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Do syllabuses have a place in Russian martial arts?

Do syllabuses have a place in Russian martial arts?

 

The purpose of this article is to discuss the uses, benefits and draw backs of either having a rigid training syllabus  or not within Russian martial arts.

 

The use of a training syllabus to guide what students learn and then provide a method of testing for their progression is one of the fundamental divides between the teaching methods of the Kadochnikov influenced schools and the schools of Vladimir Vasiliev and Michael Ryabko, but why have this crucial difference in the two methods and how does it affect their students development?

The first thing to understand is the second major difference in the two training regimes is the way information is passed from student to teacher.  In the Ryabko/Vasiliev Schools there is little in the way of explanation.  The student watches demonstrations of drills being performed by the instructor before exploring their own bodies and reactions through them their self. Small hints are then given to the student on an almost one to one basis as based on how the instructor sees them performing the drills.

This has a number of advantages in that the feedback is of a personal nature and directly relates to an experience they have already had.  Also it encourages the student to think for themselves and often they get far more or at least very different from what the purpose that the teacher introduced the drill for in the first place.  They also use movement patterns that feel natural to them. Though these might not necessarily be the most efficient or effective way to move they require no drilling of new motor skills.

In my experience the negative side of this approach is that without clearly defined objectives and explanation for how what is to be practiced works the student can often be left without the technical knowledge needed to correct any mistakes that they make or to know that they are making mistakes in the first place if the drill is implicitly compliant in nature.  Also if the student performs a drill without difficulty they may never really know the principles behind why they can perform it without error.  The danger of this is that they may not be able to transfer these skills to another topic and in this situation would not know what the fault is due to a lack of knowledge.  This lack of knowledge can obviously impact others when the student goes on to teach their own class.

The Kadochnikov based Russian martial arts Schools favor using a syllabus.  This means the students have specific skills and techniques to practice to prepare for testing.  These tests mean that there is a level of quality control for instructors and the students have a clear framework to study within.

 

 

Russian Martial Art Syllabus example

At this point let us take a look at the syllabus from the Kadochnikov School that is used as a teaching guide and syllabus for testing in their schools.

 

 

TEST 1
of theoretical knowledge and practical skills required to acquire the rank of specialist of 1st (beginner) level of education of hand-to-hand combat (Russian style).

 

 

Theory:

1. Historical aspects of Russian Hand-to-Hand combat.
2. Three basic laws of human survival under extreme conditions.
3. Principles of movement.

 

Practical work:

  1. Base movement "Eight" - 4 directions of movements, concerning a vertical and horizontal axis; by hands and legs - separately for both sides.
 

Special acrobatics:

  1. Side falls.
    2. Forward falls.
    3. Position an assured from strikes from the right, left and behind.
    4. Forward somersault - arms to the side.
    5. Backward somersault - arms to the side.
 

Technical work:

  1. Stances, frames, turns, movement.
    2. Release from a hold - Method I
    3. Release from a hold - Method II
    4. Release from a hold - Method III
    5. Release from a hold on the neck from the front and from behind.
    6. Release from a hold on the legs from the front; the root of a nose.
    7. Defense from strikes - Method I; and from weapons also
    8. Defense from strikes - Method II; and from weapons also
    9. Defense from strikes - Method III; and from weapons also
    10. Removal of weapons, knifes, pistols, automatic weapons, staffs.
 

Special exercises for development of explosive force, dexterity, endurance.

1. Side falls alternately (side to side) - 15 times per one minute;
2. Forward somersault with U-turn - 15 times per one minute;
3. Forward falls alternately with U-turn - 10 times per one minute;
4. "Crocodile" - 5 meters.
5. "Frog" - 5 meters.

 

 

 

 

TEST 2
of theoretical knowledge and practical skills required to acquire the rank of specialist of 2nd (elementary) level of education of hand-to-hand combat (Russian style).

 

Theory:

1. Basic First Aid
2. Basic principles of throwing off balance
3. Danger and risk in human activity.

 

Practical work:

  1. Base movement "Eight" - 4 directions of movements, concerning a vertical and horizontal axis; by hands and leg - simultaneously (in both parties)
  2.  Trinity strikes with the arms.
 

Special acrobatics:

1. Rolls on the shoulders:
    - to strikes low with your legs
    - to strikes high with your legs
2. "The ape step".
3. To combine falls, somersaults and rolls from 1st and 2nd levels, in one acrobatic copula; in any sequence.

 

Technical work:

1. Throwing off balance.
2. Release from a hold with two hands on one arm.
3. Release from a hold on the hair and ears.
4. Defense from strikes of hand, of knife, of stick; top-down.
5. Defense from trinity strikes with the arms.
6. Overturn of the opponent from an assured position or on a back, in a position on a stomach - 2 variants.
7. Retention in a position on a stomach and with ensuing convoy.
8. Removal of weapons, knives, sticks, pistols at threat behind.

 

Special exercises for development of explosive force, dexterity, endurance.

1. Side falls alternately (side to side) - 25 times per one minute.
2. Forward somersault with U-turn - 25 times per one minute.
3. Forward falls alternately with U-turn - 20 times per one minute.
4. "Crocodile" - 15 meters.
5. "Frog" - 15 meters

 

 

 

 

TEST 3
of theoretical knowledge and practical skills required to acquire the rank of Specialist of 3rd level of education of hand-to-hand combat (Russian style).

 

Theory:

1. Human survival under extreme conditions.
2. Concept "three planes".
3. Principles the "Question Mark", "Side, Side, Hypotenuse".
4. Concept "weapons".

 

Practical work:

1. Base movement "Figure eight" with hands and legs to show as methods of attack and defense techniques.
2. Trinity strikes (3) with the legs.

 

Special acrobatics:

1. Forward and back undercuts.
2. To combine all falls, somersaults, rolls and undercuts (9) from 1st, 2nd and 3nd levels, in one acrobatic copula; in any sequence.

 

Technical work:

1. Work by "three planes" by release from a holds and defense from any strikes.
2. Work on fingers and wrist.
3. Release from a hold on the torso from behind.
4. Defense from strikes with the legs.
5. Removal of a sentry (neutralization, containment, frisk, bind, escorting) and defense.
6. Escorting - 4 variations.
7. Dislodging knives and pistols.

 

Special exercises for development of explosive force, dexterity, endurance.

1. Side falls alternately (side to side) - 30 times per one minute.
2. Forward somersault with U-turn - 30 times per one minute.
3. Forward falls alternately with U-turn - 25 times per one minute.
4. "Crocodile" - 20 meters.
5. "Frog" - 20 meters.
6. "Kazachok" - 15 meters.

 

 

 

 

TEST 4
Test of theoretical knowledge and practical skills required to acquire the rank of Specialist of 4th level of education of hand-to-hand combat (Russian style).

 

Theory:

1. Hand-to-hand combat - as a way of development of the person.
2. Definition of the basic stages of preparation of the high quality expert on Hand-to-hand combat (Russian style).
3. General characteristics of organizational and methodical features of realization of occupations on Hand-to-hand combat. Principles of training of Russian style.

 

Practical work:

Work with subjects
1. Stick - not less than 10 elements for each hand conjoint in one movement.
2. Tennis balls (two) - juggle by two balls; not less than 10 times for each hand.

 

Special acrobatics:

1.To turn handspring alternately on every side - not less than 5 times on every side.
2. Long under swing with running and upstart.
3. Moving with a pistol in three levels - not less than 10 elements

 

Technical work:

1. Releases from a hold of a "Full Nelson".
2. Four sectors of defense against of a strikes of a knife.
3. Defense with a staff against any strikes of a knife or staff.
4. Defense against any possible strikes of a chair, stool.

 

 

Tactics:

  1. Conditional sparring with two opponents attacking by staffs to a head; to show skills of tactically orderly moving and leaving from a line of strikes with a continuation, up to the logic end.

 

 

Special exercises for development of explosive force, dexterity, endurance:

1. "Kazachok" with U-turn alternately – not less than 20 times.
2. Forward falls alternately with U-turn - 35 times per one minute.
3. Forward somersault with U-turn - 40 times per one minute.

 

Applied exercises:

Transporting wounded – 3 variations:
1. On the arms;
2. On the back;
3. On the shoulders.

 

 

 

TEST 5
Test of theoretical knowledge and practical skills required to acquire the rank of Specialist of 5th level of education of hand-to-hand combat (Russian style).

 

Theory:

1. Methods of increase of stress at employment of Hand-to-hand combat.
2. The survival at technical accidents, failures, acts of nature.
3. Principle "an angle of 45 degrees" and its application.

 

 

Practical work:

Work with subjects.
1. Work with log or crowbar - not less than 8 elements combined in one movement.
2. Juggle by three tennis balls - 2 variants - not less than 15 times.
3. Juggle by two knifes with one hand - not less 15 times.

 

 

Special acrobatics:

1. One arm cart-wheel alternately on every side - not less than 5 times on every side.
2. Cart-wheel with turning.
3. Special acrobatics with stick - not less than 5 times.

 

 

Technical work:

1. Eight sectors of defense against of a strikes of a stick.
2. Defense by the tying hands or in handcuffs from any strikes by hands and legs.
3. Defense by a knife from any strikes by a knife and stick.
4. Undercut while staying in place and while in motion.

 

 

Tactics:

1. Conditional sparring with two opponents attacking by knife and stick; to show skills of tactically orderly moving and leaving from a line of strikes with a continuation, up to the logic end.

 

 

Special exercises for development of explosive force, dexterity, endurance:

1. Jumps "hands - leg" - 10 times.
2. Walking in a position "bridge" - 2 directions of movement till 3 meters.
3. Forward somersault with U-turn - 50 times per one minute.

 

 

Applied exercises:

1. Overcoming of an obstacle - height 1. 5 meters.
Time – 30 seconds; - not less than 8 times.
2. Throwing of a knife; target - breast; distance - 4 meters; 5 times by each hand - not less than 5 hits.

 

 

 

 

 

TEST 6
Test of theoretical knowledge and practical skills required to acquire the rank of Specialist of 6th level of education of hand-to-hand combat (Russian style).

 

Theory:

1. The organization of effective process of thinking in the trainings of Hand-to-hand combat (Russian style).
2. The adjust to the actualities of life.
3. The principles of levers. Classification of levers by kind.
4. National dances of the Slavs - as spiritual and moral recovery, physical and psychological development of growing up generation.

 

 

Practical work:

Work with subjects.
1. Work with two stick - not less than 8 elements on each hand combined in one movement.
2. Juggle by four tennis balls - not less than 15 times.
3. Juggle by three knifes – two variants - not less 15 times.

 

 

Special acrobatics:

1. Special acrobatics with a bandage over eyes - not less than 12 elements.

 

 

Technical work:

2. Twelve sectors of defense against of a strikes of an entrenching shovel.
3. Practice of dancing movements:
    - as exercises for development of coordination of movements, explosive force;
    - as elements of special acrobatics;
    - as being out of balance;
    - as technical of strikes with hands, legs and other parts of body.

 

 

Tactics:

1. Conditional sparring with three opponents attacking in limited space (lift, porch, car) ; to show skills of tactically orderly moving and leaving from a line of strikes or releases from any holds with a continuation, up to the logic end.

 

 

Special exercises for development of explosive force, dexterity, endurance:

1. Walking in a position "bridge" - 6 directions of movement till 2 meters.
2. Forward somersault with U-turn - 60 times per one minute.

 

 

Applied exercises:

1. Overcoming of an obstacle - height 2.5 meters;
Time – 30 seconds; - not less than 8 times.
2. Throwing of a knife; departure position - by back to a target; target - breast; distance - 4 meters; 5 times by each hand - not less than 5 hits.

 

 

Analysing the structure of the tests

Let us now take a look at how these funny pictures tests are structured.  In Systema Kadochnikova they state there are four levels of learning that a student must go through to be proficient:

  1. Operating their own body.
  2. Operating an object such as a knife, gun etc.
  3. Operating an opponent.
  4. Operating their own lives.

The crucial thing to note is that operation of the body is comes before anything and this can be seen throughout the sections of the different tests. Each of which includes an element of practical work such as making figure eight movements with arms and legs simultaneously, juggling to develop coordination between the left and right sides of the brain, or performing set movements such as trinity strikes.

This has similarities with the way Vasiliev and Ryabko teach.  However, they use very different exercises to achieve the goal of controlling the operation of the body.  This included exercises that develop coordination of movements and breathing such as press ups and squats, writing numbers or names with arms and legs simultaneously to develop the coordination of both hemispheres of the brain.

Another similarity worth noting is that both groups have a strong emphasis on being able to operate their lives.  After all most martial artists never get into real combat situations.  However if the student learns to effectively use their bodies, maintains their health and learns to live a happy productive life through their training in a martial art the time and money invested in training has been worth their while.

The big difference between the two approaches is that the Kadochnikov School has specific topics to be trained and material to be learnt for each level.  Once prepared the student is then tested to see if they are ready to move to the next level. This means that essential information or preparation of the body is not missed in the early stages of training that will impair development at a later stage of training.

So what do we do at Combat Lab.  At the moment we have no set syllabus.  However students are regularly taught and tested on their knowledge of the Kadochnikov Systema tests up to the third level which is the level for an instructor in that Systema school.  However there is so much more what we study than that and if we were to put a syllabus together it would have to reflect that too.  The question is it something that I want to do? The answer is probably, but it will take some time before our groups material and teaching techniques are developed sufficiently to allow this to take place.

 

Sources

Federation of Russian martial arts Ukraine website.

 

 

 

Further reading on this topic

 

In what has become another first for us our friend and fellow martial arts blogger Dragan Milojevic of the Sistema Homoludens Integrated Martial Art School has written his own blog as an addendum to our own from the perspective of the Homoludens School.  Click here to read this informative addition to our article.

 

 

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 and the educational material in our Combat Lab Shop.  Our educational material is unique in the English language.