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Learning To Act First


When we learn Systema for self defence it is important to learn to work first.  This idea upsets some who hold an idealised image of a martial artist defending themselves against a violent attacker by subduing them without injury or the display of aggression.


Unfortunately as the IZVOR instructor Michael Grudev recently pointed out the person who hits first is most likely to survive a violent encounter and that means we need to train a decision making process that enables us to make this tricky decision.


Hitting first obviously has legal ramifications and I urge you to find out what your domestic law says on the topic.  To be honest if your instructor does not discuss this side of self defence it should start sounding alarm bells because it is such an important topic.


In UK law there is a right accepted under Common Law that we can defend ourselves and that we do not need to wait for the other guy to attack first before we act.  


Also there isn’t a limit on the level of force used so long as it is proportionate to the threat we believed we were facing.  


With this in mind I have started a program with my students teaching them about this legislation and how to apply it within the subject of using Systema for self defence.  There are a number of drills we use, but one particularly powerful one is to work through scenarios where they do not know what is going to happen beyond being given the context of the situation.  


This might be something as simple as, ‘You have just got cash from the cash point.’


The attackers or other role players are then given specific instructions on their actions out of sight or sound of the student running through the exercise.


Their actions are then video recorded and debriefed once they have completed it.  A big part of this debrief discusses how their actions complied with Common Law.  We also discuss any strategical options they had, but may have not considered in these stressful tests of their responses.  


In this video you will see two Combat Lab Systema Students doing one of these sessions for the very first time.





For more information on Combat Lab's approach to studying the Science of Russian Martial Arts and learn how to train it for self defence check out our other Systema blog articles.


Also there is our unique educational material in our Combat Lab Shop