Systema as a 'full catact martial art'......


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Oct 22, 2001
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I have heard, and seen in print, several references of something to this effect. About the System being either a 'full contact' art or even that 'it is just full contact'.

Some of it was advertising, some of it was what others had overheard or gotten from the videos.

What are some yof your thoughts on this?

What is meant by 'just full contact'?

We spar at varying levels of intensity. But it's certainly more than just banging away at each other.
There's no "pulling" of punches if that is what you are asking. Point style control is not conductive to realistic movement. Generally speaking real strikes require 'time on target' and / or 'follow through' . Regardless of the training speed the movement is real.

T. W.
There was a lot of contact tonight in class. Different levels of it too.

If you mean as a sport might use contact then I don't think that Systema is for sport.
Systema is too deadly to be a sport. We train using different levels of contact and full is one of them.
usual follow up question:

'If it's too deadly for sport, how do you spar, and therefor know it works?'

We do spar, but the mentality is not sportive but survival-oriented. For example, in the Hamilton club we often end up sparring over tile, and our sparring includes takedowns.
If we were to have the outlook of a sports grappler, this would be dangerous. The sportsman doesn't want to be taken down, because being taken down would involve loss of 'points'. In systema, being taken down can be a bad thing, insofar as you might take some impact or end up in a bad position, but there is no concept of 'points'. Therefor, if someone is taking you down and you cannot maneuver/finesse out of it, it is perfectly acceptable to roll under your own volition , rather than waiting for the throw to complete. In this manner, impact is minimized, and there are various counters available to you i the roll. Survival over 'winning'.

In a similar vein, the 'point' concept in sportive striking is lost. Hitting is a byproduct of sound movement and positioning rather than something you deliberately set out to do. Simply touching someone with your fist is meaningless, unless you have the body mass and structure behind it to make it count.

In groundwork as well, it is not seen as neccessary to try and pin someone down and submit them. Much of the gorundwork we do revolves around flow and escape, and in a sportive context, trying to escape from a grappling match would be penalized. In fact, there are many times on the ground where you have the option to disengage, yet people are conditioned to keep going for the pin. As demonstrated by Fedor against Mino last weekend in Pride, much of the attacks from the gaurd are really counters to attempts to pass, and often you have the option to leave if you forget about passing. In fact, from a systema pov, the fight was over when Fedor walked out of the gaurd the first time. In RL, if a guy is on his back just lying there and you're standing, you should just walk away. Although in sparring, we'd probably attempt to put the boot in, just to keep things interesting.

And lastly, unlike sports there are no rival 'teams' or clubs in systema, because we are all one family. The camaradery that you might see within a really competitive judo/bjj club is there, but with none of the rivalry towards outsiders - everyone in systema is in the club. I liken it to what the 'mutual welfare and benefit' aspect of judo but applied more universally in practice than it is in judo culture.

At least - that's what we aspire to. Truth be told, competition is part of human nature, and so our ability tends to wax and wane in inverse proportion to our egos, which provides different kinds of challenges to our training partners - so it's all good, I guess.
Originally posted by Rommel
Systema is too deadly to be a sport.

Allow me to play Devil's Advocate here.

While the statement above may well be true, many martial art(ist)s have used it to excuse not testing their system against others. (I think of the kung fu practitioners vs. the Muay Thai boxers for example, or karateka in the UFC). The statement is unconvincing!

(The fuller explanation by jellyman rounds it out more fully however and makes it clear that there is some realistic testing of the methods in the system.)
While Romels statement is very ambiguous, his point is (or my interpretation of it, as Jellyman alluded to) we don't train for sport but for survival.
I couldn't have said it better myself.:) I'm sorry. I didn't mean to be ambiguous.:asian:
It was great, thanks Furtry.

I do not believe that Systema is a 'full contact' martial art. I think there is way more to it.
I think that the level of contact gets stronger, the more your fears are over come.
I also believe that if your partner is hitting you, and doing so with the right intentions, it is not damaging, like it would be in a 'full contact' studio. It can in fact be benefitial. Cleansing even.
I think there is a time and place for everything, but going 'full contact' full time, will only wear out the body, mind and the spirit.

My thoughts were based on what others have have seen it as. I have seen some advertisments stating that Systema was a full contact art, seeming to appeal to those interested in that aspect. I talked with a fellow a few years ago who said he had attended a class, and that was how he saw it as well. I have also heard this statement from people who have only seen the tapes, as well as some people in town who have heard of Systema from others.

I apologize for the bad spelling earlier. I think we might have had some more interest in this topic if I had been a little more awake during my first posting.

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