SYSTEMA / New Zealand


The Russian style of martial arts dates back to the 10th century.

Throughout the history of this huge country, Russia had to repel invaders from the north, south, east and west.  All attackers brought their distinct styles of combat and weaponary.  The battles took place on different terrain, during freezing winters and sweltering summer heat alike, the Russians often greatly outnumbered by enemy forces.

As a result of these factors, the Russian warriors acquired a style that combined strong spirit with extremely innovative and versatile tactics that were at the same time practical, deadly and effective against any type of enemy under any circumstances.  The style was natural and free, having no strict rules, rigid structure or limitations (except moral ones).  All tactics were based on instinctive reactions, individual strengths and characteristics, specifically designed for fast learning.

 When the Communists came to power in 1917, they suppressed all national traditions.  Those practicing the old style of fighting could be severely punished.  At the same time, the authorities quickly realized how viable and devastating the original combat system was and reserved it for a few Special Operations Units within the military.

Philosophical Aspects of Systema

There is a reason why Russian Martial Art is called SYSTEMA.  It is a complete set of concepts and training components that enhance one's life.  In this case, acquiring the martial arts skill is a way to improve the function of all seven physiological systems of the body and all three levels of human abilities - the physical, the psychological and the spiritual.

The key principle of the Russian Systema is non-destruction.  The goal is to make sure that your training and your attitudes do no damage to the body or the psyche of you or your partners.  Systema is designed to create, build and strengthen your body, your psyche, your family and your country.

Systema has another name, "poznai sebia" or "know yourself".  What does it really mean to understand yourself?  It is not just to know what your strengths and weaknesses are, that is good but fairly superficial.  Training in Russian Martial Art is one of the sure ways to see the full extent of our limitations - to see how proud and weak we really are.  Systema allows us to gain the true strength of spirit that comes from humility and clarity in seeing the purpose of our life.

 As the roots of the Russian Systema are in the Russian Orthodox Christian faith, the belief is that, everything that happens to us, good or bad, has only one ultimate purpose.  That is to create the best possible conditions for each person to understand himself.  Proper training in the Russian Systema carries the same objective - to put every participant into the best possible setting for him to realize as much about himself as he is able to handle at any given moment.

One of Mikhail RYABKO's words to the beginners is - "Be a good person and everything else will come to you."  In a simple, yet comprehensive way Systema helps you choose and follow the right path.

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Mikhail RYABKO

Colonel of the Special Operations Unit with the Russian Military/Chief Instructor of tactical training for the Emergency Response Team/Advisor to the Supreme Judge of the Russian Federation

Mikhail RYABKO was trained from the age of five by one of Stalin's personal bodyguards, and was inducted into Spetsnaz at the age of fifteen.  He has been a tactical commander of hostage-rescue teams, counter-terrorist operations, and armed criminal neutralization.

Mikhail resides in Moscow, holds the rank of Colonel and serves as a Special Advisor to the Supreme Judge of the Russian Federation.  He continues to train his many students as the Master Teacher of Systema.  He has authored a textbook on Tactics of Special Operations.  He has been in numerous military campaigns and holds many government medals and awards.

For the link to Mikhail's website, visit:


Born in Russia, Vladimir received intense training from the top Special Operations Units instructors and is the top student of Mikhail RYABKO.  Vladimir's work spans across 10 years of extensive service with the Special Operations Unit.  He also served as trainer for elite units, SWAT teams, and body guards. 

Vladimir moved to Canada, and in 1993 founded the first school of Russian Martial Art outside Russia - Systema Headquarters.  He has since trained and certified well over 300 qualified Russian Martial Art instructors and schools worldwide.  He has also provided an Award-Winning instructional film collection.

For the link to Vladimir's website, visit: