Systema: Is It A Martial Art or What?

Systema is a popular discipline among police and security forces in and out of Russia.

Systema is a Russian martial art dating back to the 10th century that focuses on breathing, relaxation and fluidity of movement. This aims at using the attacker’s momentum against hem and control of the six body levers (elbows, knees, neck, waist, shoulders and ankles).

Its training includes grappling, hand –to-hand, knife fighting and fire arms training. Your body must be flexible, move effortlessly, free from tension and filled with endurances.

The psychological state (spirit) has to be calm, by being free of pride, fear, anger, irritation, self-pity and delusion.


Russia is a huge country with a remarkable combat history, diverse population geography and population and rich in deep fascinating culture.

In ancient times, Russians had to repel invaders of distinct combat style and weaponing.

There terrain of extreme freezing winters and sweltering summers aided Russians in outnumbering the enemy.

This factors led to Russians to warriors to acquire a strong spirit with innovative tactics that were practiced effective and fatal against any enemy in any circumstances. Each of this invaders brought peculiar martial skills weapons and cultures to Russia.

As a result a need existed for fighting style based on adaptability and ease of learning. More importantly, the tactics were based on individual strength, characteristic and instinctive reactions. This was the birth of systema; systems of Russian martial arts.

Today unknown to many people, each movement of the traditional Russian and Cossack dances seen as a fighting art technique, was to enable the Russians to practice their skills in an atmosphere of fun and family. In 1917, the communist suppressed the old style of fighting and reserved it for the few operation units.

 Today, Russian systema is said to open a new page in the world of martial arts.

Systema Principles

Systema operates in the philosophy of life peace and decency. It stresses slow movements and relaxations in combat.

The key principle of Russian systema is non- destruction. It’s aimed to train your attitude and do no damage to your body and your opponent or partner.

The style of operation is natural, free with no rules, structure and limitations (except the moral ones). Its training concepts and training components enhances one’s life.

Acquiring this martial skill will improve all your seven psychological systems (circulatory, immune, skeletal, excretory, muscular, endocrine, digestive, nervous and respiratory) and the three human abilities (physical, psychological and spiritual).

It’s also referred to as Poznaisebia meaning know yourself: see the full extent of your strengths and limitations. It allows you to explore true strong spirit of humility and clarity of your life’s purpose

A true worrier has a combination of three components; combat skill, strong spirit and healthy body.

Systema and Religion

Russian systema is rooted in the Russian orthodox Christian faith.

The non-destruction systema principle originates from the Christian faith teachings that everything that happens to us good or bad, has an ultimate purpose.

Christian orthodox teaches that it’s only a sin to fight when pride, aggression, revenge, callousness ids the motivation.

If it is for defense rescue, it’s a sin not to fight. Old Testament figures like Samson and Gideon were given the power to fight evil by God.

There is no bigger sacrifice than to give up yourself for others.

Therefore a true warrior, is trained, takes a weapon, and sacrifices his own life in the name of love. To be a martyr.

The ultimate quality that systema developed in its warriors is humility. It gives the ammunition to overcome egoism and other personal weakness. In return god wards you with peace joy and absence of resentment.

If humility is your character, definitely there is no room for aggression, pride, greed and envy. Thus you will fight with the least possible damage to the opponents, in a calm, firm, fearless and professional way.


Foundation exercises

Systema is built on four key principles: breathing, relaxation, structure and movement.

Specialized exercises achieve warm-up, which gives the body balanced energy for flexibility, endurance and confidence. Breath training founds daily physical activities.

Unarmed combat

This involves developing endurance, sensitivity, striking power and breathing continuity.

 It also provides for use of the body for defense, control of empty – hand attack, economy of motion and unpredictable moves.


Involves control of a single or multi armed attackers.

You are trained to use and defend against a gun, stick and knife.

Use every item available every day as effective tool of defense. You also learn to concur your own demons.

Your fears and vulnerability will not hinder you whether armed or unarmed.

Ground fighting

All from the ground, learn strategies to overcome attackers and disarm them.

Develop skills of breathing, avoiding injuries and your body strength.

Explore and free yourself from any inhibiting factors.

Systema vs other martial arts

Most inspiring trainees always find that systema is unique, more realistic and easier to learn compared to other martial arts of the world.

All martial arts have their uniqueness and benefits.

Systema principles combined with your current combat knowledge, will make you unbeatable.

So what specifically differentiates systema from other martial arts include:

  • In systema principles   are taught and not specific fighting techniques.
  • Blue prints in combat don’t function in systema. That is, memorized techniques don’t work in real life
  • It works for everyone. No age gender or physical abilities limitations.
  • Its quick and easy to only uses 25% of physical l strength.

Final Verdict

In conclusion systema is not only good for self-defense, it’s even better because it’s deeply rooted in Christian teachings.

Christian faith is based on love. Love for others and love for self. All techniques of system are based on this principle. Love yourself and train to protect yourself. Also love your neighbor and be ready to give your life up for your neighbor.

Even though there are circumstances that love for humanity may cause disagreements, it is the same principle that a systema will use to solve the crisis.

 Most importantly, people don’t have to physically fight to solve a crisis or disagreement.

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