The Russians have been know for centuries by their brutality in combat and ruthlessness when it comes to dealing with an opponent. This holds true in the martial art they are most well-known for, Systema (Система). Systema is best known as the fighting art used by the Russian Spetsnaz, or Special Forces. Its origin goes back hundreds of years and has been developed for warrior combat.
There are a couple of branches that you’ll hear about, although I’ll really only focus on one. Due to the teachings of a couple of more recent celebrities in the field, Systema has gotten something of a bad rap, which is not hard to understand. Take, for example, Systema Ryabko, which many refer to as “magic” since so much of it is highly unbelievable when you see the techniques (or lack thereof) that do indeed look like hokum:
Personally, it kind of reminds me of those televangelists who grab you by the head and “heal” people from their “demons” as they ask for tithes and offerings. Ryabko claims he can control a person’s energy force and, well, see for yourself if you didn’t watch the video already.
Now, that doesn’t mean I don’t believe in chi or ki, depending on whether you are from a Chinese or Japanese school, but I’ve been around long enough to know it doesn’t really work that way. So yeah, I’ll let Ryabko do Ryabko and look at what works for real world martial artists. That’s not to say he’s incapable of fighting effectively, but one damages his own credibility when he does stuff like this.
The other branch that you’ll see more of these days is called Kadochnikov, which is generally more in line with what you might expect to see from the military. Yes, these techniques are done relatively slowly, as well, but the martial application is much more realistic and combat-ready.
One of the things that stands out about Systema is that there are not any katas or drills to speak of. It is taught based on concept rather than specific technique. I really like that idea. When you practice, you do it by acting freely, not according to a pre-determined response that might or might not work the way you expected in any given situation.
That’s how we practice in our bujutsu training – free thought when drilling, not “sets” of any real kind, though you might make some up that work for you. I love it. 🙂
Anyway, being a combat art, Systema is very aggressive and to-the-point. It doesn’t waste movement and is designed to get the job done right away so you can get out of there. Here’s another cool video that shows some fun techniques to give you some ideas:
Okay, so maybe that isn’t real combat, but we can forgive him for the video name. Still pretty cool and gives me some inspiration for things to try in my ninja training. I love how fast and efficient it is!
A great resource for Systema Spetsnaz is a group called, well, Systema Spetsnaz. Here’s a bit of a recent seminar they put on not long ago. Check out some of the things he comes up with and how devastating they could be to add to your repertoire.
Personally, I find this to be the best deal they have going, but you might or might not want to get a whole set versus a single video. But with this one, you’ll learn
- Fighting elements and exercises
- Punches and Kicks
- Grabs and Chokes
- Spetsnaz History and Combat theory – plus it’s 20% off! Just click the picture!