can forgive the rest of my generalized raving in this note.

Satisfied? Still not enough? OK one more… Grab a stick and thread it through both sleeve holes of your t-shirt, from the back so it lies across your bare shoulders Eric Hansen (another attendee) wittily observed that anybody who can thread their own stick with no help from a partner will be automatically awarded a Black Belt in Systema. Anyway, then roll (start from knees) backwards, forwards, hands in “cuffed” position back and front, etc. This teaches you to roll softly over hard junk that could be on a surface, such as stone that could break vertebrae. It was a new one to me!

Way too many to write here.

Well, all I really want to say is that to me, Emmanuel embodies the highest teachings of Systema. His approach to his students reminds me so strongly of the way the highest senior students of Mikhail work with us in Moscow. They work so gently, smiling, soft-spoken, but with incredible power – for just an instant, when needed. Now you feel, it now you don’t. You’ve heard of the “Velvet Revolutions” in Eastern Europe? Emmanuel is Velvet Systema – just the way I think Mikhail wants it to be!

We thank and thank and triple thank Emmanuel for taking his days, trekking across the Continent, doing it for us. And we thank Brian King for making it all possible.

At the end, we all basked warmly for a minute in Emmanuel’s praise for our little fledging local Systema scene in this scenic backwater of North America.

Emmanuel – we loved every minute of it! May you live long and prosper. My thanks to you, my teacher.

I want to take this opportunity to express my gratitude for the training you have given me at “The Fight Club” over the last year. Being the President of a Consumer Product and Brand development firm, your invaluable expertise has given me a constructive release from the demands of my professional workload, while learning a system of defence that could save one’s life.

Without doubt, the fight skills that you are able to equip your students with are both incomparable, effective and a real world practical line of self defence. As well, this system that is taught to the “Russian special forces” moves the student up the learning curve quickly and effectively.

This being said Emmanuel, what sets things apart and makes it a pleasure to come to your club is the genuine passion, interest and patience you have for teaching this incredibly creative and effective art.

At the same time, what I would like to bring to light for both current and prospective students, the intrinsic qualities in the Russian system that can touch one’s life in such a positive way. While learning to fight, one learns patience, respect, humbleness, resiliency, confidence, inner peace and the intricacies of the human spirit, hence, fostering qualities that will serve one well, both on a personal and professional level.

To this end, it is not one particular aspect that resonates with the system you teach, but the totality of the offering. For anyone who is interested in learning an un-rivalled system of self defence, while at the same time learning about themselves, I most recommend this art.

In the meantime, I want to thank you again for your teachings and wish you the finest of continued success.

Kind Regards,
Joseph Gulesserian MBA



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