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Systema

Literally translated as “the system,” systema is a Russian martial art notable for its hand-to-hand and close-quarters-combat ways. It is the system of choice for many Russian Spetsnaz which is a catchall term for Russian special-forces units. In fact, one of the most prominent practitioners of systema today is Mikhail Ryabko from the early Spetsnaz era. He learned systema from one of Joseph Stalin’s personal bodyguards.

It was during the 400-year Mongol occupation of Russia that systema evolved. Created by the Cossacks in A.D. 948, systema is thought to have originated from Hun and Mongolian martial arts. It is also a conjecture that it may have been influenced by Chinese martial arts. After the warring periods between the Mongolians and Huns, the systema weapon nagaika, which is a lead-filled short whip, was created by the Cossacks to be used specifically against Eastern threats.

Today, systema focuses on hand-to-hand combat, knife fighting, grappling and firearm training wherein the six body levers—neck, shoulders, elbows, waist and ankles—are the primary targets for striking, pressure-point attacks and weapon applications. Systema is the progenitor for Russian sambo.

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  1. The Russians Are Coming! Systema Seminar Planned for Los Angeles

    The Russians Are Coming! Systema Seminar Planned for Los Angeles

    Systema legend Vladimir Vasiliev will make a rare appearance in California to conduct a Russian martial arts seminar that’s open to the public.
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  2. Train Like a Russian Commando to Increase Power, Speed and Survival Skills!

    Train Like a Russian Commando to Increase Power, Speed and Survival Skills!

    It’s not too early to start making your summer travel plans for next year! If you want your vacation to revolve around reality-based self-defense, you’ll want to sign up for the Russian Martial Art Camp 2012: Systema at Full Range.

    The training camp will take place just outside Toronto, Canada, from
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  3. Systema Expert Discusses Self-Defense Biomechanics

    Systema Expert Discusses Self-Defense Biomechanics

    Systema expert Val Riazanov asks the tough question: At this point in your martial arts career, why should you consider changing the way you strike? What’s wrong with conventional methods? Plenty, says the systema instructor, who’s certified under Mikhail Ryabko. In this exclusive in-studio video, Riazanov discusses the application of
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  4. Systema Ballistic Strikes in Action!

    Systema Ballistic Strikes in Action!

    Systema expert Val Riazanov asks the tough question: At this point in your martial arts career, why should you consider changing the way you strike? What’s wrong with conventional methods? Plenty, says the systema instructor, who’s certified under Mikhail Ryabko. In this exclusive in-studio video, Riazanov demonstrates ballistic-striking action in
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  5. The Biomechanics and Psychology of Confrontation

    The Biomechanics and Psychology of Confrontation

    Systema expert Val Riazanov delves into both the physicality and psychology of self-defense in this exclusive in-studio video. What happens in a high-stress situation? How do we respond? How can we train to improve our response? Find out!


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  6. Proper Execution of a Ballistic Strike (Systema)

    Proper Execution of a Ballistic Strike (Systema)

    Systema expert Val Riazanov asks the tough question: At this point in your martial arts career, why should you consider changing the way you strike? What’s wrong with conventional methods? Plenty, says the systema instructor, who’s certified under Mikhail Ryabko. In this exclusive in-studio video, Riazanov discusses the proper execution
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  7. Mental and Physical Impact of Ballistic Striking

    Mental and Physical Impact of Ballistic Striking

    Systema expert Val Riazanov asks the tough question: At this point in your martial arts career, why should you consider changing the way you strike? What’s wrong with conventional methods? Plenty, says the systema instructor, who’s certified under Mikhail Ryabko. In this exclusive in-studio video, Riazanov discusses the psychological advantage
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  8. SYSTEMA: History of the Russian Martial Art

    SYSTEMA: History of the Russian Martial Art

    This overview of systema depicts the genesis and evolution of the Russian martial art from olden times to the current day. Systema is a style of combat and self-defense that has evolved over the course of 10 centuries. It adapts the simple and powerful battle skills of its ancient practitioners
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