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Country of originRussia Russia
Olympic sportNo

Systema (Система, literally meaning The System) is a Russian martial art.[1] Training includes, but is not limited to: hand-to-hand combat, grappling, knife fighting, and firearms training. Training involves drills and sparring without set kata. In Systema, the body has to be free of tensions, filled with endurance, flexibility, effortless movement, and explosive potential; the "spirit" or psychological state has to be calm, free of anger, irritation, fear, self-pity, delusion, ego and pride.[2] Systema originated from traditional fight styles of the Cossack and Slavic peoples.[3]

Systema has four pillars - Breathing, Relaxation, Body Position, and Movement, as well as utilizing an attacker's momentum against him and controlling the six body levers (elbows, neck, knees, waist, ankles, and shoulders) through pressure point application, striking, and weapon applications. As a discipline, it is becoming more and more popular among police and security forces and it is taught by several practitioners inside and outside Russia.[4][citation needed] There are multiple schools of Systema - Systema Kadochnikova, Systema Ryabko, Systema Vasiliev, Systema TALANOV.

Media coverage[edit]

It has gathered interest as coverage of it has increased. This coverage seldom specifies which version of Systema is being discussed. Some examples are:

Starting in 2013, the FX cable series The Americans, a series about two Russians undercover as an American husband and wife couple during the Cold War in the 1980s, use the techniques of Systema in the fight choreography for the show.[14]

For the 2018 BBC crime drama McMafia, actor James Norton learned aspects of Systema to add authenticity to his leading role as a London banker drawn into the violent world of the Russian mafia. Norton trained with David Kirillov who runs the London School of Systema. Kirillov said "The show has generated interest in what we do and James talking about it has raised the profile of Systema."[15]

In the video game Street Fighter V, the Russian character Kolin has her fighting style listed as Systema.[16]


  1. ^ "Systema at Black Belt magazine website". Black Belt. Retrieved 2014-02-06.
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ "What is Systema?". Club Nagaika. 2016-05-20. Retrieved 2018-08-15.
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Systema's top exponent in Dunbeath". North Tonight. Grampian TV via 15 May 2004. Archived from the original on 31 August 2005. Retrieved 2014-02-06.
  6. ^ "Go Warrior". Go Warrior. Archived from the original on February 26, 2008. Retrieved 2014-02-06.
  7. ^ Horwitz, Raymond (2011-03-24). "Mental and Physical Impact of Ballistic Striking". Black Belt. Retrieved 2014-02-06.
  8. ^ Horwitz, Raymond (2011-03-24). "Proper Execution of a Ballistic Strike (Systema)". Black Belt. Retrieved 2014-02-06.
  9. ^ Horwitz, Raymond (2011-03-24). "The Biomechanics and Psychology of Confrontation". Black Belt. Retrieved 2014-02-06.
  10. ^ "Systema Ballistic Strikes in Action!". Black Belt. 2011-03-24. Retrieved 2014-02-06.
  11. ^ Horwitz, Raymond (2011-05-12). "Systema Expert Discusses Self-Defense Biomechanics". Black Belt. Retrieved 2014-02-06.
  12. ^ "Train Like a Russian Commando to Increase Power, Speed and Survival Skills!". Black Belt. Retrieved 2014-02-06.
  13. ^ Horwitz, Raymond (24 March 2011). "SYSTEMA: History of the Russian Martial Art". Black Belt. Retrieved 2014-02-06.
  14. ^ Thomas, June. "Why The Americans' Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys Love Their Season 6 Disguises". Slate Magazine. Retrieved 2018-05-02.
  15. ^ Sawer, Patrick (2 January 2018). "How James Norton learnt the Russian martial art Systema for his role in McMafia". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2018-01-03.
  16. ^ "Street Fighter Kolin - Phantasm of Snow and Ice | Street Fighter V". Street Fighter V. Retrieved 2018-06-20.