Systema is effectively translated as ‘The System’ – an ancient martial art that has evolved from well over 1000 years of history, consolidated during the centuries’ long Mongol occupation of Russia from around 1223. Developed by the Eastern Slavs and later the Cossacks, Systema is thought to have originated from Hun and Mongolian martial arts. Its uniqueness originating from the reaction of the human spirit & psyche when placed into conflict and / or survival situations.

Throughout Russia’s vibrant history it had to continually repel invaders from all points of the compass. From Vikings and Huns to Mongols and Poles, they faced a variety of varying styles of combat and weaponry across the centuries’.

During such invasions the warriors were often significantly outnumbered, adapting to not only using their bravery & skills but also using the inhospitable conditions to their advantage. Russia was and still is, a vast country of varying, hostile topography and weathers, the resultant outcome that its people were very much connected with both land and nature. The Russians therefore developed a mastery that was founded upon both strength of spirit and inventive techniques & styles which ultimately proved to be lethal, efficient and devastating to their adversaries.

Such mastery had no specific patterns, katas, weapons or rigid structure; it was free flowing, often hand to hand, creative and individually unlimited as to its effectiveness. Instinctive, intuitive and natural, the fighting style survived and developed over the centuries. When the Communists came to power in 1917 they inhibited all customs and historical forms, severe punishment befalling anyone still found practicing such tradition.

However, due to the unique, devastating and conditioning benefits of Systema, the authorities retained such abilities but for use within their elite Special Forces only. Since the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991, Systema begun to find increasing popularity across the planet through the teachings of legendary and Chief Instructors, Mikhail Ryabko and Vladamir Vasiliev;

Mikhail Ryabko

Founder of Systema

Colonel Mikhail Rybako was trained from a very young age, sufficient to enter combat training from the age of fifteen. He became a senior figure in various Russian Federation Ministries, namely advisor to the Minister of Justice, Deputy Head of the Ministry of Interior Management; as well as working for the Interior of Security and becoming assistant to the General Prosecutor. He served for 10 years in Russia’s elite forces, specialising in hostage release operations & military technical & operational training. Mikhail has been awarded many gallantry honours from both Government and the Russian Orthodox Church, within which he serves on the Board of Trustees for its ongoing historical restoration & (re)construction. He currently trains students at his Moscow centre, and is the Master teacher of Systema.


For the link to Mikhail’s website, visit: http://www.systemaryabko.com/

Vladimir Vasiliev

Chief Instructor of Systema Headquarters

Born in Russia, Vladimir received intense training from the top Special Operations Units instructors and continues to be the top student of Mikhail Ryabko. Vladimir’s in-depth knowledge and experience spans across 10 years of extensive service with the Russian Special Operations Unit. He has also trained many elite forces, security teams and specialised units. Vladimir has received many governmental awards including the ‘Order of Duty and Honour’ and ‘Order of Loyalty’. Vladimir currently teaches at his school in Toronto, Canada, as well as at seminars and workshops around the world. He has facilitated the writing of books on Systema combat & health, and hosts a celebrated variety of teaching & training videos through his website & school.


For the link to Vladimir’s HQ website, visit: http://www.russianmartialart.com/