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Learning From A Master




Last weekend Combat Lab headed north to Glasgow in Scotland to train with one of the living legends of the Russian style. Alexander Retuinskih. He is a master of sport in the Russian wrestling style of Sambo, black belt in Judo and one of the early innovators in the Kadochnikov Systema school before setting up his own school ROSS based on his experience researching both modern Russian and folk styles. ROSS now has branches throughout Russia, USA and in the UK.


Held at the Hybrid Fighting Academy a school ran by Vadim Kolganov who is a Cossack that moved to Scotland setting up the academy where he teaches  Sambo, combat wrestling, belt wrestling, historical European martial arts, Armeiskii Rukopashnii Boi and ROSS and other arts. This course was to be an exciting opportunity to learn more about the principles of the Russian style applied to a number of different topics.


The first day had the group start with warm up exercises and then looked at a unique method of striking that Alexander called the fan principle. Different from the triple strike called Troika that many of our readers will be familiar with this strike was performed with a flicking motion and created interesting power in the strikes while preventing over commitment of weight. A combination of unique coordination exercises, detailed explanation of of the principles involved and practice quickly improved how hard we could hit with a very relaxed movement of the body. We then move onto using the principle in kicking techniques that focused on twisting an opponent around their axis to distort their structure and making the following takedowns much easier to perform.


Having delved into the striking element of ROSS we then looked at some strike defence. Using wrist and finger locks and jacket wrestling all these ideas were brought together in the context of military style combat Sambo as taught by ROSS. In appearance it was somewhere between the regular style of Combat Sambo where strikes, throws and joint attacks are used combined with the biomechnical style movements of Systema. This created a very effective and painful response to an attack and the use of the jacket certainly added something special to the way we reacted to our opponent’s actions.


Day two started with using a screwing foot movement to unbalance an opponent. This could then be used as a platform to unleash a barrage of strikes or enter different throws and takedowns. One of these involved taking an over hook on the opponent’s arm then rolling between their legs to throw them into an armlock on the floor. 


A short wave movement and slap to a gripped arm or rotation around that arm’s axis allowed for devastatingly subtle takedowns to be performed with little energy expenditure.


Using combination of well applied leverage and squeezing movements was used against an opponent clinching the back of our heads. By using painful neck cranks combined with different takedowns that used the spiral principle the opponent was unbalance in all three planes of movement causing them to collapse. This concept was very difficult to resist due to the neck crank giving the person on the receiving end the only one option and that was to go with the movement and end up on the floor. Another variation involved attacking digging the knuckles of the fist into the attackers eye socked to force them into a vulnerable position for the takedown or to do something similar by gripping the throat. In short this topic was brutally painful and effective.






We then moved onto using the trinity strike and kicking principle to deal with different attacks. Combined with the other topics this created another layer to our response if attacked. 


At this point we had a short training session on a martial art called TFS by its founder George Johnston. George is a business partner in the Hybrid Martial Arts Academy, long time student of JKD and other systems, which he has combined to create a system with the sole focus of dealing with street self defence. In this session he used a covering movement to slip a jab and throw a series of heavy devastating strikes.  


The final session of the day was taught by Alexander on the topics of weapons. The fan principle re-emerged once more and was used with a knife against a stick attack before we moved onto unarmed disarming of sticks using the principles of leverage to remove it from the hand and perform various methods of immobilising the attacker.


The spirit of friendship and depth of knowledge shared during this camp made it a really special event. Luckily it is an annual seminar and there should be another opportunity to train with him sometime next year. For more information about ROSS in the UK contact Vadim or Frank Etherson who was responsible for the logistics of bringing Alexander to the UK and has been teaching ROSS in Scotland to a dedicated group of students.







Remember on the 1st to the 4th November 2018 I will be back in Limoges, France teaching a four day residential immersion into my teaching methodologies used to train students to apply Systema in both practical situations whilst not destroying the body through poorly thought out training methods. This will be the first seminar aimed at developing Combat Lab instructors outside of the UK.


Please message the organiser Claire Petr through facebook or email for full details of how to secure your place on this unique event. Alternatively visit the events facebook page.