It seems that every September I try to get back into systema – and then something happens. I tried at this time last year… and very shortly afterwards got sick, to the point that I couldn’t work. Then, just as I was getting back on my feet, the covid-19 outbreak began in Wuhan, and China just shut down. My work dried up completely – and so did my income. I spent most of the time between mid-January and mid-July cooped up in my small apartment, without room to do any exercise, and gradually getting more and more lethargic. By the time things started coming back to normal in July, my decision was made: it was time to move home.

So, I’m back in Wales. I’ve been here for a month now, though of course the first two weeks of that were in quarantine. The house is mostly empty until I can get builders in to do some urgent work, but I’ve retrieved my kettlebells and clubbells from storage, and I’ll start training with those soon – and, goodness knows, I need to, because I must be in the worst physical shape of my life.

I’m now living very close to where Mark Winkler is based: in Carmarthen, where I used to his classes a decade ago! How on earth can it be so long? Unfortunately, he’s had to stop running classes here, I think. Still, we’ve made contact, and we’ll meet up soon.

In any case, to build and maintain a practice is much easier if you have people to do it with – and wherever it turns out my nearest systema school is… it’s going to be much closer than when I was Beijing!

Image credits: Repositioning PUBG by SnakeDrone on Flickr. Used under a Creative Commons licence.

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