Russian martial arts, also known as Systema, have a history that can be traced back to the 10th century. The earliest forms of Russian martial arts were developed by the Kievan Rus, a medieval East Slavic state. These early forms of combat were primarily focused on hand-to-hand combat and were designed for close-quarters battle.
During the Soviet era, the Russian military developed a system of hand-to-hand combat known as SAMBO (SAMozashchita Bez Oruzhiya, or “self-defense without weapons”). This system combined elements of judo and wrestling and was designed for use by the Red Army.
In recent times, the modern Russian martial arts system known as Systema has gained popularity. It was developed by Russian special forces veteran Mikhail Ryabko and his student Vladimir Vasiliev, who claim that it is based on ancient Russian combat techniques, which they have refined and modernized. Systema emphasizes fluidity of movement and adapting to the situation, rather than relying on set techniques, it also incorporates breathing, relaxation and stress management into the training.
It’s important to note that these forms of martial arts are not commonly known or practiced by the general population of Russia. And there are no official records of their historical development, so the information is based on the claims of the Systema’s founders and practitioners.