What was similar: One of the biggest mysteries of Systema is the striking. I have heard it referred to as “ballistic striking” by Mikhail Ryabko and Val Riazanov on Youtube. When Danny and George demoed the striking to me I realised it was shockingly close to the striking I have done with while practising Piqua and Baji with my Sifu John Hum and Sifu Jason Tsou. Of course upon further reflection this made perfect sense. Baji and Piqua can trace their roots to the Hebei province in Northern China. In case geography isn’t your thing the Hebei province is quite close to (about 1000km) to the Russian Border. For my American readers this is about as far as New York is to Indianapolis. If Google is to be believed this is about 23 days of walking so we can assume a reasonable exchange of culture and ideas over the years.
When Danny hit me the first time he struck down and dragged his fist across my body. Instead of punching in a straight line through me he made contact from just below my collar bone to my lower pectoral. He didn't hit me with any undo force but it hurt like the devil. In Kung Fu we refer to this as “bringing pain to the surface.” For anyone that hasn't experienced striking in this manner the closest thing I can relate it too is the “5 star slap” you will see young men give each other. A “5 Star” is where you slap someone on their bare back and it leaves a stinging imprint of your palm. This is of course a vast over simplification of ballistic striking but it should give you an idea.
Danny demonstrates Systema's striking on me.
This striking is powerful and heavy. What I like about "bringing pain to the surface" is that it hurts way more than regular striking. Because of the surface area effected it gives the impression that you are hurt much more than you in fact are. This "illusion of damage: is a wonderful way to convince people that they don't want to continue fighting. Should they desire to keep fighting the ballistic strikes are still heavy, brutal hits that will bring and adversary down. Systema brings effective striking with psychological dominance to the table.
Conclusion: As I prepared to leave Montreal Systema I saw them sparring. There was a group that had stayed late to grapple and kickbox and they were pushing hard. Montreal Systema is not for the faint of heart. They drill hard and cover a vast array of topics. However, if you decide you are interested in being more than a casual student of Martial Arts they are a great place to train. I opened this article stating I knew Systema through the joking of Sambo, yet, I have concluded that the guys at Montreal Systema are no joke and know their craft.
On Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLwXDjTjOSVMm3-98e0gHUXLlQecYRkcvN