But if I had the restrictions of grading taken away: I probably wouldn't use technique as a criteria for evaluation.
Precisely my point.
Hmm,,,interesting. Can you elaborate? I'd be very interested to read specific lesson plans (or outline) on your strategy of putting together warmups with the particular applications.
Very quickly, coz I have to do some work....
I should mention that I don't have specific lesson plans (i.e. written down), but I do have a general outline (in my head) what people need to be working on at their level. So I tend to be a little loose, in terms of what technical applications are done, but basically it revolves around basic and common foundational skills of footwork and bodywork. i.e. techniques are merely to demonstrate application of the principles of these "basics". i.e. the focus is less on kihon waza and more on the basic building blocks which make up technique.
Bear in mind this has been "dumbed down" for beginners with absolutely no martial art experience whatsoever. So quite often I have to "start from scratch" and show stuff at a really really basic level. Even those with some rudimentary MA experience (3-6 months TKD/karate mostly) usually have to be retrained to move in specific ways.
As a very basic example, let's say, warm ups include funekogi undo, ashi sabaki (which includes irimi/tenkan), basic striking, kokyudosa, and static rolling (forward/backward).
As a drill, one person strikes, and the other gets to practice moving off the line of attack, and either walks thru or pivots to change the angle of re-entry. So, not only do participants practice ashi sabaki and tai sabaki, they also start to get comfortable with elements such as timing, ma-ai, and reading the attack. Sometimes this may involve a short stick or a knife, to illustrate the importance of moving generally, or moving inside the attack, and the difference between moving to the live side and dead side.
Or even simpler yet, we might start out from a single or double wrist grab, and get them to work on simply release the grab using their body in various ways, which we might them build up to include entering and pivoting at the same time as releasing the grab. This allows them to perceive how the body can act as a coherent unit, as well as how each part of the body can act freely and independently of the body. Or, we might add to it the feeling of kokyudosa and/or funekogi and explore that particular dimension.
Another drill might involve one person standing and trying to keep their balance, with the other person pushing (gently) using a funekogi motion, on the other person, from different angles. This allows them to understand the points of balance and how kuzushi is obtained, and the precursor to learning how to use the body to effect a throw.
So, putting these elements together, I can work up to 3-4 technical variations, using the very same principles covered in the warm ups, and which have been reinforced in the preceeding exercise drills.
Depending on how comfortable people are with the idea of actually being thrown, I tend to be fairly loose on how uke responds. Usually, I might say something like lower your partner to the ground, or in certain cases, I might say, ok you roll if you're comfortable, otherwise simply walk out of it as an escape. IOW, nage isn't dependent on uke performing their role in order to experience it properly. As long as nage is moving more or less within the scope of the established movement principles, it doesn't matter. That simply means that that particular uke will require additional solo exercises to establish some level of body connection and conditioning.
Again, my objectives aren't necessarily to teach rolling out as an escape - a properly executed throw is hard to escape from, usually that means hitting the mat first. As soon as people are comfortable with rolling out and have reached a moderate level of skill, they are taught to receive and redirect forces using their body in various ways, whilst remaining standing. Obviously there are other examples and drills which build on, feed off, and feed into this... but that's all part of my secret teaching strategy.
Again, these are rudimentary building blocks that demonstrate particular principles of movement. For the more mid-level and slightly more advanced students, I will use the same building blocks and show all sorts of variations and possibilities, e.g. opportunities for atemi, different ways of affecting kuzushi thru various parts of the structural anatomy, even kyusho points.
These potential possibilities are only limited by your own imagination and creativity - within the boundaries of your own personal Aikido philosophy of course. But for beginners, I tend to dumb it down a lot, slow it down, break the technique apart and show the individual elements within a particular section of the technique and the relation to the warm ups and drills.
PS: Sorry this was a lot longer than I anticipated. I could have just said, warmups -> drills -> techniques, but starting from techniques, break it down into bite sized chunks, find the similarities of those chunks in the warm ups, then from there formulate some drills that illustrate the principles. So work your way backward and forward and create some exercises for people to work on, rather than on falling down and complete techniques. But that wasn't quite as elucidative.... I thought