Spetsnaz GRU

Spetsnaz GRU hand-to-hand combat style is a martial arts system taught by Alexandre Popov for use by special reconnaissance/saboteur units of the GRU. Popov’s System, based on Southern Chinese and Russian styles of fighting was developed in the 1920s and 1930s. There is strong infuence of Shaolin kung fu in this system. Though also taught to Spetsnaz, it is completely different from and has no relation to Systema.

“The main mission of a Spetsnaz fighter in a Close Combat is to destroy the enemy with any available means as quickly as possible despite their arms and superior number…”

The fighter himself should not be seriously affected, otherwise he could jeopardize the achievement of a fighting mission by his reconnaissance/sabotage team.

That’s why the combat training of a fighter from the Spetsnaz is aimed at gaining a flawless proficiency in many types of fire arms and cold steel and traditionally a combat knife is of special importance among them.

Usually a fighter from the Spetsnaz has several knives: knife-bayonet for a Kalashnikov’s submachine-gun (AK-74), combat knife, all-purpose “survival” knife, all-purpose clasp-knife, hidden knife, and (or) fling knife. If necessary, any can become an effective weapon.

The basic peculiarity of a knife combat is that it is the combat of short duration. After fighters have approached a striking distance, the result of a fight is at stake within fractions of a second; one or two exact lunges and you win or perish. That’s why the main requirement to a fighter from the Spetsnaz at the initial training stage in knife-combat technique is flawless acquiring of basic methods up to the automatic level: one has no time to ponder in a fight!

It is necessary to acquire naturalness of method execution through hard training. You must feel the knife as an extension of your hand. Your movements must be light and quick, one movement should smoothly transform into another one.

Peculiar features of a knife combat according to the version of the Spetsnaz GRU are many withdrawals, jumps, turns, sudden changes in levels and attack directions (the latter is especially actual in a fight against several enemies), wide use of feints. And all those are done in continuous motion! It is very difficult to follow even flutter of the knife in expert’ hands, but to foresee the place at which a strike will be delivered… it is practically impossible.