Merry Christmas

Well, season’s greetings to you all! I’m writing this from my parents’ house, while I digest Christmas dinner 🙂

Apologies for the sparse posting; I’ve been super busy settling in to the new job, and still haven’t got internet at home – although hopefully that will finally be sorted out next week.

A lot’s happened since my last post, but it’ll keep until I have a bit more time. In summary, there were three things I hoped to get into after moving back to Wales: systema, taijiquan, and meditation. Classes are running in all three and, as you know, I went to a taiji class with Eli Montaigue – which I really enjoyed. However… that’s on a Wednesday evening. The nearest systema class… is on a Wednesday evening. The meditation workshops run by the New Kadampas… are on Wednesday evening. Bah!

So, the week after I went to Eli’s taiji class, I went to try the systema class. It’s an hour’s drive from my office, and is an offshoot of Mark Winkler’s Celtic Systema school. I really, really had a great time. It was my first exposure to systema IRL, and it lived up to expectations. Unfortunately, and completely by accident, I received a very solid knee-strike to my ribs, which is only now healing up… Even so, I could have gone back within a couple of weeks, but by then cold weather had descended upon the UK; the roads are bad enough in the area where I live that I opted to just get home as early as possible, so I haven’t been to any more classes yet.

I haven’t been completely idle, though. As I mentioned, I’ve fitted out a room in the house I’m renting as an exercise room, and I’ve been using it! I’ve been combining two of Scott Sonnon’s programs: Flowfit, and Tacfit Kettlebell Spetsnaz. I’m seriously impressed – although, they’re definitely highlighting my lack of physical strength… So, I’m going through the beginner levels at the moment, but very definitely seeing pretty rapid improvement. Once I get stronger and more flexible, I’ll start throwing in elements of Flowfit II.

What’s interesting is that with Coach Sonnon’s latest programs, he’s once again emphasizing his links with the Russian Special Forces (I got the impression that for some years he was playing it down). Flowfit II in particular clearly shows a connection with Spetsnaz systema. I’ve also bought a couple of DVDs about that: Internal Wave Energy, and Elements and Exercises Part 1. These are produced by Vadim Starov, if I have that right, but they are derived from Kadochnikov’s systema – which is also the root of the ROSS system that Scott Sonnon trained in… Never mind, the ins and outs of systema politics are hard to pin down! Anyway, Coach Sonnon has refined them into effective and easy-to-follow routines, while Starov’s DVDs are great for moving further into ‘proper’ systema – at least, that’s what seems to be working for me!

The ROSS curriculum is extremely interesting for me, for all the reasons I’ve mentioned before, given that it includes dance, etc…

So, anyhow. Systema is definitely going to be my primary focus now; I’ve always said that from the very first time I saw clips of it in YouTube (which was in 2007, before I even moved to Beijing), it ‘spoke’ to me – and having been to a class now, and started working with the DVDs, I feel even more that this is the style I’m meant to learn… I have big plans for systema…

That doesn’t mean that I’m leaving Chinese neijia behind! The clash of class times means that I can’t attend Eli’s taiji classes any more… but fortuitously, he’s just started a new class in bagua, which is on Tuesdays… I didn’t think I would be able to attend those either, but due to various circumstances changing, I’ll now be free to do so. Thus: a focus on systema, with bagua on the side. Oh, and I said something about wanting to revisit a weapon form, but I wasn’t sure what… Well, walking on a regular basis through country lanes to my local pub requires a stick (especially given all the snow and ice recently). So, it seems like shanxi whipstaff is the strongest candidate at the moment…

Also due to changing circumstances, my stay in the fishing village will probably be a short one; it looks like I’ll be returning to my home town next spring – I need to return to my tribe (see also this) before the economic storm breaks over our heads… but that is also for another post!

Anyway, I don’t want to end on a negative note 🙂 I’ll just say that as we approach 2011, I’m really fired up about getting into systema; I think this is going to be a real blast, and the people I’ve met so far are great. It’ll be nice to be back into bagua as well. I have a feeling that the plans I contemplated, of combining systema, acting, and dance into other elements of community resilience a la Transition Towns, are becoming more feasible. That’s quite exciting. I suspect that this will form a major part of my blogging focus next year…

So, Merry Christmas!


  1. Emlyn,
    season’s greetings from Taiwan, too, though we don’t celebrate any christian holidays. Luckily, this year Christmas & Newyear are weekends, so at least, we don’t have to work.
    How you like the 1st snowy season? We have a nice cool 22°/12°, great for training, but still busy at university.
    Training-wise I’m still with a ZMQ group for rather rough phs, do 6 hrs a week of Yin style Bagua (lots of theoretical lessons, too), some 108 Wang Zihe Yang style, with cross-overs to Chen Taiji and Taiji Daoyin from Xiong Wei.
    Lately I got an offer to train the only Yang Banhou lineage stuff here in Taiwan, so maybe, after Chinese Newyear, I take up an additional 2 hrs on sunday mornings.
    Still love it here, but I’m really curious how you can adept to the west again, especially the social life back home in Europe. Sonner or later, I’ll go back west, too!


    1. Thanks, Yiming, and best wishes for 2011. You’ve got yourself a great training regime there 🙂

      I’m going to talk a bit more in another post about the training regime I’m trying to get set up for myself, and about the things that draw me to systema; I’ll be interested to hear your comments about that.

      As for my “Journey (back) to the West”, that’s also going to be a post; I’ve definitely been going through a bit of culture shock, and I want to capture that before it fades, even if only for my own benefit. It’ll have to wait until I get internet at home, though, so that I can gather my thoughts and write it in a fairly leisurely manner.

      Nadolig Llawen a Blwyddyn Newydd Dda i chi gyd 🙂


  2. Glad to hear you like Systema! There’s going to be a Martin Wheeler seminar in London in May – you may have seen it on the Systema Training Events Facebook page – try to come to that if you can. Martin Wheeler is good, both as a practitioner and as a teacher. Although hopefully you make it to London before then.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.