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History of Systema

Russia is an enormous country with remarkable combat history, a diverse population, geography, and climate, as well as rich and fascinating
culture and traditions. For centuries these factors have contributed to the formation of an incredible variety of martial arts styles.

Systema was developed by the early Cossacks more than a thousand years ago, with historical record of this fighting style dating to 948AD. For centuries, Russia had to repel invaders from the north, south, east and west. These included the Varangians (Vikings), Sarmations, Scythians, Pechenegs and Drevlinians, Mongols and Volga Bolgars. Each of these invaders brought their own peculiar martial skills, physical abilities and weapons from their cultures. As a result of the varied skills and weapons of the invaders, the need existed for a fighting style based on adaptability, instinct and ease of learning. While the Cossacks existed as a highly trained, frontier paramilitary society which often hired out as mercenaries, or giduks, many of the early Russian regions could not afford professional armies, relying instead on the martial skills of the villagers, farmers and hunters.


From this need arose the System of Russian martial art. For many years the Russians trained in these skills were highly sought as warriors,
even by the Roman empire. When the Communists came to power after the October Revolution of 1917, the practice of these fighting skills was prohibited, except by the elite High Risk Mission units of the Spetsnaz (Soviet Special Forces) and K.G.B. bodyguards.

In the 74 years of existence of the Soviet Union, the Spetsnaz further developed the countless striking, submission, kicking and weapons
disarming skills of the early Russian practitioners. Close protection has always been the most challenging area in martial arts. The goal of
Stalin's Falcons was to have a system that combined all the best components of the Russian System on all three levels of human abilities
- the physical, the psychological, and the psychic. And what is most important, to develop tactics that would not look like martial actions.
The tactics were meant to be so subtle that, when they were applied, it would be barely possible to see what happened and how. This has
resulted in the highly evolved fighting methods of Systema practiced today. It is only since 1991, with the fall of the Communist era, that
these martial traditions and styles have become available to the West.

Despite the more recent development of this art, however, it has never shed its roots in Russian life, health and culture. This is far more
than a fighting style. The study and practice of this discipline involves a complete system of physical and spiritual health, relaxation,
and courage in the face of all forms of adversity. Unknown to most, each movement of the traditional Russian and Cossack dances seen by people around the world is a technique from the fighting arts, enabling the Russian people to practice their fighting skills in an atmosphere of fun and community.

But most of all, it involves a philosophy of life, peace and decency seldom seen. Completely opposite of many Asian styles, Systema teaches
no fighting stances, but to fight from all positions. It stresses relaxation, and to slow movements down in combat rather than accelerate
them allowing you to strike at odd angles, to smile in combat rather than adopt a fierce visage or announce your intentions with a blood
curdling yell. There are no fixed training patterns of combinations or movements, and all training is based on the reality that unexpected
things happen in combat. Even in meditation, the Russian system teaches you to relax and become totally aware of all that is around you, never to close your mind off in a state of hypnotic unconsciousness. The purpose of this discipline is not merely to prepare for violence, but to
improve one's own mental state, to have a healthier and more limber body, to be more relaxed in a stressful society, to live a decent and
peaceful life.