Systema looks at the body as a structure. It's not hard to conceptualise the human body as a structure when you think of it. The body has 2 pillars on which it stands; a spine to erect it straight and muscles to hold it all up. Like any structure when the body move its creates area of tensions.
When fighting using Systema techniques you learn to strike differently. In most martial arts the strikes aim at being destructive. Blunt and powerfull the strikes are effective, as we've seen in Krav Maga, for example. When striking in any marital arts, the point is to disable the body by abusing a sensitive part or a weakness. In Krav Maga we hit the groin, the eyes or the nose, to name a few.
In Systema the strikes are divided in three main types:
- Skin - Surface hits, superficial strikes like slaps;
- Muscles - Deeper than the skin hurting the muscles beneath, works at disrupting the structure.
- Organs - Deepest strikes there is. Penetrates though the muscles to "touch" the organs such as the liver the kidneys. Disrupts the structure to its core.
The Systema strike is now well know for his penetration "power". The emphasis is to hit well, not hard. If you browse Youtube you'll find loads of example of Systema strikes. Practicing Systema I know that the videos are far from being spectacular. It's no Bullshido as I once read on a post. You won't see fancy arms swirls and people screaming Hiiiiyyaaaaa! and stuff like that. What you will see though is people not understanding what hit them and lose control of their body.
Look for Vladimir Vassilliev, Mihail Ryabko or Martin Wheeler for the masters. The first two are Russians and voice over are often use to explain what they are saying.
The strikes are efficient in affecting the structure because they aim at the tensions disrupting the effort the opponent is struggling to keep his body balanced. To hit efficiently you have to understand what tension (muscle effort) is keeping the structure (opponent's body) up.
Working on the opponent's structure to disable it, you try to avoid giving him the subconscious signals that his actions have had completion. In other terms, that the punch he gave you, landed. This helps confusing the opponent's mind.