Systema classes always stress a realistic approach to self-defence, recognizing that real conflicts bear no resemblance to what occurs in the training environment or in sport based martial arts.

 Techniques are based on the natural movement of the body rather than a prearranged pattern of moves, such as a karate kata. Students learn to act on instinct, rather than memory, when responding to an attack. The training is perhaps best described as a close-range style that combines wrestling manoeuvres with practical street-effective techniques.

 One of the key strengths of Systema, a strength quickly noticed by anyone observing one of the classes, is the diverse nature of the training. In one class, a student of the System may practice push drills, escape from grabs, work against knife attacks, rolling movements and take-downs.

 The class teaches spontaneity and flowing movement. Despite the diverse range of training drills, there are some basic principles that are constantly stressed every class. Called the 4 pillars or principles

1./ Maintaining form and efficient spinal alignment

2./ Relaxation

3./ Constant movement

4./ Correct breathing habits.


By breathing effectively, the practitioner learns to keep the body relaxed. The Systema practitioner likes to manoeuvre with a relaxed body as this allows for more possibilities or more strategies.

A relaxed body is less likely to sustain injury than one that is tense. Even during a self defence situation, the intention is to keep the spine straight. By doing this, the practitioner gains efficient balance and his awareness levels are greatly increased. The curved forward animalist posture that may be seen in other arts is avoided in the class for such a posture creates a very different mind set. In all classes, the student is encouraged to remain calm but focused as opposed to charging in with wild aggression and muscular zeal.

 The breathing skills are developed consistently throughout training so that, under pressure, the person can use them to remain calm and functional. Students are allow taught to use flowing movements to overcome an attacker.

 Movement is favoured over trying to oppose the force of the opponent’s punch or kick. At times the person will simply flow around an enemy’s punch or he may redirect the punch thus using the attacker’s aggression to his advantage.

 When it comes to strikes or combative movement, the practitioner can use various parts of the body as a weapon. The hands, elbows, knees, and feet are just some of the tools at hand. Even the hip or shoulder can provide damage to the attacker when required. The strikes of Systema flow from one to another and wreck havoc on the opponent’s sense of awareness and his body structure.

 Strikes and takedowns can be delivered from any position and there is no pre strike chambering or positioning required. The beauty of this is that strikes can be delivered even in awkward situations such as when one is in a confined space or even in a car. The strikes can have unusual effects on an opponent; they project from unusual angles and they distort the attacker’s sense of timing and balance. Of course, while techniques and movement can be of great value, there is one concept that is really embraced: awareness. A typical Systema class will always increase one’s sense of awareness. Awareness can prevent one from even entering a dangerous situation or it can give one a chance to move away from the danger

Aaron Ellis has been involved in kickboxing and Thai boxing for the past 15 years – both as a competitor and an instructor, but always wanted to learn a martial art that emphasised real combat rather than competition fighting.

 Throughout the years he explored many oriental styles, such as Tong Long Southern Praying Mantis, Wing Chun, Tai Chi and Xingyi, to name a few.

While studying sport and exercise science, Aaron became interested in Russian strength training and the use of kettlebells, which led him to the Russian Close Combat Art; SYSTEMA.

 Aaron was particularly attracted to the way Systema was specifically designed to be learned quickly and is easily employed in even the most dangerous of situations.  “Systema leaves no stone unturned and is ideal for those in immediate need of a truly viable form of self-defense, including defending against weapons and multiple attackers.

 He started studying Systema in 2005, formed a study group in 2008 to explore Systema with like minded martial artists and began to teach his own class in 2010.