Many people want to know the difference between Russian Martial Arts (RMA) and more traditional Martial Arts. I am not going to give a history lesson as to the evolution of Martial Arts, Russian or otherwise, not am I going to speculate as to which is better – for the history, it is easy to search and as to which is better, that decision lies with the practitioner, but let’s talk about the philosophy of RMA.
RMA are not designed for any form of competition, they are designed for brutal combat effectiveness and that explains why they are taught to Special Forces and Operations Personnel and Elite Bodyguards. Now what I am talking about here is the pure form of RMA that is practiced in Russia and spread over the World by specialist Instructors, who are extremely capable of using the Arts as they are meant to be.
RMA has no formal structure or hierarchy, except of course when taught in the Military, where Military rank prevails. This is why when you search on the Internet, you will see many students, working in a very relaxed environment and almost ‘playing’ with the moves and techniques. Now on the subject of techniques, one of the key differences between RMA and Traditional Arts is that there are no specific techniques taught, nor are there any forms or Kata. The reason for this is that the student must learn to think and act for themselves and not from any ‘grading’ system or belts. Also and this point is very controversial and rarely understood, is the emphasis on working at very slow and deliberate speeds. This is to let the student find an answer to a problem within a controlled environment and this allows that response or technique to be implanted in the student’s subconscious mind and if that situation were to repeat itself, the response would naturally follow. What is important here is to understand that many hours must be devoted to this type of practice and also, it is only part of the overall picture.
There is also a great deal of emphasis placed on body conditioning and in learning how to build tendon, rather than muscular strength – muscles have a short lifespan and get overloaded quickly and to demonstrate this, think about the guy who is working in construction, carrying bricks up and down a ladder all day long. No amount of bench pressing, bicep curls or squats can prepare the body for that type of work and in RMA, simple exercises such as the pushup, squat, leg and body raise are performed in a specific way to achieve this goal.
Breathing is vital to life and even more to RMA as it is taught in varying ways, according to the demands of the body – there is no ‘one way’ to breathe, such as specifically from the stomach, rather different ways of breathing depending on the task. Body structure or ‘form’ is also critical as the actions of combat need to be supported by a strong, but flexible and extremely agile body.
We also place great emphasis of learning how to deliver strikes, but more importantly, how to take them and I cover both in my Ballistic Striking DVD’s.
Unlike many Traditional Systems, you do not have to reach a certain level of ability or grade to learn to defend against weapons, – knife, gun, stick and other weapon defenses are taught almost immediately. The student cannot determine when he or she may be attacked according to their length of service and proficiency in their Art.
There is also no ‘mystique’ in learning how and why RMA is effective and the student is taught from day one, just the same as the student who has been around for years and this is why many people find RMA appealing, as you get straight to the heart of the matter very quickly – learning to survive in the most brutal of combat situation,
Finally, I want to talk about all of the negative comments that I see posted in response to the RMA videos on the Internet. If you are new to Martial Arts, or practice some rough, hardcore Art or MMA, then looking at a group of people ‘playing’ around in the world of dangerous combat, then your first instinct is to think that it is a joke at best and then when you see people reacting to some kind of attack by falling backwards and rolling away, then the next thought is ‘fake’. I cannot blame you for this, but I help you to understand.
Now as in all Martial Arts, there are some very suspect practitioners out there and I see some crazy things taught and RMA is no exception, but take note of what I am about to say, watch all of the videos that you can and draw your own conclusions.
What you cannot see or feel in the videos is the power of the person defending against the attack or delivering the strike. In my seminars, I often get people trying to test me and a good RMA instructor will not worry about this and after all, how many high grade Martial Arts instructors will, during a seminar, invite any member of the audience to attack them, in any way they want – we do!
Now the instructor will respond to this attack in the way that he is being attacked and that means if the attack comes in hard and strong, then that is exactly how the defense will be and on the subject of striking, we often ask members of the audience to come up and experience a strike and learn how to handle it and you would be amazed at the amount of skeptics who fall down in severe pain, from a seemingly soft, relaxed strike. After a few attacks and the resulting pain, they learn to move in more slowly and with less aggression so they actually learn what is happening to them. This is precisely why you see people moving and falling over before they are hit – they know what is coming and have experienced the pain.
So take a look at the videos out there and keep an open mind. More importantly, go to a seminar and experience it for yourself and the good news is that you don’t have to change what you are doing now, if you are practicing Martial Arts, just use RMA to supplement what you already know.