Interview with Matt Clempner by SFUKED
Matt in Black
SFUKED: Matt, you're the chief instructor of ROSS in the UK. What do you feel are the benefits of the Russian style to those of us interested in cross training?
Matthew Clempner: Hi SFUKED, I hope you are well. As for your question, the benefits of using Russian style are many but probably the greatest is the flexibility due to working on principles of movement rather than technique - this makes ROSS versatile in any situation and can help in any sport or martial art, as well as being effective in its own right as a combat system.
SFUKED: I believe your system originated with General Retuinshikh. Could you tell us a little about him and how he developed the system?
General Retuinshikh demo's the flowing movements of ROSS
Matthew Clempner: Alexander did develop this system, although it was already there, hidden for centuries. He just brought it out and rebuilt it into what it is now and made it more scientific and effective.
SFUKED: Got any good stories about the General?
Matthew Clempner: Yea, as you may know Alexander is a Master of Sport for Judo & Sambo, also he had a reputation as a street fighter in his youth. When he returned home from his studies the local guys said he had gone soft, all they could see was dancing type collection of movements which looked nothing! So a match (fight) was organised with the town's hero, a karate champ, Alex did not just win I believe he played with the man. This and other similar situations gained Alexander a following in his home town which was the beginning of the ROSS story.
SFUKED: You've just come back from training in Russia. What was that all about?
Matthew Clempner: Myself and three fellow Russian martial artists, Frank Etherson of Scot Ross a Police trainer and Chris Heath of Salford Academy, a Psychiatric Therapist and Fred Turner a Judo coach. It was an important camp this year, martial art masters from the world head of family sokeship council were present. For me personally, this was the first time I had heard of these guys, but each one was a master in his own art. The other big event of this camp was the arrival of the Minister of Sport and other government officials. The Minister was standing in for the Prime Minister who unfortunately could not attend. A demonstration and display was given for the VIPS and all heads of foreign annexes and branches (including myself) had to give a short speech. At the end of this program the Minister awarded Alexander Retuinshikh the honour of Honourary Coach of Russia. As you know, Russian Martial Art Federation is the only Russian Martial Art organisation recognised by the Russian Government. However, the greatest thing was to train with real Russian Masters again, most of whom are serving military or ex war veterans.
SFUKED: I heard Alexandre Karelin was going to be there. Did you have the chance to train with him?
Matthew Clempner: No, unfortunately, he was not there. A very close friend of mine, Konstantin Tinovitsky, Honorary coach of Russia for Sambo, said he was injured.
SFUKED: How importantly do you rate supplementary training such as weights, calisthenics and stretching?
Matthew Clempner: I've always done weights, sometimes every day, in my earlier days I did some powerlifting and once won a medal in a National Olympic Lifting competition..However due to my sport circuit training and daily stretching is a must. I have found since I've began training in RMA I have become more supple in my muscles.
SFUKED: You have a reputation for extremely smooth and graceful technique despite being a large and powerful chap. How did you develop this (I only ask coz I'm not smooth and graceful, as well as being small and weak)?
Matthew Clempner: Thank you for those kind words sir, as a young heavyweight I was fast and agile (even for 20st) but these days I am somewhat slower (and 3st heavier) although I believe the flowing style training in Russian Martial Arts and regular mat work maintains co-ordination.
SFUKED: You've competed at the highest level in Judo and Freestyle as well as Sambo, care to tell us a little about your competition history?
Matthew Clempner: Sure, .......5th Dan Judo 5th Dan Ju Jitsu 4th Dan Taiho Jutsu GB International for Wrestling, EEC Wrestling Champion 1980 Olympic Games. National Judo Squad Member, GB Judo International 3x National Taiho Jutsu Champion 5x British FreestyleWrestling Champion 9x English FreestyleWrestling Champion 6x Police '' '' '' Silver European Police Judo Championships1980 & Bronze 1988 6x British Sambo Wrestling Champion (1977 - 1990) 2x European Sambo Bronze Medalist , 1989 World Sambo Bronze Medalist. 1990 Mr. Sambo (Moscow World Sambo Championships) 1999 Awarded International Master of Sport at Khlampiev Tournament Moscow.
SFUKED: What do you think are the relative strengths and weaknesses of these arts (vis a vis throwing and groundwork) and what made you go with Sambo as your art of choice?
Matthew Clempner: The mix of different wrestling styles attracted me the most, although it lacks some of the skills of Judo, (strangles are not usual in Sambo) the lack of restrictions on throws and groundwork allow freedom of personal strengths and with a jacket there is no limit.
SFUKED: In the Russian Martial Arts are striking and grappling kept separate or are they combined?
Matthew Clempner: "Combined, the whole is greater then the part", Khlampiev (one of the founders of Sambo) said when asked " Which is best? Wrestling or Boxing, Judo or Karate, how can any part be greater then the whole.''
SFUKED: If they are integrated what methods are used to achieve this?
Matthew Clempner: The 'ROSS' originated in Wrestling and Dance by using fluid principles of movement for the untrained eye to see where striking/grappling ends and grappling/striking begins.
SFUKED: What weapons are trained in the Russian style?
Matthew Clempner: All and any objects in time of need are weapons, it is the first and basic lesson. We just need to follow the principles to understand better. We train with knives, sticks, guns, swords and even books, belts, pens, bags and clothes.
SFUKED: How much emphasis do you place on weapons training and why?
Matthew Clempner: Weapons are an extension of the Art. Such training is dependent on the needs of my students.(eg security staff sometimes require weapon defence training).
SFUKED: Ok Matt, thanks for taking the time to share this with us. Finally where are you based and how can people get in touch to recruit you for seminars and so on.
Matthew Clempner: Email firstname.lastname@example.org
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