Skip to Content

“Lepka” and “Makhalovo” are legendary systems of Academician Popov

“Lepka” and “Makhalovo” are legendary systems of Academician Popov

Be First!

"In the 30’s of the last century, Soviet scientists were set the task to develop effective close combat systems for ordinary people, for army units and NKVD officers. It was during this period when Sambo has emerged, the official date of its origin is 1938. However, even in the combat version this system was insufficient to implement the tasks assigned to the army and special services. In the same period, under the leadership of Academician Popov there was the research of the Russian criminal tradition, which is regarded by specialists as a certain vehicle of special knowledge that has been passed through the ages and proved to be effective. The results of the scientific research became two specific systems: "Makhalovo" and "Lepka", which complete the development of an integrated three-level close combat system."

This is an annotation for the book "Lepka" written by the founder and head of the “Research Institute of World Martial Art Traditions and Criminalistic Research of Weapon Handling” Ph.D. Oleg Maltsev. The book was preceded by an international project, a scientific marathon "Enigma of the Russian School of Fencing", which was held in February 2018 with the assistance of the Research Institute and within it’s framework, with the participation of experts and specialists from different fields the study on the origin of the Russian school of fencing was lead.

The "Makhalovo" and "Lepka" systems became part of the history of the Russian fencing school in the period of the 30-90’s. of XX century. These two legendary systems are going to be the topic of this article.

International project "Enigma of the Russian School of Fencing"

The "Makhalovo" system was studied at the stage between the levels of specialized restricted access information and "top secret of the first order", and the system "Lepka" - between the levels "top secret of the I order" and "top secret of the II.

It would be no secret, the fact that in the 30's on the Soviet territory there were levels of access to information that categorized people into ones who were supposed to know certain information, and ones who were not allowed to know. There were five such levels:

- the lowest, the first level - public information level, so-called "general level", which was characterized by publicly available documents;
- the second level - specialized service information level that was available to a smaller circle of persons (certain information for an official use);
- the third level - "Top Secret of the first order";
- the fourth level - "Top Secret of the second order";
- the fifth level - "Top Secret of the third order".

Starting with the level of public information and ending with the level of restricted access information, systems that could be conditionally divided into four types: manuals for the masses (description of systems with or without weapons), sambo system (originated in 1938), classical boxing, so-called system of pre-revolutionary time (the Italian school of fencing) was also in public domain.

If we consider this structure schematically, the "Makhalovo" system was studied at the stage between the levels of specialized restricted access information and "top secret of the first order", and the system "Lepka" - between the levels "top secret of the I order" and "top secret of the II order".

It was for the reason of the necessity to solve the problems of an increased level of complexity, Academician Popov and a group of scientists were set the task to develop systems that would be capable of solving these problems.

The training method was as follows. At first one used to go through a general system of training and education, and this was an obligatory stage in military schools. Afterwards, depending on the tasks, the "Makhalovo" system was studied in the first place. The more complex the tasks assigned to the person, the more complex system was required. Thus, the person switched to learning the third level system - "Lepka". It is important to understand that "Lepka" system applies not only to the "top secret of the II level, but also to this level, as it is the system that includes a level of training system and the "Makhalovo" system. That is why one who began studying "Lepka", had to complete general training first, and then would go though a special training ("Makhalovo") and only after that began to study this level of the system. "Makhalovo" as a system existed separately, but at the same time it is part of a higher order system - "Lepka". The set of technical elements at each level could have differed in each specific case. One who knew the "Lepka" system could teach this system at any level (such people were called instructors), from the initial level to a secret one.

Period of depended on the volume and quality of the information: "fast", "fast enough" or "constant" (as long as necessary). Therefore, for each unit, if it was necessary it was possible to assemble a certain structure that reliably and flawlessly worked in problem solving, and a set of technical elements were formed in different ways in accordance with each individual task. Only people who were instructors of the "Lepka" system had a comprehensive knowledge of the entire system. Thus, the SMERSH counterintelligence organization received two systems, due to which during the Second World War the officers of this unit were extremely effective in coping with the tasks.

Inscription of the Special Forces SMERSH

In 2017, the “STATUS” film company filmed a documentary about the hand-to-hand combat of the Popov’s system "The Main Secret of World War II", in the frameworks of which, elements of the "Lepka" system were demonstrated and some of the Popov's principles, which clearly demonstrated the effectiveness of this system in action.

How the "Makhalovo" and "Lepka" systems were established?

At the first stage, sambo was made combat-ready. In order to do this, Academician Popov used adapters that were inserted into the system of sportive sambo and combined with elements of boxing, which resulted in the combined system - combat sambo (article Transition elements of combat sambo), which subsequently became a full-fledged combat system.

At this first level of general training, the psychological component lies in superiority, which means that there is a fight (single combat) between two people, where one is already capable of making an attempt to save his life in a single combat, "fight with the tiger".

The next stage was the development of the "Makhalovo" system. This system is a military one, and it is based on the Russian criminal tradition. It was designed by Academician Popov exclusively for military tasks. The system carries the name from a criminal jargon.

Popov drew attention to the system of the Russian criminal tradition, since this system has passed eleven historical periods, which were described in Oleg Maltsev's book "On Your Knives". The book presents the given system as a highly effective, presupposing a fight with weapons in hand and fighting with your bare hands against an armed enemy or a group of individuals. Speaking about the Russian criminal tradition, one can say for sure that this system is the most extensive world wide, therefore it is complex, but extremely an effective one in terms of technical elements. For this reason, Academician Popov drew attention to this criminal tradition and took it into service while developing a system that tackles the problems of the second level of complexity.

"The knife in the Russian criminal tradition is a kind of companion, a teacher and a source of the knowledge, which allows to save a life, status, position." (a quote from Oleg Maltsev's book "Makhalovo")

Cover of the book "Makhalovo"

The military system "Makhalovo" is designed in a way that the handling of the blade turns into a hand-to-hand combat, and hand-to-hand combat into the handling the blade. The system is based on 36 technical elements of the attack, and each of these 36 elements is retransformed both in defense and attack with a knife, and into the defense and attack bare handed.

As for the psychological training of a person at the second level, the knowledge turns into psychology as a sort of a secret advantage over all. At this level of training, one becomes stronger than others, and it is not about a fight, but about assassination (as the system is aimed at killing), as there is no variation anymore, and there is no doubt who is going to be victorious, it is known in advance. There are some "priority predators". Only one task is allowed at a time.

The "Lepka" system< /strong>
The word "lepka" is taken from the criminal language “blatnoy”. This is the way this level was called during the World War II.

If at the first level of training we had been talking about a fight (a duel), at the second level it is about removall, then at the third level there is "lepka" - a fight between a tiger and man.

Before constructing the system Academician Popov studied the Russian school of training and on the basis of this he has decided that there will be a "tamer", certain kind of "hunt between a predator and man", where a predator can make a meal of a hunter, but a hunter cannot eat the predator. The model of working with animals is not new. It was used, for instance, by gladiators in the Ancient Rome, in the bullfights in Spain, fighting against animals was considered to be fine by Masutatsu Oyama in Japan as well.

The "Lepka" system consists of four components, which are in the foundation of it:
1) to catch;
2) to break;
3) to train;
4) to force acting in the arena of the circus.

Accordingly, "Lepka" solves these four problems, because the system is both more massive and more complex, at the same time it includes both "Makhalovo" and general training.

If, for example, we consider the right side of a human being, then there is an exhaustive number of technical elements that are possible for one of the parties.

Academician Popov deduced 21 blows, which is possible in this case, with the approach of studying the practice of the entire training system that ever existed on the Earth - both the Soviet system and foreign practice. Based on the criminal tradition and the "pathological scene", he had to develop a system for strikes that cannot be parried and other technical elements, the total number of which made 21.

The task of "lepka" at the first stage is to paralyze an enemy (unexpectedness), and not to kill, by going through further steps, but if it was necessary for the task they could have eliminated the enemy.

During the designing of the system, Academician Popov introduced the concept of a pathological scene (pathological limit). This can be explained as follows: if one is fighting against a lion, then all of actions of the lion must be known beforehand.

Academician Popov considered the human body as a kind of framework (construction) consisting of:
- feet that are like the roots of a tree;
- the trunk, which is like a tree trunk;
- hands that are like branches;
- component "X" (which is going to be covered separately).

If, for example, we consider the right side of a human being, then there is an exhaustive number of technical elements that are possible for one of the parties. Accordingly, after the attack, the next move of the enemy is going to be known in advance. Everything is predicted in advance, and the next strike will be applied to the point where an enemy will move. As the blow to this point is applied earlier than the enemy moves, they meet at the exact needed point. So the point of conjugation is calculated at defeat, and subsequently one knows, where the opponent is going to aim the blow.

Academician Popov said that the feet are the leading part of the human construction, and the hands are responsible for the manipulation, and if the hands are blocked, the feet will still move, since they have the dominant role in the human being construction:
"If we are at a certain distance, and one is delivering a side blow, then the easiest way would be shifting your leg back - and he is going to miss. This movement is shorter than the movement of the entire structure of the enemy while delivering the blow. "

Grigory Semenovich Popov

Popov used to start from the "roots" - with the movement of the feet (regulating the distance):
"If feet do not do their job, then nothing is going to work." Everything starts from the feet, and everything ends with the feet.

"Lepka" is like a diamond, it is multifaceted

For the human body ("trunk of the tree") moves such as pendulums, turning, diving under a side impact, attempts to escape from a blow are possible. If footwork is combined with the movements of the body, then it is possible to make short movements, which is going to be more effective. In case, when hands are also involved ("tree branches"), you can move your feet and body simultaneously.

Speaking about the features of the system, Popov defined the system of footwork in the first place, then the “geometrical function” of the "trunk" (the corpus of the body, on the basis of which the technical elements were built), and then at the end the work of the "branches" (hands) which gave an exhaustive number of probabilities. All this was intertwined into a system and inserted into the echelons, which started operating "by the method of assigning the echelons" in the way it was necessary.

In "Lepka" nobody looks for complex ways, only the opportunities and losses are assessed.

One whos studying "Lepka" no longer enjoys the defense which is used in "Makhalovo", since all of the technical elements of defense are known in advance. He moves onto some unexpected combined defense, which is a symbiosis of defense in the "Makhalovo", defense of the general level of training and defense, which contains "Lepka" in its composition. At the moment of encountering an opponent, everything ends very quickly as the other ones knows neither the attack nor the defense, and he will not have time to figure out how to defend himself against his attacks, since one who knows "Lepka" is not going to defend himself, he will move to an immediate attack.

"Lepka" is like a diamond, it is multifaceted. "Lepka" is the art of inventing the methods of training. While solving the first task which is “to catch", the first strike is delivered at the enemy must paralyze him, and the next technical element has to immobilize him by means of the pain effect. While using this system, we are also dealing with "converters" as weapons, and any objects that are at the disposal of one. This system is characterized by the priority of the attack over the defense. Considering the system as a whole, we can say that the priority of counterattack dominates at the level of general training (self-defense and preservation of one's life), at the second level ("Makhalovo") - the deception priority, at the third level ("Lepka") - the attack priority. Moreover, all this is a unified system, called "lepka", as the top performance of the customization, which takes the entire system to a completely different level.

Cover of the book "Lepka"

"Lepka" is a system of transition between the fight itself (the possibility to go through these four stages) and a certain state of a human being does not need to be beaten, since everybody around are already "tamed".

Author of the book Ph.D. Oleg Maltsev has explained: "The task of "Lepka" is not to allow hand-to-hand fighting, instead, it is about a minimum involvement in it, as it is important to find quick solutions, rather than swaying your arms and feet."

The author of the books "Lepka", "Makhalovo", "On Your Knives", Ph.D. Oleg Maltsev

Without going through the first and second levels, one cannot start the third level of training.

At this level, a lot of attention has been paid to human psychological preparation. Academician Popov together with training specialists developed a whole system of relations with oneself, and with this kind of person, as well as the tactics and classification of people. This works as the knowledge of the criminal system and the knowledge of the experts in the field of training were combined, and as a result, a psychological system such as "Lepka" was obtained. This is the difference between the systems "Lepka" and "Makhalovo".

"Lepka" is the victory with no other way, there is no need for probabilities, assumptions, and actions must be simple, reasoned out and extremely effective. At the same time the level of training of the enemy does not matter, since the task is going to solved anyways.

At the heart of "Makhalovo" there is a completely different logical model - “predator priority”, which has only one task.

"Lepka" is a completely different level. Without going through the first and second levels, one cannot start the third level of training. One has to be morally, psychologically and physiologically ready for another level of training. In view of this, an approach "from taming" immediately solves the task at this level.

Needless to say, it is impossible to consider the depth of the legendary systems developed by Academician Popov in one article, but we tried to give the reader maximum insight into the features of each system. In the future, we are going to continue to cover the results of this study.