When you roll consider that two forces are pushing or pulling you in different directions (or more than two) and relax and allow your body to find the logical solution while staying as relaxed and aligned as possible so you can continue to move and breath freely. For example if you are pushed back in your forehead and sideways from within on the thigh, the body goes with both directions while adding his direction and completing this with either a step or a roll. In the beginning it is good to use hands and fists and later on move to sticks and knives. Remember to also grab a part and apply pressure somewhere else or vice verca so the partner learns to avoid making movement which are redundant such as throwing himself.

On a personal note: if you do the slow movement and rolling combined with breathing you are pretty much covering all bases in solo work.

Note to yourself that the inhale is also a way to suck tension from your body and prepare it the exhale. If you inhale and allow your body to tense up from the rising pressure within it will damage your health and movement a lot. Freedom lies in recognizing the tension within and letting it go with the breath.
Don’t think about the end when you do the work. Shortcuts tend to cut us short. Think of a knife moving and reaching the resting spot of it’s movement and the same blade getting cut short on it’s path. When does it make more sense to guide it and from which point in the trajectory does it make sense to guide it from from the hand or from the body ?
Start by taking a friend by hand or arm and walk with him in a crowded place like a grocery store or a busy street and your job is to avoid hitting your partner into any person or object. Change places and work this drill closing first the eye you shoot less with (guns, balls …) and than the later.
Repeat the drill but now have your partner face the other way and close his eyes so you have to read his tension so you can guide him without getting tensed and rooted in one spot.

Later on you can work with a few partners on a group settings in a more pressure type of work and remember all the implications of your work.

Tips: Keep breathing, relax the spine, avoid getting into a mission oriented frame of mind and just do the work. Being a hero is a good recipe for a story but a bad one for a long life. Keep movement to what works and avoid other movements.

Have a partner press the knife tip to you and allow the tip to move you as a whole without tensing or trying to navigate away at first. You may try to compare trying to work straight away without relaxing and feeling and note where you feel the blade run deeper. Once you clean part of the fear of penetration move along the initial  relaxation movement and feel where it is safer to be. Keep breathing and moving with your body even if your limbs are under the knife to avoid tensing up and allow the blade to run its course without you giving it any support (tension and resistance)
Next have your partner do the same to you and at the same time press his hand or fist to your head. This will allow you to better feel where you bend and twist yourself and you will be able to move more with and guide your partner rather than trying to outsmart or out maneuver him.

You may than add an arm or any limb to the work to help the body work rather than work with your arms and letting the body parish in static. Remember life is movement and movement comes from the breath.

Many times we have ideas on how to make something work and we follow through with the plan and end with nothing close to what we had in mind. It can be a good thing but consider when you learn to have the goal in mind all the time. For example if you want to stop a fist coming your way and your arm rises up avoid getting too involved with the arm tension and keep moving and seeing what is inside and in front of you. When you are levered you tend to want to return to normal but instead feel where the tension is in yourself and than in others and from that the solution for that specific moment will present itself. For example struggling to get out of a hold in place of taking advantage of his immobile arms and hitting him and levering him at the same time without even using your arms.

Another way to look at this is in your personal practice. Many times you will be without a partner besides god and you might look at a piece of paper with many instructions on it for help. Keep the parameters to a minimal and give yourself freedom to let yourself truly come out.

My best example so far is to spread ten steps with fists over ten minutes. You are bound to learn something from that slow movement drill and something new every time since you are not burdened by working on everything at the same time.

Have two partners hold one of your limbs and relax yourself. Feel where you tense up against their touch and simply allow the relaxation to take the punch from their hold. Breathe without stop and work on where you feel you are comfortable to move and note as well how this effects your partners in relation to each other. Move with the breath only where you feel the door is open and avoid trying to complete a movement and work on building yourself anew with every breath. You can tense and relax your limb from time to time to better feel the place it is natural to go and move our entire body as one to avoid tensing up against their own direction and tension. Feel your tension first and from that control of yourself and than others will come.

Second drill: Place a stick over your shoulders or your back and have two or more partners move you with their fingers and later with knives or sharps of any kind. Their goal (note the way is not so important as the end in mind) is to have you collide with the others and you work to keep free from getting stabbed and at the same time avoiding hitting others. You must relax and move freely to achieve this and to relax your eyes as well.

Breathe relax and move, you may think you did something wrong but try to work with what you have and let the way present itself. If you try to win, you work on another and he must loose. This way creates aggression and tension and harms you a lot. Work on relaxing your contacts and see where that takes you.

Take a stick and place it over your shoulders and place your forearms on it to come over the stick and point forward. Now lie on the ground and relax. Tense and relax your body in this position and than press each part in turn into the ground while relaxing the neighboring parts. Now slowly and with breath leading movement do one slow sit up with your back straight 🙂

Breath and let the movement come rather than force it.

Some people are uncomfortable working with more than one partner and I wrote with on purpose. If you want to learn to move with more than one body start by moving them yourself. have two partners hold your arms sitting or standing and you move your body with the breath to learn to move them against each other or to the direction you want to move in.
Have one partner walk toward you with a fist as the other is holding you and you move the one holding you to have them engage each other and repeat.
Have one partner hold your head and another one of your limbs and move them so they oppose each others intentions.

Remember you are not in a contest in a Systema lesson nor in life. You need to work on not loosing and you will gain control by paying attention to your breath and to your pulse and to your blood pressure.

And relax the face, it helps.

In most public spaces today we have many reflective surfaces like mirrors, clean shiny glass and metal and lots more. Walk slowly and without moving your head to look observe in how many ways you are visible around you. Note that many people can see you without looking at you by seeing your reflection. Now note which people or object you block from sight by your movement and take the time to see this from different angles. Work with a partner to see where you are completely shown and where you are completely blocked from sight and try and find a way to understand the design which allows for this. Consider having a person standing in one place and you have to come close to him and touch him without showing in his fixed line of sight. Have fun and remember that awareness is life.