May 2016: Instructor training course with Andrey Karimov in Russia

This post is not original content, and I’ll add to it as more information becomes available. The main source is on Facebook, and I’ll just be reposting to gather all the information in one place here.

Essentially, though: the entire month of May will see an intensive instructors’ course in all aspects of Andrey Karimov’s Siberian Cossack Systema, to be held in St. Petersburg, Russia. I hope to be there….

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Balalaika Parts 1 & 2

I recently bought two video downloads from Olivia’s Cowboys and Cossacks store: Balalaika, Part 1 and Part 2, the first two of a series. They were filmed during the May 2015 seminar Andrey held in St. Petersburg. As I’ve mentioned before, there’s really not much available in English on learning the balalaika, and the two books I’d bought didn’t inspire me, so I basically gave up. Once I saw that Olivia had these tutorials available, though, I knew they would probably be good – and I wasn’t disappointed.

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Rebooting…

Sing. Dance. Fight.

But… I haven’t been writing much about them! Basically, I haven’t had much to say, because there’s not been much opportunity to do anything for over a year, with Janick Litalien’s seminar here in Beijing in late April being the honourable exception.

I hope that this is now on the brink of changing…

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In defence of dance

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When I started this blog, I wanted to explore Cossack culture in general and, more specifically, the interaction between the cultural and combative elements of song, dance, and martial arts – particularly as expressed in systema.

This seems, recently, to have become a political issue, and is behind a low-level flame war rumbling along in one of the English-language internet’s most significant communities about Russian martial arts, Paul Genge’s Combat Lab International on Facebook. On the one side are those who think that the cultural and combative elements are of equal significance; on the other are those who are solely interested in combatives, and who dismiss the other group as Cossack wannabes.

I, for what it’s worth, am in the first group – which will surprise nobody.
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Back in China

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Not long after I moved back to China, I found myself sitting at a low table on a street corner, in an obscure new-build area of Beijing somewhere near the airport. When I say new-build, I really mean “still under construction”, with whole blocks still fenced off, and the dust blowing in the breeze. A dozen or so low tables surrounded three large, industrial-sized, barbeque grills over which a team of men were labouring.

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