Sr. Grandmaster
MTS Alumni
Aug 28, 2001
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Terre Haute, IN
I gather Systema translates to "system" in English, but is there any other martial context? For example, the Okinawan te or Chinese chuan translate as hand or fist but the connotation is more "boxing", i.e., a system of hand-to-hand fighting. Is there such a connotation to Systema? Does it sound like a general term for a boxing method to a native Russian speaker?
Systema means The System and is quite a generic term...much like saying Karate or Wushu.

Is that the type of answer you were asking for?
Originally posted by Jay Bell

Systema means The System and is quite a generic term...much like saying Karate or Wushu.

Is that the type of answer you were asking for?

Sort of--if I said, in Russian to a Russian, that I studied Systema, would they understand that a fighting system is meant? If you said to a Chinese in Chinese that you studied chuan (fist) then presumably they'd understand you meant that you studied a form of Chinese boxing; if you said to an Okinawan that you studied te (hand) they'd know you meant a form of fighting (maybe this is less true nowadays than it was a hundred years ago). They wouldn't think that by "hand" you meant that you were artist or carpenter or someone else who works with their hands, whereas if you said in English that you studied "hand" most people wouldn't know what that meant. Id I said I studied Systema, might people think I meant a political or business system or would it be clear that a form of boxing, for want of a better word, was meant?
Well, I had a Russian ask me what Systema was and had a hard time trying to explain to him what it is. He knows what Sambo is but had not heard of Systema, The Russian Martial Art (that's what was printed on my shirt). I finally had to print out some stuff from Vlad's web site and let him read it for himself. Odd though, when I mentioned Spetznaz he knew what they were :eek:

Here in the U.S., spec ops are highly public, glorified and take up a lot of media Russia, it's not that way.
No most people wouldn't know you meant a martial art. Though the name itself speaks to the fact that it is a study of more than just martial art.. it is a study of all systems really. Biological systems such as circulatory, respiratory, nervous, etc. Science systems such as physics, kinesiology, geometry etc.

by naming it systema, the idea was put forth that it is a systematic study of all things.

If you stopped random people walking down a street in Moscow and asked them "Have you ever studied Systema?" they would be as baffled as if you asked random New Yorkers if they have studied The System.

Systema is almost a bit of a joke. Russians have a funny sense of crude humor and it was probably just said in a wodka powered evening session "Hell, why don't we simply call it the system? We ain't gonna tell about it to anyone anyhow..." and the rest replied "Hey a great idea, let's drink to that!". :rofl: