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Systema: Russian Martial Art Chicago

History

Like many modern combative arts, SYSTEMA is a result of an organic merge between contemporary knowledge and an ancient tradition. Literally meaning "System" in Russian, it's based on a holistic approach to the human body, mind, and spirit, developed through integrated use of breathing, conditional, and combative drills.

During the Middle Ages and the Age of Discoveries, the history of Russia was influenced by the clash between the European and East-Asian military schools. For martial arts enthusiasts, it's easy to see the elements of these lineages in the SYSTEMA practice even today. By becoming a melting pot of warrior cultures, the Ancient Rus was naturally positioned to form one of the first synthetic martial styles, before they could even be properly recorded or given names.

In the first half of the 20th century, these traditions were almost lost due to a strict control over martial education in the Soviet Union. However, in the second part of the century, they became an inspiration for the founders of the modern SYSTEMA, who gathered and compiled various elements of Russian martial arts, enhanced them with modern, science-based understanding of biomechanics and psychology, and named the resulting mix "SYSTEM Know Thyself," or shortly "the System" ("Systema").

The potential of the new "survival system" was quickly recognized by the Soviet army, originally being taught to the Air Force pilots and airborne special operations units. However, after the fall of the Soviet Union, SYSTEMA started to gain popularity at home and across the world due to its constructive, holistic approach to the development of an individual. Rather than preparing just "fighters," SYSTEMA schools seek to help individuals fully develop themselves in physical and emotional planes, eliminating the psychological and physical rigidity that could result from one-sided development of combative skills.

    SYSTEMA remains one of the most relevant cultural icons of Russia's past. In 2007, SYSTEMA was demonstrated to a United Nations committee, which called the martial art "the most humane martial art of the modern times." 

    The martial art is now taught in over 300 martial arts schools across the world by several hundred instructors.
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