I used to fight a lot with my younger brother when I was a kid, as brothers will do. My brother’s bigger than I am, and he was (still is, actually) an athlete, whereas I was (still am, actually) a geeky bookworm. I soon learned that the only way to fight was to avoid using my strength, but to sense and redirect his power. In many ways, that’s probably why a lot of the push hands training I’m doing in my yiquan classes feels both natural and familiar.
My experience of meditation, such as it is, has also led me to believe firmly in the importance of breathing, sensitivity, softness, and mental clarity and calmness. This is where tajiquan also feels right and natural to me.
As I think more about these elements, and how to apply them with what I’m learning in my classes, I can’t avoid becoming aware that another group of people have also been working hard on these principles, a group who I’ve only gradually learned about over the last year or so – mostly through Tabbycat’s blog. Yes, I’m talking about systema, and Mikhael Ryabko’s branch in particular.
Obviously, YouTube has a lot of material, and I’ve been watching this a lot lately. There are also a lot of interesting systema bloggers, which CMA practitioners might find worth a look:
- Steve’s Systema Training Blog
- Systema – stevewildash.blogspot.com
- Systema – The Russian Martial Art
- Systema Blog
- Systema Colorado Blog
There’s also an online martial arts magazine that I hadn’t previously heard of, Meibukan, which has some very interesting Systema articles:
- Issue 3: Systema introduction, interview with Vladimir Vasiliev
- Issue 9: interview with Mikhail Ryabkov
- Issue 10: how systema is used in modern policing
In my job, I have a long summer break, and it did idly cross my mind that I might take a trip to Moscow…. but that quickly came to an end when I realized that based on Lonely Planet’s guide for backpackers, a week’s living expenses in Moscow – not even including accommodation, let alone training fees – would be more than a month’s income for me! Aiyoh, this is what it means to be earning Renminbi 😦 I hope it’s revalued upwards soon!
However, maybe that trip wouldn’t be necessary – I noticed yesterday on Vladimir Vasiliev’s site that there is apparently an accredited systema instructor here in Beijing! Judging by the name, it looks like he’s not mainland Chinese, maybe Singaporean or Malaysian… I’ll drop him a line, anyway, and let you know what happens…
By the way, I stole the title for this post from a blog post by Brad Scornavacco, Nitrous Oxide For Your Martial Arts, in which he says:
I have seen knife-fighters blow past their peers, Judo players easily countering throws while knocking their partners down almost at will, grapplers suddenly not being tapped out by anyone except the highest-level fighters, boxers moving, slipping and hitting harder than ever–all after training in Systema. The movie The Matrix illustrated this dynamic when Neo began fighting Agents with one hand whereas previously he could barely hold his own. That knowledge and skill he gained is akin to what happens when people train in Systema.
What Systema does to your previous training is like adding nitrous oxide to a race car; it turbo-charges your skill level.
Hmmm, that sounds interesting….