Systema Sydney Russian Martial Art

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Women and Systema by Systema Instructor Kaizen Taki


I’ve been involved with training and teaching in Systema for more then a decade now. Over the years I have seen this practice literally change and save lives.

Systema offers a way to cleanse and strengthen a human being on all levels. It can provide some of the most rewarding experiences you will ever have and help build the strongest and most open relationships.

For many of us, Systema is defined by how it has changed our lives. Because Systema is based on the fundamentals of human experience, it is defined by our lives. In other words, to practice Systema is to live it. As such, Systema is about living out the full range of human experience. This also means that Systema manifests itself differently in each practitioner. Systema is, then, meant to evolve as its practitioners evolve in number and grow in the diversity of their backgrounds and contexts.


Systema has been introduced to the world by its military applications for the Spetsnaz. Unfortunately, for some, the images of camouflage, guns, and knives have defined Systema. However, any serious student of Systema knows that Systema reaches a much more profound depth of humanity than its military image. Quality Instructors will say that the combative application aspects of Systema only make up about 10% of the practice. There is no doubt that Systema has very relevant combat applications, but the practice of Systema encompasses much more. It’s time the other 90% becomes accessible to a wider audience. The combative 10% is a critical and necessary part of the whole, but it needs to be emphasized in its proper proportion to the rest of the work. Systema is about living out the full human experience.


Because the combat culture has been the dominant image, the culture of Systema has remained male-centered. This has made Systema understandably unapproachable to most women. This is extremely unfortunate, especially considering in my experience, women often excel at the practice of Systema.

Many of the core attributes of Systema training are often naturally displayed and picked up by women faster than men. Some of the problems that interfere with quality work in a male dominant training environment are either significantly reduced or simply don’t happen with greater female participation. A female presence brings not only balance to the training environment, but can provide a good example for many core attributes in Systema.

For instance, I’ve repeatedly seen women open up and listen to their intuition quicker then most men. They are often more willing to trust their feelings and listen to their internal state. This is one of the most important aspects in our training. The lack of sensitivity, awareness, and intuition is often the limiting factor for much of the work done in training, and for daily life applications.

In my experience women will display more patience, honesty, and humility when it comes to their personal limitations, and current internal state. All of these things are critical to excelling in Systema practice.

I’ve also seen how empowering Systema can be for women. As with all participants, training helps build confidence and remove the controlling grip that fear has on us. Becoming comfortable with who we are, both our strengths and weaknesses, helps us embrace our humanity, allowing for humility and compassion towards others.


For all these reasons and more, I think it’s time we create a culture that focuses on opening up the 90% of Systema that often goes unseen by the public. The training environment needs to be accessible to a wider audience. Especially to women.

Systema is about living and all that life encompasses. Violence and death are part of the process of life, of course, but it’s not the only thing. We should not be spending the majority of our time fighting life, we should be living it.

Our goal with the women’s classes and workshops is to do just that. Ultimately, a good training environment should be accessible by everyone, regardless of gender, age, or physical limitations. We are cultivating our environment so that every class is accessible to all participants.

If Systema training is about discovering, nurturing, and maintaining our humanity under all types of situations, then there needs to be a much greater presence of women in Systema. Humanity is equal parts male and female. A balanced psyche needs both expressions to be whole and complete.

I, for one, look forward to the lessons we can all learn from having a greater female presence in Systema culture. Some of the best feedback I’ve received about training and teaching has come from women participants and for that I am grateful. Thank you.

Kaizen Taki | Redmond School |

About the Author:

Kaizen is a Certified Instructor of Systema Russian Martial Arts under Vladimir Vasiliev. He has been a dedicated student of Martial Arts since 1987. Kaizen has specialized in the Breathing, Psychological, and Health aspects of Systema since 2002. For more information visit

Thankyou Kaizen,

Justin Ho
Principal Instructor
Systema Sydney Russian Martial

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