Martial Arts Blog

Is Systema The Ultimate Combat System

 by pad-up on 26 Aug 2013 |
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One of the debates which often takes place between martial artists is whether ancient or modern arts are more effective. Chinese martial arts can be traced back as far as the 5th century BC, and some would argue that they have been proven and tested over the centuries. Fans of Systema and Krav Maga would argue that these fighting systems have been developed to be effective in more modern situations, such as street fights and knife attacks. In reality, all arts take influences from older systems and styles.

Although Systema is associated with the modern Russian special forces, it has roots back to the Cossacks around 950AD. Russia faced invaders from all of its borders for several centuries, and a fighting style was developed based on adaptability, instinct and ease of learning. The modern form of Systema we see today takes account of advances in science and technology and uses mechanics, physics and psychology as well as the core techniques developed by the Cossacks.

Systema has a reputation for being brutal, and it’s certainly true that its techniques are designed to have maximum impact in real combat situations. There are no fancy kicks and acrobatics, and it’s not a martial art that’s considered attractive to watch. However, the more you understand about Systema, the more you appreciate the intricacies and subtleties. It’s interesting to see that an attack is rarely met with the same defence and counter-attack, as you would see in many other martial arts. A common trap with arts like aikido is to have one favourite technique, and to try to use this in a variety of different situations. In the world of Systema, a slight variance in angle or direction of an attack is met with a completely different response.

The history of Systema explains the diversity of techniques and methods the combat system employs. An expert will use innovative and versatile techniques which are practical and deadly against any type of attacker. It may not look pretty, but it gets the job done.

Many martial arts experts now agree that Systema is the ultimate combat system for the modern age. It’s hard to say exactly what it is that sets it apart, as many of its strengths can be seen in other arts. For example, a constant state of alertness and the ability to move and create space. There’s something about the instinctive reaction and lack of rules which gives Systema the edge. The techniques are effective in both armed and unarmed combat situations, and at times it’s painful to watch.

Systema stances are very natural, and give nothing away to the potential attacker. Students are taught to manage distance correctly, so they are far enough away to respond but close enough to deliver a response. Strikes are designed to cause maximum shock and pain, such as kicks to the quadriceps. Stopping an attacker in his tracks is the intention, not provoking a long and drawn out exchange of blows.

Fans of arts like karate and aikido may argue that Systema is a ‘dirty’ fighting system, but it does what it was developed and designed to do.


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