3 November 2017 Sergei Grishin

Till March 1, 2017 Ivan Vasylchuk was known as a Ukrainian sambist, Honoured Master of Sports, World Champion, and Winner of the SportAccord World Combat Games. Today Ivan is known in SAMBO community primarily as a video blogger who in half a year has managed to develop from scratch his ‘Ivan Vasylchuk: The Power of Par Terre’ online video project, by turning it into one of the most popular and authoritative wrestling channels on YouTube. In this interview to FIAS website Ivan reveals the origins of this project, how he films his videos and what he finds in the comments, as well as his grandiose plans for the future.

– Ivan, how did you come up with an idea to shoot SAMBO training videos and post them on your YouTube Channel?

– The year 2014. Last days of August, the end of a coaching session, last seconds of a fight – and my right knee’s ACL is found to be torn. In such condition I somehow contrived to attend the World Championships in Japan, I was operated only in December of that same year.

My recovery was a very quick one, as I wanted to get to the I European Games in Baku in June, 2015. However, as I had started to fight and get myself ready for the Games in four months whilst the standard recovery process after such surgery requires from six to nine months, in time the knee began to get dislocated. By the end of the 2016 this problem prevented me from reaching my top form. This made me ponder on my future, what would I do when I wouldn’t be able to take part in competitions?

Как самбист Иван Васильчук стал популярным видеоблогером

For instance, would I be a coach in Ukraine, earning $100 per month and knowing that it is impossible to prepare a national champion without competitions and team practice sessions? Or would I choose some other fields like business or security and to strike out 25 years’ experience, knowledge and skills. Neither was exactly what I was dreaming of. So, I started thinking on how to combine my work and my labour of love. Decision came almost immediately: social networks, and YouTube, in particular. My dream was to promote SAMBO, to coach, to give master-classes, and to popularize my sports on the global scale, so it is pretty much coming true now.  

– What kind of difficulties did you face? Technical ones, probably? Or was it difficult to act on camera?

– When I decided to get on YouTube it all seemed easy and simple enough: you just film a hold and upload it to your channel. I skimmed through other YouTube blogs and found no difficulties either. Yet practice had shown that there are oodles of them really. You ought to know how to work with video editing packages, how to act on camera, how to shoot things properly, to optimize your video, to develop visual design for your channel, and to promote your videos. All in all, there was a great deal of work I hadn`t even heard of before.

Before YouTube I was using a simple cellphone with buttons and used to say I was in no need for smartphones, with all their frills. In terms of technologies, I was like a toddler learning to make his first steps. But SAMBO had taught me this – if you want to learn something, find someone who knows it already. So I had to study a lot of things, tutorials and training courses, to get out of my ‘ancient world’.

– Do you remember the exact date when you had created your channel and posted your first video on it? Can you recall it?

–  I started watching videos on similar topics in December 2016 and purchased some courses on how to run your YouTube channel properly. I had even filmed a few holds, and in February I went to a team practice in Zaroslyak. Three days later, when I was limbering up, my knee became dislocated again and it didn’t quite get back as it was before. So, since then I`ve had more spare time. On the 1st of March, as I came home, I uploaded my first video on the channel. Of course there were blunders in my earliest videos, but I learnt how to avoid most of them eventually.

Как самбист Иван Васильчук стал популярным видеоблогером

– Today your channel is fairly popular already. How did you manage to promote it?

– In fact, it took a great deal of efforts. To film a lesson and upload it correctly on the channel is half the trouble. The main thing is to make many people watch it. In order to do this, I got in touch with various social network communities and asked them to post my videos. It was highly gratifying to see that they were doing this with alacrity, after learning about me and my projects. Also, I had to buy ads from fellow ‘YouTubers’, and mutual PR works at times as well.

– Why is your channel called ‘The Power of Par Terre’? How did you come up with this title?

– Initially I was planning to show holds in par terre position only, as I was really fluent in mat wrestling. Yet, with time many users began to ask for holds in standing position, and body conditioning, too. In point of fact, I’m working in standing position twice as much as I am in par terre, yet I thought, that there was quite enough videos concerning standing position on YouTube already. It came clear with time that many of those videos were full of misadvice though. As for body conditioning, there was a total mess, since you need something totally different for wrestling. Now, the channel is still titled ‘The Power of Par Terre’, although it features every aspect of SAMBO.

Как самбист Иван Васильчук стал популярным видеоблогером

– How do you think up new ideas for your videos?

– I always have of ideas, as I tend to show what life of sportsmen is all about, what sort of things they have to face all through their career. There are plenty of other videos on sports on the web, but there’s also a problem: people who shoot them are generally far from the proper sport life, they haven’t gone through things that I have. Their production is well optimized, themes are quite topical, and yet they lack in certain subtleties. Besides, my watchers ask a lot of questions, and ask to film various things. That’s how ideas appear!

– Who’s assisting you in the process, who holds your camera?

– At first my only assistant was my tripod, and then one acquaintance of mine wrote to me as he’d seen my videos. He asked me to train him and how much it would cost. And I knew him as a professional photographer. So we made a deal: I train him and he films me. At the moment he’s working in Denmark, so my wife has taken his duties. As the quality of my videos appears to grow, I'm planning to hire a professional cameraman in the nearest future.

– Tell us about your feedback: what do they write in their comments?

– They write a lot, in general they thank me for videos, for my channel. Some subscribers ask me to demonstrate some particular hold, other ones want to learn more about body conditioning techniques, and so on. There are negative commentaries, too, which is only natural – I can’t be liked by everyone, and my recommendations might not suit anyone. I’m more ‘adapted’ to SAMBO, and fans of other kinds of sports might see things pretty differently. But an educated person will always find something new and useful to learn. I’m watching the others, too, and pick up useful things from them. My reaction on negative comments may differ: if I consider them quite adequate, I join the discussion, and we try to figure out what’s wrong. However, there are always messages that are best to be ignored.

If you ask me to recall the most memorable comments, my subscriber Ser Bo immediately comes to my mind. He almost always sends me titles for my holds from jujitsu. As I upload a video of the painful ‘groin stretch’ hold, from ‘canary’, he responds, ‘It’s a banana’. I send him back a smiley and ask, why a banana? He replies with a picture of this hold, with legs of a sparring partner contoured with marker. They look like a banana. So I say in reply: Got it! 

– What do you think makes your channel and your videos unique?

– In fact, very few YouTube channels cover SAMBO. And each channel has its own specialty, be it video reviews, or fight footage, or news and events, whereas I try to embrace each and every topic, so that anyone who comes around can find something interesting for himself. However, the principal uniqueness of the Power of Par Terre is that I’m sharing my personal experience there, experience that I’ve gained through 25 years of practicing SAMBO.

Как самбист Иван Васильчук стал популярным видеоблогером

– You’re working together with an artist Nikolai Petrenko, who’s also wishing to propagate SAMBO. Can you tell us about him and your cooperation?

– Oh, it’s an interesting story. I was attending a team practice when a masseur trainee came around. We got acquainted, did some coaching, and then he left. When I uploaded a few videos to my channel, a guy wrote to me, ‘Remember me coming to your team practice? I’m Nikolai Petrenko. It’s awesome you’ve decided to share your skills. I’m an artist, let’s do something together, for one, I will design a logo for your channel’.

And I agreed with pleasure. That’s how our friendship began. Later Nikolai learnt from me about a picture contest for the World Championships in Sochi. He had submitted his work to the Sochi SAMBO Federation and won the prize, a trip to the Championships. He was so excited to visit the main sports event of the year! He thanked me immediately, though it was entirely his achievement, he’s a gifted artist, and a great guy. In my turn, I’m very grateful to Nikolai for his help: we’ve already completed a lot of projects, and plan to do a lot more.

– Ivan, what are your plans for the channel? For one, are you going to add sound tracks or subtitles in other languages?

– Plans are grandiose! I want to grow and to hone my skill, to produce videos of higher quality. Actually, it depends on money, as you can hire freelancers, professionals in their field (to do quality video editing, sound recording, etc). At this stage, my videos are improving along with my skills in film making. That’s all well and good, of course, I learn a great deal, but it takes all my spare time. Now, I’m in the stage of launching another channel, ‘Sambo Academy’, this time in English. So I plan to dub my videos there in English. Now I’m looking for SMM assistants. As soon as I build my team, I’m going to explore Instagram.

Как самбист Иван Васильчук стал популярным видеоблогером

Instagram is a pretty interesting social network. In February 2016, I decided to be ‘on trend’ and registered my account there, @sambovasylchuk. At the moment I’ve got 7500 subscribers. As any other social network, it features  its peculiar algorithms, but honestly, I’m still not much into it, though it appears to be the most popular network. Its sole drawback is time limitation for videos – one minute only. I have to re-edit and shorten my pieces, and one minute is not always enough to convey my message. Many of its users display their life in InstaStory (stories), yet I’m still not in tune with it, and I hope to have more time for it in the future. But I`ll mostly rely on my team that will help me.

– What should your audience do to master those holds that you demonstrate? Just watching is not enough...

– Right, watching is good, but to perfect your skills you have to practice incessantly. Wrestling is a pretty complex kind of sports, and every muscle here should remember its workings till it becomes automatic. Like they say, you’ve got to get ‘muscle memory’. Even if you experience fear and self-doubt when participating in competitions, it’s owning to this muscle memory that your body does what it has already repeated for thousand times.  

–  Would you like to give some advice to other sambists, who wish to make their own training videos for YouTube?

– Don’t fret and do it! When you start doing something good, the whole world helps you. I was so impressed to see how many people responded to my project and offered their help for free. The main thing is not to stop learning. There’s no limit to perfection.

Top-5 videos from the Power of Par Terre YouTube channel, picked by its owner, Ivan Vasylchuk.

1. Double leg reap – the most spectacular throw. How to perform this move.

2. Body conditioning for improving SAMBO holds.

3. How to escape an armbar. SAMBO secrets can be utilized by all martial arts.

4. Submission moves and throws/Ivan Vasylchuk`s video archive

5. SAMBO training. «Blotter», «Pendulum», overlaps, rolling and other basic warm-up exercises.

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