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Systema and Archery

Emmanuel Win’s a Canadian Indoor National Archery Silver Medal!

As many of you may know, I’ve been practicing archery for almost 15 years. At first, I was mostly curious about it and though it would be a nice hobby. The more I practiced, the more I enjoyed it and the more I made time for archery; it simply became a part of my life. Fast forward to today, and I am proud to say I have won the silver medal for archery at both Provincial and National levels. I’m not here to brag about winning medals, it was a great feeling to win them, but the real insight I want to share with you is what I’ve learned and reflected on about the deep connection between Archery and Systema.

Successful and consistent archers work tirelessly on focusing on the centre, remaining calm and relaxed while being fully present and aware. Sound familiar? Remember these aren’t new ideas and they are entirely within your control; you just need to consider the value of practicing them consistently. A quote from Confucius sums it up this way.

“In archery, we have something like the way of the superior man. When the archer misses the center of the target, he turns around and seeks for the cause of his failure in himself.”

So, I see archery as natural complement to martial arts (Systema in particular) by utilizing universal principles, such as, relaxation, balance, awareness and most importantly consistency to develop and deepen your skills. Consider this: when you train a lot in one thing, you may begin to see it differently or you may start trying the same things in different ways. In my case, archery inspired me to incorporate my Systema skills. Then very naturally, my archery practice started to permeate and deepen my Systema skills in the process. These ideas are simple and powerful and it’s what I teach my students; Process matters. Training matters.

Archery and Systema, in my case help to synchronize mind, body, heart and spirit. I practice both to pray, to reduce stress, to connect with a higher being. It’s not about preparing for a tournament; archery relaxes me and allows me to explore the process. The process, the training and the practice are all important parts of my life. We should try to resist the results driven mentality that typically has little regard for the value and insight of the process that produces the result. For this reason, Systema focuses on breathwork, relaxation, strengthening mind and body to better understand ourselves so we are able to express and act as our true selves. I encourage you to explore other interests in your life (even ones you thought of doing but never did!) with the same application in awareness of tension, relaxation, breathing. Most importantly, embrace the process and work consistently.

In closing I would also like to thank my teacher of almost 30 years, Vladimir Vasiliev, whose boundless wisdom and priceless lessons I’ve used in all aspects of my life. Practicing archery gave me a powerful view into the extent of everything I have learned from him and what Systema means.

Arrow by arrow and prayer by prayer anything can be accomplished!

God Bless,


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