Re: Three Things for Beginners
I don't even remember what I was taught in the first two months, but it must have been good because I got hooked (and still am). There was kote gaeshi in it, I remember this. I tried it proudly on my boyfriend ("look, what I discovered!"), and it hurt so suddenly and so much that his only reflex was to box me hard in my face. So much for tenkan and getting out of the line of attack...
I think I would refrain from showing great, ostentatious breakfalls to beginners instead of hoping that they might see them and wish to develop that skill themselves. We had some months ago some potential beginners watching a lesson, which was full of irimi nage, tenchi nage, sumi otoshi and the corresponding acrobatics, and they got scared like hell and never came back. These were young men in their twenties. First time I saw a breakfall I thought I would break all my bones if ever forced to do so.
In our dojo, beginners pretty much do the same things as the others, just more slowly and more carefully, and maybe not always with locks and pins. Everyone practices ukemi at warming-up, so they also do, and for the rest of the course they get partnered with more advanced aikidoka. But in the dojo in Baku, where I sometimes practice, there is a special programme for beginners, focusing on mae ukemi, ushiro ukemi, different tai sabakis and shikko. Once they master that, they get their 6th kyu and participate to normal practice. I found that an nice and interesting approach. On one side, they reduce the probability that someone gets injured, since he already knows a bit how to fall, and on the other side they also increase the confidence of the beginners so that they are less afraid when having to take a fall. Needless to say, 6th kyus are still treated with caution and not thrown around like balls.