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The physics of striking in Systema


In this article I will discuss Newton’s second law of motion and how it relates to striking and in particular striking in Systema Kadochnikova.


Who was Newton?

Made famous by his many discoveries, Sir Isaac Newton has been described as one of the greatest scientific minds of his time.  His theories on gravitation and motion are only a few of the many brilliant discoveries this man is credited with making.  Born on the 4th January 1643 and studied at a number of schools before enrolling at Trinity College, Cambridge  in June 1661.  He studied and wrote papers on astronomy, gravitation, mathematics and optics, but it is one of his theories on motion that I would like to look at further in this paper.


The second law of motion

In his second law of motion Newton stated that Force (F) = Mass (M) X Acceleration. 

Let us now look at the three components of this equation and how we can use the principles of biomechanics to maximize how efficient our strikes are.

Force is measured in Newtons.  It is no surprise that the more force we are able to hit an opponent with the greater likelihood there is of us injuring them.  


Making the most of our weight

As we can see in this equation that there are only two components we can vary to maximize the force we produce.  The first is mass.  This is why heavier fighters tend to hit harder than lighter fighters, but there are some things we can do beyond eating ourselves heavier to make the most of the mass we already have.

One thing advocated in all forms of Systema is relaxation.  By relaxing the arm and the muscles of the shoulder we are able to make our arm heavy. Val Riazinov in his DVD on what he calls ‘Ballistic Striking,’ points out that if you were to cut someone’s arm of and were to then beat an opponent with it the arm would have a greater mass than a baseball bat and would be as deadly.

Another thing we can do is to move our whole body weight through the target you are hitting.  This means you are now able to hit with your whole body weight instead of with just the weight of your arm.



As I wrote in the article on the principles of movement it is important that we use whole body movement.  This means that we use a wave from the points of pressure between the feet and floor or our opponent’s body.  Like a train pulling a series of carriages where each successive carriage needs to have a greater acceleration than the one before. The body is a series of solid structures connected by flexible links formed by the joints and if moved in a wave fashion the striking surface should have the greatest acceleration of all the body parts in the kinetic chain.

The next thing to consider is the way gravity is used in Systema to increase the acceleration of a strike.  If we were to drop an object it would fall with an acceleration of approximately 9.80665 m/s2.  The same happens with any strike that drops into the target.  In effect we add the acceleration of gravity to the force that we are able to generate with our own muscles. 

Now if we drop our body weight at the point of impact we multiply our body mass in kg with the acceleration of gravity.  So if our body weight is 80kg and we know the acceleration of gravity is 9.80665 m/s2 the force that we can generate by dropping our body weight is 789.3 Newtons and better still we do not have to use any energy to generate it. 

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