On the topic of shashkas, there was a TV series a few years ago called “Go Warrior”. The host, a young American martial artist called Roland Osborne went around the world investigating different martial arts: Korean Taekwondo, Brazilian Jiujitsu… and Russian Systema.
At some point, someone uploaded the systema programme to YouTube in three parts, which is where I first saw it. I had only recently heard about systema and was trying to find out more about it. I had read in William Gibson’s novel Pattern Recognition that systema had roots in Cossack dance, and these clips online showed me what that was all about. It was from the same segment that I learned that those cool Cossack swords were called shashkas.
There was a lot of really interesting material in those three clips; I would like to have embedded them here, but they appear to have vanished recently. They showed Roland training with Mikhail Ryabko and Vladimir Vasiliev in Moscow – a very interesting session because Tabby Cat is there in the background, and because I hear that Alexei Kadochnikov came to visit; a meeting that I see described on some sites as being the only time that Ryabko and Kadochnikov have met, though with all the factionalism that afflicts systema, I have no idea how true that is. It shows cossack dance-fights, a relaxation exercise with a dropped knife, a fight involving a knout… Lots of really good stuff.
It is in fact still available from someone else as one long clip:
Anyway, I do like to see people rewarded for their efforts so, having enjoyed what I saw on YouTube and learned a lot from it, I decided to buy the original DVD from budovideos.com (especially given that it was on sale!). It took three weeks to arrive, but when I eventually got time I put it into my Macbook, got ready to watch… and was very disappointed indeed. It’s almost entirely a different program – plainly from the same filming sessions, but incredibly lightweight, with almost none of the interesting material.
I simply don’t understand – how could the DVD be so different from what showed up on YouTube?