I haven’t had any reply from the supposedly Beijing-based systema instructor; further Googling suggests that he’s actually in Hong Kong. Let’s wait and see. Anyway, the first time I ever heard anything about systema – like many people, I suspect – was in William Gibson’s novel, Pattern Recognition: a character, referring to a Russian oligarch’s bodyguards, mentions that they are trained in systema, a martial art based on Cossack dancing. This sounded unlikely to me at the time, and nothing that I subsequently read about systema referred to it, so I assumed this was a little bit of artistic license from Gibson!
However… last night I stumbled across an American martial arts TV show that someone’s put on YouTube. I don’t know how long it will be there before it gets a takedown notice, so let’s enjoy it while we can. Overall, it’s enjoyable popcorn TV. The second section is particularly interesting, though, because it shows a little of the relationship between systema and dancing! Intriguing… The third section has embedding disabled; you’ll have to go to YouTube for that.
This would make systema only the second dance-based martial art I know of, after capoeira. Anybody know of any others? Also, if I can’t find a systema instructor in Beijing, maybe I should find someone to teach me Cossack dancing. There’s lots of Russians here, there must be someone who could 😀