One of the G.O.A.T. Contemporary Gun-Fighters and Firearm Educators Sonny Puzikas

Interviewed by visual artist Vesa Kivinen


Man people often ask me who were my biggest influences are. Often times they ask:


  • “What Firearm Educators made me who I am?”

  • “Who do you admire?”


So, each day of this week for five days I will release the top 5 five modern Firearm Educators that I considered to be the G.O.A.T. (Greatest Of All Time). That's right, we’re talking way pass Magpul videos. We are talking about cognition, insight, philosophy of use and critical thinking from a Gun-Fighters perspective.

What can I say! Sonny Puzikas could be considered a pure champion in the Gun Game! His course of training is a reflection of his raw, gritty, real world and steeped in substance style. As lucid as that may seem it’s actually not. Sonny Puzikas is every still every bit the operator he was when he was a Spetsnaz Operator. And for the record, fuck what you heard from the digital tabloid "Everyday No Days Off" regarding Sonny Puzikas - internet lames, close the door to your mothers refrigerator and cut her lights off. Simply put, if you can't directly call a publication then should raise your antennas. 


Now many may not know what a “русский Войска специального” or “Russian Special Forces” or Spetsnaz Operator is. Well for starters it [Sonny] is a Russian Gun-Fighter. Secondly, he has years behind the gun and not simply from a theoretical stand point like 85% of NRA instructors. He like myself have put bullets through good flesh.


Moreover, it should be said that Sonny Puzikas should be considered a leading  authority on not only the AK rifle but he should be considered a leading authority on AK Gun-Fighting technique and Mechanics. It should also be said that, he brings something different to the Gun Game – and that being Systema. Systema should be simply thought of as the Russian equivalent to the Israeli Krav Maga.

Sonny Puzikas demonstrating Systema


When I bring up the topic of Systema in conversation, people who are uninitiated tend to blow it off as “simply bullshit”. Nothing could be further from the truth. One of the fundamental differences between Krav Maga and Systema is fluidity. Don’t get me wrong, Krav Maga is a great tool to have in the tool box – but it’s more focused on gross motor skills (which you just can’t go wrong with) but it’s rigid. Systema in contrast, is more fluid. If I could use an anomaly, when it’s being used on you it’s like trying to stay dry in a pool of water. YES – it’s that fluid! What I'm trying to say if I’m saying anything is that Systema just seems to draw you in.


Taken from sonny’s website, he talks about Systema in the following fashion:


“Systema: Combat and training methodology with Russian roots, strong military influence, and a scientific training approach. Systema spans all aspects of violence. From hand to hand combat to the use and the countering of edged, impact, and ballistic weapons. Effective methods of breathing and preparatory exercises are addressed as well.”
Another thing that makes Sonny one of the G.O.A.T. is that he has a great force on force training methodology. His use of simunitions in training is great for people who are looking to go to the next level in understanding Gun-Fighting and how it applies to them. In addition, Sonny seeks to help aid in the revitalization of the health of his Clients and students. What I mean by that is that he provides insight into how to “Forge” an individual for combat conditioning.
That’s right we are talking more than just pressing triggers here, we are talking about the total health and vitality of the Client and how that aids them in being “fight ready” for a lack of better terms. In a nutshell this aids in the increasing the Fight-Efficiency™ of the Client or students under his tutelage. Moreover, from what I can observe from Sonny is that he like Louis Awerbuck is straight forward no bullshit kind of guy, and that is something that can be appreciated in the small circle of Gun-Fighters that we have in this country.
He like me, doesn't believe in the “passing out” of certificates. Why? Because he like me know that a certificate dose not save your ass in a gun-fight. What we know from being behind the gun is that it is skills, knowledge and attitude that will keep you alive, when the CONVICT rears their head.

His training methodology is like music to my ears. Taken from his website Sonny Puzikas states:


“We are not a “shooting” school or academy. What we offer is not for those interested in endless discussions about shooting stances, aimed versus point shooting, caliber wars, or other trivialities."
"We do not promote the conventional training approach that has become prominent within the last decade."
"Teaching civilians to “operate” as some uber-tactical spec-war commando without a support crew of other well-trained, well-equipped operators within a realm that is vastly different from the battlefield of a war."
"The reality of a lonely civilian caught up in the hell of armed combat does not have much in common with military engagements. Some may say that shooting bad guys is all the same, but it is not. Besides the obvious differences and dilemmas in the moral, legal, and psychological contexts; the most glaring difference is the dynamic of the action itself."
"With numerous factors requiring a higher level of mobility in all dimensions, a higher level of responsibility for the surroundings and bystanders, and without a team of operators as support, the combat zone for a civilian is unique."
"Civilians rarely possess body armor, NVGs, or other related equipment. In most cases altercations outside of war take place within distances of twenty feet or less from the assailant… or multiple assailants."

"The harsh reality for civilians is that their reaction to incoming violence often begins at the moment a projectile hits their flesh and causes damage."


"The focus of our training with firearms is on the development of applicable fighting skills and the integration of shooting into these skills, not the other way around."
"One of several issues with the traditional dogmatic approach of teaching marksmanship and shooting skills in isolation from the realities of actual violence is that such teaching results in formation of habits that are often detrimental to efficient performance in real-world violent confrontations. More importantly, the situation may never match certain “guidelines” that seem to exist only when shooting in square, one-way range.”


Now this is where me and Sonny differ is in his statement on his website:


“We don’t not train students to become Gun-Fighters, instead we train fighters to be proficient with a gun.”


This is based upon the philosophy that “you are the weapon”. And that’s something I agree with. However, for VODA Gun-Fighting is see as very specific aspect in the Gun Game. A small shift in perspective but nothing that cannot be overlooked because the end goal between VODA and Sonny Puzikas is the same.

In closing, I have to say that I agree with Sonny Puzikas 100% whole heartily on this following points which he makes on the Force on Force section of his website:


  • "We do not ignore the fact that most students are not, nor ever will be, nor are trying to be SWAT officers or DELTA Force snake-eaters."
  • "We do not water down harsh reality to make anyone feel good. Nor do we offer a certificate proclaiming anyone to be a “Certified Gunfighter”."
  • "We do not attempt to sell you a “super gun” or “tacticool” accessories."
  • "We push you to adapt to the moment, in that moment."
  • "We move you outside of your comfort zone, further and further each time you train with us."
  • "We will criticize, dissect, and discuss your failures as and challenge your successes."
  • "We point out the importance of details. The outcome of the fight is determined by many small nuances of each moment. Each detail from how you stand, how you carry, access, move, point, pull, reset, assess, reload, clear, see, talk, and much more. Pulling the trigger is not the fight. It is merely a component of a fight, one element among many equally important and crucial elements."
  • "We train hard and intelligently. A hardcore dummy is still a dummy. A smart softie is still a softie. Neither a dummy nor a softie can have high expectations to prevail in an event where the question of living or dying is being decided."
  • "We focus on improving your performance each step of the way. Rather than only judging your progress by the outcome of each drill or training scenario. A higher level of performance in each and every component of the process is what brings one closer to the desired outcome."
  • "We aim to teach and do not preach."


My advice is it doesn’t matter about the incident that occurred in his session (the fact there was a shooting). Neither I nor you were there and so with that being said neither one of us knows exactly what happened factually. You know me, fuck the rumors – just train so you can be ready should the time come for you to defend your life and the lives of those you love the most.


Don't forget to pick up a copy of Sonny Puzikas DVD's: "DOUBLE THE TROUBLE DVD SET", "THE FORGE DVD", "BEYOND THE FIREARM: PART II DVD" at his website at:


This is Sonny Puzikas, Spetsnaz Operator, Systema Practitioner and Educator, Current Gun-Fighter, Firearm Educator and so much more and this is why Sonny Puzikas is one of the G.O.A.T..






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