Various styles of Russian Systema (The system)

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Systema in russian literally translates as the system. It is no more and no less than a systematized grouping of self preservation and defense techniques that was originally taught by the great Aleksey Alekseevich Kadochnikov.

There are many styles of the system, just as there are many styles of Chinese kung fu. Most of them trace their roots back to Kadochnikov in modern Russia, but there are a few that are more or less just made up from bits and pieces of traditional styles and slathered in nostalgia sauce to seem authentic.

Systema Kadochnikov- (The original) Sytema Kadochnikov was invented by A.A. Kadochnikov and is based on the Kadochnikov family style. It has many elements of western boxing and Russian sabre fencing. This is a modern take on a very old style. Kadochnikov said that he was taught in the Army the basic combat sambo style of the 1930s but he said none of it stuck. This is a family Cossack style that has been reinterpreted for the 20th and now the 21st century. (His son Arkadey is still teaching this style in Russia but is not the best teacher for this system)

The Master in Action

Systema Cadets in action

Systema is actually for highly trained warriors and special operations operators in tough survival situations and is very technical. Based on biomechanics, physics, levers, military survival, body’s pain points and vulnerable points and is designed to work. Most of the training is done with real weapons, real kalashnikov rifles, real knives, real asphalt with real results. With even a little clinical hypnosis thrown in for good measure. This is not for the light of heart, or even really for hobbyists. This is made by Russians for the Russians. This is real systema:

One of Kadochnikov’s top students, Vinogradov S.S.

Now the good news is that since Kadochnikov is based on scientific principles of mechanical physics, biomechanics and kinesiology that the principles can be modified for a Western mentality and have been taught in Europe for a number of years by Russians who live there. They have grafted in and acclimated to the western understanding and have been successful teachers of the Kadochnikov System.

For Russians: I recommend the teachers Belousov (Белоусов) , Retyunskikh ( Ретюнских ) ROSS system, and also Vladimir Martynenko (Владимир Мартыненко). They were actually taught by A.A. Kadochnikov and are genuine holders of the system for Russian speakers/ Russian mentality. They have also kept the cultural movements which make systema Kadochnikov so hard to learn for westerners and are genuine veterans, so they know what they are talking about.

For Westerners: I recommend Evgueni Matkovski who is an amazing Kadochnikov teacher and seems to reside or teach a lot in France. One of his students. Anastasia Nila Kvan is an excellent teacher of Systema as well, and also resides in Toulouse France.

Evgueni Matkovski (In French and Russian)

Muddled Origins: Systema Pretenders

There are a lot of pretenders out there or people who just can not understand the movements, science or cultural aspects enough to teach systema in North America (This goes both ways as the Western mentality and understanding is not the same). These include Pramek as taught by Matthew Powell (excellent planning and success coach though), Systema Vasiliev (which has very little to do with ROSS system anymore) and other Kadochnikov-like teachers in the USA.

Systema Vasiliev/ Ryabko – Vasiliev originally learned ROSS in Russia and taught it when he first immigrated to Canada sometime in the 80s or 90s. There was a lawsuit though from the Kadochnikov group and he eventually came to associate with Michael Ryabko, a Russian Orthodox Christian and military official. This history is a little hard to trace because Vladimir Vasiliev’s system is shrouded in mystery, machismo and lawsuits.

I’ve pieced it together as best as I can, but they really try to make it cool and drench it in special forces marketing, almost as bad as Vadim Starov (Even though he used to work with Kadochnikov). I’ve spent far too much time tracing their methods and teachings and it was very disappointing that they don’t cite original sources or say where they get things from. Their fist fighting comes from Buza (old Russian Fist fighting), the breathing from the 4 Cossack breathing styles (Cossack Spas Breathing as taught by Sergei Danilov) styles and (not from Russian Orthodox Hesychasm Jesus Prayer as they say in let every Breath), their water dousing from a Russian Mystic named Porfiriy Korneevich Ivanov (Порфирий Корнеевич Иванов) and basically everything else came from various Russian styles of which there are real tradition holders to this day(Like Igor Karmanov, Knaz Boris Timofeev- Golitsin, Victor Pavlyuchenkov among others.)

It isn’t from the Russian Special Forces as they teach combat sambo or Systema Kadochnikov, and it isn’t from King David either . It’s neither here nor there, nor is it scientific, as their breathing style isn’t the Buteyko Method that is taught in Kadochnikov System to real special forces, and it isn’t the Cossack style either. It’s just a mess.

I’ll let McDojo break it down for you

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