Put on your shoes, Reds, and dance…

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 😀


  1. Hmm – (Korean) Taekkyon looks sort of like dancing (the weird little trot they do in their “ready” stance), but I’m not sure!


  2. You know, I’ve watched that second clip a few times now. The “wavy arms” move that the ex-Spetsnaz Cossack does at around 1’47” really remind me of some similar movements that are towards the end of the Long Xing bagua set that Zhou Yue Wen Lao Shi taught me. He did show me a couple of applications, but what I see in this clip is also pretty applicable… Hmm. I’ll bear this in mind next time I practice that set, I think…


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