Is Systema Effective In Real Life?

Systema has received a lot of sticks recently, and the hate for the now-famous defence mechanism has reached a new high. It’s been labelled as “Fake” and not worth the time or energy invested in it. 

However, it seems the hate over the system comes from a lack of understanding or unmatched expectations. Without trying to judge, we will go down the rabbit hole and come up with every detail we can find about this art.

But for the most part, we won’t try to convince you. We will only try to make you understand how it works and what’s involved. And we hope these dissolve your confusion about this defense mechanism. 

What’s Systema? 

Systema is a modern fighting system which originated from Russia. It involves a lot of freestyles and drills that focus on striking, punching and disarming. Unlike other forms of martial art, Systema strives to improve overall body fitness by teaching you how to breathe, relax and meditate. 

Systema has everything the modern world is lacking in terms of self-defence. Most of its training doesn’t only focus on contact defence such as disarming or punching but can also teach you all the good stuff such as how to fire a gun. 

In practice, Systema has a lot to do with blows, low and high kicks to the knees and elbow as well as hardcore headbutt that will inflict a lot of damages. The system also teaches you physical skills such as choking, trips, takedown and disarm. These moves are meant to explore the opponent’s vulnerability and render their strong points useless in battle. 

The biggest advantage Systema have is that it won’t kill your opponent. In an intense battle, it will get them to surrender, but there are situations serious injuries might be inflicted, especially during an intense knife fight with an aggressive target. 

In reality, most people think Systema is like other martial arts such as Kung-fu which is the basis they’re judged. Well, if we’re to draw a similarity, Systema has a lot in common with MCMAP and MMA. This is because it supports ground fighting and a few knife fights but not the usual sword clash you see in Chinese movies. 

At its best, Systema will only teach you how to sharpen a blade and disarm an opponent. In some programs, you will also be taught how to use weapons like a rifle and how to apply them in real-life situations. The biggest advantage Systema have is that it doesn’t have a lot to do with physical fitness.

You don’t have to get in shape, and neither do you need a “killer body” to execute any of its moves. You simply need mental awareness and accuracy in reading the opponent. 

The controversy trailing Systema comes from unmatched expectation. Most people rush into the program with the hope that it’s more like Chinese martial art and expect to see flying monkey kicks and fancy moves. Well, Systema has more to do with intelligent movement, and it isn’t limited to using your body. 

The only issue with Systema is that it might only be helpful in one on one fights rather than in group battles. Against an opponent of three or four, you might be overpowered if you aren’t fast enough. 

Nature of Systema Training 

We’ve mentioned earlier that Systema has to do with physical contact and a great deal of mental stability. You will need to learn how to relax for proper blood circulation. The nature of the training aims to take you away from the training room into the world of contact. 

PEOPLE ALSO READ:  Is Jeet Kune Do Effective?

Systema training has to pretty much do with fluidity, accuracy and relaxation. The four pillars of relaxation erases your fear and brace you up for contact, such as punches. Every exercise will pretty much teach you how to use your senses when in physical contact with the opponent. 

However, mental consciousness won’t win you any battle. Not in the modern world. Which is why you will have to learn physical defence. They will teach you how to hit your punches, snap arms and legs and how to block your opponent’s strike.

In most Systema programs, the best they can do to get you in shape through drills like push-ups. You won’t see a punching bag, and the sight of the training room is more like a ballet class. There are no dangerous weapons lying around. 

Typical Systema training involves. 

No belt: You won’t need any black belt, and neither will you receive any rank as there is no grading structure here. You represent the art with your skill, and most people won’t know you possess this skill until the situation calls for it. 

What to wear: In most Systema tutorial online, you will find the trainer and students in battle-ready uniforms. The truth is, there’s no dress code for Systema. Those who wear such outfits either have a military background or are simply comfortable in the outfit. The general rule of thumb is to wear what you’re most comfortable in. 

Type of shoes: Before going into a Systema class, you’re required to remove your shoes. This is because you will be receiving the training barefooted. However, you might have to adjust your footwear to the environment. If your training is held in a close-up room, going barefooted won’t be an issue. However, if your training is held in the open, you might want to protect your feet from injury. 

Protective Clothing: There’s no protective cloth to be worn in Systema training. You won’t need any protective gear to get started. The good thing is you won’t need to invest in any expensive tool. This means no gloves, mouthguard or padding of any sort. 

However, if you will be doing some knee strikes, you want to use knee cups to protect yourself. 

When the training becomes intense and is at an advanced stage, there are exercises you might have to wear something to protect yourself from injury. When it comes to knife training, you might want to wear some sort of face protection to save you from a potential facial injury. 

The purpose for Enrolling In a Systema Training 

Systema can be used for different purposes. Most of the people who enroll in this training do so for one of these reasons: develop physical sensitivity and mental awareness, self-defense, or improve physical fitness. Systema is more than just any martial art. It’s an extension of overall body fitness. 

Application of Systema is wide, and you can practice without any weapon. There’s no limit to it. It’s the lack of clarity that has caused confusion in people, and that confusion has been transferred to people who had an initial interest. 

Systema Vs Krav Maga: Which Is Better 

With Systema and Krav maga, it’s defence Vs attack. In Krav Maga, you go against the opponent. You try to match him by deflecting the attack and using your energy against him. Krav maga is much more aggressive and has to do with counter attack. Sure, the probability of getting injured is higher since it has to do with ruthless attacks. 

PEOPLE ALSO READ:  Hapkido vs Aikido: Which is Better?

In Systema, you anticipate the opponent’s attack and keep yourself out of harm’s way. Systema has a lot to do with sensitivity and mental awareness. Every move is calculated and done with precision. You have to execute your move fast. 

Krav maga will make you a weapon while Systema will give you much more understanding about your body. Its attack is subtle but effective. The best part is, Systema involves a bit of Krav Maga techniques. The truth is, Systema takes longer to master. 

Is Systema Effective In Real Life Situation? 

The application of Systema goes beyond the training room. What’s the essence of a skill if you can’t use it to defend yourself in real-life situation? Well, Systema is for survival. You draw your strength from calculating the opponent’s move. You don’t strike, you anticipate and use his strength against him. 

With most sport, you will stutter at the beginning. You might make the wrong move, and your opponent will overpower you. However, once you gain mastery, you can adopt it as a defence mechanism in any situation. Of course, this will take a while, but there’s no doubt when it comes to its effectiveness. 


Systema has been thrown out of context, amidst the confusion. A skill that requires some great deal of sensitivity and mental awareness will take some time to master. You don’t zoom off from training and start throwing punches here and there. If your idea of Systema comes from YouTube videos, you’re getting it all wrong. You need to visit a real training to see it in action. 

Much of what is shown on YouTube is just a mere demonstration and not the entire art. In my opinion, Systema is the best self-defense mechanism. Your level of understanding depends on your choice of instructor and willingness to put some energy into practice. 


Hi - I'm Jonathan, and I've been passionate about fighting ever since I was a little kid. I did some Karate, Judo, and Kickboxing, and always wanted to try Aikido. I started this site to indulge my passion for Martial arts, answering all the geeky questions I had. Now I want to share all the information I've learned with you guys.

Recent Posts