Thread: systema-spetznaz connection?
12/21/2006 7:13pm, #31"On August 31, 2006 an official reception in the honour of the Special Forces members was held in Saint George lounge in the Kremlin. Mikhail Vasilievich Ryabko was invited by Vladimir Putin for the reception and was conferred with medal Spetsnaz of Russia" which is one of the forms of public acknowledgment with respect to the efforts of armed forces personnel".
He is genuine, well respected and is a high ranking officer (Colonel/General) in the Russian Military. Travelled to Moscow on a number of occassions and have observed this at first hand.
A good resource to read is "Spetsnaz: the Inside Story of the Soviet Special Forces" by Viktor Suvorov (a psudonym). Published 1987 by WW Norton. It is out of print, but here is a link to an e-version of the book. http://download.yousendit.com/9287D5470D3332AF The text was written by a defector, no mention of systema...only sambo, boxing, karate, and the like.
Understand that I am not saying systema is not prcaticed, or not valuable. I have cross trained it a bit myself however, it is far from protocol, or even priority of training in Spetsnaz to my knowledge. I feel, as do many, that systema and it's history, as most people know it today in North America is a product of very successful mass marketing and mythology perpetuated by Vasiliev and Ryabko to target a particular type of student - many of whom have a "weekend warrior" mentality. I have spoken and trained with high level systema guys from Vasiliev's camp who will corroborate this and have mentioned that Vasiliev has even commented on this himself. But, it would not be ethical to name them here. If anyone is in the inner circle of systema, they should admit to this - though it might lead to some problems for them.
The grandfather of one of my students was in the Soviet Special Forces in WWII (called the black death at the time) and he claimed it was all sambo back then...no such thing as systema. In fact, he comes from a military family and for them they have always known sambo (the cambat variant). My coach, also former spetsnaz said the same thing. Granted they are a few generations older than when systema started coming into being.
A good book about the Russian Special Forces from back then is:
"Commandos From the Sea: Soviet Naval Spetsnaz in WW II" by Yuriy Strekhnin. Published by the Naval Institue Press Speical Warfare Series in 1996 (the english translation). The original Russian text was published in 1962. This is still in print to my knowledge.
I have a videotape from my coach of a contemporary military base fight club in Russia, and these guys literally kick the crap out of each other. Looks nothing like systema...looks like your basic hard style ass kicking.
Another tidbit to consider...if Systema was the widespread protocol Vasiliev and Ryabko claim, why did Putin not include it in his recently published book on Judo. He does include a chapter on combat sambo (as the primary military and LEO practiced art), but not systema.
Lastly, keep in mind that much written history about these things were destroyed under the soviets. So, info is is often hard to come by (especially in English). This fact can be used by any group to justify their art by saying the true history has been destroyed - take our word for it. Take everything with a grain of salt - especially when such mass marketing is used as in the case of systema. I have literally hundreds of English translations of soviet H2H, self defense, and sambo manuals provided to me by a good friend and very few mention systema. The ones that do are relatively new texts devoted specifically to systema. If I have time and people are interested, I will post some.
So, In the end, my feeling is that systema is real, but new and subject to a lot of BS marketing.
My 2 cents.
12/21/2006 7:51pm, #32
- Join Date
- Dec 2006
- armchair asswuppin
Sambosteve, thanks for the info, my question to you is , after all of that, why do you beleive Systema is real? Sounds like all your information would lead to the opposite conclusion. Also Systema is supposedly not new at all, generations of russian monks and what have you have supposedly trained in this. I mean it is real in the sense that there are people who practice it but is it real in the sense claimed by said practitioners?
12/21/2006 9:53pm, #33
Probably the most relevant piece from Suvorov's book...
In discussing spetsnaz weapons we must mention also the 'invisible
weapon' - sambo. Sambo is a kind of fighting without rules which was
originated in the Soviet Union in the 1930s and has since been substantially
developed and improved.
The originator of sambo was B. S. Oshchepkov, an outstanding Russian
sportsman. Before the Revolution he visited Japan where he learnt judo.
Oshchepkov became a black belt and was a personal friend of the greatest
master of this form of fighting, Jigaro Kano, and others. During the
Revolution Oshchepkov returned to Russia and worked as a trainer in special
Red Army units.
After the Civil War Oshchepkov was made senior instructor in the Red
Army in various forms of unarmed combat. He worked out a series of ways in
which a man could attack or defend himself against one or several opponents
armed with a variety of weapons. The new system was based on karate and
judo, but Oshchepkov moved further and further away from the traditions of
the Japanese and Chinese masters and created new tricks and combinations of
Oshchepkov took the view that one had to get rid of all artificial
limitations and rules. In real combat nobody observes any rules, so why
introduce them artifically at training sessions and so penalise the
sportsmen? Oshchepkov firmly rejected all the noble rules of chivalry and
permitted his pupils to employ any tricks and rules. In order that a
training session should not become a bloodbath Oshchepkov instructed his
pupils only to imitate some of the more violent holds although in real
combat they were permitted. Oshchepkov brought his system of unarmed combat
up to date. He invented ways of fighting opponents who were armed, not with
Japanese bamboo sticks, but with more familiar weapons - knives, revolvers,
knuckle-dusters, rifles with and without bayonets, metal bars and spades. He
also perfected responses to various combat combinations - one with a long
spade, the other with a short one; one with a spade, the other with a gun;
one with a metal bar, the other with a piece of rope; one with an axe, three
unarmed; and so forth.
As a result of its rapid development the new style of combat won the
right to independent existence and its own name - sambo - which is an
abbreviation of the Russian for 'self-defence without weapons' (samooborona
bez oruzhiya). The reader should not be misled by the word 'defence'. In the
Soviet Union the word 'defence' has always been understood in a rather
special way. Pravda formulated the idea succinctly before the Second World
War: 'The best form of defence is rapid attack until the enemy is completely
destroyed.' (Pravda, 14 August 1939)
Today sambo is one of the compulsory features in the training of every
spetsnaz fighting man. It is one of the most popular spectator sports in the
Soviet Army. It is not only in the Army, of course, that they engage in
sambo, but the Soviet Army always comes out on top. Take, for example, the
championship for the prize awarded by the magazine Sovetsky Voin in 1985.
This is a very important championship in which sportsmen from many different
clubs compete. But as early as the quarter finals, of the eight men left in
the contest one was from the Dinamo club (an MVD lieutenant), one from the
mysterious Zenit club, and the rest were from ZSKA, the Soviet Army club.
The words 'without weapons' in the name sambo should not mislead the
reader. Sambo permits the use of any objects that can be used in a fight, up
to revolvers and sub-machine-guns. It may be said that a hammer is not a
weapon, and that is true if the hammer is in the hands of an inexperienced
person. But in the hands of a master it becomes a terrible weapon. An even
more frightful weapon is a spade in the hands of a skilled fighter. It was
with the Soviet Army spade that we began this book. Ways of using it are one
of the dramatic elements of sambo. A spetsnaz soldier can kill people with a
spade at a distance of several metres as easily, freely and silently as with
a P-6 gun.
There are two sides to sambo: sporting sambo and battle sambo. Sambo as
a sport is just two men without weapons, restricted by set rules. Battle
sambo is what we have described above. There is plenty of evidence that many
of the holds in battle sambo are not so much secret as of limited
application. Only in special teaching institutions, like the Dinamo Army and
Zenit clubs, are these holds taught. They are needed only by those directly
involved in actions connected with the defence and consolidation of the
As Sambo Steve was saying, all Sambo (battle, or "Combat" Sambo as it is taught in the US, or sport). No Systema.
And I like the definition of Defence -
'The best form of defence is rapid attack until the enemy is completely
destroyed.' (Pravda, 14 August 1939)
Last edited by Marrt; 12/21/2006 9:56pm at .
12/21/2006 10:04pm, #34Originally Posted by sambosteve
12/22/2006 12:22am, #35
Originally Posted by sambosteve
- Join Date
- Jun 2005
- Russian boxing
Wait, where did you get the 'fact' that VV and MR considered Systema a 'widespread protocol' in the Russian Military? From what I picked up in conversations with members of Club Vlad and other historical discussions on Systema, Systema (Ryabko's style, at least) was primarily taught to those who belonged in MR's unit.
12/22/2006 1:43am, #36Sambosteve, thanks for the info, my question to you is , after all of that, why do you beleive Systema is real?
Take Alexander Retuinskih, the founder of ROSS, for example. Long before ROSS came to be (and I don't want to get into the ROSS/SYSTEMA debate here - This is just an example of using a similar art), Retuinskih was a Master of Sport in sambo, a boxing champion, and well versed in fencing. It was that background that made his ROSS as hard core as it was. Not the other way around. Those students follwing in his footsteps, practicing only ROSS with no other background, did not have the benefit of what he had. This is the same with Ryabko and Vasiliev IMO. These guys are awsome at systema not becasue of systema, but because of their total history in combative arts and other military training. They made systema, not the other way around. Now they preach systema, but folks only doing systema will not benefit from the conditioning they got from the other harder styles, functioning under pressure, resistance, etc.
Also Systema is supposedly not new at all, generations of russian monks and what have you have supposedly trained in this.
Wait, where did you get the 'fact' that VV and MR considered Systema a 'widespread protocol' in the Russian Military?
Last edited by sambosteve; 12/22/2006 2:02am at .
12/22/2006 2:07am, #37I don't think systema itself, as a system is completely BS.
Those students follwing in his footsteps, practicing only ROSS with no other background, did not have the benefit of what he had.
This is the same with Ryabko and Vasiliev IMO. These guys are awsome at systema
12/22/2006 2:28am, #38This is because you are horribly, horribly wrong.
Rendering it useless in anyone's hands but his, yes?
Last edited by sambosteve; 12/22/2006 2:34am at .
12/22/2006 2:51am, #39
- Join Date
- Dec 2006
- armchair asswuppin
Interesting stuff guys. Cracky, do you have any Systema experience? I have zero myself.
12/22/2006 2:52am, #40
It sounds like you think it sucks but don't want to say so. I used to feel the same way. Systema guys train in the same building as I do and some of their stuff seemed OK, but when I saw and felt how it performed against a resisting opponent...it is to grappling what Wing Chun is to striking.
I would like to see Ryabko vs Putin in a grappling match.