Martial arts training is usually associated with competition rather than co-operation. The only time I can think of a co-operative aspect in my pre-Systema training was in group form / kata work for the purpose of a demonstration - everyone moving in synch to create a nice display.
Outside of that all the training I have seen and experienced was either solo work or based around some form of competition, be it sports-based or the idea of defeating an attacker (invariably in a one-on-one situation)
Systema takes another approach. This may be a reflection of the arts modern military use - after all a military or bodyguard unit that can't act as a cohesive force is not going to be very effective.
In basic training terms this takes the form of learning to operate as part of a pair or as a member of a team. This involves learning new skills alongside existing ones. For example -
Communication - being able to relay information in a concise way is important, especially in the pressure of a dangerous situation. This can be verbal or non-verbal and involves not only the method of relaying the communication, but the awareness to receive it
Role - in a team everyone has a role to play. Understanding your role and sticking to it is important for the integrity of the team. However it is equally important to be able to change roles and to recognise circumstances that may require such a change
Accepting orders - when the rubber hits the road, there is no time for a conference. Team members must feel confident in and be able to follow instructions
Accepting suggestions - in training or prior to a situation, team members should have equal input into problem solving. Everyone has their own unique skills and viewpoint
Have a plan - every professional organisation I can think of has procedures for dealing with situations. A little forethought and planning goes a long way to mitigate the "wtf?" factor
Stick with the plan - if the plan or procedure works, then stick with it. Likewise, be prepared to adapt it if necessary and learn from the experience
Empathy - some identity with the team / group helps. This may range from being family members to professional units to just being a group of people who need to get out of a predicament
It's easy to think that this type of training is the preserve of LEOs, special operations units and similar professionals. In fact they are part of everyday life. How do you and your partner act when out with your kids? What happens if a friend in your group is threatened or attacked? How do you react in a situation where someone is injured? These are just a few examples where a measure of co-operation and teamwork can help.
This was the thinking behind our latest DVD release which lays the foundation for teamwork. It covers basic drills for movement, communication and practical work for pairs or more and will hopefully spur you on to create your own drills and training methods