Re: causing no (serious) harm
Another great reply - thanks so much for the time and effort.
Well, as you read, it is a beginner drill - which does not necessarily mean that it is easy but rather that it is keyed toward developing some vital elements that are necessary to improving and/or progressing in one's training (i.e. without these "things" you can't move on). The things we left out - that you would want to add in - are things that we would add in later. We leave those things out now by design - and by discipline - so that things like an unfettered metsuke and/or an unfettered angle of deviation are stressed to the point of failure. At this stage, we want them to fail.
For example, by backing up more than going lateral, a practitioner puts way more strain on their capacity to deflect things and/or to see things that are coming toward you. In an actual encounter this is the very reason why you would want to deviate more and/or angle off the line of the attack more. However, in a training situation, I feel it is important to stress key elements to the point of failure. That way, those elements are more guaranteed to function when you enhance them with other redundant tactics and/or reduce the tactical stress upon them by combining them with things like movement, weapons, environment, etc. Right now, we back up and/or stay still so that we get ourselves stuck in a barrage of strikes and/or a "flurry" - then from there we see how well our tactics do - how well we have acquired the necessary martial attributes and the body/mind that supports those attributes. This is also why the training partner is restricted to strikes - no grappling, which would take advantage of the going backwards and/or the standing still.
What I found, when training is not broken up this way, when people are allowed to do "everything at once" (e.g. deflect and have complete freedom to seek the angle), is that they still tend to specialize (i.e. not develop everything they are supposed to develop). For example, a person who is not skilled at angle of deflection (e.g. blocking/parrying/checking, etc.) but is skilled at angle of deviation (e.g. clearing the line of attack/establishing an angle) will still tend to only develop one thing (i.e. the former - what they are skilled at already). By simplifying drills in this way, I have found that we can amplify the work done and the work still needing to be done - which is valuable thing to gain from any drill. That's why, we also, for example, do the same drill where we work only on angle of deviation - no angle of deflection is allowed (i.e. no blocking, no checking, no parrying). To be sure, one's training partner is also restricted in such a way that these drills are also not subverted but where the drilling practitioners tactic will ultimately fail. Etc.
Anyway, if you are heading down this direction, as always, I would love to stay in touch and see if we can maybe share insights and mistakes along the way. Best to you with your own practice.