DC SYSTEMA - Russian Martial Art

Welcome to the DC Systema homepage.

We are a certified school in the Washington, DC metropolitan area to study the Russian Martial Art of Systema under the guidance of Vladimir Vasiliev. Our sole purpose is to study Russian Martial Art for one's personal development.


Systema - Russian Martial Art

Systema (Russian for “The System”) is a martial art with practical modern applications. One can gain fighting ability from the training but the objective of Systema is to free the body of tension and achieve a spiritual and psychological state that is not controlled by fear, anger, self-pity, delusion, and unhealthy pride. The training involves a series of exercises to develop a body with strength, flexibility, endurance, effortless movement, and power. The combat skills include spontaneous, subtle movements that are efficient and diverse.

Systema is a set of concepts and training components that enhance one’s life without damaging the body and psyche in the process. Training in Systema is one of the sure ways to test our limitations - to see how proud and weak we really are. Systema allows us to gain the true strength of spirit that comes from humility and clarity in seeing the true purpose of our life.



The Russian style of martial art dates back to the 10th century. Throughout the history of this huge country, Russia had to repel invaders from the north, south, east, and west. All attackers brought their distinct styles of combat and weaponry. The battles took place on different terrain, during freezing winters and sweltering summer heat alike, with the Russians often greatly outnumbered by the enemy forces. As a result of these factors, the Russian warriors acquired a style that combined strong spirit with extremely innovative and versatile tactics that were at the same time practical, deadly, and effective against any type of enemy under any circumstances. The style was natural and free while having no strict rules, rigid structure or limitations (except for moral ones). All tactics were based on instinctive reactions, individual strengths and characteristics, specifically designed for fast learning.

When the Communists came to power in 1917, they suppressed all national traditions. Those practicing the old style of fighting could be severely punished. At the same time, the authorities quickly realized how viable and devastating the original combat system was and reserved it just for a few Special Operations Units.

In this new century, Russian Martial Art is now accessible to the rest of the world.


About Systema Founders


Mikhail Ryabko

Colonel of the Special Operations Unit with the Russian Military, Chief Instructor of tactical training for the Emergency Response Team, Advisor to the Supreme Judge of the Russian Federation.        

Mikhail Ryabko was trained from the age of five by one of Stalin's personal bodyguards, and was inducted to Spetsnaz at the age of fifteen. He has been a tactical commander of hostage-rescue teams, counter-terrorist operations, and armed criminal neutralization. Mikhail resides in Moscow, holds the rank of Colonel and serves as a Special Advisor to the Supreme Judge of the Russian Federation. He continues to train his many students as the Master Teacher of Systema. He has authored a textbook on Tactics of Special Operations. He has been in numerous military campaigns and holds many government medals and awards.


Vladimir Vasiliev

Director and Chief Instructor of Systema Headquarters.        

Born in Russia, Vladimir received intense training from the top Special Operations Units instructors and is the top student of Mikhail Ryabko. Vladimir's work spans across 10 years of extensive service with the Special Operations Unit. He also served as trainer for elite units, SWAT teams, and bodyguards. Vladimir moved to Canada, and in 1993 founded the first school of Russian Martial Art outside Russia - Systema Headquarters. He has since personally trained and certified well over 300 qualified Russian Martial Art instructors and schools worldwide, and has provided an Award-Winning instructional film collection.