Are we (meaning those of us from the States) getting Russian martial arts hilariously wrong?

MoldyCookie

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When I say Russian martial arts, I'm mainly talking about the wrestling and boxing. I don't know how much of this fits into other stuff that's practiced over there.

When you ask the average American fighter why Russians are so good at fighting, they'll give you this edgy, cheap-motivation speech about how life in Russia is kill or be killed and people get good at fighting out of necessity.

But when I looked up YouTube videos by fighters who have, you know, ACTUALLY been to Russia.. and videos of Russians training.. I get a different impression.

It looks to me that Russian martial arts training is extremely technical. They go hard when it comes to conditioning and working out but when they're practicing their fighting, it's very mechanically focused.

It's interesting to look at this misunderstanding with regards to how fight training is perceived in different cultures. Over here.. training like how you fight is romanticized. Even moreso training how you fight in order to escape less-than-desirable living conditions through competition. So it's really no wonder that your average American Joe fighter envisions higher skill as meaning only the "strong" survive the training and everyone else dies homeless or something.

Meanwhile you try to talk to a Russian about this and of course they're looking at you like you sprouted two extra heads. That's just salt in the wound on top of the fact that google is FREE and YouTube is FREE.

So my answer is "yes." Not only is my answer "yes" but also that this is a misconception that should have been weeded out of perception ages ago.
 

Monkey Turned Wolf

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1. Neither boxing nor wrestling is a Russian martial art. They exist in Russia, yes, but they're not Russian martial arts. If you want that, look into sambo or systems.
2. I've not heard anyone that trains, that has said in Russia it's kill or be killed, and that's why their martial arts are good. If the people you're asking that question to think wrestling and boxing are Russian, I wouldn't view their opinions as reliable.
3. Yes, it is mechanically focused. At least sambo is, where I trained. You got that part right. Can't speak to systems.
4. What are you considering an average fighter? An MMA fanboy, or someone that's spent years training? I ask because just like point 2, no one that I know who trains thinks skill requires training where you're either strong or die. Some romanticize places like that, yes, but not the skill aspect of it.
5. They probably look at you like you sprouted extra heads because most Russians don't care about martial arts and those that do likely don't have the misconceptions you/your friends apparently do.

So ultimately, I guess, yes. The misconceptions that you have stated, which are not in the majority of fighters, are indeed misconceptions.
 
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MoldyCookie

MoldyCookie

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1. Neither boxing nor wrestling is a Russian martial art. They exist in Russia, yes, but they're not Russian martial arts. If you want that, look into sambo or systems.
2. I've not heard anyone that trains, that has said in Russia it's kill or be killed, and that's why their martial arts are good. If the people you're asking that question to think wrestling and boxing are Russian, I wouldn't view their opinions as reliable.
3. Yes, it is mechanically focused. At least sambo is, where I trained. You got that part right. Can't speak to systems.
4. What are you considering an average fighter? An MMA fanboy, or someone that's spent years training? I ask because just like point 2, no one that I know who trains thinks skill requires training where you're either strong or die. Some romanticize places like that, yes, but not the skill aspect of it.
5. They probably look at you like you sprouted extra heads because most Russians don't care about martial arts and those that do likely don't have the misconceptions you/your friends apparently do.

So ultimately, I guess, yes. The misconceptions that you have stated, which are not in the majority of fighters, are indeed misconceptions.

1. I meant how they train boxing and wrestling.

2. It's something American wrestlers often say on the subject.

4. Combat sports athletes who compete. "tHeY hAvE a HaRd lIfE" is usually the only argument they can come up with.

5. Of course they wouldn't have the same misconceptions. They live there lol.
 

Monkey Turned Wolf

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1. I meant how they train boxing and wrestling.
Ah. So russian martial artists, not russian martial arts.
2. It's something American wrestlers often say on the subject.
Not the ones I've talked to, but experiences vary.
4. Combat sports athletes who compete. "tHeY hAvE a HaRd lIfE" is usually the only argument they can come up with.
Again, not the ones I've talked to but experiences vary. I highly doubt this is the common viewpoint. I could potentially see it for specifically wrestlers because most of them are high school/college aged, and people can get funky ideas as teens. But that's about it.
5. Of course they wouldn't have the same misconceptions. They live there lol.
So I don't get why you felt a need to bring that up.
 

lklawson

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When I say Russian martial arts, I'm mainly talking about the wrestling and boxing. I don't know how much of this fits into other stuff that's practiced over there.

When you ask the average American fighter why Russians are so good at fighting, they'll give you this edgy, cheap-motivation speech about how life in Russia is kill or be killed and people get good at fighting out of necessity.

But when I looked up YouTube videos by fighters who have, you know, ACTUALLY been to Russia.. and videos of Russians training.. I get a different impression.

It looks to me that Russian martial arts training is extremely technical. They go hard when it comes to conditioning and working out but when they're practicing their fighting, it's very mechanically focused.

It's interesting to look at this misunderstanding with regards to how fight training is perceived in different cultures. Over here.. training like how you fight is romanticized. Even moreso training how you fight in order to escape less-than-desirable living conditions through competition. So it's really no wonder that your average American Joe fighter envisions higher skill as meaning only the "strong" survive the training and everyone else dies homeless or something.

Meanwhile you try to talk to a Russian about this and of course they're looking at you like you sprouted two extra heads. That's just salt in the wound on top of the fact that google is FREE and YouTube is FREE.

So my answer is "yes." Not only is my answer "yes" but also that this is a misconception that should have been weeded out of perception ages ago.
I have a buddy who went to Russia to train in their historic martial arts. The short version is that your base premises are wrong. Or, more accurately, you are drawing a broad and over-reaching set of conclusions about a whole lot of different martial traditions which cannot be so conveniently or easily rolled up into one idea of "Russian Martial Arts."

It's analogous to saying, "Chinese Kung Fu is xxxxxx." You have something like 3 distinct forms of "Russian Boxing" including Booza (at least). You have knife arts, multiple saber arts (most popularly Shashka), any number of different regional wrestling styles, then there's modern Sambo, ROSS, and related material.

Even if you want to restrict your thesis to Sambo or ROSS, you're still biting off more than you can chew. There are plenty of Sambo players who are technicians but there are also plenty who have a different stylistic interpretation.
 

Ivan

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When I say Russian martial arts, I'm mainly talking about the wrestling and boxing. I don't know how much of this fits into other stuff that's practiced over there.

When you ask the average American fighter why Russians are so good at fighting, they'll give you this edgy, cheap-motivation speech about how life in Russia is kill or be killed and people get good at fighting out of necessity.

But when I looked up YouTube videos by fighters who have, you know, ACTUALLY been to Russia.. and videos of Russians training.. I get a different impression.

It looks to me that Russian martial arts training is extremely technical. They go hard when it comes to conditioning and working out but when they're practicing their fighting, it's very mechanically focused.

It's interesting to look at this misunderstanding with regards to how fight training is perceived in different cultures. Over here.. training like how you fight is romanticized. Even moreso training how you fight in order to escape less-than-desirable living conditions through competition. So it's really no wonder that your average American Joe fighter envisions higher skill as meaning only the "strong" survive the training and everyone else dies homeless or something.

Meanwhile you try to talk to a Russian about this and of course they're looking at you like you sprouted two extra heads. That's just salt in the wound on top of the fact that google is FREE and YouTube is FREE.

So my answer is "yes." Not only is my answer "yes" but also that this is a misconception that should have been weeded out of perception ages ago.
You are glorifying eastern European culture and seeing something that is not there. I am a Bulgarian and I am currently here, in Bulgaria, training at a BJJ gym throughout the summer. I have trained at multiple BJJ gyms in the UK, and the training isn't so different.

It is not the quality of the training, it is the culture that surrounds martial arts in Eastern Europe. At least here, in Bulgaria, almost every young man my age, 16-21 has or is involved in martial art in one way or another, commonly since childhood. The culture is very macho and sticks to traditional gender roles, so a lot of young men see martial arts as a necessity to fit into society. There is a big emphasis on "being a man" and being strong, whether it be from their families (which I have experienced myself) or from their friends. The country is also quite rough on those who are meek or cannot speak up for themselves - the people are rude, and will verbally railroad you to assert their dominance.

In a much scarier way than in western societies, the role models that young people have here consist of Bulgarian singers, models, influencers, footballers, and rockstars - a surprising amount of these role models have ex-MMA fighters as their bodyguards and are not bodyguard-trained or certified people. It's very hard to formulate into words the setting that we have here, but martial arts for many young men here is simply part of their life, not just a hobby, even if they have no interest in pursuing a career related to them. Martial arts are also given a certain glamour, that simulates the "Instagram model fitness influencer" things you see online.
 
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