Have a partner take a long staff and take turns closing your eyes and walking slowly finding your way with your other senses. Have the partner place the staff in your way on various heights and angles and as you meet it continue to move and mind your alignment. Avoid spilling over or under the staff unless this is what you want to do. If it happens on it’s own it means you are not moving with control and awareness. Start slow but speed up the staff movement so you can feel it before impact and start to “see” what is in front of you.

Many times we have a feeling or fear to do something or dodge and are afraid to look foolish. This drill helps you move more naturally without caring for what you look like and to pay attention to the input you have from all of your senses. The sight is usally the dominant sense but it is not the only one who can work for you.

Smile, it relaxes the face.

Take an old stick you have no use for anymore like an old broom or a mop and go outside. Lean it against the ground and use a lever with your legs and body and bend it a little this way and that way. Work slowly till you find the easiest breaking point and break it using the least amount of effort. It is important to know how much and how sticks break and to know how to use them after they break. The important thing is to keep your focus on your survival and not the condition of the tools at hand. This goes for the partners you are working with. You are working with people with tools and not against the tools.
Take a knife you use like a kitchen or garden knife or your vest knife and hold it in a comfortable position where your shoulder and arm are relaxed. rotate the knife in your hand without looking at it and note how you can tell where the blade is pointing. Roll it around in your palm and fingers without moving or tensing the rest of you and make sure you are not cutting yourself. Next, place the knife in the crooks of your body like the armpit and pick it up using the other hand without looking for it (do the same in the push up position). Walk and slide the flat of the blade on your body and add to this sitting down and getting up.
Now balance another knife or a stick on the blade of the knife and change the grip while you are balancing it. Do it first while the arm is relaxed and than while it is pointing forward and some muscles are supporting the hold. Do the same placing in the crooks of the body while you are in the push up position facing up or down and and learn to work with tension. As you learn to be aware and use all of your body as you are working with a knife and balancing will help in learning to give just the support you wish to give without tensing yourself.

For children you can have the simple game of walking or running as they balance an egg in a long spoon or a stick over a stick and balancing contests as they try to make each other laugh with funny faces. It is important to know what is your goal and the way will show itself.

I thank all the teachers and of course Mikhail Ryabko for all I have learned  in the last seminar in Moscow and recommend it to anyone wanting to learn and live systema. I am sure to go again in the first opportunity I have.

Take a training knife with a dull edge and throw it in the air and catch it while avoiding the blade. Do this while the eyes are relaxed and not focused on the knife and continue to do this as you walk and sit up and down. Throw the knife to a friend and back as you make sure you keep yourself safe by moving the body away and aligned from the path of the blade and only then matching it’s course and adding your own guidence to it.
After a while of doing this throw the knife in the air overhead and work between two or three people on getting the knife and keeping yourself from harm at the same time. Again, you need to relax your eyes and learn how you think and act in changing realities. The knife may be up or down, kicked to the side (if you have shoes on or know you will not be cut) and you have to keep yourself aligned and not dive without thinking to get the knife and get kicked in the head. Get the job done comes after keeping yourself from harm (almost always)

A good way to coordinate yourself is to have a friend throw a knife from behind you and catch it and it can be a tennis ball or anything else. A knife makes you more aware of the shape of the object and the relaxation of the hand.

To become aware of your whole movement with the legs lift both arms over your head and start to swing your legs. Look at the shadow of your arms and see how they move as a result of your moving legs. The opposite to this drill is to have a friend swing and hit your legs with a stick as you keep your arms in the air and this will help you relax more by spreading your awareness over your entire body and gaining more relaxation and freedom as a result. Train honestly.
There are many shapes in nature but the sharp ones grab at our attention and for good reason. A thorn in the brush or under our bare feet can mean an infection or a loud noise that can mean our end. It is also a great power generator if you want to cut or break things as you direct a lot of power on a very small surface. To use this fear to our benefit and to learn to use the feet better take a board which has hard corners like a construction wood piece and hold it in one hand. Move it using your bare feet and legs and feel how the pressure and tension change when you handle the edges. Have a friend push and direct you using all heights and angles and move with your entire body to protect yourself from harm and decide where you want to be instead of being led. If you have more than one partner and a few pieces of wood it is a good practice and also a good level work for them. Continue to strike with the boards (and whatever else is there) and see how you develop your own movement and remember to breathe and keep the eyes relaxed. It is hard to see the bigger picture but it raises your chances at survival.
Take a used newspaper and roll it tightly to a stick. Place it against the wall or the ground if there is no wall around and check where it is strong and where it is weak. Work so you can balance yourself on it (push up position) and if possible do a few push ups. It is important to know what we are working with and to know what is strong and what is weak. test your knives if they are sharp, if they are hard or flexible and at what angles. Check your body after a large meal and see if you can breathe and move in the same way when you get up or before sleep. In short see what you have at each moment and avoid depending on the power or strength of tools.
A fun learning method to learning your balance is to stand on one leg and look around with your eyes. Bend this way and that way, twist and go up and down and counter the mass shift using your tension and your free limbs and head. For example if you are looking down to pick up a dropped coin than you can release one leg up to counter and as a fulcrum back up. Another example is using your hands to the sides to balance out the twisting of the trunk and hips.
The shoulders and the hips form a rectangle with their four points of movement and support. You can often find a way out or to a bind (small place like a tunnel to rescue a fallen traveler or out or a choke and knife held to your stomach) using your awareness to these points. For example if you are bend backwards by a choke from behind you can relax the hip that is below the shoulders supporting the chocking arm and rotate out of it. If your arm is extended behind you and your shoulder twisted to your conceived limit you can lift the opposite leg and and release the tension by changing and returning to your alignment. To work to become aware of this simple tool you can have a friend hold another friend in some hold and you will use only two fingers to effect the hips and shoulders to allow the held body to regain it’s alignment and freedom. Work slowly and feel where the tension is and find it’s source. Remember that if you bend forward with your legs together you are creating tension in the beck because you are breaking the alignment balance. By simply putting one leg back to counter mass and align the tissue you will be able to do the work and in a better longer lasting way.

I will post a few videos soon to further illustrate this.