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Why Understand The Science Of Systema?

I have heard Mikhail Ryabko joke a number of times about the Kadochnikov Systema School that you need a calculator and protractor to study it.  Also many of that schools students struggle to see why it is useful to understand the physics of the movements they perform in class.  In this article I want to give you one example of why knowing this kind of information is so important.


Let me look at leverage for a moment.  This is an essential principle in Systema and arguably any other martial art. People often apply principles of leverage without knowing what they are doing and this is fine until they get it wrong and things do not work.  One reason for failure when working with levers is using the wrong classification to get the task done.


Engineers break levers down into three classifications based on where the fulcrum is in conjunction with the load and force.  Most people think of levers as a tool for magnifying force, but they can magnify speed or produce balance too.  


Take a look at the first class lever.  



The fulcrum sits between the force and the load, but it can be anywhere along the lever arm and still be a 1st class lever. 


If the fulcrum is nearer the load than the force the object we are moving travels a shorter distance than the end of the lever we apply force to.  This is therefore a lever that magnifies force.

If we slide the fulcrum towards the end of the lever arm where the force is applied the end of the lever where the load is travels a greater distance and therefore has to travel faster to do this.  This lever magnifies speed.


Now if we have a lever where we apply force to both sides of the lever arm we create balance.  This means that the fulcrum is subjected to a force in the direction that both forces are pushing it towards.



The 2nd class lever is the same one that is used in a wheel barrow.  The load is now between the fulcrum and the force.  Again it can be seen that the load has to travel a shorter distance than the force we apply to the lever arm.  This means the 2nd class lever magnifies force.



The 3rd class lever has the force between the fulcrum and load.  It can be seen that this means the load travels a greater distance than the force and we are therefore magnifying speed with this lever.



So Why Is Knowing This Information So Important? 


In this Systema video lesson I will show you how you can change lever types without altering the position of your body or hands and get dramatically different results.  Just think for a moment about a time in your own training where a partner did not collapse in class and why this happened.  Remember their tension is not the issue here because good application of principle cuts through or goes around tension.  


Now when this happens how do you make an improvement in your situation.  Do you apply more force, lash out in panic or do you recognize the problem and fix it?  In the example in the video lesson if you do not know about the different lever classifications you will struggle to do anything other than completely avoid the situation you are struggling with and yet with a small piece of information you could turn the situation around and throw your partner effortlessly.





This is why understanding the Scientific Principles of Systema are so essential for my own practice.  It allows me to fault find my own performance and make what I am doing more effective.   For more information on the Science of Systema check out the other articles in our Systema Blog and the Combat Lab Systema Shop for our range of ebooks and video lessons.