Russian All Round Fighting (RAF)

Russian All-Round Fighting (RAF)  is a hybrid martial art consisting of various Russian and Soviet fighting systems. RAF Federation headquarters is based in Saratov, Russia. The Federation holds annual ‘Russian Championships’, Instructors Seminars and provides for various kinds of martial arts training.

Russian All-Round Fighting (RAF) is a modern versatile martial art. RAF is based on Russian and Soviet traditions of hand-to-hand fighting, wrestling and fencing. RAF is called martial because our training involves full-contact fighting, and its effectiveness is being tested in regular competitions, street fights and combat situations as well.

RAF is a modern system because we prepare for the most common dangers of the modern world. We value historical traditions only because they contain enormous practical experience to work with. RAF is a versatile martial art because we prepare all-round fighters. Sportsmen are being trained in various disciplines of fencing, wrestling and hand-to-hand fighting.

Different levels and programs of training make RAF open to people of various ages and levels of physical ability. The Beginner Level of RAF is easy to study and allows for maintaining adequate fighting ability and good physical condition as well. For those with the competitive drive, we have developed a vast Sport Level, allowing you to practice most of the real fight situations within a sport contest.

The Combat Level is truly considered to be the top of RAF skills. Studying and practicing this level demands a lot from the athlete. But high demands open wide perspectives for the effective real fight.

Yhe offical year of the RAF founding is 1998. The system was founded by three men: Maxim Shatunov, Eduard Sergeev and Denis Rojkov. All of the three proffessionals in many styles of martial arts with many titles.

In 2004 the Russian All-Round Fighting federation became officaly registered. Maxim Shatunov became the first president of the Russian All-Round Fighting Federation, Eduard Srgeev the first Vice President, and Denis Rojkov as first leading Specialist in Sport and Combat Fencing.

In 2005 the Federation has organised the major All-Russian Championship on its second year of work. All-round athletes from many regions of Russia have taken part in the Championship.

Influences: The style is influenced by:

  • European martial arts – Fighting, combat, wrestling, martial and sport systems and styles; from ancient and medieval times to more recent eras.
  • Sambo – Including the combat and sport variations.
  • Storm Fighting – A type of NHB, 10 seconds per round at 10 rounds fighting competition.
  • Street fighting
  • Folk styles – Influenced by folk games, events and competition such as fisticuffs and mass fighting.

Structure: RAF has three main levels:

  • Beginner Level
  • Sport Level
  • Combat Level

Beginer Level: Its mission is to provide for the preparatory training, the “gates to the system”. No one can enter without passing thru those gates.

  • Special gymnastic work out (“Zdrava”)
  • Preparatory exercises (“Podmoga”)
  • Combat gymnastics (“Svilya”)
  • Basic Technique
  • Self-defense actions (“Obereg”)
  • Combat games (“Zabavy”)

These disciplines are being studied successively, as it guarantees that firm skills have been acquired. There are no competitions or fights in this level – study.

Sport Level: There are eight competition disciplines in RAF. The athletes have to master all eight disciplines. First comes fighting with the cold steel of the longest range, the Bayonet. Then the Stick Fight. Then the Knife Fight (the main civil self-defense weapon).

These are first three disciplines where three ranges of cold steel actions are being practiced: long, average and short range. Then the kicks (Kick Fighting) and hand strikes (Fisticuffs) are being as two different disciplines. Another discipline combines hand strikes and kicks (Hand-to-hand Fighting).

The last is the Wrestling, corresponding to the closest range to the adversary. The final discipline studied is Storm Fighting, combining the hand-to-hand and unarmed wrestling skills. The competition sequence is as follows:

  • Bayonet Fighting
  • Stick Fighting
  • Knife Fighting
  • Wrestling
  • Kick Fighting
  • Fisticuffs
  • Hand-to-hand Fighting
  • Storm Fighting.

The competitions are being organized in two days, four disciplines per day. Each person taking part in the competition must compete in all eight disciplines.

Combat Level: In order to survive in the extreme situation of a real fight, the man must have the impeccable psychological (combat reflexes), technical (fighting motor skills) and tactical foundation.

The biggest part of these basic skills can be acquired only by active, and, the most important, systematic sport training. The full-contact and full-speed training gives excellent technical skills. Systematic training toughens up the will.

Not all necessary skills are contained in the Sport Level. That is why RAF practices some very specific purely combat exercises and lessons, such as:

  • Fighting in disadvantageous conditions (in the lying, sitting, standing on the knees, back to the wall positions, etc.)
  • Fighting with several unarmed adversaries
  • Unarmed fighting with the armed adversary (stick, knife, etc.)
  • Armed fighting with several unarmed adversaries
  • Arresting, tying up and transporting the adversary (unarmed and armed)
  • Dodging the actions of the adversary that is throwing a cold steel weapon
  • Dodging single-round fire on the short range
  • Neutralising the adversary unarmed, with cold steel and by any improvised means.


Fisticuffs: Russian fisticuffs is characterised by lashing swings with an instant change of angle applied during attack. Swings are combined with hard direct blows.

It is claimed that all punches of the Russian fisticuffs are natural and close to reflex hand motions, and therefore easy to study. Nevertheless, there’s a great variety of such punches.

The typical tactics of the Russian fisticuffs is to first attack the arms of the adversary, neutralising them with hard blows (or just striking them down), and then striking the head. Grappling is an indivisible part of fisticuffs. Clinching arms and holding the neck, grappling clothes or even pulling hair are widely used for strengthening the blows.

Russian fisticuffs uses punches with the fist, hammer fist, open palm, forearm and elbow. In RAF Fisticuffs blows are allowed to any part, except under the belt.

Kick Fighting: Kicks do not require preliminary stances. They are mostly physiological and do not require over stretching. They are safe for the joints and ligaments of a kicker. They allow for kicking in a series and are as high as required. They are most eddective in hard shoes.

Hand-to-Hand Fighting: Punches and kicks are tied together. While remaining stable and mobile, the fighter simultaneously attacks on high and low levels.

Here it is striking down with punches or clinching the arms while kicking at the low level, and then executing the main blow (or series of the blows) in the head. Certainly, it is not a dogma, the fighter can start from a long direct power kick to knock the adversary down, or apply any other model of offence.

Sport Folk Wrestling: RAF sport wrestling falls into three kinds of Russian folk wrestling:

1. Belt Wrestling 2. One-Handed Wrestling 3. Free Wrestling.

Belt Wrestling: In Belt Wrestling the round begins with the wrestlers taking hold of each others belt. This a preliminary move, using both hands. The hold can not be changed or broken during the course of the round. The wrestling continues until one of the wrestlers falls on his back.

One-Handed Wrestling: In One-Handed Wrestling (or Collar Hold) the wrestler uses one hand only, holding the collar of the adversary. Ankle trips and back heels are actively used. No ground wrestling.

Free Wrestling: In Free Wrestling all wrestling holds, throws and trips as well as strangling are allowed. Ground wrestling is allowed.

Combat Wrestling: The technique combines blows with throws and tripping. This technique aims to make the adversary lose his balance with further knocking him to the ground.

The preliminary hold is not required, therefore struggling for the hold is not necessary. Kicks and punches are actively used if the action does not make the adversary lose his balance.

Bayonet Fighting: The model of a rifle with an attached bayonet is used. In the Sport version only thrusts are allowed. In the Combat version thrusts are combined with the blows with the rifle butt, kicks and punches. The Bayonet Fighting is built on the Soviet Army study materials that were issued in the early 1940s, and on the 19th century Russian Army manuals.

Stick Fighting: F or the reconstructing the Russian style of the stick fighting manuals of the Soviet Army issued in the 1940s, as well as the earlier, and the 19th century publications were used.

There are both Sport and Combat versions of the Stick Fighting. Sport Stick Fighting allows for full-contact strikes with the wooden stick. Thrusts are not practiced in our Sport version of Stick Fighting.

Knife Fighting: Reconstuction of the Russian knife fighting school was also based on the Russian and Soviet Army manuals, and the 14-16th century German study texts.

In RAF Sport Knife Fighting only thrusts and slashes are allowed. RAF Combat Knife Fighting also includes punches, kicks, holds and tripping. The trainings and the competitions are with the medium size blunt aluminum knifes.

Philosophy: The aggressiveness of the system, and its offensive (rather than self-defensive) orientation can be considered part of the RAF philosophy, which clearly states that a man who doesn’t know how to atack, and how the enemy might atack, couldn’t defend himself.

Nevertheless, the philosophy of the RAF clearly states that it opposes to any torture or humiliation as part of the teaching, due to the fact that it’s useless for the learning and is nothing but imitation.

The RAF is, as it states, based on the Russian fighting traditions. Most of the practices are held outside, in all weather conditions, in order to be strong enough to struggle in all conditions, and feel the Russian nature.

Racism and xenophobia: Several statements on the RAF website might indicate that the RAF philosophy includes some racist and xenophobic philosophies. Some example quotes from the RAF website:

The civilised White man has no need to imitate any Asian habits.
RAF has never used, does not use and will never use any technical actions or principles taken from Oriental or other non-European martial arts. RAF is mostly used in Siberian Pain Fights. Thought some would consider it racist or the types of ideas spouted by white nationalists and white supremacists, other’s just consider it not being Polit-Correct and claim that those statements were just meant to say that they use the Russian tradition.

It could be argued that such statements are made out of ignorance rather than for ideological reasons. RAF uses a “Swarga wheel” as its symbol. The same symbol is also used by the ultranationalist and anti-immigrant movement in Russia.

However, the RAF website states:

The emblem of the RAF Federation is the variant of the Slavic symbol called “Swarga” or “Swarog Wheel”. It is an ancient solar symbol, being represented by the eight elements cross rotating clockwise. It is depicted in gold or bright yellow colour.

It is used to depict the emblem on the red background. In Slavic tradition the red colour is a symbol of beauty and vitality, while the gold colour is the symbol of the Sun. The combination of these colours is the most powerful among all colour combinations.

Any other interpretations of the symbols of the organisation are considered incorrect and deliberately provocative.