The problem of self-identification has always been acute in Russia. Really, who are we? Descendants of warlike Scythians, proud Cimmerians, or homeless meek tribes who were unable to create their own statehood? Western historians benefit from representing our ancestors as savages incapable of great accomplishments and victories. Unfortunately, poisoned and distorted by versions alien to Russians история firmly rooted in our brains. Not escaped a similar fate and military art.
Military art itself is as old as the history of wars, and there is not a single nation that is unfamiliar with it. Russia, brewed in an international boiler on the border of a wild field and forest, was no exception. The basis of the martial art of antiquity was hand to hand combat.
Hand-to-hand fight at Slavs
From the middle of the 6th century, the Slavs invaded the Danube into the borders of the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium), besieged and plundered Constantinople, Thessalonica and Athens. A wave of relocations led the Slavs to the territories that are mentioned in The Tale of Bygone Years. And what, they had no idea about how to conduct melee fights or to hold a sword, spear or bow in their hands?
Ancient sources say that our ancestors of the fight against the practice of various blows and fights with weapons. This is learning, and entertainment, and the rite. The need for the art of hand-to-hand combat as an element of learning is associated with the tradition of resolving disputes in a duel. They could occur because of insults, sharing of prey, because of women. As entertainment, fights were held after the feast, the participants showed their skills to them, and the audience got an interesting idea. As a ritual, fights were used during various rituals. The rituals could be both festive and mournful.
In an environment where tribal relations determined the rule of law, even between kindred tribes there were bloody feuds. Protecting your freedom required strength and skill. It is not surprising that the Slavic warriors were masters of reconnaissance, camouflage and ambush attacks. Forests and swamps in the area of their residence contributed to the development of similar skills. Warriors could hide under water, using hollow cane for breathing, silently sneak up on the enemy and overcome it in a swift battle. This is very similar to the tactics of medieval Japanese ninjas. Only the Slavs mastered it much earlier, and their techniques are more rational and easier to learn. By trial and error, individual and collective methods of attack and defense were determined. Hand-to-hand items and weapons were used in melee fights. Many techniques and skills used in the hunt for wild animals were used in combat. The man who held a knife in his hand and used it in hunting or for slaughtering livestock had no psychological obstacles in using him as a weapon, and where and how to strike, he already had a wealth of experience. The same can be said about the use of sticks, ropes and other household items. They all had a dual purpose.
The era of the early Middle Ages is characterized by continuous skirmishes, civil strife and wars. Always be the winners in them is impossible. It is important to approach the defeat correctly, to draw the right conclusions from it and to become stronger. Our ancestors were able to do it. In The Tale of Bygone Years there is an interesting description: “And the Khazars found them sitting on these mountains in the forests and said:“ Pay us tribute. ” Having confessed, they gave the glades smoke from the sword, and the Khazars carried them to their prince and to the elders, and said to them: "Behold, we have found a new tribute." The same asked them: "Where from?". They replied: "In the forest on the mountains above the river Dnieper." Again they were asked: "What did they give?" They showed the sword. And the Khazar elders said: “Not a good tribute to this prince: we got her with weapons, sharp only on one side, with sabers, and these weapons have two-edged swords. They are destined to collect tribute from us and from other lands. ” And it all came true, because they did not speak of their will, but by God's command ... ” The expression “they were given smoke from the sword” means that there was a weapon in every house and all the men were warriors. It also means disarmament. So, our ancestors were afraid. But how could the disarmed Slavs confront the enemy and ultimately win? Only through knowledge and mastery of the art of defense without weapons. I would like to remind you that it was in such conditions in Okinawa that the peasants disarmed by samurai created karate. It was the mastery of the art of hand-to-hand fights that made it possible to arm and organize military ratifications, which subsequently broke the Khazars.
The Slavs were surrounded by peoples of a different mentality, lifestyle and concepts about the rules of the fight. Therefore, the basic rule of contractions was the absence of any rules. In such conditions it is necessary to be inventive and flexible. Any stereotype leads to defeat, in battle there is no place for ritual.
The transfer and improvement of combat skills went from senior to junior. Imitating the actions of experienced warriors, the youth acquired the necessary skills, denying and discarding the unnecessary. Life did not leave a choice: either victory in battle, or captivity, humiliation and slavery. It remains to say thanks to our ancestors who managed to survive and win. Military glory of Russia begins with them.
Rukopashka at warriors
The squads stood out as a special group of people professionally engaged in military affairs at the time of the rise of statehood with the gradual merging of the tribes inhabiting Ancient Russia. With frequent disputes, clashes and internecine wars, only the squad with its strength and skills was an effective tool.
Among other things, the warriors were bodyguards, scouts, guards. To perform all the duties assigned to the druzhinnik of excellent physical strength, reaction and tactical thinking was not enough. In addition to mastering the skills of an individual battle, the retainer had to know well the collective actions of the foot and equestrian ranks, be able to act in it and react to the commands of the governor. Give commands with signals and smoke.
From an early age, children studied the science of individual combat. They were trained in archery, throwing darts, the ability to get fire, water, hunt and fish. They also studied ways to disguise and conduct combat with the help of improvised items. A lot of time was devoted to the study of fistfight and wrestling. By 14-year-old, young warriors perfectly mastered horse riding, could use a sword or a battle ax, both with their right and left hands. Caste, the generic principle of organization and the continuous application of skills in practice formed the basis of training teams.
Constant salary squad did not receive. The main way of keeping the squad was war. The seizure of war booty and the robbery of the enemy side brought wealth, incomparable with the resulting labor of an artisan or peasant. But this was possible only with successful military campaigns. For this, the squad had to have good military training and constantly maintain it at a high level. The war became the test of the level at which the squad could fight. After all, the price of a loss was not only the absence of military prey, but also its own life.
Russia has long been associated with the steppe world. The chronicles constantly report on the raids of nomadic tribes on the border principalities. At the same time, nomads participate in the Russian feuds on the side of one or the other prince. Often the unions with the steppe men were fastened by marriages. Russian warriors assimilated typical nomadic weapons and combat techniques. Synthesis of Varangian, Slavic and steppe military techniques created the look of the squads of Ancient Russia.
The first cruel warning was the Kalka battle. The frightened Polovtsy came to the Russian princes and asked for help from the strong and unknown enemy before. Mstislav Udarayi persuaded to support the Polovtsy, citing the need for help with the possibility of their turning to the side of the enemy in case of refusal of support from the Russians.
In the spring of 1223, the joint Russian-Polovtsian army launched a campaign. Knowledge of the tactics of action, combat training and the objectives of the Tatars in the Russian were superficial. This is what caused the series of subsequent errors.
Initially, luck accompanied the Russian princes and their allies. Tatars' patrols were defeated easily or put to flight. Watchdog squad was also easily broken. The retainers began to get the impression that they were simple people, not warriors. The larger vanguard of the Tatars could not stand the onslaught of the squad. Retreating, they hid their chief, Gemyabek, covered with earth in the Polovtsian mound. Because of the injury, he could not mount his horse. The Russians found him, but did not keep him as a prisoner. Mstislav Udaray gave it to the Polovtsy, who killed him with a painful death. Mstislav the Bold and the young princes wanted to fight with the main forces. Mstislav of Kiev is located on the right high bank of the Kalki (now Kalchik, a tributary of the Kalmius river, Donetsk region, Ukraine) in a fortified camp. The regiments of Mstislav the Remote and other princes moved to the left bank, where they soon entered the battle. Having modern armor and weapons Volyn and Galician warriors held firmly. Using military experience, they withstood the blow, turned the Mongol warriors to flight.
With the skills of individual combat and close combat, the Russian squads were good. It seemed that victory would be theirs. But the Polovtsians failed. They did not withstand the first stupa with the Mongols and ran, at the same time they crushed the mills of our princes and lured horses and carts to the formation of regiments that had not yet gotten up to battle order. But the Mongols, having completed fast horseman maneuvers, bypassed the flanks and partially surrounded the Russian regiments. In a fierce battle with a numerically superior enemy, Russian soldiers died. Experienced Mongolian archers fired arrows into the unprotected parts of the warriors' bodies. Tatar fighters, who successively replaced each other, did not get tired in battle, unlike ours. Finally, unable to withstand the pressure, the Russians broke and ran. This was not an orderly retreat. It was a panic ... As a result, 6 princes died, and out of war, almost every tenth man escaped.
Mstislav Kievsky, who was standing in a fortified camp, was forced to accept the battle without the support of the rest of the troops. For three days his squad successfully repelled the onslaught of the Mongol-Tatar army. The camp was fortified, advantageous position, experienced warriors. But they were surrounded. It is not known for how long they would have enough food. Mongol Tatars used negotiations. Mstislav of Kiev with sons-in-law Andrey and Alexander did not believe in the promise to let them go for a ransom. But who took part in the negotiations voivode Brodnikov citizen of Kievan Rus of the tribe, he swore in the execution of the words given by the Mongols. The prince believed him, for which he paid cruelly. All the soldiers who had surrendered were executed, and the princes laid under the boards on which the Mongols sat down to lunch. Under the weight of the bodies of the feast winners found the princes martyred.
The princes did not know that this was only a small reconnaissance detachment of Subudai and Jebe. They fulfilled their mission and were able to return. In Russia, everything calmed down, no one made conclusions. But for mistakes, if they do not learn, you have to pay. The campaign of Subudai and Jebe showed the Mongol khans the complexity of the conquest of Russia. Therefore, in 1235, the kurultai sent half of the imperial forces, more than 100 thousand, to the great Western campaign.
From 1237 to 1240, Russia suffered a ruin unprecedented in its history, most of its cities turned into ashes. Russian lands lost their defenders.
The Mongolian army was the most combat-ready and modern army of the world of that period, clearly structured and accustomed to rigid discipline. Each warrior was ready to march at any time with all the equipment, including awl, needles and ropes. Well-placed intelligence thanks to the merchants and embassies allowed to collect the necessary information about the objects of attack. The high command did not go into battle, the commanders led the troops using signals with flags, sounds of pipes or smoke. On the spot, engineering units could make and use siege weapons from the materials at hand, and ensure the rapid forcing of a large river. Such an organization allowed the Mongolian army to move at speeds up to 80 kilometers per day and contributed to the fact that the hastily assembled Russian regiments did not have time to unite. All of them were crushed separately. The population was rescued in deep forests.
In Russia, there was someone and what to fight ... Vigilantes had physical strength and had an arsenal of receptions at a high level. For small skirmishes and wars, they were prepared, but did not know how to act in large masses. This led to the defeat even with an equal or greater number of people in the squads compared with the Mongol army.
Mongol warriors were more maneuverable. And so the combat experience they were not to occupy. On their side were all the military achievements of the conquered East, which they skillfully used. But the army represented a disciplined International united by the Mongol leadership on the principles of Yasy. This Internationale with an Oriental eye cut boldly went on assaults of fortified cities and entered martial arts on their walls and streets.
Two forces clashed in a bloody dispute. In war, success depends not only on the personal qualities and skills of the fighters, but also on their overall organization and the talent of commanders, intelligence and diplomacy. If in small clashes with the Mongolian forward detachments, our combatants were victorious, then they always lost in major battles. In addition, the Mongols quickly learned to avoid small skirmishes, skillfully avoiding them due to their mobility. They also quickly created the necessary balance of forces and delivered an inevitable blow. It was not the specific art of individual combat that won, but the general advanced organization and structure of the army. At that time, no European army could resist the Mongols. Princely squads fearlessly fought in the camp and died.
But in Russia there was another force, not as professional and well-armed as the squads, but very numerous. This is the people's militia. The main weapons were axes, spears, and even simple spears and stakes. The militia could quickly destroy small units, which it did. Using the tactics of surprise attack from ambushes on forest roads, they always achieved victories. After the attack, they also quickly hid in the forest.
As a result of the defeat of the Russian principalities on the territory of Russia, the Mongolian administration was established with a state apparatus of Chinese and Uygur officials, a postal service, regular taxation and special procedures defined by the Mongolian Yasa law set.
Artisans and craftsmen were taken to the Horde, Russia also supplied soldiers to the horde who served in mixed international armies and in purely Russian troops. Russian warriors adopted the Mongolian methods of conducting individual combat and combat tactics. "Yasa" was tough, but it equalized the rights of warriors in the rights, it was she who allowed the brave opponents in battle to go over to the Mongols and fight with them, however, already for their idea. Such a proposal was made to Evpatiy Kolovrat and his squad, which they refused and died with honor. The surviving soldiers of his squad were released with the body of Yevpaty thanks to the same "Yasa". Fearless voivode Kiev Dmitry after the conquest of the city was not killed, he took his place in the ranks of the army of Chingizids. The chronicles do not report the number of princes, boyars, warriors and ordinary warriors who voluntarily joined the Mongolian army. But they were. Because the Western chronicles of the invading Mongolian army say that there are a large number of pseudo-Christians in it - this is how the Orthodox were called in the Catholic West.
In the Horde there were already many Russians who got there in various ways. Often they entered military service, which allowed them to make a career as a simple warrior or a serf, unattainable in Russia.
There were quite a few Chinese at the court, whose extensive martial arts systems with methods of preparing and transmitting the art of conducting single-handed combat and the strategy of warfare were a success and were used by the Mongol-Tatar army. All this mixed unity shared experience with each other. I am far from thinking that the Slavs who are in the Horde devoted all their free time to the study of martial arts, but such contacts took place, and the new, in a rethought form, returned to Russia, organically merging with national forms of struggle.
Even in China, there was a Russian community. And throughout the vast space of the Juchi Ulus, there was an exchange of military experience, methods of combat and means of warfare.
The Mongols demanded that the Russian princes constantly send military units to the service of the Khan. The device of the army became very popular when the Mongols were commanders, even before the junior command level, and the army consisted of Russian soldiers. The chronicles report the arrival of commanders of foremen, thousanders and temniki to Russia, but they do not say that Mongolian soldiers would come to Russia with these officers. The tasks of such units included not only the conduct of hostilities, but also the duty to keep subjugated peoples in obedience. Mongolian governors were called Baskak. We observe the direct traces of the existence of such detachments in Russia in the chronicle story about Baskak Akhmat. He had at his disposal detachments that consisted in part of "Besermen", and partly from Russia; they lived in special settlements. Beginning with 1269, there are reports of Vladimir Baskak, operating with the Tatars in military expeditions. The Mongols themselves were quite tolerant and receptive to the traditions of other nations. Bylins have kept messages about competitions in wrestling during feasts and holidays in Russia, and the Mongols took part in them. But war was the main occupation of the warriors. So, Prince Fedor Rostislavovich and his men, together with Mengu-Timur, take part in the campaign to the Caucasus in 1278. In 1281, together with the Tatars makes a raid on Pereyaslavl. Joint campaigns were carried out on Lithuania and other principalities.
Nevertheless, the Horde could not feel safe in the territory of the Russian principalities because of spontaneous flashing against the order of insurrections they establish. The first major anti-American performances began in 1257 – 1259. They were caused by both the census of the population and the abuses of the "nameless". Smerdas made unexpected attacks on Horde representatives. With knives, axes, and even bare hands, from ambushes and unexpected raids they killed the hated strangers. Individual princes and boyars supported these uprisings. And this phenomenon grew as the Horde weakened. Subsequently, a series of uprisings led to the fact that the Khan Baskaks were expelled.
The Horde failed to consolidate the orders of military service that existed in the Mongol uluses in Russia. The generation of mighty Mongol warriors was gone along with the great western march, and another came to take their place, adopting the customs and traditions of the conquered peoples. The great empire itself collapsed and from a military power turned into several merchant states. In addition, there was a bloody power struggle in the Horde, weakening its influence on neighboring states. The constant demand for tribute caused spontaneous and organized uprisings, which grew into local clashes with subordinate principalities. Russia was no exception, and the Russians often scored victories in them.
The Russian army itself began to lose its caste character and became nationwide, where access from the lower ranks was open. Former smerds natural ingenuity made a novelty in the techniques of combat, combining ancient traditions and vital realities. New techniques required a change in weapons, which was also made.
The Horde influence on Russia with periods of bloody wars, small skirmishes and friendly alliances continued for a long time. But Russia was already turning into Russia with a certain self-consciousness of the people, strengthening the army and military art.
Ended the influence of the Horde on the River Ugra 1480 year. The yoke was finally finished. On arms of the Russian army there were already firearms and guns. Cannonballs and a canister flew into the Horde trying to cross. They died before they reached the Russian coast. Horde bows were useless. A new time has come, which was to unite the art of fire and hand-to-hand fighting, leaving in the past much of what helped the ancestors to win and survive.
On the folk traditions of hand-to-hand combat
In Russia, and then in Russia, hand-to-hand fighting had two types - applied military and traditional folk. The description of the first variety we have already done. Consider the second.
Ancient sources say that there is a struggle with the practice of various blows and fights with weapons. So, fist and cane fights were carried out for amusement. The people gathered in the open, which could be a market square, a flat clearing or ice of a frozen reservoir. From the "hunters" were two hostile camps and at a signal rushed into battle. To encourage the participants, they beat them in the nakry and tambourines. In later times, battles took place to the sounds of accordion. In group battles, an age division has developed: adolescents begin to fight, young people continue, and middle-aged men are included last. The winner was the side in which there were more fighters, who beat more people. The individual winner in the group battle was the one remaining longer than the others at the scene of the battle, who withstand blows and deftly defeat opponents.
Individual fights were also held. In them, those who want to face off, began the battle in full view of the others and according to the rules agreed in advance. At the command of the chosen judge, they began a fight, in which the methods of struggle, punching and kicking, and hooking were applicable. Sometimes the battle was held on sticks. In this battle, fencing techniques, stick strokes, grapples, hooks, and strangulation were used.
In fights, the blows were struck not only with the front knuckles of the fist, but also with its lower part when struck from above and inside with a side impact. In this case, gloves were used not to soften the blow, but to protect the hands. Lashing and hooking legs significantly helped in the conduct of the fight to the fighter who owns them. Especially if the fight was conducted on ice. Removing the enemy from podbivami and hooks off balance, made the latter vulnerable to strikes. If the rules allowed the fight, then the opponents dragged each other by the shoulders, belts, neck, tried to knock down and strangle. Individual fights took place both by very humane and very cruel rules. The fight could only take place in fists until the first blood; could with kicks, but without undercuts and hooks, as well as grabs for clothes: “Beat the face, but don’t hide your clothes,” such a fight went on until the enemy was knocked down. The fight with all the permitted actions was fought until one of their opponents surrendered or could not fight due to loss of consciousness.
Wall combat took place according to other rules: it contained an element of collective mutual aid, and often individually stronger fighters lost to weaker but well-organized ones. At any moment of the fun with the lack of blows to the head and the prohibition to beat a recumbent battle could turn into a fierce fight using darts, short batons, weighted into pieces like lead bullets and iron rods. The fighters, not scrupulous in principles, could imperceptibly use the knife. The population of Ancient Russia, and then Russia was massively involved in such fun. This was a definite benefit. In the case of war danger, of which there have always been many, the experience of wall battles was a good training practice for hand-to-hand combat. Attracted to the militia population could be considered prepared. This feature of the Russian people was competently used by A. V. Suvorov, when he preferred bayonet and hand-to-hand fighting to all other types of battles.
Foreigners who visited Russia and described the traditions and customs of the people mentioned fist fights. Sizigmund Herberstein, who visited 1517 and 1526 in Russia, left the following description: “Boys, as well as teenagers, usually converge on public holidays in the city in a well-known spacious place, so many people can see and hear them there. They are called whistle, which serves as a symbol. Hearing the whistle, they immediately run off and engage in hand-to-hand combat: it begins on the fists, but soon they beat indiscriminately and with great fury and legs on the face, neck, chest, stomach and groin and in general using all sorts of methods strike others, achieving victory, so often they are taken away lifeless. Anyone who beats more people, longer than others is not the place of the battle and bravely beats, receives special praise compared to others and is considered a glorious winner. ”
In folklore epic stories are also present fist fight. There is a cycle of folk tales about Tatar Temryuk, who boasted before Tsar Ivan, that he would overcome any Russian fighter. According to his epic, two Kalashnikov brothers defeated him. Most likely the plot of this epic was used by M. Yu. Lermontov in "Song of the Merchant Kalashnikov."
Later writers also addressed the subject of fisticuffs. Their description left Nabokov, Gorky, Gilyarovsky and others.
In addition to the fist fights in ancient times, there was a judicial duel - "the court of God." At the “court of God” the fight took place without any rules, for destruction. Moreover, the use of hired professionals was allowed.
The use of weapons was the basis of the fight, fist fight and fighting were of secondary importance. Nevertheless, the participants wore deaf leather mittens with metal metal plates sewn on them, toughening the blow. The blows were sharp, strong, not very frequent. The fight could end in one successful hit.
Hand-to-hand fighting got the sports direction of development at the beginning of the 20th century. So, sambo was synthesized from the elements of the national forms of the struggle of the peoples of the Soviet Union, such as Georgian chidoba, Uzbek kurash, Azerbaijani gourassu, Armenian kokh, and we are not ashamed to call the Japanese ancestor, judo. In international time it was welcomed and was correct.
The heyday of the popularity of oriental martial arts, which coincided with the collapse of the Soviet Union, forced us to take a fresh look at the history of Russia and look for the roots of national martial arts.
In this way we learned about the revival of the Slavic-Goritsky wrestling, the booze, the cracker, the colo, the Veles wrestling, the Siberian weed, and others. For fraternal Ukraine, the development of Cossack styles is characteristic: Zaporozhye saved, combat gopak, Cossack butt.
Kadochnikov built his system on a rationalistic-scientific approach with an eye on Russian traditions. Kasyanov creatively rethought karate in the Russian vein.
A good master will be able to lay down a coherent system from the traditions, principles and techniques that have reached our time. In this way, guessing and borrowing are inevitable. It doesn’t matter how much the first principle of the western, eastern and primordially Russian is, the main thing is that the system should be of a high level and have an established concept.
About the future of hand-to-hand combat
In conclusion, I would like to say that in Russia there has always been perfect martial art and hand-to-hand fighting, as its variety. Victory ancestors - a clear confirmation of this. Undoubtedly, much was borrowed from other nations. And this is good. This means that our ancestors kept their minds "open" and were capable of perceiving bright ideas and new techniques. They always reworked them according to our mentality and spirituality. At the same time no one was impoverished. The knowledge gained from someone also tends to remain with the original carrier.
Today, the general availability, the ability to receive information about all the martial arts, styles and systems, as well as the ability to master them, leads to the improvement and isolation of the main things that are necessary to achieve victory. The rapprochement of nations and peoples through new media, the ability to quickly move over long distances, sports competitions contribute to the systematization and selection of the most effective techniques and methods of conducting the fight. In the near future, in a synthesized and rethought form, they will become the property of the combat systems of the whole world. Whether the Russian component will occupy a worthy place depends on us. And fans of various styles, whether Eastern or Western, would like to recall Bruce Lee's statement: “There is no effective segment in common. I want to say by this that I personally do not believe in the word "style". Why, since there are no human beings with three arms or four legs that are structurally different from us, there can be no different styles of combat? Why? Because we have two arms and two legs. What matters is how to apply them with maximum effect. ”