top of page

Is Russian Systema a Fraud?

So...Russian Systema. Is it a fraudulent martial art?

Answer: Sometimes, yes; sometimes, no; most of the time, maybe.

As is the case for ALL combat systems.

I use a few Systema concepts to bolster my self-defense and combat sports techniques. Becoming more relaxed and pulse/whip-like in your striking can increase your effectiveness as a fighter. Learning to roll with a punch or strike (if you absolutely can't get out of the way), can reduce the damage inflicted by that punch or strike. The Systema concept of absorbing the energy of an opponent's blow and then rubber-banding it right back at him through a different technique borders (in my opinion) on a presumptive-optimism that works only in the dojo with a "compliant" opponent.

On it's own, Systema may get you killed (just like any other art); but, if you're skilled in other arts, it may add a welcomed dimension to your execution and application of those arts.

Bruce Lee was famous for saying things like, "Be like water." To him, "water [was] unsubstantial," meaning, if you hit it (in its unfrozen state), you can't break it. Systema concepts include such conceptual approaches to combat.

Lee also said (and I paraphrase), "Research your own experience. Absorb what works, make it your own, and then throw out the rest." Lee took an al a carte approach to the creation of his own systemless system. I think we could all learn a lot from his example.

Whether you use Systema concepts or not, it's important to remember that all fighting systems are limited in their efficacy. What might work in one context might get you killed in another. Just because your art is limited in some contexts (and every art is) doesn't mean it's limited in all contexts. Be honest with yourself, and use your limitations to teach you where you need to fill in the gaps and bolster your skills. Doing so is neither disloyal to nor disrespectful of your lineage. In fact, it demonstrates an almost irreducible (or unbreakable) respect and loyalty. You understand your art; you know its strengths, you know it's weaknesses, and you relate to it (including it's evangelists, detractors, and general practitioners) realistically. What could be more respectful than that?



IKIGAI Weekly Blog Schedule (per The Training Trinity):

Mondays: Meditative Prayer

Wednesdays: Holistic Discipline

Fridays: Martial Arts Practice​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​


The Life You Were Born to Live

bottom of page