Looking at Systema history, Systema is a term derived from the original Russian Systema Rukopashnii Boi or System of hand-to-hand combat. More recently, as this style has become exported to western nations, it has become synonymous with Systema Boyevogo Iskustvo or Russian System of Martial Arts. Systema hisotry shows it was developed by the early Cossacks, a highly trained paramilitary society, more than a thousand years ago, and historical record of this fighting style can be dated back to 948AD. For Centuries Russia had to repel invaders from the north, south, east and west, each of which brought to bear the peculiar martial skills, physical abilities and weapons of its culture. As a result, the need arose for a fighting style based on adaptability, instinct and ease of learning.
The System of Russian hand-to-hand combat, or hand fighting, developed from this need. For many years the Russians trained in these skills were highly sought as warriors, even by the Roman Empire in its Byzantine period. When the Communists came to power after the October Revolution of 1917, the practice of these fighting skills was prohibited, except by the elite units of the Soviet Special Forces. Known as Spetsnaz, these groups had unique training and capabilities for working on the highest risk missions within KGB, GRU and other government facilities and special divisions such as the MVD.
In the 74 years of existence of the Soviet Union, the Spetsnaz further developed the countless striking, submission, kicking and weapons disarming skills of the early Russian practitioners. This has resulted in the highly evolved fighting methods of Systema practiced today. It is only since 1991, with the end of the Communist era, that these martial traditions and styles have become available to the West. The instructors of the Russian Martial Art Training Center, Inc., (RMATC) have been trained in both the ancient style passed on by generations and in the modern Spetsnaz hand-to-hand combat version, as well as the more standard Spetsnaz combat arts of Rukaposhnii Boi and Sambo.
Systema is a realistic combat style of fighting with real-life, rather than sport, application. It involves a unique, high speed, elliptical open-hand striking system, kicking, and defense on the ground. Unlike many Asian styles, Systema has no predetermined fighting stances, but teaches you to defend yourself against attackers from any position. In addition, students are trained in the use and disarming of weapons, improvised weapons, as well as combat in non-traditional situations such as fighting from a chair or while in a car. Other courses in knife throwing, shovel fighting, executive protection and women’s sex assault defense are also taught by Russian trained experts.
The study and practice of this discipline involves a complete system of physical and spiritual health, relaxation, and courage in the face of all forms of adversity. But most of all, it involves a philosophy of life, peace and decency seldom seen. It disciplines its students to relax while striking, rather than focus to generate maximum power, allowing you to strike at unusual and unexpected angles, to smile in combat rather than adopt a fierce visage or announce your intentions with a blood curdling yell. There are no fixed training patterns or combinations of movements, all training is based on the reality that unexpected things happen in combat. The purpose of this discipline is not merely to prepare for violence, but to improve one’s own mental state, to have a healthier and more limber body, to be more relaxed in a stressful society and to live a decent and peaceful life.
Anyone, in any condition or of any age, can learn and benefit from this unique style.