Friday, 13 February 2015

fundamental work

i have recently gained a significant insight into my training. i understand a little more now how the proficient Systema practitioners move the way they move, and how their movements are so creative, powerful, and unpredictable. this is because they have re-worked everything from the most fundamental steps.

a lot of styles teach 'basics'. even in aikido, you have kihon waza, or even more basic than that, you have kihon dosa, and tai sabaki etc. in other budo, you have basic kata. these things are all there to provide the key blocks to movements and techniques.

in Systema, there are no such building blocks. this is because the blocks are infinitely smaller! using japanese budo as a reference point, the kihon movements are like LEGO blocks yeah? some big, some small, some rectangular, some square etc. with those, you can build whatever you want... within the parameters of those said blocks. 

Systema however, is like learning to build with sand. the opportunities that present themselves with the significantly smaller base units allow for crazy, unorthodox movements that seem to be impossible or impractical, yet functional and effective. well, potentially anyway. 

that's why Vladimir always talks about being free. you don't learn to fight in Systema. you learn how to move. once you (re-)learn how to move freely, you can do any bloody thing you want--including to fight if that is what you want.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

discovery of synergy

it certainly took a while, but i think i've finally getting a sense of how systema and aikido, or more specifically aiki/IP, fits together. for a while now i had a feeling that they were closely linked, but a number of the exercises/principles appeared to contradict each other at times. after recently attending a weekend seminar with Alex Kostic, and then with Akuzawa Minoru, the following weekend, a few things started to come together.

naturally, this is still research in progress, but very briefly, i can see aiki/IP as a inherent structural foundation to work from--but with the shape and flow of systema-esque movements. more importantly, what i struggled with at times were the training methodology, i.e. how i would blend these seemingly contradictory principles at times. in my recent experience, it appears that i don't really need to! somehow my aiki/IP and systema training has somehow been absorbed into my body, and it comes out as needed without me consciously thinking of which principle i should use or manifest.

this has been really encouraging for me as i was really worried for a while there that i had to ultimately choose a single path, and i wasn't quite ready to do so. this will probably give me a boost for a long while, to keep me going in the way(s) that i already am.

now, a possibly contentious idea/conclusion that i'm toying with is that systema training is probably much quicker and easier to learn, as well as use at a moderate-high level of compentency. if someone with a decent baseline puts in a solid 2-5 years in systema training, they would probably be able to mostly protect their own butt in general circumstances. aiki/IP however, would take fucking ages (5-10+ years) to develop and build, and even more to actually use practically. however, the beauty is that if someone wants to be at a supreme level of competency, i think that is almost inevitable that they need to do some aiki/IP training--in whichever name/style it is called...

Monday, 27 October 2014


as per the advice given to me some months ago, i have taken steps to retreat without giving up. it strangely feels liberating, although part of me grieves. long story short, after Andrea's untimely departure, a couple of senior members of our Systema study group and I have come together to keep the group going. after giving it a solid go for several months, the numbers unfortunately have not stacked up. it is disappointing but understandable.

despite just being certified as instructor-in-training by Vlad in Systema HQ, it made more sense to back off at this stage than continue through a quagmire. the plan is to keep training with some like-minded folks at a local level, and then maybe get together in a bigger group once a month. not sure if this will take off, but it will do for now.

in the meantime, i will take the opportunity to continue developing and working with a couple of serious practitioners, as well as get back to aikido a little more. let's see where life decides to take me next.

Thursday, 16 October 2014


hey you, it's been a while.

unfortunately, this time it isn't because things have been going swimmingly. instead, the last few months have been a very trying time for various reasons. of particular significance has been the lost of two key foundations in my life.

my primary aikido sensei had retired from the dojo, which was then accompanied by some national level politicking, ultimately leading to my departure from the dojo. a few weeks later, i received a phone call one evening that my systema instructor had died.


it has been a tough time for everyone involved, including myself. certainly not the way i had hoped it would turn out, but i sort of became the de facto instructor of the systema school, although regular attendance has been expectedly limited. feeling torn between keeping the school going as well as my pursuing my own development, i have been in limbo.........


i stared writing the former half of this post a week or so ago, but then had a bit of interlude after some interruptions, and a few things have moved around since then.

to some degree, the things that i raised remain, but yet, others have shifted somewhat. i'm not quite ready to announce some of these changes yet, as like the spring weather now, things seem to be quite in a state of flux, and conditions vary so much from day to day.

hopefully my next post would be a little more upbeat, and perhaps not so long in between. ciao for now.

Friday, 27 June 2014

Sparring insight

Self-pity and pride. What a weird duo. Who would've though that these two were the most prominent states of mind I would get into when I'm getting beat up. Huh.

Friday, 9 May 2014

the mechanism behind 'learn and forget'

i write this before i forget. but time and time again, i remember the saying to "learn and forget! learn and forget!" certainly at least in the context of my aikido/martial arts training. having come up with some basic assumptions in the past about it being about developing motor memory and reflex movements etc., my recent foray into the study and experience of 'focusing', my understanding has somewhat deepened/grown/expanded.

i can see/feel/sense now that this "learning and forgetting" in the context of budo, is beyond just developing the automatic reflexes of a particular set of muscles, but a much more intricate process/web of interconnections of what we typically now describe as the 'mind' and 'body'. if we are processes with physical manifestations, instead of mere physical objects/containers that process, it makes sense for the learning to be 'absorbed' into this larger web of process, and later (earlier?) emerge as appropriate.

this is a really exciting discovery for me, in much more ways than one. this feels like the missing link to my giant puzzle set that potentially glues everything together. my words here may not be sufficient to describe or explain what i'm speaking about, but i hope it captures at least a small datum of my 'finding'. i hope this is the key for me to trust and enter into this larger process that is the part/whole of 'me'.

Thursday, 1 May 2014


i am my most powerful ally.

i am my worst enemy.